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In this installment of Drawing Vector Graphics, Von Glitschka demystifies the pattern design process, explaining tessellations (mathematical tiles that lie at the heart of patterns) and visiting the various methods of creating new patterns. He shows how to build repeating patterns with Illustrator's pattern tools and pattern brushes, and incorporate patterns into your design. The course also features patterns from some of the industry's most inspiring designers.
- Establishing the bounding box for your tile
- Drawing your design
- Creating a pattern swatch
- Refining art with the Pattern tool
- Saving your design
- Creating a pattern brush
- Using your pattern in designs
Skill Level Intermediate
When it comes to adding a nice organic flare of authenticity to a vector design, you'll want to turn to textures. Because using real world surface textures can take a clean vector shape and give it that genuine distressed look and feel you're going for. It's how I created this fun Tiki Lounge pattern used on the shirt I'm wearing now. So let me show you how I messed up my pattern art in a very good way by using textures.
So the Tiki Lounge shirt I'm wearing now was my personal favorite pattern that I created for this whole course just because I've always loved the Tiki art style, and just working on this pattern was just a whole lot of fun. So I just want to walk you through really quickly how I created the art because it's somewhat of a departure from the way I normally do things. Now like everything it all started off as a sketch, like this is just one of a bunch of Tiki heads that I created for this pattern.
But this shows you the refined sketch that I created for this. But, the departure part for me on this design is most of the time, I would say 99% of the time, I don't use strokes in my art work. Meaning, I usually use just filled shapes, I don't use a stroke on a shape, I just don't depend on that to build my art. But this would be an exception to that rule, because I built it like this where everything is all what's called butt fit together.
They just come right next to each other, all the shapes, and in order to create the gaps between them I used just a fat stroke in order to create the final art that you can see here. And so I just wanted to point that out, because it's usually not the way I do things. But sometimes the context changes, and those ways are the easiest, the most precise ways to accomplish the look I'm going for. So that's how I created all the base art shown in this design.
Now this design actually, started off with my established tile shape and that's what's showing here is the background color. Now I'm just going to start turning on and off some of these layers so you can see the white aspects in this design or these motifs. And these are all free floating shapes that I am associating with what's acting as my background color for this, but it also serves as the bounding box that is controlling how the repeat happens.
So you can see, for example, this leaf going off the top is the same leaf coming at the bottom. Here is a palm frond coming in at the bottom, that it went in on the top, so on and so forth. Whether it's top or bottom or going off the right and coming in on the left. So, I am using the same Bounding box principle to build the core art on this design. We'll continue to layer different elements using different colors and relating it to one another, and making sure the repeat is working by once again basing it off of the Bounding box.
And this is a good example why layering is important when you build in Illustrator. Because doing this and organizing each aspect of your pattern on its own layer will help you, assist you that is, in building it more precisely. We're going to go forward with bamboo, so here's some bamboo detail added in and finally our Tiki masks. And all of this, I created using the Bounding box method, which helped me to figure out the repeat, helped me to figure out how artwork interacted.
And it all comes down to balancing the composition between positive and negative spaces, and that's where graphic design really kind of holds hands with illustration. This is a very illustrative design, but I'm using design methodology and design sensibility to compose it, to balance the shapes and relate one thing to another so, it's not too dense in any one area and it all balances out. Now, because I've used a Bounding box to establish my design, I can trim it all in order to form what's called a pattern tile, and so you can see how I've trimmed it all up.
And this is my final tile artwork. Now later in the course I'm going to show you how to take a tile pattern like this and export out a file that I actually used to upload to a service and run out actual fabric that was sewn into the shirt I am wearing now. But even though I like this design, I thought it needed some authentic integrity to it if you want to put it that way. And it's not that it's bad right now, I just think it can be better.
So any time you can make a design better, you know, I say go for it. And the way I did it on this design is I took an actual real world photograph, of all places I took this photograph it was in North Dakota at a friend of our families. Their farm and it was an old barn, it was the side of a barn and the wood had all these splits in it and I just thought it looked really cool, I took a photograph. And I scanned that photograph and broke it down into a simple black and white image and just AutoTraced it.
Now, I would show you how I did that but literally this took me about, I'd say, two and a half hours in order to trim and match the top and bottoms. So that once again if I use the Bounding box here, and I clone it, Cmd+C, Cmd+F, and I drag this up, you can see how, let me get rid of the Bounding box so you can see this a little better. It seamlessly repeats, once again, top and bottom, left to right, and this is now a pattern in and of itself.
It's a texture, but it's also a pattern, so it's a pattern texture I've created here. And I'm going to use this on top of my established tile design. Now, I'm not going to use it in the form that it's shown here, black. I'm going to go ahead and adjust this. So, I want to make this color, you know I'm thinking white, but once again I think that eats away too much of that art work, that degrades the design too much. I want it white but I want it to be pretty subtle.
So we are going to go to the Transparency palette, and we are going to plug in let's say 20%. And I think that looks really good. So if I zoom in on this, so you guys can appreciate how it's interacting with art. You can see the artifacts that's adding into our design. It's less so flat and perfect and it's adding a little more interest and authenticity to the design. Now, what we're going to do is we're going to use the same methodology on the next part and that will be, let me turn on that layer.
And it once again, it's the same pattern. But this time on the pattern if I zoom in, right now this pattern is the exact same pattern underneath. So, if I turn this layer off, you can see how that is right underneath the exact same pattern. We're going to use the same pattern because I've tiled it, I can easily select it and rotate it 180 degrees and it will still repeat, but it will no longer line up with the pattern tile underneath it.
So on this one, I don't think I want to color it white, I think what we're going to do in this case is we're going to color it brown. And if I zoom in so you can see this better we're going to apply, go to the Transparency palette, we're going to apply Multiply. So this means this brown color is going to interact with every color underneath it, and I think it's too intense, let's deselect this. I think right now it's too dark. So, we're going to adjust the opacity and we'll try 20% on this one too and deselect.
And I think that looks really cool. So, that's how in case of this pattern design I've added these elements of this texturing to it, and I think it looks awesome. If we go to show how this pattern fill will work now, we can simply fill it. And you can take a shape and fill it with that pattern and you can see how that tiling works out, and how that authenticity of the texture adds to the overall design.
And I think it made a fabulous t-shirt. I'm sorry a lounge shirt, probably make a cool t-shirt too if you want a t-shirt. But I'm going to show you also really quick how to create a pattern texture. It's not hard. This is a simple texture I created, it's a splatter type texture. Used a dry tooth brush and some India ink, scanned it in, auto traced it. Once again, a Bounding box is going to help you replicate it. So if we select these two items, clone it, Cmd+C, Cmd+F, using the Bounding box, slide it over until it registers, you can toss that.
That's all we are doing is we're doing the same principle. What goes off on the left comes in on the right. What goes off on the top comes in on the bottom. So we'll select it again, clone it, and we'll slide this one up. And that's how we get a texture in order to repeat it. Once we have this, we'll trim it up like we did our other artwork. And I already have that pre-baked over here as texture pattern right here, and I'll double-click into that so you can see how it looks inside the Pattern tool.
And I've gone ahead and named it Black Speckle. So we have that pattern ready to go. So let's go back to the Art Board, take an existing pattern fill. This isn't bad but I think it'd look cooler if we add another element to it, in this case a textured pattern. So we're going to do that by going to the Appearance Panel, and we're going to add another fill, so we'll click that. And we're going to select our Texture Pattern and turn that on.
So now, you can see how that's interacting with our art here, and I think that looks pretty good. But I think what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead and set this to multiply. That means it'll interact and we're going to do it faintly, we don't want it so obvious we want it more subtle, maybe at 30% will be better. And I think that looks good, and you can really appreciate this when you zoom in closer and you see how it interacts with the artwork running over the top of it.
Now you can obviously change this kind of texture pattern to any color, white, blue, whatever and experiment. It's all about experimentation in order to achieve the exact look you're going for. And I'm going to switch to one more file and just show you that I like to re-use things that work really great. This pattern, like all of my patterns of course, started off as in a drawn form. If I zoom in on this you can see it a little better.
And I built my base vector shapes. Once I had those built I can build out my color once again, my Bounding box is helping me to figure out the repeat. This is one of those designs that you really can't create outside of knowing what your repeat's going to be. So drawing it out is really going to solve that visual problem for you. Once I have this created I have my final pattern swatch over here. And if I go into that it shows how it's replicating using the Pattern tool.
Once again all these files are going to be in the Exercise files so you can deconstruct it and check out how exactly I set some of this stuff up. But, the one thing I want to show you in this case is, the Pattern fill. And you can see how I've used the exact same Tiki wood pattern that I used in my Tiki design and I've applied it to this design. So once you have something created you can mix and match things in order to improve other designs.
It's not that I didn't think this design look good, I thought it looked fine like this. But I just think it looks better with some more interest in some organic flare to it via Texture patterns, so Vector Art is great. But at times it can be far too clean, perfect and crisp. Using textures is a great way to bring humanity to digital art. So if you don't collect textures, I encourage you to start building your own archive of real world surface textures.
That way you can experiment with them, use them in your patterns, and actually use them in any design project whatsoever.