Like I had mentioned earlier, I’ve recently become obsessed with surface design.  I wanted to provide a little tutorial on how I have been creating patterns using illustrator.

Step 1. Make a Shape using the tools

The shape is probably the most important part about making a pattern.  You could have an entire course on creating pleasing shapes, but for now the focus is not on what kind of shape its how to make a pattern from it.

Step 2. With the Shape selected, go under the Object tab, look for “Patterns“, and click “Make

Once you click Make it will take that shape and bring it into the pattern artboard where you can design your pattern.

If this is your first time designing a pattern, or if you just never click the check box, you will receive a pop up that says your pattern has just been placed into your swatch pallets.  This just means that what you are about to do has already been saved in swatches, and any changes you make you will have to re-save it again. Click OK.
It will automatically generate a pattern for you, but it will be generic, and probably not what you want it to look like.  The Blue bounding box around your shape is the distance between each of the shapes.

The important part about creating patterns in illustrator is knowing how to use the tools, especially pattern options.  There are 5 options for you to choose: Grid, Brick by Row, Brick by Column, Hex by Row, and Hex by Column.
As you can see below each of these makes a completely different look depending on what you want your end result to look like.
If you want to add more space, you will want to expand the Blue Border surrounding the shape, you can alter this by clicking the expand button.  This was not apparent to me at first but once i learned it, it has been extremely helpful.

Finally arrange your pattern the way you like.  You can change the pattern by playing around with adding other shapes and colors to your design.  The pattern will repeat around your design faded so that you can see what it will look like once you save your pattern and you can measure what looks best.

Once you are satisfied with what you want your pattern to look like, make sure you type in a name, and click “Done

This will save your pattern into your swatch pallet which will allow you to use your pattern on various objects and shapes within your work.  The best part about using patterns is that it will stay consistent on different sizes of documents from billboards, banners, and posters, this is important so that it won’t stretch.

Let me know how Your pattern turns out!

Leave a comment