Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Create beautiful repeating patterns

If you look closely at a true repeating pattern you can see the 'repeat square', the area of the image that repeats along vertical and horizontal seams where one section flows into the next

Patterns are everywhere. Look around and you’ll probably see one right now. It might be a pattern on a tie, a shirt, trousers, a paper cup, bathroom tiles, an umbrella, on a bag, a sofa, wrapping paper… the list goes on and on.

1_DA_Create_beautiful_repeating_patterns

Patterns add decoration and beauty to many consumer products. If you look closely at a true repeating pattern you can see the ‘repeat square’, the area of the image that repeats along vertical and horizontal seams where one section flows into the next.

In this tutorial we will use vector elements to create a four-way repeating pattern swatch in Adobe Illustrator and then mask the pattern into several mock products. So, let’s get started!

2_DA_Create_beautiful_repeating_patterns

Step 1 The key to a four-way toss are the seams of the ‘repeat square’. By arranging elements within a square making sure the top/bottom and left/right seams match, Illustrator can generate a flawless repeat pattern swatch.

Basically, anything that overlaps each side (I’ll be calling the sides ‘seams’ from now on) of the square must also cross the opposite seam of the square in the exact same spot. I’ll refer to these doubled elements as ‘mates’. The file included with this tutorial shows the seams of a repeat square with basic shapes. You can use that square and the shapes as a guide for creating your own repeat with your art.

3_DA_Create_beautiful_repeating_patterns

Step 2 The success of this project has everything to do with exact precision, so take a deep breath, try to remember all those geometry lessons from school and say to yourself “the grid and guides are my friends”. You’ll see that this is very important in a few steps. In Illustrator choose File > New. Pick a size you feel comfortable with, I like 44cm so I have space around the square. Turn on the Grid and unlock the guides.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags graphics softwareadobeadobe illustrator

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jess Volinski

Digital Arts Magazine
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?