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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags adobeadobe illustratorgraphics software

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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?