How to make a seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator

How to make a seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator

December 7, 2019 88 By Peter Engel


Hello and welcome to another tutorial
from Elan Creative Co. I’m Cristina and in this tutorial I will show you how
to create seamless vector patterns in Adobe Illustrator. I use this method for
most of my patterns. While I love using the pattern tool, it’s only available in
newer versions of Illustrator. I also think you have more control over the
design with this method. This is the pattern we are going to make. I’ve used
vector graphics from my Cactus pattern set. So let’s get to work.
Open Illustrator and create a new artboard. I usually start with a 3
inches by 3 inches artboard or sometimes a larger one that’s 6 by
6 inches. But no matter what size you choose, just make sure that you have a
square. So the width and height have to be equal. Also remember the size because you are going to need it later. So just click Create to make your artwork. Now
I’m going to bring my graphics from this document to the new document. So I am
going to copy and then paste them here. So I think that they’re maybe too big so I will resize them. Okay I think this is perfect. So first we are going to create a
pattern that has a transparent background and after that we will also
add a background. So when you create a pattern you have to make sure that the
graphics that are on the top of artboard are also on the bottom and the
same goes for the graphics that are on the left they also have to be
duplicated on the right side. So keep this in mind when you arrange your items.
I also want to duplicate them because I don’t think there are enough graphics for
a patern. So I’m going to use the Selection tool to select all of them and
then I’m going to use the Reflect tool You can find it under Transform. I’m
going to use the vertical reflect because it will create a bit of movement
in the pattern. So just press Copy to duplicate the items. So let’s create a pattern. Now I know you
might be tempted to add all the items in the middle of the artboard, but in
Illustrator it’s important to have items that hang over the edge of the artboard.
So first I’m going to add graphics to the top and then to the left side. So I’m
just going to add them here randomly. All right so our now we can also add items
in the middle of the artboard. So I’m careful not to add items on the right
border and on the bottom. So I’m also going to resize some of them to make
them a bit smaller. Now there’s room also for this item but I’m also going to make it
smaller. So when you are happy with your pattern we are also going to add
items to the right and to the back. So to copy the items you are going to use the
Move tool. So just use the Selection tool to select the items that
overhang the artboard and then you can go to Object>Transform>Move or just
right-click on your artboard and select Transform>Move. This will open the
Move menu. So make sure Preview is selected. We are going to move them
horizontally so enter the size of your artboard as the horizontal value
and because we don’t want to move them up or down just enter 0
in the vertical box. Just click Copy to duplicate them. We are going to do
the same for the items at the top. So just select them and go to Transform>
Move. So now we don’t want to move them horizontally so we’re going to enter 0
and the vertical value will be the same as the height of your artboard. So I’m
going to enter 3 inches. So press Copy again to duplicate them. Now sometimes
your items might be too close to each other so you can maybe arrange them
a little before we are going to save the pattern. I don’t really like this item
here so I’m going to move it down. All right I think this pattern is perfect.
So I’m going to select all the items and then group them. Or you can press ctrl or
command G to group the items. So as you can see they are all grouped together.
So the pattern is basically finished at this step, but I want to add a background.
So I’m going to select the Rectangle tool and remove this stroke and I want to
use a light pink for the background. So just click on your artboard and enter
the size of the artboard. So mine is 3 by 3 inches. Press okay to create the
rectangle. So it’s very important when you add the background to
perfectly add it over the artboard because if you have just a tiny white
area we are going to see that in the final pattern. So to make sure that
the background and artboard are perfectly aligned I use the Align tool. So if you
don’t have it in the toolbar, you can open the Align tool from
Window>Align. So I’m just going to Center it horizontally and then Center it
vertically. So now all we have left to do is send the background to the back. So
just go to Arrange and Send TO back. so I usually save a copy of the pattern at
this step in case I might want to go back and edit it. but right now we are
going to create a pattern swatch. Now before create that, I want to expand the
fill and stroke. My items have strokes applied to them but if you don’t have
strokes you don’t need to do this. So I’m going to select the pattern and then
go to Object>Expand Appearance and I’m going to select it again and go to
Object>Expand and you can see I can expand
the fill and the stroke. You should also do this if you have gradients or lower
opacity or any other kind of effect applied to your pattern. you just press OK.
So the next step is to create a bounding box. This will basically cut everything
that’s outside the artboard but I’m not going to use Crop tool. The Crop tool
will cut everything but it will also make it hard to edit the items. To create
a bounding box just duplicate the background. So I’m going to copy it. The
shortcut is ctrl or command C and then I’m going to paste it in the back.
The shortcut for that is ctrl or command B. So if you go to the layers
panel you can see there is another rectangle at the bottom of the panel. So
I’m going to remove the fill. So now we have another empty square that
is going to act as our bounding box. So now just select all the layers and
then drag everything to the swatches panel. So let’s see how our
pattern looks. So I’m going to select the pattern swatch and then add it to a
large shape. So I think this looks great. Let’s scale it a bit to see how it
looks. So I think everything is alright there
are no white areas, and the stroke is visible, and well it seems that it’s a
seamless repeating pattern. Now you might see very thin white lines when you zoom
in or zoom out. Those lines are caused by your own monitor and you won’t see them when you print the pattern. So I’m going to delete this now. So the
last thing I want to show you is how to crop the pattern. So I’m going to delete
everything that’s outside the artboard. Now I’m going to remove the bounding box and then I’ll duplicate the background. So I’m going to use the layers panel to
duplicate it. Now I’m going to move the background on
top of the pattern. Now we are going to select the rectangle that’s on top and the
pattern. You can hold down the Shift key to select both of them. So as you can see
I have not so selected the background. Now you can go to the Pathfinder tools from
Window>Pathfinder and then click on Crop to cut everything that’s outside
the artboard. So this is your pattern tile. Now you can save this as a JPEG or an
EPS file or you can remove your background and save it as a
transparent background PNG. Let’s also save a pattern swatch with a
transparent background. So just select the pattern and drag it to the swatches
panel. So let’s also test this. I’m going to go to Shapes once again and as you
can see we have the transparent background pattern. So we have a
pattern that has a solid color background and one
with a transparent background. Thank you so much for watching! If you’ve enjoyed
this tutorial please subscribe to my channel or go to my blog to see more
Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials. Goodbye!