Maybe you haven’t really noticed but, patterns are used in many different places: websites, drawings, games, posters, etc. They create a continuity in the design and are good for making the foreground distinguish itself from the background. You can also use them as “textures” for clothing, as I did with this guy.(the T-shirt).
We’ll start by creating a random pattern, so you can see how the principle really works. Then you can do pretty much anything you want with it.
It’s a long post but it’s full of simple pictures 🙂
Step 1 – Make a Shape
So, first, just create whatever shape you want using the Shapes or the Pen tool. I made a sort of fish and aligned it with the Artboard. (How to Align Stuff).
Step 2 – Shape and Pattern
Now, simply select your shape and go to the upper menu in Object -> Pattern -> Make. A new large window will appear, but don’t panic, it’s easier than it looks 🙂 . This is our pattern created by deafult. Now before going into those things in the box, in the middle there’s a very special fish in a blue rectangle. That’s your original shape. If you change that, your pattern changes. Let’s see that.
Now, by changing the size of my shape, the whole pattern changes.
Step 3 – Tile Type
Let’s get into that menu. First of all, make sure that Size tile to Art is UNchecked and Move Tile with Art is checked. Now, let’s explore the Tile Type options. In the drop down menu, you’ll find 5 different options. Each one of these arranges your pattern in a different way. Let’s see some examples (exept the default, Grid, it’s the one above):
In both of there Brick by row & column examples, you can play with the Brick Offset and see different effects.
Step 4 – Width & Height
Now, the width and height controls are pretty simple, you put some values and enlarge or diminuate the space between the copies in the pattern. However you can also dynamically (seeing the result directly) do it by pressing the Pattern Tile Tool and changing the boundries by dragging those points.
Step 5 – Copies
The last step for this basic pattern involves the usage of the Copies control. As you probably guessed, it sets the amount of copies and their arragement and below it you can Dim Copies as well. An example below:
Step 6 – Finishing
In the end, rename your pattern from New Pattern and press Done. You’ll find yours by dropping down the colour box as in this example:
So these are the basic controls for creating a pattern in Illustrator and below I uploaded an example of its usage. They can however, be useful in many different applications.