Interested in creating beautiful, stop-and-stare patterns that will captivate your viewer?

Understanding the different pattern repeats and how they work, then marrying them with pattern styles is a magical equation worth grabbing that [Apple] pencil for. No head scratchers here, though; I’ve got everything you need to start creating those eye candy patterns below!

What are the 3 different types of pattern repeats?

Pattern types inform how your design motifs are repeated. The three most popular pattern types are: Full Drop, Half Drop, and Half Brick patterns.

3 popular pattern types: full drop, half drop, half brick

These pre-defined repeats allow you to create seamless and visually appealing patterns. Afterwards, they can be applied to a wide range of projects, from textiles/fabric to wallpaper to digital prints and graphics.

Below, we’ll break down each type of pattern repeat with examples, how to create them and afterwards we’ll dress em up with style. 💃

Pattern Type #1: Full Drop Repeats

What is a full drop repeat?

Full drop patterns repeat the design motif both vertically and horizontally, while creating a seamless and continuous design. It’s constructed by repeating the entire pattern block in a grid-like formation, making it easy to apply to different products and surfaces. Designers often use full drop repeats for creating patterns on large surface areas like wallpaper, bed linens, or tablecloths. Its simplicity and versatility make it a popular choice, especially for those new to pattern design or aiming for a classic and timeless look.

How it repeats:

Example of how the full drop pattern type repeats

An example of a full drop pattern repeat (shown in the ‘toss’ style):

Full drop pattern example with small orange flowers and green leaves

Pattern Type #2: Half Drop Repeats

What is a half drop repeat?

In half drop pattern repeats, the design motif shifts vertically halfway down the repeat, creating a staggered effect. This type of repeat creates a diagonal arrangement of the pattern, which adds movement and visual interest to the design. Designers commonly use half drop pattern repeats for creating patterns on textiles/fabric, wallpapers, and home decor items, where the diagonal arrangement can create a sense of depth and sophistication.

How it repeats:

Example of how the half drop pattern type repeats

Half drop pattern repeat example (shown in the symmetry block style):

a diamond half drop pattern example of flower bouquets using the symmetry block style

Pattern Type #3: Half Brick Repeats

What is a half brick repeat?

The half brick repeat resembles the staggered arrangement of bricks, like bricks in a wall. In this repeat, the design motifs are arranged so that every other row shifts horizontally by half of the motif’s width, which creates a visually interesting effect. This type of repeat works especially well in designs that read horizontally or have elements with a strong landscape or horizontal presence. Think mountains, streaky clouds, birds flying left to right, etc. By using a half brick repeat with these elements, the half offset can create more visual appeal and interest, since those strong horizontal elements aren’t stacking directly on top of one another.

How it repeats:

Example of how the half brick pattern type repeats

Half brick pattern example (shown in the block style):

half brick pattern example in the block style with a large yellow flower

Pattern Repeats: Style and Substance

While pattern types describe how a pattern repeats, style is all about how your design elements are arranged within that repeat.

There are several different types of pattern styles, so let’s focus on the 3 most obvious and common styles: Block, Symmetry Block and Toss (or Random)

common pattern styles overview showing block, symmetry block and toss examples

Bock Style Patterns

Block style patterns can be applied to all 3 pattern types, since all of the design elements are contained fully within the pattern square. This means that no design elements extend beyond the bounds or edges of the square, allowing the viewer to immediately discern the pattern type used.

Block style applied to all 3 pattern types:

An example of the block style repeating in each pattern type

Symmetry Block Style Patterns

The symmetry block style is just like the block style with the addition of a shape within that block.

Symmetry block style shape examples

Here are some common shapes within the symmetry block style:

  • Dot

  • Ogee

  • Shell

  • Flower

  • Stripe

  • Diamond

Symmetry block style (dot) applied to all 3 pattern types:

Dot symmetry block pattern example with a small yellow flower

Symmetry block style (ogee) applied to all 3 pattern types:

Ogee symmetry block pattern example with small yellow wildflowers

Toss Style (or Random) Patterns

Toss style patterns, which can also be referred to as random style patterns, are arguably the most popular of all pattern styles. This style tends to hide repeats the best, especially when applied to half drop motifs or half brick pattern types. A toss style is generally composed of numerous elements, seemingly scattered or ‘tossed’ at random throughout.

Toss style applied to all 3 pattern types:

toss style patterns applied to the 3 different pattern types

Pick up your free Pattern Types Cheat Sheet!

Keep a cheat sheet handy of everything covered here to spark new ideas and combinations!

Click here to download!

Pattern Types + Pattern Styles

    Tips for creating successful pattern repeats

    Once you have a solid understanding of the pattern types and styles, you can begin exploring creative variations to make your patterns truly unique. Here are some tips to help you create successful pattern repeats:

    1. Experiment with Scale: Try scaling your pattern blocks up or down to create different visual effects. Larger scale patterns can make a bold statement, while smaller scale patterns can create a more delicate and intricate look.

    2. Play with Color: Experiment with different color combinations to create unique and eye-catching patterns. Consider using contrasting colors for a bold and dynamic effect, or using harmonious colors for a more soothing and cohesive look.

    3. Style it up: Apply different pattern styles to your types and different types to your styles. See which you like best and how you can refine and push your ideas further.

    Experimenting is the name of the game here! The more you practice and play, the more you’ll see your patterns improve. You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t and what your preferences are.

    Some days I’ll create a bunch of swatches and just focus on creating different configurations of color using the same elements. Other days, I’ll keep one color palette and change up the elements. Another day I’ll play with different pattern types using the elements and colors I liked best. Keep it fun and keep the focus on one thing at a time. You’ll avoid overwhelm this way and get to results you love even quicker.

    That’s a wrap! Next Steps

    If you’re not sure which pattern type or style to use, begin by looking at the elements you plan to include at the beginning of your design.

    Do they have tall verticals?
    A full drop may just be the trick.

    Strong horizontals?
    Stick to half brick or full drop.

    A beautiful toss of different themed elements?
    Give the half drop a try.

    Seeing your artwork repeat is one of the most fulfilling feelings as a creative and all the applications make that effort even sweeter. Check the additional resources section for where to go from here!

    Additional Resources


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    Every Tuesday's content creator and founder. I help creatives build and improve their digital skills to open new opportunities.
    Latest comments
    • Thank you for the awesome article, Teela! Can’t wait for the class!!


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