LETTERING + GRAPHIC
DESIGN LEARNING

Seamless patterns in Illustrator have been on my tutorial list for a while, so I’m very excitedΒ for this week! There’s something about the anticipation right before you test your pattern that I love. The total surprise when you see this pretty little square you made repeated a dozen times – suddenly the little square looks the same, but entirely new.Β And then go ahead and imagine it on your favorite throw pillow, mug, notebook, mousepad, comforter, wallpaper..it’s a great moment for a designer, even if they’re just daydreams πŸ˜‰ My goal is to bring you one step closer to those daydreams this week with a method you can use to create seamless, repeatable patterns no matter which version of Illustrator you have. We’ll take a square with elements from the 100+ Vector Leaves and Flourishes pack and go step by step to achieve a fully usable pattern at the end – color palette included. Let’s go!

How to Create Hand Drawn Seamless Patterns in Illustrator


p.s. The 100+ Vector Leaves and Flourishes pack is available here, or on Creative Market here.

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Every-Tuesday designer + founder. I help ambitious graphic designers and hand letterers level-up their skills and creativity.

Latest comments
  • Thanks for this great tutorial! I think it’s also great that you’re going to show us another way with the pattern maker. Looking forward to that too!

    You mentioned using these on throw pillows, comforters, notebooks and more. How would you go about doing that? Like, how could I have this printed on fabric, etc?

    Thanks!

  • You rock! Thank you so much!!!

  • I’m vaguely remembering there are some secrets to saving these created swatches for reuse in other documents but I’m drawing a blank. Seems like if you just save them, they disappear on you. That is probably another tutorial, right?

  • Teela,

    This is great! So many helpful tips. It doesn’t look nearly as hard as I thought. I’m looking forward to seeing the difference with the pattern maker tool.

    Would you consider including a brief look at the Recolor Artwork tool in the next pattern tutorial? Choosing color palettes is always challenging for me.

    A quick tip for Jerol’s question above – when you toggle down the icon in the upper right corner of the swatches palette there is an option that says Persistent. When you check this, your swatch will show up each time Illustrator is opened.
    http://creativepro.com/10-essential-tips-for-working-with-color-swatches-illustrator/

    Have a great week!

  • Hi Teela,
    Just discovered you last week and you’re my illustrator hero!
    A few questions though, as I’m a beginner. How do you get the big white canvas on top of which you have your 3×3 artboard? If I open up a new file and make the artboard 3×3, I end up with the tiny white square and grey all around. Also, how do you then get that color scheme from colordots and your vector pack, which I have purchased now onto the same screen? And can you save the color schemes you like from colordot in your swatches?

  • Thank you SO much for your tutorial! I had been searching everywhere for the secret to the wraparound parts of a seamless pattern and all the other methods I’ve seen are clunky and arduous. So watching your video was HUGE, like (design)life-changing revelatory. I was sad however to see that when I finished my pattern, made it a swatch, and filled something with it, there were imperfections in how the vertical wraparound designs lined up. No issues with the horizontal. I will try it again from scratch and see if I have better luck the next time, but I figured I’d ask if you know where I might have gone wrong or any quirk of Illustrator I might not know to account for to prevent this? I’ve noticed that when I copy and paste what seems to be square in Illustrator into Photoshop it’s often not actually completely square, I don’t know if this might be a clue? Perhaps my “crop” or “clip” layer is not lining up perfectly with the art board?

  • I must not be getting some small but significant detail, I have been at this all day, I cried and had to go lie down I was so frustrated, my pattern still cuts off the overlapping flowers, it seems so simple, and I swear I am following the instructions. I need to put this on hold and come back again for the 4th or 5th time once again another day. You do such great work, thanks!

  • pretty simple and easy
    thank you ☺

  • I am having trouble with the cropping. Not sure what I am doing wrong either. HELP.

  • Hey Teela,
    Thanks for this tutorial! I’m also trying to create a floral print swatch and am using open paths for the stems. When I click to crop, the stems (i.e., open paths) disappear. Is there an easy workaround?
    Thanks in advance!

      • Worked perfectly. Thanks again!

  • Fantastic tutorial! I can’t tell you how many tutorials (that run much longer, btw) that I’ve viewed on this subject, but yours is the first to have clicked for me. Thank you so much for creating this!

  • Hi Teela! Im Carolina from Argentina, I found out about your blog 1 week ago and I can’t stop watching your tutorials!!! Thank you so much!!! they are very easy to follow and nice to watch!!!
    thank you again…. looking forward for tomorrows one!!

  • Hey Teela! I love your tutorial πŸ™‚ You have a suscriber from Uruguay. Quick question… Is there a way you’ve thrown together all these elements to create the pattern or just randomly put them inside the square? I can’t seem to just figure out how/where to place things to the point where it looks nice or “works”. Thanks!

  • Hello Teela! You are such a wonderful teacher and so helpful! I am loving your videos and subscribed so I can stay up-to-date : ) Quick question – I have CS5 and followed the video above. However, when I go to use my swatch the image is not one continuous pattern… it’s more like I cut and paste the 3″ square over and over again and it’s not lining up. Can you tell me where I went wrong haha. Thanks so much and have a great day!

      • Thank you for the quick response and advice! It worked:) woo! Have a great day!

  • Oh man, this is amazing! I’ve had a surface pattern design class saved for a while, but this answered all my questions in just 12 minutes. Thanks for these; as an aspiring graphic designer, your blog is my fave!

  • GAME CHANGER FOR REAL!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  • Thank you so much! This is awesome. When I go to crop – the opposite items I want to crop go away. Why is this happening?

      • Hi Teela,

        So sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I think because my object is a png not a vector it would not allow me to expand. Does that make sense? I am working with scanned watercolors and it looked weird when I converted them to vector so I could expand. Maybe I am doing something wrong and I can expand in png?

        Thank you soo much!

        • Hello – I was having the same issue! IT WAS BECAUSE I HAD PNG FILES INSTEAD OF VECTOR. ULTIMATELY, I FIGURED OUT IF I CHOSE “EXPORT” AND DID IT AS A PNG WHILE CLICKING THE OPTION “USE ARTBOARDS” I COULD MAKE A PNG THAT WAS CROPPED HOW I NEEDED IT. THEN, I COULD BRING THE PNG BACK INTO AI AND DRAG IT IN AS A SWATCH. I KNOW YOU WROTE THIS A LONG TIME AGO BUT JUST THOUGHT I’D SHARE!

          • I’m sorry my capslock got stuck and I can’t edit it – so sorry!

  • You are so awesome! Thank you so much for showing us how to do this! I really appreciate you being repetitive and showing us each side because that really allowed me to grasp and understand the concept. You have a gift for teaching, and it means so much to still be able to find free resources from someone who truly knows what they are doing!

  • Hello! I can’t figure out why, but I’ve followed the instructions to the point where I create a swatch, but when I go to use the swatch, there are large areas of white surrounding them, like they’re little tiles on a white background. I’ve made pattern swatches before, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong this time!

  • Hi there!

    How do I transform a hand drawn design in Adobe sketch to a pattern border for a notepad? When I import the design, it is too big!

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