Illustrator patterns

by Design Workshop Sydney

Creating Illustrator patterns, known as prints in the textiles industry, is very easy! And has been made even simpler with the new Pattern Maker function in Illustrator CS6. Repeat patterns can be used for all sorts of things, from garment design to differentiating areas on a floor plan to representing textures or materials. We show you how in our one-day Illustrator coursesillustrator-patterns
The older method (pre-CS6) is to create some simple shapes and drag them into the Swatches panel – this creates a new pattern which is saved in the document. Draw up your garment and, to apply the pattern, simply click on your new pattern swatch.
To scale the pattern within the garment double-click on the Scale tool, untick Objects and change the scale to 50% or 200%, etc.
Similarly, for prints cut on a bias you can rotate the pattern by double-clicking on the Rotate tool.
To move the pattern within the garment shape, go to Object > Transform > Move. Then use the arrow buttons on your keyboard to nudge the pattern into place.
In Illustrator CS6 and CC, however, the process has been made even simpler with the introduction of the Pattern Maker function. The basic shapes making up the pattern are created in the same way, using the standard drawing tools. Then select the shapes and go to: Object > Pattern > Make. A dialog box will open with several options for tiling, size, offset, overlap, etc.
The great new feature though is that you get a preview of the pattern on your screen, so you can move, scale, rotate & add items, or change colours, and the pattern preview will update automatically. A swatch is created in the Swatches panel as before. To edit the pattern later, just double-click on this swatch to reopen the Pattern Maker dialog.
Patterns can also be created by placing an image, then doing an Image Trace on it. Then use your Eraser tool to pare back the design. And also change colours using the Magic Wand or Direct Selection tools. Then create the new pattern as above.
We cover all these techniques in our Illustrator courses. Whether you’re a complete beginner or self-taught, we’ll help you gain self-confidence in your Illustrator workflow, as well as adding to your professional skill-set. Note that we also run special one-day courses specifically tailored to the fashion and textiles industries.
See many examples of our Illustrator clients’ work on our Facebook site.
Other related Illustrator Blog Posts:
Illustrator workspace
Illustrator for fashion
Illustrator clipping masks
Illustrator live trace
Illustrator brushes