Creating a Seamless Pattern in Illustrator may seem like a challenge. But with these few easy steps, you should be on your way to making patterns for anything from iPhone wallpapers to custom stationery!
For this Instructable I will be using the Vector Botanical Flowers Clip Art from Citrus & Mint on Creative Market.
Above is a quick video to get you started creating Vector Patterns. You'll see all the steps and directions below!
Step 1: Create a New Document in Adobe Illustrator
I'm using an older version of Illustrator than what is currently available, but you shouldn't have any problems unless you're working in a lower version than CS5.5.
Create a new document by selecting File>New Document
Create a Document that has one artboard that is 12 inches by 12 inches with CMYK color mode.
Step 2: Create an 8x8 Square
Select the rectangle tool in your toolbar, then double click on your artboard and an option box should appear like the one in the picture above. Create an 8 inch by 8 inch square then select "OK"
It is very crucial to create a perfect square. This will be the bounding box for your pattern. Change your box to have a dark stroke, and no fill.
Step 3: Place or Paste Illustrations
Place or Paste your Illustrations onto your artboard.
File>Place or Edit>Paste (after copying your illustrations from another file or source)
Make sure you are using Vector Illustrations. This will ensure that you can resize your pattern up or down and you won't lose any resolution or quality.
Step 4: Arrange Illustrations
Arrange Illustrations on the left side of the square. To create an interesting pattern, place your illustrations over the edge of the square. Don't worry - They won't be cut off in your pattern!
To make your life more simple, don't place any object directly over the corners the square.
Step 5: Continue to Arrange Illustrations on the Bottom Line
Arrange your Illustrations on the bottom line of your square, again, placing some of the objects over the line.
Step 6: Begin to Mirror Your Pattern
Select the square and all of the illustrations that have been placed over the edges of the square, and copy.
Once Copied, Paste your new version of your square of illustrations and square. Remember to KEEP your selection. Don't click off of this selection.
Align the BOTTOM LEFT Corner of the new square (and Illustrations) with the BOTTOM RIGHT Corner of the original square.
Step 7: Finish the Mirror Process
To Create the Top mirror, Paste again, and Align the BOTTOM RIGHT Corner of your newest selection with the TOP RIGHT Corner of your Original Square.
Step 8: Check for Any Overlapping Illustrations
Check the edges of the square for any overlapping illustrations. As you can see, there was one overlapping illustration. I simply deleted the same illustrations from both the top and bottom. Then place a new illustration on the top line of the square and repeated step 8 with only that illustration.
Step 9: Fill in the Pattern
Once you have all the edges of your square mirrored, then you can begin to fill in your pattern. These illustrations won't need to be copied and aligned, so just have fun with it! Remember not to move any of the illustrations that are crossing the line of the square, or to add any new illustrations over the square You can lock the original mirrored illustrations, but remember to unlock before moving onto the next step!
Step 10: Create Your Background Color
Create a new square, bigger than 8 inches by 8 inches, and fill with the color you would like for the background of your pattern.
Send this square to back of all of your illustrations and the square.
Object>Arrange>Send to Back
Position your square so that all of your Bounding Box Square has the background color beneath it.
Step 11: Select the 8x8 Square
Select the 8x8 square, (not the square with your background color) and change the stroke color to "no stroke" At the same time, make sure that this square has no fill as well. (No Fill and No Stroke)
Once that is completed, Select that square and Send To Back, (similar to sending background color square back in step 11)
Object>Arrange>Send To Back
Step 12: Drag to the Swatches Palette
Once your Bounding Box has been sent to the back, you can select all of the items on your artboard, (the bounding square, background square, and illustrations)
Drag your selection into your swatches palette. The Palette should display a dark border around the palette, then you will see a small thumbnail of the pattern you created.
If the thumbnail looks like a screenshot of your program, with the artboard visible then you may not have your bounding box all the way to the back, or it may have a stroke or fill.
Step 13: Reveal Your Seamless Vector Pattern
You are now ready to create lots of projects with your new Seamless Vector Pattern!
Draw a shape, a rectangle, square, circle or triangle. Instead of filling this shape with a color, choose your new patterned swatch from the swatches palette. Voila! You have a new Seamless Pattern!
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