How to Make a Seamless Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Making seamless patterns in Adobe Illustrator can be an excellent way to give your design projects a little additional style and individuality.

Learning how to construct these repeating patterns will offer you a useful skill you can use often, whether you’re making backdrops, textures, or just adding an intriguing aspect to the design.

My name is Aly, I am a graphic designer with over five years of experience in Adobe Illustrator. In this article, you will learn two ways to create stunning seamless patterns in Illustrator. 

Method 1: Swatches Panel 

Follow the below steps to easily create your own repeating pattern in Illustrator.  

Step 1: Create a new document in Illustrator. Do this by going to File > New. Pick the size of your artboard wisely so we have enough space to create an ongoing pattern. For this exercise, I will be using a 12×12 artboard size, but feel free to create whatever size you feel like. 

Step 2: With my blank artboard I am going to go over to my layers panel and add a new layer. I am going to call this layer “Box”. This layer will work essentially as a clipping mask for our pattern and store our pattern inside of it. Feel free to name this whatever works best for you. 

Step 3: On the “Box” layer, go ahead and select the Rectangle Tool and create an outline around your artboard that’s the same size. Make sure the outline has no fill color or any sort of stroke. This will act as a clipping mask for our pattern. 

Step 4: Now go back to your layers panel, create another layer, and name it “Background”. Grab your Rectangle Tool and create another outline of your artboard, but this time extend it a few inches over the artboard edges.

Add color to your background, this can be any color you prefer. I will go with a bright blue. After selecting a color, lock your layer by using the lock icon next to the name of the layer. 

Step 5: This is the fun part! Start creating the elements that you want to be in your pattern. You can do this in a variety of ways by using shapes, drawing, brush tools, etc but ultimately it’s up to you how you want to create your pattern. 

Personally, I like to spread my elements around the artboard to make the pattern more random. 

Before you start, make sure to create new layers for each element you create, as this makes it easier to recreate in a pattern. Also, it’s a great idea to label each element so you can keep track of what and where every element is. 

Step 6: Now that your pattern is created, go ahead and unlock all your layers and select all elements on your artboard by hitting Command + A then open your Swatches panel by going to Window > Swatches. Drag all your elements into the swatches panel. 

Step 7: Once you’ve dragged your elements into your swatches panel, you will see them appear in a small little box next to other swatches, if you don’t see it, you may have not had all your elements selected. 

Step 8: Make a square by selecting the Rectangle Tool and creating a square next to your artboard. With the square selected, click on your new swatch and see your pattern appear!

Method 2: Pattern > Make

If you want to edit pattern options before the pattern is made, you can also create a pattern in Illustrator from the overhead menu. 

Simply select all the shape elements you want to have in the pattern and go to the overhead menu Object > Pattern > Make. You will see the pattern option where you can adjust the settings of the pattern.

Your new pattern will show on the Swatches panel. If you wish to change/edit the pattern, simply double-click on the pattern on the Swatches panel to open the Pattern Options dialog again.

Final Thoughts

Creating seamless patterns can be interesting and fun to complete! Luckily there are a few different ways to achieve this task and Illustrator makes that pretty easy to do. I hope either of these methods helped you to better understand creating patterns. 

Any questions about making a seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator? Leave a comment and let me know.

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