How to Make a Seamless Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

There are a couple of ways to create a seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator. You can manually duplicate and move a shape/image around the artboard to fill the artboard. Or select the shapes you want to make patterns with and go to Object > Pattern > Make once your design/image is ready.

The second method allows you to make a cleaner and seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator. It also allows you to make a well-aligned pattern.

Hi, my name is Rita. I have been using Adobe Illustrator for more than five years. As a beginner, creating a pattern in Illustrator was a frustrating adventure because I manually moved the images around while struggling to align them.

In this article, I will walk you through the process in this tutorial. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • You can make seamless patterns in Illustrator from vector or raster images. Vector images are better because they don’t lose quality and are easy to edit.
  • A square dimension artboard makes pattern distribution easier since all the sides are equal. This works when manually distributing images.
  • The arrangement of objects around the edges of your artboard will determine how seamless your pattern will appear.

4 Easy Steps to Make a Seamless Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

You can quickly make a pattern from any shapes you create. 

Note: All screenshots are from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows Version. Mac and other versions may appear different. 

Step 1: Design the shapes you want to make a pattern of. You can skip designing if you already have an image. 

For example, I’ll make a pattern from the shapes below.

Step 2:  Select the shapes. Go to the overhead menu and click Object > Pattern > Make

A window pop-up will appear. The pop-up will tell you the new pattern has been added to the Swatches panel. You can open the Swatches panel from the overhead menu Window > Swatches.

You will see the pattern in your document and a Pattern Options dialogue box. 

The box in the center inside the blue binding box shows the selected shape (the tile shape). We will edit the pattern on the tile shape in the next steps.

Step 3: Edit the settings on the Pattern Options dialogue box. Let’s start by naming it.

Let’s choose the Tile Type. The Tile Type determines how the pattern will appear. The Grid is the default tile type. We will also use Grid since it is a common option. 

The Width and Height options refer to the width and height of the Tile Type box (the box marked with the green square). 

Check the Size Tile to Art to attach the box to the artwork edges closest to the box. 

You can use the H and V spacing values to add space to your work. Putting a negative value will make the shape overlap. 

Choose the copies of Tile type. 3×3 is the default Tile Type, but I will be using 5×5 because of the size of my artboard. 

You can try out the different Tile Type options to see the one that works best for your design. Go to the next step once you are happy with the result. 

Step 4: Click Done from the top of the document window. 

The pattern will disappear from your window. Don’t freak out! You can find it in the swatches panel. 

How to Edit Patterns in Adobe Illustrator

You can select the objects (the objects of your pattern) and drag them to the Swatches panel to create a custom pattern. If you want to edit the pattern, simply double-click on it from the Swatches panel to open the Pattern Options window again.

Do you know that you can specific objects in the pattern? Yes, you can.

Click on the object within the Tile Type you wish to edit and make your changes. You will notice that the specific image in the pattern will follow the changes you made to the object in the Tile Type.

Let’s put this into practice.

For example, I changed the shape of the purple-filled circle. I extended one of the anchor points, and you can see how all the purple circles in the pattern changed.

Note: You won’t be able to edit your pattern this way if it is a Raster image (JPEG, PNG, etc).

You can create other shapes and choose the pattern as the fill. 

You can incorporate this pattern in your other designs.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to make seamless patterns in Adobe Illustrator. Always remember to select all your objects when working with vector images. It is faster to work with raster images. The downside is that you cannot edit the Tile Type from the Patterns Options windows.

Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comment section.

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