How to Create a Custom Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

See Adobe Illustrator: Tips and Tricks for similar articles.
Looking to improve your Illustrator skills? Check out Webucator’s Illustrator classes.

Custom pattern swatches can be created from shapes in Illustrator. In CC versions, a Pattern Options Panel was added to allow greater flexibility.

Most steps in this tutorial are applicable in CS5 and CS6. Exceptions as noted.

  1. Create the shape or shapes you want to use. In this example, I'll use a botanical motif. Pattern Shapes
  2. If you are working with multiple shapes using CS versions of Illustrator, you'll also want to create a square bounding box around the shapes. Hold down Shift as you draw the rectangle to make sure it's perfectly square. Set both Fill and Stroke to None unless you want want a color background in the pattern, in which case make sure to position the square behind the other shapes (Object > Arrange > Send to Back). Pattern Shapes
  3. Select all the shapes and drag them into the Swatches Panel. Pattern in Swatches Panel
  4. Create another shape and go to the Swatches Panel. Apply the pattern to the Fill. Pattern Fill
  5. To modify the applied pattern in CS versions, use the Transform commands. For instance, if you want to change the angle of the pattern, go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Object Menu
  6. In the dialog box, turn off Transform Object and check Transform Pattern. Rotate Dialog Box
  7. Illustrator CC introduced a Pattern Options Panel for global transformation of patterns. In other words, the modifications will be applied to the swatch itself. To modify the swatch, go to the Swatches Panel and double-click the pattern swatch. This will open the Pattern Options Panel as well as put you in Isolation Mode. Pattern Options Panel
  8. The Tile Type options let you offset the the pattern repeat, or change the tile shape. There are also Width and Height fields for scaling the pattern. As you can see in the screen shot, you can also name the pattern.
  9. When finished editing the pattern swatch, go to the Isolation Bar at the top of the window and click Done to exit Isolation Mode.

Related Articles

  1. Creating an SVG logo
  2. How to Use the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  3. How to Use the Gradient Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  4. How to Use a Photoshop File in Adobe Illustrator
  5. How to Use Live Paint to Color and Paint Artwork in Adobe Illustrator
  6. How to Put Type in Perspective in Adobe Illustrator
  7. How to Create Variable-width Stroke Profiles in Adobe Illustrator
  8. How to Create a Line Graph in Adobe Illustrator
  9. How to Create a Pattern Brush in Adobe Illustrator
  10. How to Use Isolation Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  11. How to Add Spot Color in Adobe Illustrator
  12. How to Use Draw Inside Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  13. How to Find and Replace in Adobe Illustrator
  14. How to Divide Basic Shapes into Component Pieces in Adobe Illustrator
  15. How to Work with Bezier Curves in Adobe Illustrator
  16. How to Create a Brochure in Adobe Illustrator
  17. How to Use the Shape Builder Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  18. How to Use the Group Selection Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  19. How to Check Spelling in Adobe Illustrator
  20. How to Use Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator
  21. How to Use Global Color Swatches in Adobe Illustrator
  22. How to Manage Artwork with Sublayers in Adobe Illustrator
  23. How to Import Illustrator Files Into Adobe Animate
  24. How to Create Shapes from Multiple Paths in Adobe Illustrator
  25. How to Adjust the Default Artboard in Adobe Illustrator
  26. How to Create a New Document in Adobe Illustrator
  27. How to Use a Color Group to Change Multiple Swatches in Adobe Illustrator
  28. How to Create a Package File from a Template in Adobe Illustrator
  29. How to Work with Hidden Characters in Adobe Illustrator
  30. How to Work with Template Layers in Adobe Illustrator
  31. How to Create Symbols for Mapping Artwork to 3D Objects in Adobe Illustrator
  32. How to Work with Threaded Text in Adobe Illustrator
  33. How to Convert Type to Outlines in Adobe Illustrator
  34. How to Use Draw Behind Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  35. How to Use Adobe Illustrator to Create Website Graphics
  36. How to Create a Custom Pattern in Adobe Illustrator (this article)
  37. How to Use Warp Design Elements in Adobe Illustrator
  38. How to Create Custom Graphics from Letter Shapes in Adobe Illustrator