Sign In  |  Join Now Become a member to add links and start earning points!

Create Amazing Patterns using Adobe Illustrator

By reading this tutorial you will learn how to easily create cool looking shapes with the Pattern Brush in Illustrator. Additionally I’ll show you how to make advanced Pattern Brushes and give you some tips about using them.

Materials Needed:

What we’ll be making

The Pattern Brush allows you to distribute shapes over lines or objects in a pattern-like manner. Or to put it more simply, it makes drawing things like in the pictures below a breeze :)

Image Description
Image Description
Image Description

Step 1 – Pattern Brush basics

Pattern Brush consists of five elements called tiles. They are:

Side Tile – part of the brush, which is applied on straight and curved lines.

Outer Corner Tile – used on outer corners
Inner Corner Tile – used on inner corners
Start Tile – used on the beginning of a path
End Tile – used on the ending of a path

The End Tile and the Start Tile work only on open shapes.

The shape below is composed with a single stroke which has a pattern brush applied to it.

Image Description

Stroke without the pattern brush.

Image Description

Step 2 – Simple brush, great results

As you can see the Pattern Brush is a pretty powerful tool. It needs a little preparation before you can use it, because you have to make a shape for each of the tiles.

However, you can achieve pretty spectacular results by using only the Side Tile. Let me show you.

Step 2.1

To create an elegant pattern like below I used only two simple shapes. I drew the first one myself, the second one is from the Wingdings 2 font.

Image Description

Take the first shape and drag it to the Brushes Panel. In the pop-up window select “New Pattern Brush” and click “OK”

Image Description

Take the second shape and also drag it to the Brushes Panel.

Draw four circles on the artboard like in the picture below.

Image Description

Apply the first pattern Brush to the first and the third circle, counting from the inside.

Image Description

It doesn’t look quite good yet, but we’ll fix it right away. While having the two circles still selected go to the Brushes Panel and from the panel menu select “Options of Selected Object”.

Image Description

In the options window input 50% into the Scale box and select “Add space to fit” instead of “Scale to fit” because we don’t want our brush to be distorted. From the “Colorization” drop down menu select “Tints”

Image Description

Now select the other two circles, apply the second pattern brush to it, and adjust it like in the step before.

Image Description

Select all the circles and give color to their strokes (strokes: #D50743, background: #4D1D40). Normally you, can’t change color of a pattern brush, but we made it possible by changing the Colorization option to “Tints”.

Image Description

Step 2.2

Let me show you some other designs I made using this simple technique.

A vortex like shape made with a glyph from Wingdings and a Spiral.

Image Description

A simple flower shape made with a circle and petal shape.

Image Description

Geometric typography. Think how much work would it take to space the three stripes perfectly on every letter. Thanks to the Pattern Brush it only takes minutes :)

Image Description
Image Description

Step 3 – Making it more advanced

Now that you know the basics I’m going to show you how to make an advanced Pattern Brush.

We’ll be making a Pattern Brush that looks like this when applied to various objects:

Image Description

Step 3.1

We’ll
start with a Side Tile. Draw 3 rectangles on your artboard, align them horizontally, and distribute them evenly by using the “Vertical Distribute Center” option on the Align Panel.

Image Description

Pattern Brush works best when each tile fits the same vertical and horizontal space, so lets make our 3 stripes 42 px long and 42 px high.

Image Description

Grab the 3 stripes and drag them to the Brushes Panel. In the pop-up window select “New Pattern Brush” and in the Pattern Brush Options window name it as “Stripes” and click OK.

Image Description

Step 3.2

Let’s take care of the Outer Corner Tile now. Copy the three stripes and paste them in front (ctrl/cmd+F). Use the Transform Panel to move the copy 42px to the left and 42px down. You don’t need to count the numbers, just enter +42 or -42 in the input field, press Enter and
Illustrator will count it for you :)

Image Description

Rotate the copy 90 degrees clockwise, select both elements and use ctrl/cmd+2 to lock them.

Image Description

Turn on the smart guides (ctrl/cmd+u) and select the Pen Tool.

Now
click on the corners of blue stripes with the Pen Tool like shown in the pictures below. The Smart Guides will be of great help here, you will know you have a corner under your cursor when there will be “anchor” displayed next to it.

Image Description
Image Description
Image Description
Image Description
Image Description

Repeat the steps for two other stripes.

Image Description

Go to the Transform Panel and flip the diagonal stripes horizontally.

Image Description

Select the diagonal stripes we just made, hold alt/option key and drag them into the first spot of our “Stripes” brush.

Image Description

Your
brush should look like in the picture below. The leftmost element in the preview should tile with the elements on the right. The stripes on the tiles must be connected to their corresponding color (blue with blue, green with green…)

Image Description

It shouldn.t look like below, because your pattern will not tile properly.

Image Description

Look at the brush preview

If your brush does’t tile properly in the preview window it will not tile properly on objects.

Step 3.3

It’s time for the Inner Corner Tile.

Delete the Outer Corner Tile we just made from the artboard, and arrange the two Side Tiles like in the picture below.

Image Description

Position two guides like in a picture below (Smart Guides make it ultra easy).

Image Description

Hold the alt/option key and drag the left edge of the first tile like below.

Image Description

Do the same with the second tile, but drag its top edge to the top guide.

Image Description

Select both newly made copies, go to the Pathfinder Panel and hit Divide.

Image Description

Delete the parts indicated in the picture.

Image Description

Make a selection like below, go to the Pathfinder Panel and alt/option+click “Add to shape Area”

Image Description

Repeat previous step, but this time make a selection like that.

Image Description

Step 3.3.1

Select the shapes we just made and go to Effect>Stylize>Round Corners. Input 10px into the text box and click OK.

Image Description

We only want the corners to be rounded so we need to expand the effect and adjust the ends manually. Select the shapes and go to Object>Expand Appearance.

Image Description

Select the pen tool and click on the anchor indicated in the picture to delete it.

Image Description

With the Pen Tool still selected hold alt/option key and click those two points.

Image Description

Select the points you clicked in the step before. With the Direct Selection Tool (A) hold shift and drag the edge between the two points down, until it snaps to the edge of the Side Tile.

Image Description
Image Description

We’ve successfully straightened one edge, but there is five more to do. Just repeat the whole process on the five remaining edges. 

Image Description

Step 3.3.2

If you’ve got problems with the smallest part of our tile (the one that looks like a circle) just follow these steps.

Select it and go to Object>Path>Add Anchor Points.

Image Description

Take the Pen Tool, hold alt/option key and click the indicated anchors to turn them into corner points.

Image Description

Click those two points with the Pen Tool to delete them.

Image Description

You’ll need the Smart Guides for this step so turn them on (ctrl/cmd+u). Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and snap the points like in the pictures below.

Image Description
Image Description
Image Description
Image Description

Ok, to finish grab the three shapes we made hold alt/option and drag them into the fourth slot of our Pattern Brush.

Image Description

Step 3.4

Now lets make the Start Tile. This will be fast compared to the Corner Tiles :)

Duplicate the Side Tile and move it 42px to the left. Go to Object>Path>Add Anchor Points.

Image Description

Make the same selection like in the picture below, and move the points a little to the right.

Image Description
Image Description

Flip the shapes vertically, drag them to the fifth slot of our Pattern Brush. Click OK.

Image Description

Step 3.5

We’re left with the final element, the End Tile.

Duplicate the Side Tile once again but this time move it 42px to the right. Take the Rectangle Tool and draw 2 rectangles of the same width as one stripe (check it’s width in the Transform Panel). Align the rectangleslike in the picture below.

Image Description

Duplicate the rectangles you just made, flip them vertically and put them over the blue stripe like below.

Image Description

Make a guide that touches the right end of our shape and extend the green stripe until it snaps to that guide.

Image Description

Select the whole shape and flip it vertically using the Transform Panel.

Image Description

Alt/option + drag it to the last slot of our brush.

Image Description

The brush is ready to use, Apply it to any shape you want :)

Image Description

Step 4 – Additional Pattern Brush tips

When drawing a shape you have to pay attention of the direction you are drawing in. If you for example take a Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle starting from the top left or bottom right and apply our Pattern Brush to it, it will look like that:

Image Description

But if you star to draw it from the bottom left or top right, the pattern will be flipped:

Image Description

Step 4.1

When you draw a line and notice that the End Tile is where the Start tile supposed to be. There are two ways of fixing it.

First is to go to the Brushes Palette and from the palette menu select “Options of the selected object” and use the “Flip Along” option.

Image Description

The second way is to take the Pen Tool and click on the end point of the path (where the End Tile is). 

Image Description

The path direction will reverse.

Image Description

That’s everything for now. As you can see the Pattern Brush is a very powerful too, capable of creating intricate designs. Thank you for reading my tutorial.

Download the PSD (or source files)

46 Comments

  1. Add point Subtract point
    Vivek Parmar (3 Points) November 30, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Nice tut and a great job done by using illustrator. thanks for share.

    Flag as inappropriate
  2. Add point Subtract point

    Creating Patterns in Adobe Illustrator looks hard to beginners Thanks for sharing this useful tutorial

    Flag as inappropriate
  3. Add point Subtract point
    shonatiger (2 Points) November 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    What a fantastic tut! So glad I stumbled across it. Was able to follow along, no problem. Thanks for such a great resource!

    Flag as inappropriate
  4. Add point Subtract point
    web design websites (1 Point) November 1, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    cool stuff….thanks for sharing man…..

    Flag as inappropriate
  5. Add point Subtract point
    Web Designer Derry (1 Point) October 26, 2010 at 5:02 am

    nice article some inspiring stuff in there

    Flag as inappropriate
  6. Add point Subtract point

    I’m extremely excited about this tutorial, pattern brushes are something I haven’t quite mastered yet, so I haven’t had time to read this thoroughly but I have high hopes for it explaining my difficulties away. Thank-you!

    Flag as inappropriate
  7. Add point Subtract point
    Brian Pinkney (1 Point) October 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Nice stuff, useful and informative. Much appreciated for the effort!

    Flag as inappropriate
  8. Add point Subtract point
    seo nottingham (1 Point) October 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Very cool patterns and a nice tutorial as well.

    Good Stuff

    Flag as inappropriate
  9. Add point Subtract point
    Office Chairs chennai (1 Point) October 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Its a useful tutorial…very nice amazing patterns..thanks for share

    Flag as inappropriate
  10. Add point Subtract point
    DesignMango (1 Point) October 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Really Clever, Nicely Done.

    Flag as inappropriate
  11. Add point Subtract point
    Crazyhunk (1 Point) September 26, 2010 at 4:17 am

    gr8 tut… love the details in the tut…

    Flag as inappropriate
  12. Add point Subtract point
    rod rodriguez (1 Point) September 19, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Great tuts man. I’m not using Illustrator as much as Photoshop but I always have an itch to make some personal projects every now and then, and this tutorial just inspired me to do one. Thanks for this very detailed posting.

    Flag as inappropriate
  13. Add point Subtract point
    Paginas web Guatemala (1 Point) September 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Very interesting tutorial! Thanks for explaining and Sharing! :) Best Regards!!

    Flag as inappropriate
  14. Add point Subtract point
    Mabel Forsyth (1 Point) September 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Nice tutorial- thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate
  15. Add point Subtract point

    A great tutorial, with some interesting methods and well explained. Many thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate
  16. Add point Subtract point
    Venke Bandaru (1 Point) September 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Awesome tut… beautiful colors…

    Flag as inappropriate
  17. Add point Subtract point

    Steps 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 you could use the Round Any Corner script: http://bit.ly/bNBQdX
    Saves a whole lot of time !

    Flag as inappropriate
  18. Add point Subtract point

    Steps 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 you could use the Round Any Corner script: http://bit.ly/bNBQdX
    Saves a whole lot of time !

    Flag as inappropriate
  19. Add point Subtract point
    Tutorial Lounge (1 Point) September 15, 2010 at 6:54 am

    really beautiful training.

    Flag as inappropriate
  20. Add point Subtract point
    Warren Jerzyszek (1 Point) September 15, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Nice tutorial, I really like the methods you have used for these examples. I have used Adobe Illustrator for this type of thing before, I find it great tool for creating seamless vector patterns. Thanks for sharing, you’ve shown me a couple of nice examples that I will definitely use in my future websites.

    Flag as inappropriate
  21. Add point Subtract point
    Imran Khan (2 Points) September 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    oh Great!!! you did an amazing job =)

    thanks for sharing

    Flag as inappropriate
  22. Add point Subtract point

    Very informative and helpful. Thaks very much.

    Flag as inappropriate
  23. Add point Subtract point

    gracias por el aporte
    excente tutorial

    Flag as inappropriate
  24. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial :) Sure i’m gona try create some nice pattern.

    Professional Photoshop Patterns you CAN’T be Missing – http://www.cruzine.com/2010/06/25/professional-photoshop-patterns/

    Flag as inappropriate
  25. Add point Subtract point

    Very nice write-up. Thank you :)
    Best
    Sascha

    Flag as inappropriate
  26. Add point Subtract point
    Web Designers (2 Points) September 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the info, very useful

    Flag as inappropriate
  27. Add point Subtract point
    rajasegar (2 Points) September 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Awesome and technically sound… great tutorial on making patterns…

    Flag as inappropriate
  28. Add point Subtract point
    Childmonster (2 Points) September 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Very nice !!! I like it so much.
    Thanks

    Flag as inappropriate
  29. Add point Subtract point

    Omg 0.0 the best AI tutorial i ever had….

    amazing, it is really a wonderful tutorial, thank you so much for sharing this :)

    Flag as inappropriate
  30. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial. Good basic info on brushes.

    Flag as inappropriate
  31. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial! Goes to my bookmarks :)

    Flag as inappropriate