I want to design something like this:

Whatsapp background

Food pattern from subtle patterns

It has been established in previous answers that these are doodle graphics.

Some ways to make them manually are seen on here and here.

How can I make one or more doodles, select the group and randomly spray them on a canvas with a few skewed orientations?

  • 1
    I added a bounty to your question because I can't find anything similar online, so it would be interesting to come up with a solution!
    – Yisela
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 2:27

7 Answers 7


I have a solution that works very well for one icon at a time. Create a Photoshop brush preset.

Start with one doodled icon. Turn it into a Photoshop brush and set the brush options to scatter (spacing) and rotate (orientation) the icon to taste.

Click and drag across the screen to leave a trail of scattered 'graphics'. If you need a second set of doodle icons feel free to create and brush with as many custom brushes as you want.

This technique can be used to create things like snowflake trees by creating a path with the pen tool, turning on pressure (tapers the ends of the brush strokes), and tracing the path.

This tutorial explains EVERY technique required to do this.


I've been doing similar work semi-manually in Illustrator

  1. Create a small pattern from the doodles you'd like to use (Make sure all 4 edges match up perfectly)

  2. Add your pattern as a new swatch in the Swatches palette.

  3. Fill any object of any size with the new swatch.

Hope this helps.


I've actually paid several hundred dollars to a developer who tied to get this to work. We faced a number of issues the biggest was getting symbols outline through JavaScript for Illustrator. Moreover, even if this algorithm was to be done, the pattern may not be so beautiful as there is no way for the script to "understand" the intricacy of individual symbols and the conceptual relationships of the composition.

I would however be very curious to see if anyone is able to make this work.

  • I would be extremely impressed if a run of the mill programmer can do this very well. See thos is one of the big nonsolved problems. Sure you can do a good solution with several tricks Turns out that a human is often better. perfect is not known, but would have big impact on manufacturing and shipping industry. This perfect packer would make you a millionre overnight.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 8:45

If you're looking for a simple solution, patternninja works very well for arranging icons on a background very quickly. However, it may not achieve the random effect you are looking for.


There used to be a guy at comic-con showing off software that did this. I never bought it since I don't do this often and it's a bit expensive at $70, but it looks cool:



The term that comes to mind is "doodle graphic". I'm not sure what you mean by how to make these because they're just doodles, so I'm assuming you mean what program would be best for making these? Photoshop or Illustrator would be fine.

If you don't have those and you're looking to make these without paying money, you can use the Sketchpad app for Google Chrome. If you're not using Google Chrome as your browser, I recommend you try it, but as for the app, there is another online version but it isn't as good.


Doodle Graphic is correct, what you need to do however is get the graphic you wish to pattern up and then do this in Adobe Photoshop (or Illustrator... or an alternative program) to achieve a pattern file. Here's a good place to start: How to create a Doodle Pattern in Photoshop.
Good luck!

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