Years ago as part of a school project to create a calendar, I made several retro patterns in Illustrator to use as backgrounds. I did all this by hand because I wasn't super familiar with Illustrator at the time, and creating patterns isn't something they teach you in classes. Anyways, I now have more experience with that, and have gotten pretty decent at making patterns in photoshop, and have basic working knowledge of the process in Illustrator.

I'm using Illustrator, but would be fine with advice regarding patterns in both. I have this design which I love. Green Circle designthe left image is what I tried in photoshop, to see if it would help the seams become seamless in illustrator, no dice. The right is the original design.

Apologies for the random squares on top, they got caught in the screenshot. I would like to know what's the best method for making this into a pattern swatch for Illustrator. I have CS6 if that makes a difference. I'm not sure if I need a smaller section to work with or need to extend certain areas.

Thank you!

2 Answers 2


The most difficult part of pattern creation is finding the proper pattern tile. You essentially have to examine what you see to figure out the smallest area possible which is repeating. When you try and create a tile which is too large you can easily run into alignment issues. For example, in your art, the circles are of varying sizes. Some are larger than others. This makes for a very uneven tile and subsequently,a misaligned pattern.

In your pattern, the base tile looks like this:

enter image description here

It is merely 6 circles - 5 the same size and 1 smaller. I've placed guides which intersect at the center of the outer circles. These guides indicate the edge of the needed tile.

So to create this pattern, simply create the artwork above, as I have. Then draw a no fill, no stroke rectangle which aligns to the guides, as I have them placed. Move this no fill, no stroke rectangle behind all other artwork via Object > Arrange > Move to Back.

Then select everything and drag it to the Swatch Panel. This will create a pattern swatch.

It's then a simple matter to apply the pattern swatch to the fill of an object.

enter image description here


The basics, however, are to create the pattern, then select it and drag it into the swatches pallette (or use Object > Pattern > Make).

In order to make the seams more seamless, you can resize the artboard to the appropriate dimensions and export just the artboard portion.

In this case, I'd guess you can just resize the artboard to surround one of the white circles without overlapping any other white circles, like this (rough):

Single circle cropped out

Alternately, you can just create this circle, including the green background, in a square and make sure everything is aligned and centered correctly, and then use this single circle to define the pattern.

More (tutorial screencasts): - Define a pattern - Create seamless patterns


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