In this tutorial we will make a simple yet beautiful oriental pattern in Adobe Illustrator. Various objects of Asian culture will be created with basic shapes and then combined into a neat composition, forming a seamless pattern, that will fit perfectly as a background for your blog, an ornamental wrapping paper for your gift or a festive piece of fabric for clothing. Interested? Let’s get started then!
1. Create Traditional Paper Lanterns
We’ll start by forming the first element of our texture – a red paper lantern. Firstly, make a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) and fill it with pure red color. Secondly, go to Effect > Stylize > Round corners and set the Radius to approximately 30 px, to give our shape a lantern look.
Add a small rectangle on top of the basic lantern shape and press the Enter. Set the Vertical value in the pop-up Move window to -3 px in order to separate the rectangle from the lantern and to maintain our simple style.
Add a thin white stripe using the Rectangle Tool (M) again, hold the Alt key and drag the stripe down a bit, so that we get the copy of our first stripe. Hit the Control-D combination a few times to repeat your last action, creating more copies. Use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to cut off those parts you don’t need.
Let’s add a white shape using the Ellipse Tool (L) and put it into the center with the help of the Align panel.
Further, we need to add a tiny handle on top of our lantern. Make an oval shape with the Ellipse tool (L). Set the stroke to 2px and switch it to red color. We need only the upper arc of the ellipse, so we’ll use the Scissors Tool (S) to click on side anchor points of the ellipse and break it apart. Then just delete the unneeded part (blue on the screenshot). Check the Stroke options window to set the Cap and Corner to middle positions (Round).
Add a few simple details to make our lantern more eye-catching. Add several stripes and edit them using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Put a red spot in the center of our lantern, so that it reminds a Japanese banner.
Let’s form a second lantern, but of the other shape. Make an ellipse and place a handle from the red lantern. Add a thin white line using the Line Segment Tool (\) and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Set the Bend slider to -68%. The line will become arched, following the form of our lantern and making it more dimensional. Make the line dashed using the Stroke panel and add the finishing touch by drawing a fringe in the bottom of our lantern.
Vary the length of the fringe elements and add a festive lace to the bottom of our lantern.
2. Render a Bamboo Fence
An essential part of Asian pattern is a bamboo. Let’s make one! Draw a shape using the Rectangle Tool (M) and transform it by selecting the side anchor points with Direct Selection Tool (A) and moving them closer to the center. Make several copies of the bamboo and put the segments one above another. Duplicate the column and form a fence by varying the height of separate segments.
Move on and make a simple brush for the leaves. Draw an oval with the Ellipse Tool (L) and convert the upper and lower anchor points to corner, making them sharp. Drag and drop the leaf to the Brushes panel and create the Art Brush, leaving the settings as default.
Grab the Paintbrush Tool (B) and draw a few leaves around our fence.
3. Form a Gentle Sakura Blossom
Beautiful eastern culture always reminds me of soft cherry petals. In order to make one, start by forming a shape with the Ellipse Tool (L). Cut off a segment from the ellipse by adding a triangle above the shape and modifying it with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Now we have something like a hoof-print. Convert the lower anchor point to corner by clicking it with the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Finally, select both side anchor points and move them up a bit, to make the upper part of the petal wider.
Now we can shape our petals into a nice cherry blossom. Add a small circle under the petal. Take the Rotate Tool (R), hold the Alt key and click into the center of the circle. This will be our pivot point, over which we’ll be rotating the copies of the petal. Release the mouse button, set the Rotate Angle to 70 degrees in the pop-up options window and hit the Copy button. Press Control-D several times to repeat the last action, thus forming a flower.
Add simple details to make the flower more fancy. Draw several lines with Line Segment Tool (\) and decorate them with circles.
Group the created decorative elements and use the same trick with the Rotate Tool (R) to add them to every petal.
4. Render an Ornate Red Fan
Start by drawing a rectangle and transform it by moving its lower anchor points closer to the center. Go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and set the Radius to 3 px to make the shape more smooth. Add a thin stick with the Rectangle Tool (M), Sent it to Back (Shift-Control-[) and Align to Key Object, thus putting the stick in the center of the red shape.
Now we need to form a fan. Use the Rotate Tool (R) by holding the Alt key and clicking at the bottom of the stick. Set the Rotate Angle to 15 degrees and hit the Copy button. Press Control-D, forming the left part of our fan. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to reflect the created group of objects over the vertical axis.
Let’s make our fan more whimsy and ornate. Draw a squashed ellipse and convert its side anchor points to corners. Go to Effect > Warp > Flag and set the Bend value to maximum. Object > Expand Appearance of our shape and decorate the fan with newly created wavy lines.
Create a 10-sides Polygon and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat to make a simple flower by moving the slider to the Bloat side. Don't forget to apply Object > Expand Appearance to your flower.
Decorate our fan with flowers, varying the size of each element. Select all the red shapes, Copy and Paste in Front. Unite the shapes in Pathfinder and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to delete the unneeded parts, which left outside of the fan.
Make the ornament fill a bit darker, add a small circle handle in the bottom and – voila! – our fan is completed.
5. Add Some Zen Garden Stones
Let’s add harmony to our composition by drawing a few smooth stones. Shape the first stone out of the ellipse by moving its anchor handles with Direct Selection Tool (A) and making the right part of the object narrower. Add another ellipse above the first one and reshape it to fit the composition. Add a small stone on top and use the leaf brush that we've made for the bamboo fence to add some cute leaves on both sides of the stones.
6. Render a Japanese Gate
The only tool we need to create the stylized Japanese Gate is the Rectangle Tool (M). Create two rectangles, one above the other, making the lower rectangle slightly smaller. Add the pillars by placing another rectangle at one side of the gate and rotating it a bit. Reflect the pillar over the vertical axis and place its copy on the other side of the gate. Add some minor details, making the gate more fancy.
Change the fill color of the elements to bright red and orange that we’ve used in our palette. Select the upper part of the gate and go to Effect > Warp > Arc, setting the Bend value to approximately -7%. Add some dark stripes in the bottom of the pillars. Use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) with 1 pt size to separate the parts of the gate from each other by holding the Shift key to move the tool straight horizontally.
7. Compose a Neat Oriental Pattern
All the elements of our composition are ready! You can change the colors to your liking. Here I've made them a little more pale.
Now the fun part! Select all the elements and go to Object > Pattern > Make, entering into the Pattern mode. You can play with the settings in the Pattern Options window, however the only thing I change here it the Width and Height (600x600 px). We make the tile square, so that our pattern remains seamless and we can use it not only for filling the shapes that we’re creating in AI, but we’re be able to export out pattern and use it for any purpose – print, set as a background, etc.
Spread the elements around the canvas and you’ll see how your pattern will look like with the help of semi-transparent copies of our objects.
Copy the blossoms and recolor them according to the overall color palette. Add more copies of the blossoms behind all other objects, making them more transparent by lowering the Opacity in the Transparency panel.
Continue adding more elements in order to get rid of blank spaces. Add the semi-transparent copies of the bamboo fence and spread the circles and simple flowers all over the canvas.
Exit the Pattern Mode by pressing Done in the control panel above or just clicking twice on the empty space outside the Artboard. Now you can find your pattern in the Swatches panel and edit it anytime by clicking the Swatch Options button.
Congratulations! Our Gentle Oriental Pattern is finished!
Now you have a nice seamless pattern that can be used anywhere you like. Hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial and discovered some useful things! Good luck in making new patterns!