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Design

How to Create a Cute, Playful School Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Follow this tutorial and let’s create a back to school seamless pattern with cute animals and school items! We’ll be modifying various simple shapes, using the Shape Builder Tool, Warp Effects, and other useful functions of Adobe Illustrator. Then we’ll gather our elements into a playful seamless pattern that can be applied to any shape and used for print on fabric or as a background for your website or blog. 

You can create an expanded version of the pattern by adding more elements, which you can get from this Kids School Set on Envato Elements. There you will find a collection of colorful seamless patterns, a set of school items and portraits of all the characters that you can use for both personal and commercial projects!

School Kids Set on Envato Elements

Let’s begin to create our pattern!

1. How to Create a Cute Bunny

Step 1

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and let’s create the base of the head from an 115 x 85 px white oval.

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to pull the anchor handles of the side points up, making the shape a bit more squared and flat at the top.

make a head from ellipse

Step 2

Let’s add facial features. Make an 8 x 8 px dark-purple circle for the eye. Select it with the Selection Tool (V), hold Alt-Shift, and drag to the opposite side to make the second eye.

Then make a couple of 12 x 6 px pink ellipses for the blush spots on the cheeks. Use the same ellipses to form the eyebrows. Change the fill color to grey and rotate the shapes a bit to make the bunny look surprised and friendly.

Create a larger ellipse for the nose and place it in the center of the face. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the color from the eyes.

Finally, to make everything perfectly aligned, we can group (Control-G) each pair of elements, select them together with the head, and click Horizontal Align Center in the Align panel. Select either Align to Key Object or to Artboard at the bottom of the panel.

add facial features

Step 3

Now let’s add a mouth. Create a 12 x 12 px circle with dark-purple Stroke and no Fill. Use the Scissors Tool (C) to click both side anchor points, splitting the shape apart. Delete the top half of the circle. 

Hold Alt-Shift and drag the semicircle to the right, creating a copy.

We can adjust the thickness of the lines in the Stroke panel. Set the Weight to 2 pt and Cap to Round Cap.

Connect the mouth with the nose by adding a short vertical 2 pt line.

form a mouth from a circle

Step 4

Let’s put on a pair of round funny glasses on our bunny's face. Make a large 55 x 55 px circle with magenta stroke and 3 pt Stroke Weight

Duplicate (hold Alt-Shift and drag) it to the opposite side and connect the circles with a small arch. We can copy the arched line from the mouth group and rotate it upside down.

add glasses

Step 5

Now let’s move on to the ears. Make a 22 x 75 px light-grey ellipse. Select its top and bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and Convert selected anchor points to corner from the control panel on top.

Then select both side anchor points and drag them up a bit to make the top of the shape wider.

make an ear from the ellipse 1

Step 6

Double-click the Rotate Tool (R) and set the Angle to 20 degrees. Now Copy (Control-C) the shape and Paste in Front (Control-F). Make the shape smaller and fill it with pink color, depicting the inner part of the ear.

make an ear from the ellipse 2

Step 7

Group (Control-G) both parts of the ear, double-click the Reflect Tool (O), and select the Vertical Axis. Click Copy to create the second ear.

use the reflect tool

Step 8

Attach the ears to the top of the head and Send to Back (Shift-Control-[).

There we have it! Our bunny is ready!

Our bunny is ready

2. How to Draw a Kitten Character

Step 1

Let’s use the base of the bunny’s head and his face to make a cute kitty! Add short 2 pt strokes to the eyes to form the eyelashes.

create a kittens face

Step 2

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and let’s make some stripes on the forehead. Create a 15 x 45 px oval in the center of the top edge of the head and add two smaller ovals by both sides of it.

Select all the ovals and the head. Take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), hold Alt, and click on the pieces that you want to delete.

use the shape builder tool

Step 3

Now let’s make the ears!

  1. Take the Polygon Tool (you can find it in the same drop-down menu as the Rectangle Tool (M)) and click anywhere on the Artboard to open a pop-up Options window. Set the number of Sides to 3. Make a 65 x 60 px triangle.
  2. Select the top corner of the triangle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag it to the right side.
  3. Grab the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and let’s make the top of the ear rounded. Click the top anchor point and drag the handles out, making the corner smooth.
make an ear from a triangle 1

Step 4

Drag the top point further right, making the shape skew even more. Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the shape and make the copy smaller. Change the fill color to pink, depicting the inner part of the ear.

make an ear from a triangle 2

Step 5

Let’s rotate the ear, attach it to the left side of the head and Send to Back (Shift-Control-[). Use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip the ear group over the Vertical Axis and attach it to the opposite side of the head.

attach the ears to the head

Step 6

Finish off the kitty by adding round glasses to the face.

Finish up with the kitty

3. How to Make a Cute Shiba Dog

Step 1

Start by making a head from a 125 x 90 px orange ellipse. Select its side anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move them down a bit. Make the anchor handles shorter to make the sides of the head more pointed.

Add the facial features to the face by duplicating them from the bunny, but this time make the brows white.

make a head from the ellipse

Step 2

Take the Line Segment Tool (\) or the Pen Tool (P), hold Shift, and make a horizontal line. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag and set the following options:

  • Size to 10 px
  • Ridges per Segment to 3
  • Points to Smooth

Click OK and Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

make a smooth zig zag line

Step 3

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to straighten the tips of the line by bending the anchor handles down.

Place the created stroke across the face, as shown in the image below, and align it to the head, using the head as a Key Object. To do this, select both the line and the head and click the head once again. Then click Horizontal Align Center in the Align panel.

align the shapes to the center

Step 4

Keeping both shapes selected, click Divide in the Pathfinder panel to split the shape apart. Fill the bottom part with white color.

use divide in the pathfinder panel

Step 5

Let’s form an ear from a 65 x 60 px orange triangle. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc, set the Vertical Bend value to 20%, and click OK.

Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

make an ear from a triangle 1

Step 6

Select the shape with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and let’s make the corners rounded. We can do it either manually by pulling the circle marker of the Live Corners or by setting the Corner Radius to 10 px in the control panel on top.

Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the shape and make the copy smaller. Change its fill color to white.

make an ear from a triangle 1

Step 7

Attach the ear to the head and use the Reflect Tool (O) to make a mirrored copy. Our shiba dog is finished! Great work!

Our shiba dog is finished

4. How to Design a Cute Raccoon

Step 1

We can make the head of this character similar to the head of the dog but with sharper sides.

Another way to make the head is to open this How to Create a Set of Flat Animal Icons in Adobe Illustrator tutorial and follow Part 3, Step 1 to recreate a similar raccoon head.

Or we can get the whole pack of Flat Animals Icons on Envato Elements and use the raccoon icon as a base.

Apply the face from our bunny.

make a raccoons face

Step 2

Let’s recreate the stripes. Make an 83 x 75 px dark-blue ellipse, rotate it, and place it on the left side of the face, as shown in the image below. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip the shape over the Vertical Axis, creating a copy.

Select the ellipses together with the head and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) while holding down Alt to delete the unwanted pieces.

create the stripes from ovals

Step 3

Now we’ve got all four characters! Let’s add a few more objects to make the pattern more diverse.

all four characters

5. How to Create a Colorful Drum

Step 1

Let’s create the top and bottom edges of drum from a couple of 98 x 9 px pink rectangles with 2 px Corner Radius.

Place the rectangles as shown below and connect them with a larger light-pink rectangle, depicting a side-view of the drum.

make a drum from rectangles

Step 2

Create a horizontal line with yellow stroke, using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\).

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag and set the following options:

  • Size to 26 px
  • Ridges per segment to 4
  • Points to Corner

Click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) to delete the bottom point on the right in order to make the shape symmetrical.  

make a zig zag line

Step 3

Select the created shape, right-click, and Join to close the path. Press Shift-X to Swap Fill and Stroke.

Finally, place the created triangles over the base of the drum. Resize and align to make the triangles fit the drum.

add triangles to the drum

Step 4

Finish the drum by adding a pair of simple drumsticks made of circles and rounded rectangles.

add drumsticks

6. How to Draw a School Notepad, Crayons, and an Apple

Step 1

Let’s move to the next school item. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 75 x 110 px yellow rectangle. Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) it and make the top copy smaller (75 x 98 px). Fill the new shape with pink color.

make a notebook from rectangles

Step 2

Let’s add a spiral to the notebook. Make two 12 x 6 px grey rectangles and place them by the left side of the notebook. Select the rectangles and go to Object > Blend > Make

Now that the Blend Group is created, we can edit the settings from Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Spacing to Specified Steps equal 7.

add a spiral using blend tool

Step 3

Let's add a yellow rounded rectangle to the cover and decorate it with the letters “ABC”. I’ve used the Bananito Font, which you can get on GraphicRiver, or you can replace it with any hand-drawn style font of your liking.

Copy (Control-C) the yellow base rectangle and Paste in Back (Control-B). Select its top and bottom right anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the points down. Fill the copy with a darker yellow color to make the object a bit more three-dimensional.

design the cover of the notebook

Step 4

Create a 14 x 75 px pink rectangle and turn it into a simple crayon by adding more stripes and details. Make the top of the crayon from a rectangle as well, and move its top anchor points closer to each other using the arrow keys on your keyboard while holding down Shift.

Duplicate the crayons a few times and vary the colors.

make a crayon from rectangles

Step 5

Let’s make an apple from a 55 x 55 px red circle. Select its top anchor point and use the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) to rotate the handles 45 degrees to form the heart-shaped top of the apple. Make it a bit smoother, using the Live Corners feature.

Finish off the apple by adding a few more details like a leaf and a highlight, using the Ellipse Tool (L).

make an apple from a circle

7. How to Design a Seamless Pattern

Step 1

Now that we have all the elements ready, we can select them and go to Object > Pattern > Make. Once the Pattern Options panel is opened, set the following options:

  • Tile Type to Grid
  • Width to 450 px
  • Height to 450 px
  • Copies to 5 x 5

We can start distributing our objects inside the blue box, keeping all other objects outside the box and adding them one by one to make the pattern well balanced.

The Copies option helps us to see the whole picture by projecting semi-transparent copies around the box so that we can align the elements and fill up any blank spaces.

make a pattern with pattern tool 1

Step 2

Add the rest of the elements, placing them among the characters and rotating the objects.

Fill the empty gaps with generic elements, such as circles, leaves, or drop-like shapes, creating them either with the Pencil Tool (N) or with an Art Brush.

Let's see how we can make such a brush ourselves.

make a pattern with pattern tool 2

Step 3

Start by making a circle of about 20 x 20 px size. Select its left anchor point and drag it further left. Convert selected anchor point to corner from the control panel on top.

Then drag and drop the shape to the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes). Select Art Brush in the pop-up menu and leave all the options as default. Now we can pick the brush in the Brushes panel and use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to draw simple floral elements or swirls. 

We can change the size of the swirls by varying the Weight in the control panel on top or in the Stroke panel.

make an art brush

Step 4

Once you’re happy with the pattern, click Done on the top of the Artboard. Now we can find our pattern in the Swatches panel and edit it anytime if needed by clicking the Edit Pattern button at the bottom of the panel.

Let’s make an 850 x 600 px pink rectangle. Duplicate it and apply the pattern to the top copy by clicking it in the Swatches panel.

There we have it!

apply the created pattern

Step 5

I’ve used more school items from the School Kids Set to make the pattern more detailed and playful. We can also vary the colors of the elements and the background, making it fit any design needs.

design variations

Congratulations! Our Kids School Seamless Pattern Is Ready!

Great work! Our pattern is finished! I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and discovered some new tips and tricks that will help you to draw more cute cartoon characters and design new seamless patterns on different themes!

the pattern is finished

Feel free to get the whole School Kids Set on Envato Elements. There you will find the expanded version of our pattern in different color combinations as well as a bunch of additional elements and portraits of all the characters to use in either your personal or commercial projects.

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