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Design

How to Create A Nature Inspired Arrow Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a seamless arrow pattern. We will go through steps like creating the elements for the pattern, drawing a fox illustration, scattering everything on the background, and then cropping.

1. Drawing a Stalk Using a Special Brush

Step 1

Open a New document, and first let's create an arrow. For this, we will need the Pencil Tool (N) and the fill color R=123 G=130 B=94

So, check Round Cap on the Stroke panel, make sure that the options of this tool are Fidelity 3 pixels, Smoothness 50 %, and check Fill new pencil stroke. Draw a line using the Pencil Tool (N)

Let me tell you a little trick: if your hand is shaky and you can't draw a long, straight line, draw a very short line, for example, a few millimeters long, and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to stretch this line. Using the Pencil Tool (N), continue to draw the arrow. But of course, you can draw your own beautiful arrow.

creating the first arrow

Step 2

Create a few more arrows by following my examples below, or create your own. Add a feather at the end of one arrow, and make a copy of this feather as a separate item. To draw the tip of arrow, use the Pen Tool (P) with the same fill color and with no stroke. 

creating another arrows

Step 3

Use those stroke colors to add colors to the arrows.

colors display

In the end they should look like the image below. If you're satisfied with the result, expand all of the arrows (Object > Expand Appearance).

coloring the arrows

2. Creating Other Elements for the Pattern

Step 1

Again, with the help of the Pencil Tool (N), draw another element of our pattern—a square spiral. Multiply it to have four elements in one column. Rotate the second and the third spirals by 45 degrees using the Rotate Tool (R).

creating the square spiral

Step 2

Draw a few simple triangles: four of them in one column.

creating the simple triangles

Step 3

Now let's draw a sun. Make a very thick stroke and place a big dot, forming the body of the sun. To create the beams, you can use the Pencil Tool (N) or the Pen Tool (P) again—whichever you like the most. Using the Rotate Tool (R), multiply them.

creating the sun

Step 4

To create the last item of our pattern, I used a thick Brush Tool (B) (Brushes > Artistic > Artistic_Calligraphic > 20 pt. Oval), and then I added a few more elements.

creating the last pattern element

Step 5

Now we have four different pattern items along with the arrows. Expand all of them (Object > Expand Appearance).

displaying the pattern elements

3. Drawing the Fox

Step 1

I made this sketch directly in AI, using the Pencil Tool (N) and the Eraser Tool (Shift-E). So you can draw it by copying the image below, or create your own beautiful fox. To adjust the options of the Pencil Tool (N) in the new dialogue window, under the Tolerances section, make Fidelity 3 pixels and Smoothness around 40%. In the Stroke panel set Weight 1 px, and also I like to check Round Cap.

After finishing your drawing, select everything in this layer (Control-A), go to the Transparency panel, and make the Opacity around 20%. Lock the layer where you have drawn the fox.

fox sketch

Step 2

Create a new layer under the layer with the sketch, and start to outline your illustration. Choose dark orange for the fill color (R=206 G=99 B=52) and no stroke.

outlining the fox 1

Step 3

Add the ears, the eye and the nose. Remember to make the closer ear lighter and the further ear darker. The eye and nose are black.

adding the ears eye and nose

Step 4

Keep the fill color which you used for the darker ear and draw the left legs.

adding the left legs

Step 5

Change the color to R=96 G=71 B=54 and draw the lower part of the fox paw.

adding the lower parts of the paw 1

Step 6

Make the fill color darker (R=81 G=58 B=41) and draw the same for the right paws.

adding the lower parts of the paw 2

Step 7

Cut off the unneeded parts of the brown paws using the Intersect button in Pathfinder.

deleting the unneeded parts

Step 8

Set the fill color to R=241 G=240 B=236 and using the Pen Tool (P) draw a shape roughly as shown in the image below, overlapping the fox's tail.

finishing the tail of the fox

Step 9

Also draw a curved shape over its face and belly.

adding the white part of the fur

Step 10

Cut off the unneeded parts of it using the Intersect button in Pathfinder.

deleting the unneeded parts

At the end the fox should look like this:

displaying the fox after deleting the unneeded parts

4. Creating the Seamless Pattern

Step 1

Let’s draw a large square by using the Rectangle Tool (M). Set the fill color to R=216 G=219 B=202 and draw a square with Width 600 px and Height 600 px.

creating the background

Step 2

Scatter the arrows and pattern elements all over the square. Try to place the elements so they are overlapping just at the top side of the square.

scattering the elements over the background

Step 3

Then randomly add the foxes.

adding the foxes on the background

Step 4

Select all the elements without the background and group them (right-click > Group). Press the Enter key and Move window should pop up. Enter Horizontal Position 600 px, Vertical Position 0 px, Distance 600 px and set the Angle 0 degrees. Now, press the Copy button.

copying all the elements to the right

Step 5

Select all the elements inside the artboard again and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position -600 px, Vertical Position 0 px, Distance 600 px and Angle 0 degrees. Press the Copy button.

copying all the elements to the left

Step 6

Select all the elements inside the artboard once again and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position 0 px, Vertical Position 600 px, Distance 600 px and the Angle 90 degrees. Press the Copy button.

copying all the elements  upward

Step 7

Select all the elements inside the artboard for the last time, and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position 0 px, Vertical Position -600 px, Distance 600 px and the Angle -90 degrees. Press the Copy button.

copying all the elements downward

Step 8

Now, you must to ungroup everything. You need to delete all the elements that do not cross the background.

deleting the elements which do not cross the background

Step 9

The important point: if you want to move, for example, the arrow at the top of the wallpaper, you need to select the corresponding arrow at the bottom of the wallpaper at the same time, and then move the two of them. Or if you need to move the feather from the bottom side of the wallpaper, you need to move the same corresponding feather from the top side of the wallpaper.

Then create another copy of the background and put it over everything. Your result should look like the image below:

creating another copy of the background

Step 10

Now we will crop the image. Select everything without the lower background—all the pattern elements and the background on the top. Then press the Crop button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). And last but not least: while keeping the cropped wallpaper selected, go to Object > Path > Clean up, then OK. You need this to delete the paths without the fill and stroke.

Your image should look like this:

how it should looks

Step 11

Let's check whether our pattern is fully functional now. Keeping the image selected, drag it to the Swatches panel. Now draw any shape from the Tools panel and apply the newly created pattern. Look closely to check the seams—they have to be perfectly matching and aligned!

checking the pattern for perfect matching

Conclusion

Good job everyone! Now you have a beautiful ethnic pattern with fox and arrows, which can be used for wallpapers, banners, and everything else you can imagine. Hope you have found this tutorial useful and your head is exploding with other pattern ideas! 

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