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How to Create a Snowflake Decorated Sweater Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Some time ago, I posted a tutorial on creating a knitted pattern. It was a quick and easy tutorial. This time, I'm teaching you a slightly more realistic looking pattern with decorations! It will look a lot like the Christmas sweaters that you used to wear growing up.

Today we will use the Transparency panel, Transform effect, and the Clipping Mask. To create a stitch, we will use the Warp Effect.

What You'll Need

In this tutorial, I'll be using a stock item of a snowflake from GraphicRiver. You can use this or any of the many snowflakes available.

1. How to Create the Stitch

Step 1

After opening your Adobe Illustrator, create a new document 850 x 850 px Width and Height

Now we will start by drawing the main shape of the knitted pattern. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an ellipse. Delete the stroke color and set the fill color presented in the image below. Let’s warp this ellipse by using the Flag effect. Go to Effect > Warp > Flag. Enter the options you see below and watch the result.

creating the first half of the stitch

Step 2

Since we’ve created the irregular shape, we are going to expand it. Select the irregular ellipse and go to: Object > Expand Appearance. Now, create a copy of this shape in front of the original one (Control-C, Control-F) and make it smaller. 

On the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), you have to click on the word “Opacity” and in the pop-up menu, select Screen and decrease its opacity to 75%. As a result, you’ll get a light blue shape inside the dark blue shape.

I strongly recommend lowering the opacity over changing the color with RGB numbers.

creating the first half of the stitch 2

Step 3

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a thin horizontal ellipse. Select this ellipse, and using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), make the right and left anchor points sharp by clicking on them. Holding the Shift and Alt keys, move the ellipse down to get another copy of it. Press Control-D twice and you’ll get two more copies of this ellipse below, at the same distance as between the first and the second. Slightly stretch out the second and the third shape, the ones in the middle.

Now select all four shapes and group them (right-click > Group). Then apply the Flag effect to this group of shapes. Go to Effect > Warp > Flag and apply the options in the image below. Don't forget to expand the final group of shapes: keeping these shapes selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance. Finally, on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), make its Opacity multiply 60%.

creating the first half of the stitch 3

Let’s place them on the two shapes that we created in the beginning. That's one half of the stitch.

creating the first half of the stitch 4

Step 4

Let's create the other half—literally! It will be a mirror reflection of the existing image. While keeping the object selected, right-click your mouse and select Transform > Reflect. Once you get the dialogue box, select Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the other part to the right. Our stitch is done.

creating the second half of the stitch

2. How to Create the Knitted Pattern

Step 1

Group the whole stitch (those two halves we created in the previous step) and place it in the left bottom corner of your artboard. The smaller the single stitch, the more stitches you’ll need to complete the pattern. I prefer smaller stitches, but a small warning: it will increase your file size, which can slow down your computer during the drawing process.

placing the stitch

Step 2

By making a set of copies of the single stitch element, we will make a knitted pattern.

Keeping the stitch selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the options presented below. Not all your options will be the same as mine since it will depend on the size of your stitch. In the Move Vertical section, you need to shift the slider to the left to fill up your artboard vertically. In my case, it's -13 px. Do not forget to enter the number of copies. In my case, I have 91 of them. As a result, you will get a vertical line of stitches.

creating the vertical line of the stitches

Step 3

To fill up the artboard horizontally, select your stitch again (you are able to select just the one placed in the bottom left corner of the artboard; the others are just copies). Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and enter the options presented in the second image. Remember, not all of the options will be the same. In the Move Horizontal section, you need to shift the slider to the right. Now make as many copies as you need.

options window
creating the horizontal lines of the stitches

Step 4

Let's create the background. Make a large 850 x 850 px dark blue square: select the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on the screen. On the window that appears, enter the height and width and hit OK.

creating the background

Step 5

Place this square behind the knitted pattern (Control-X, Control-B).

placing the background

3. How to Apply the Snowflake Shape to the Knitted Pattern

Step 1

If you like the result, expand all the stitches you created, and then make sure that they are all grouped (simply click on one stitch and all of them need to be selected). Create a copy of the set of stitches in front (Control-C, Control-F) and change the fill color to R=245, G=246, B=203.

creating the new layer of stitches

Step 2

Place your downloaded vector image in the middle of the artboard. Make sure that the snowflake shape is a single solid shape (you can check by clicking on it; you will see the image as a set of different shapes or as a single solid shape). To make it into one piece (if it still isn't), select the whole snowflake and unite all details by pressing the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).

If you like how everything looks, select the white stitches along with the snowflake and hit Make Mask on the Transparency panel. I recommend using this button, not Object > Clipping Mask > Make. When using the Clipping Mask, your computer may lag. On the other hand, when using the Make Mask command, the file is more manageable for the computer.

placing the snowflake

Step 3

Admire your result!

applying the Make Mask effect


Look what you’ve achieved after all the great work! I hope you stay warm this winter, drink a lot of hot chocolate, and practice your drawing skills! Happy Holidays!

Final result
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