Roses and flowers can be a daunting task without photographic reference. Take the guesswork out of designing beautiful floral patterns in Adobe Illustrator with this seamless pattern tutorial! Together we'll create flowers, a unified color palette, and arrange a fantastic pattern in a snap!
I'll be working in Adobe Illustrator CC in this tutorial and making use of the Pattern Options panel. If you're using an earlier version, you may have to come up with an alternate method for planning out and creating your pattern.
1. Create a Rose
To start, draw two circles with the Ellipse Tool (L). These will serve as a guide for your rose's construction. Using the drawing tool of your choice (I used the Pencil Tool (N) to draw mine), draw a scalloped petal like the one seen below. Make sure you close any open paths when creating these petal objects.
Repeat your petal shape on the other side of the small circle. Then draw a puffy, cloud-like shape between them. This forms the center of your rose.
Continue drawing layers of petals:
- You'll want to fill in the center of the rose first, drawing each object further out from the center.
- The center is also a good place for symmetry.
- There are ten petal shapes in all here: the three central pieces from the previous step and several more to fill out the smaller circle.
If you set your drawing tool (such as the Pencil Tool or the Brush Tool (B)) to Smooth in its options, you'll be more likely to create rounded petal objects than sharp, jagged ones.
The further away from the center, the larger your petals should be.
- Consider drawing petals in four quadrants around the center circle.
- The largest petals on the outside of the design come to a point in the center, while those inside are more rounded and scalloped.
- When you're finished drawing petals (my flower has 19 in total), delete the guide circles and Group (Control-G) your petal objects together.
2. Color the Rose
Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select two of the inner petals near the center of the design and set the fill colors to light pink (
#fe8abf). Make sure your stroke color is set to null as well. We'll be creating a flat pattern design and won't be using any line art for it.
The goal for coloring a rose like this is to make sure your individual petal shapes don't bleed or blend into each other. As such, I'll be using four different shades of pink. The most central petals and three outer petals will be in pink (
#ff5d9e). Two of the central petals will be medium pink (
#ff4275), and the remaining two colored petals in this image are dark pink (
#ff2348). I want the petals to pop, so a lot of them will vary between pink and dark pink.
Continue adding colors to your rose design.
- These upper outer leaves are medium and dark pink, while the lower outer leaves are lighter shades of pink.
- I've also drawn small sliver shapes to help separate petals from each other and let the design pop a bit more. This is optional.
3. Draw the Leaves
There are a lot of leaves in our final pattern. For stemmed flowers and to scatter about, you can draw a small set of leaves:
- Draw six tear-drop shapes.
- Bisect each with a curved line. Select your leaf and line and hit Divide in the Pathfinder panel. This will give you two separate objects for each side of your leaf.
- Set the left side of each leaf to dark green (
#1f714a) and the right side to light green (
Let's draw a large leaf that will be used for the larger roses:
- Like petals, large leaves are curved and come to a point.
- Bisect the leaf with a curved line and hit Divide in the Pathfinder panel with both objects selected.
- Use the Pen Tool to draw eight vertical lines that follow the contour of your leaf shape. Divide these lines and your leaf objects as well so you have 18 separate objects that make up your leaf.
- Alternate fill colors of dark green (
#1f714a) and medium green on the top, and medium green (
#3aa226) and light green (
#5bbb2c) on the bottom.
Group everything together when you're done with your leaf design.
Consider other shapes for your leaves:
- This leaf has more feathery, pointed shapes. I turned the Smoothness down on my Pencil Tool to make sure sharp edges wouldn't be lost while drawing.
- Like the leaf before it, cut your leaf in half with a curving line.
- Add stripes and alternate shapes of green. This time the darker colors are on the bottom of the design.
Combine your rose and large leaves to create the first flower for your design. Rotate (R) or Scale your elements as you see fit.
4. Create the Other Flowers
There are three other types of flowers in this design. The first is my large rose design:
- Like the first rose, you can build this out of circles or ellipses. Focus on the center and draw petals reaching outward.
- Alternate colors so petals don't blend into each other too much. Focus darker colors on petals that are behind or inside of the rose.
- You can also draw small shapes that follow the inner edge of each petal to give it a bit more definition. These are good for additional shadows or slight highlights.
Use the little leaves for stemmed roses. For the first rose, you'll want to only draw the contents of the inner circle or add petals to an oval shape. You can also simply layer a few petal shapes for a small, simple rose, as seen below.
Draw the stems as stroked paths with either the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B) and Expand them into Objects (Object > Expand).
5. Create the Pattern
The Pattern Options panel makes seamless pattern creation quite easy. Select the large rose element and Make a New Pattern in the Pattern Options panel. Choose Brick by Column for your Tile Type with a Brick Offset of 1/2.
I want ample space around this element, so I've changed the Width to approximately 4.9 inches and the Height to 8 inches. The size of your pattern will differ depending on your object and document sizes. Simply note the ratio I've created below.
I like to add elements one by one into patterns like this. Hit Done and then Copy (Control-C) one of your other rose elements created previously. Double-Click your pattern swatch in the Swatches panel to open it up again and Paste (Control-V) the rose into your pattern. This allows you to focus on each element's size and placement within your design.
Repeat pattern elements within your layout and take note of how they repeat within your pattern.
Paste repeating elements so they overlap the pattern's bounding box. This will allow you to quickly and easily create a seamless pattern as well as adding several repeats at once to your design.
Now for some leaves! In order to break up the pattern a bit, I've added some leaves by themselves around the design, making sure they overlap the pattern's boundaries. Add larger flower elements as well in order to fill up space.
Make a note of how close elements are to each other within the full pattern as well as whether or not objects are overlapping each other.
I added two instances of the stemmed rose on either side of the large rose to create a more elegant design. They've been placed below the other elements in the Layers panel. This filled up most of the design so we can now add stripes and finish up!
Finally, it's time to add stripes. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a narrow vertical rectangle that spans the length of the pattern. Copy and Paste four instances of the rectangle.
Align them to their bottom edges and Distribute them evenly. You'll want to do your best to have an even spread of stripes. Group the rectangles together and place them beneath the other elements in the Layers panel. All of your stripes should be behind your design elements.
If you find some of your elements are behind the stripes, try one of the following:
- Move the overlapped elements to the opposite side of the pattern bounding box and make sure they're above the "background" shapes in the Layers panel.
- Create a separate stripes pattern and a separate floral pattern and simply stack objects filled with them.
- Create the stripes first, and then lay out the floral elements on top (this can still cause strange overlaps, but it will give you more control while designing).
Great Job, You're Done!
Apply your new pattern to a rectangle and save a swatch to share in the comment section below! Consider using the Recolor Art option to create some fun pattern variations, or use these steps and techniques to make patterns filled with other kinds of flowers and geometric shapes!