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How to Create the Carpet Pattern From "The Shining" in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called Horror Movie Week.
How to Create a Freddy Krueger Inspired Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
How to Create a Scream Mask in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today’s tutorial we’re going to continue with the Horror Movie Special, and learn how to create the trippy carpet pattern from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

We’re going to create it in Adobe Illustrator using some “old-school” techniques, which involve the careful handling of the Rectangle Tool combined with the power of the Pixel Grid.

So, grab a cup of that hot coffee that you love, and let’s get started!

Oh, and don’t forget you can always find new jaw-dropping patterns over at Envato Market, with tons of themes to choose from.

You can now follow this tutorial in video format over on the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel.

1. Set Up a New Project File

Bring up Illustrator, and set up a New Document (File > New Document or Control-N) and adjust it using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 602 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels 

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
setting up a new document

2. Set Up a Custom Grid

Since we’re going to be creating the pattern using a pixel-perfect workflow, we’ll want to set up a nice little Grid so that we can have full control over our shapes.

 Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust the following settings:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more about grids by reading this in-depth piece on how Illustrator’s Grid System works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter Pixel Preview mode.

Now, since we’re aiming to create the pattern using a pixel-perfect workflow, I strongly recommend you go through my how to create pixel-perfect artwork tutorial, which will help you widen your technical skills in no time.

3. Create the Main Repeating Element

The first thing that we’re going to start working on is the main repeating element, or rather section of the pattern, that we will use to build our larger composition.

Step 1

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 86 x 106 px shape, which we will color using a bright orange (#DF5F18) and then align to the center of the underlying Artboard.

creating and positioning the main shape for the patterns repeating element

Step 2

Zoom in on the shape that we’ve just created, and use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add two new anchor points, one to the center of its top edge, and another one to its bottom one.

adding the top and bottom anchor points to the repeating elements main shape

Step 3

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the anchors that we’ve just created, and then push them towards the top by right-clicking and going to Transform > Move and entering -26 px into the Vertical value field, leaving the Horizontal one at 0 px.

adjusting the repeating elements main shape

Step 4

Now that we have our main shape, let’s give it a top outline, by selecting it, and then using the Move Tool to create a copy at a distance of 14 px from it (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal: 0 px > Vertical: -14px > Copy).

creating the repeating elements top outline using the move tool

Step 5

Grab a copy of the original shape (Control-C) and paste it on top of the one that we’ve just created (Control-F) using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode to remove part of its lower section, coloring the resulting shape using black (#000000).

adjusting the repeating elements top outline

Step 6

Add the bottom outline, using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just created, which we will position right under the orange shape, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all three shapes together afterwards.

creating and positioning the repeating elements bottom outline

Step 7

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 26 x 14 px shape, which we will color using #981F24, and then Horizontal Center Align to the Artboard, at a distance of 50 px from the top outline tip.

creating and positioning the main shape for the repeating elements top hexagon detail

Step 8

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding two new anchor points to its top and bottom edges, and then individually pushing them towards the outside by 8 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > - 8 px for the top one and + 8 px for the bottom one).

adjusting the repeating elements top hexagon detail

Step 9

Give the little hexagon a nice thick outline, by selecting it and then going over to Object > Path > Offset Path and entering 12 px into the Offset value field, leaving all the other options as they are.

adding the outline to the repeating elements top hexagon detail

Step 10

Change the outline’s color to something darker (#000000) in order for it to stand out from the inner fill shape, and then select and group them both using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adjusting the color of the repeating elements top hexagon detail

Step 11

Grab a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the hexagon and its outline, and position it onto the left side of the repeating element, at a distance of 74 px from its tip, making sure that only its right half overlaps it.

creating and positioning the second hexagon detail onto the repeating element

Step 12

Grab a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the second hexagon detail, and position it towards the right side of the repeating element, making sure that only its left half overlaps it.

creating and positioning the third hexagon detail onto the repeating detail

Step 13 

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 12 x 62 px shape, which we will color using black (#000000) and then center and position over the top hexagon detail.

creating and positioning the vertical rectangle onto the repeating elements top hexagon detail

Step 14

Add the same 12 x 62 px rectangle (#000000) to the other two hexagon details, only this time position it towards the top.

Once you’re done, select and group all the shapes that we’ve created so far using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the vertical rectangle to the second and third hexagon details

Step 15

At this point we’re pretty much done creating the repeating element. All we need to do now is mask it so that when we start building the larger pattern, the pieces will fit nicely together.

To do that, simply create an 86 x 160 px rectangle (highlighted with orange), which we will center to the shapes that we’ve just grouped, and then use that as a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

masking the repeating element

Step 16

Once we’ve masked our repeating element, we’ll want to align it to the left side of our Artboard since we’re going to create a couple of copies of it in the next stage of our process.

positioning the masked repeating element onto the left side of the artboard

4. Create the Main Section of the Pattern

Up until this point we’ve created the pattern’s main repeating element, which is great, but we’re going to need to add a couple of instances in order to get it right.

Step 1

Select the repeating element, and then create eight copies of it (Control-C > Control-F) which we will position 0 px from one another, making sure to click on the original one to set it as our Key Object.

creating the patterns first row of repeating elements

Step 2

Select and group (Control-G) all the repeating elements together, centering them to the Artboard with the help of the Align panel’s Horizontal Align Center option.

aligning the row of repeating elements to the center of the artboard

Step 3

Create five more rows using the one that we have, and stack them on top of one another, making sure that their top and bottom outlines overlap. You can make the process a lot easier by lowering the opacity of the copies so that you can have a better view of the overlapping shapes.

creating the rest of the patterns repeating rows

Step 4

Once you’ve added all the rows, set their Opacity to 100%, and then group (Control-G) and vertically align them to the center of the Artboard.

grouping and positioning the patterns repeating rows to the center of the artboard

Step 5

With the repeating rows in place, mask them using a 602 x 600 px rectangle so that the outward facing elements of the pattern get cut in half.

masking the main section of the pattern

5. Create the Actual Swatch Pattern

So at this point we’re all done working on the elements needed to create the pattern, which means that we can turn it into an actual swatch library element.

Step 1

Select the masked pattern, and then go to Object > Pattern and hit Make which will bring up a new window with a couple of options which we will need to adjust. But first, let’s give it a proper name to make it easy to recognize.

giving the pattern a custom name

Step 2

Next, we have Tile Type which we’re going to want to leave set to Grid, since our pattern elements are designed to be stacked together instead of being spread out.

choosing a tile type for the pattern

Step 3

Then, we have the Width and Height which we are going to set using the actual size of our pattern (602 x 600 px).

choosing a size for our pattern

Step 4

Leave the Overlap and Copies settings as they are, since they’ll work just fine, and then finally hit Done to add the pattern to your swatch library.

setting the overlap and copies settings for our pattern

Step 5

To use the pattern, simply select it from the swatch, and then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) (or any other shape) and draw a new object, which as you will see will have that same trippy brain-damaging effect as the real one from the movie had.

example of using the pattern

It’s a Wrap!

There you have it: an easy way to create your very own “Shining” carpet, using some basic shapes and the power of Illustrators built-in Pattern options.

I hope that you had as much fun as I did when I first created the project, and most importantly learned something new along the way.

final preview of the pattern
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