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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Illustrator
Design

How to Make a Carbon Fiber Pattern in Illustrator

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

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a carbon fiber pattern in Illustrator.

For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid, which will help you create a pixel-perfect Illustrator pattern. Next, using basic tools and blending techniques along with a set of blends, you will learn how to create a pattern in Illustrator. Moving on, you will learn how to apply an Illustrator pattern fill and how to make a second type of carbon fiber pattern in Illustrator. Finally, you will learn how to add an Illustrator pattern fill for a fully editable piece of text.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final Illustrator pattern, you can find plenty of resources at GraphicRiver.

What You Will Need

You will need the following resource in order to complete this project:

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width and height boxes, and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now let's learn how to make a pattern in Illustrator.

carbon fiber pattern illustrator

2. How to Create a Set of Blends for the First Illustrator Pattern

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=35 G=35 B=35. Move to your artboard and simply create a 56 x 112 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier.

Change the fill color to R=87 G=87 B=87, create a 56 x 36 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the second image.

make pattern illustrator

Step 2

Select your two rectangles and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Double click the Blend Tool from your toolbar to open the Blend Options window. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 25 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that your blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance, and then go to Object > Expand.

create pattern illustrator

Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 56 x 1 px shape. Fill this thin rectangle with R=61 G=61 B=61 and place it as shown in the first image.

Duplicate this shape (Control-C > Control-V) or create a second 56 x 1 px shape. Place it as shown in the second image and change its fill color to R=12 G=12 B=12.

rectangles

Step 4

Select the two shapes made in the previous step and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Open the Blend Options window and select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 33 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that this new blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand.

blend tool

Step 5

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 56 x 1 px shape. Fill this thin rectangle with R=87 G=87 B=87 and place it as shown in the first image.

Duplicate this shape (Control-C > Control-V) or create a second 56 x 1 px shape. Place it as shown in the second image and change its fill color to R=12 G=12 B=12.

rectangles

Step 6

Select the two shapes made in the previous step and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Open the Blend Options window and select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 8 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that this new blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand.

blend tool

Step 7

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 56 x 36 px shape. Fill this rectangle with R=87 G=87 B=87 and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Change the fill color to R=109 G=109 B=109, create a 56 x 12 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the second image.

rectangles

Step 8

Select the two shapes made in the previous step and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Open the Blend Options window and select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 12 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that this new blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance, and then go to Object > Expand.

blend tool

3. How to Add Subtle Highlights

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create four 1 x 46 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with R=12 G=12 B=12 and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all four shapes are selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) or the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Lower the Opacity to 40% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

highlights

Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create six 1 x 40 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with R=12 G=12 B=12 and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all six shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

blending mode

Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create five 1 x 40 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with R=12 G=12 B=12 and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all five shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 20%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

opacity

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create eight 1 x 30 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all eight shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

soft light

Step 5

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create four 1 x 30 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with white and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all four shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 20%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

highlights

Step 6

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create six 1 x 25 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with white and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all six shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 15%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

highlights

Step 7

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create five 1 x 20 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with white and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all five shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

highlights

Step 8

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create eight 1 x 20 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and place them as shown in the following image.

Make sure that all eight shapes are selected, lower the Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

highlights

4. How to Create the First Pattern in Illustrator

Step 1

Select all the shapes made so far and Group them (Control-G).

Make a copy of this group (Control-C > Control-V), rotate it 90 degrees clockwise, and place it exactly as shown in the second image.

group duplicate

Step 2

Keep adding eight more copies of your group and place them as shown in the first image.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 224 px square. Fill this new shape with yellow, place it as shown in the second image, and lower its Opacity to about 30%.

multiply

Step 3

Focus on the right side of that yellow square. Select it along with the group that exceeds the edge of the yellow square.

Pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), hold down the Shift key, and drag a rectangular selection that covers the part of the group which exceeds the edge of the yellow square. This should instantly remove all those tiny shapes that lie outside of the yellow square. Select the remaining yellow shape and delete it. In the end, things should look like in the third image. Make sure that you keep that main yellow square.

shape builder tool

Step 4

Using the technique from the previous step, remove all the shapes that exceed the edges of the yellow square. Cutting all those shapes will help you create a seamless pattern in Illustrator. Once you're done, select the yellow square and simply delete it.

We'll use the remaining shapes to create the first carbon fiber pattern in Illustrator. Select all the shapes and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches).

create pattern illustrator

Step 5

Adding an Illustrator pattern fill is pretty straightforward. Create a new shape and simply click your pattern from the Swatches panel.

illustrator pattern fill

Step 6

Once applied, here's how you can easily adjust an Illustrator pattern. Select your patterned shape and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. First, make sure that only the Transform Patterns box is checked and then set the Angle to 45 degrees and drag both Scale sliders to 50%.

transform effect

5. How to Create a Set of Blends for the Second Illustrator Pattern

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 240 x 100 px shape. Fill this rectangle with R=67 G=67 B=67 and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Change the fill color to R=87 G=87 B=87, create a 106 x 100 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the second image.

make pattern illustrator

Step 2

Select the two shapes made in the perevious step and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Open the Blend Options window and select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 50 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that this new blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance, and then go to Object > Expand.

create pattern illustrator

Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 106 x 100 px shape. Fill this rectangle with R=87 G=87 B=87 and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Change the fill color to R=107 G=107 B=107, create a 40 x 100 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the second image.

rectangles

Step 4

Select the two shapes made in the previous step and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Open the Blend Options window and select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, enter 24 in the input box, and then click OK.

Make sure that this new blend stays selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance, and then go to Object > Expand.

blend tool

6. How to Add the Hole Effect for the Carbon Fiber Pattern

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 240 x 100 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with yellow, place it as shown in the second image, and lower its Opacity to about 30%.

Switch to the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 10 px circle. Place it exactly as shown in the second image, set the fill color to black, and lower its Opacity to around 30%. Make sure that your circle stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

circle

Step 2

Make sure that your circle stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK, and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the right window and click OK.

multiply circle

Step 3

Reselect that circle and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make or Control-8) and make sure that it's black with the Opacity set to 30%.

compound path

Step 4

Select your compound path and add two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Go to the Layers panel, select only the bottom copy and move it 1 px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Select both copies added in the step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button.

Turn the resulting group of shapes into a new compound path, fill it with white, and raise the Opacity to 100%.

minus front

Step 5

Select the yellow rectangle and add a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F).

Select this copy along with the white compound path made in the previous step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a new compound path (Control-8), make sure that the fill color is set to white, and change its Blending Mode to Overlay.

intersect

Step 6

Select the black compound path along with the yellow rectangle and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a new compound path (Control-8), set its color to R=12 G=12 B=12, and increase the Opacity to 100%.

pathfinder intersect

Step 7

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 2 x 1 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the following image.

oval shape

Step 8

Make sure that the white oval shape made in the previous step stays selected and apply the three Transform effects (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform) shown in the following image.

transform effect

Step 9

Make sure that your white oval shape is still selected and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

soft light

7. How to Make the Second Pattern in Illustrator

Step 1

Now that all the shapes are prepared, let's create the second carbon fibre pattern in Illustrator. Select all the shapes and drag them inside the Swatches panel to save them as a new Illustrator pattern.

create pattern illustrator

Step 2

Create a new shape and simply click your new seamless Illustrator pattern from the Swatches panel.

seamless pattern illustrator

Step 3

As you did with the other carbon fibre pattern, you can easily adjust an Illustrator pattern fill using a Transform effect.

transform pattern

8. How to Create a Text Effect With the Carbon Fiber Pattern

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard and fill it with R=204 G=204 B=204.

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Cred font, and set the size to 150 px and the leading to 200 px. Simply click on the artboard and add your white text.

type tool

Step 2

Select your text, focus on the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), and click that [None] swatch to remove the white text color.

Move to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and add a new fill using the Add New Fill button. Select that new fill and apply your first Illustrator pattern from the Swatches panel.

illustrator pattern fill

Step 3

Make sure that your text stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the settings shown in the following image, click OK, and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.

illustrator pattern fill

Step 4

Make sure that your text stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill and drag it below the existing one.

Select this new fill, set the color to black and lower its Opacity to 20%, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5 px Offset, click OK, and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 10 px Radius and click OK.

seamless pattern illustrator

Step 5

If you choose to use the second Illustrator pattern, make some small changes to the existing Transform effect, as shown in the following image.

carbon fiber pattern illustrator

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your Illustrator carbon fiber pattern should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and that it helped you learn how to make a pattern in Illustrator. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

Feel free to adjust the final Illustrator pattern and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

carbon fiber pattern illustrator

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