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Illustrator for Kids: How to Create a Seamless, Retro Polka-Dot Pattern

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Welcome to the second children's tutorial! One of the styles that I’ve been noticing lately is the retro style. It’s definitely made a comeback.

In this tutorial, we will create a seamless, dotted pattern together. It is a simple, easy tutorial which won’t take much time—you just have to create a square and few circles, cut the circles, put them on the Swatches panel and that's it! 

The best part of the tutorial is that you don’t need to draw all the circles yourself—even when you need hundreds of them for your pattern. I will show you a quick trick to get this done. Let’s get started!

Step 1

Let’s start by creating a New Document. To create a New Document in your Adobe Illustrator, go to File > New and enter the following options:

starting with a new file

Step 2

On the Tools panel, you can find the Rectangle Tool (M), which you will use to create a square. Click on this tool and then click on the middle of your art board. A new dialogue window will appear, asking you to enter the Width and Height of the square you want to create. Enter the options shown in the picture below into the Rectangle dialogue window and then click OK.

Once you have a white square with black stroke, you need to change the fill color. For this, look at the Color panel (Window > Color) and delete the stroke color. Set the fill color to mint (see the color code in the image below). Make sure RGB color mode is checked on your color panel. If it’s not, then find the tiny triangle at the top right corner of the Color panel, click on it and check RGB. Then apply the color code you see in the image below.

creatine the background

Step 3

Now let's create a circle. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) on the Tools panel and click on the middle of your square. In the new dialogue window, enter the options you see below. Then click OK. You will probably get the same blue circle as your square, so let’s change the fill color on the Color panel (Window > Color) as you did for the square. Look at the image below for the color code.

Creating the first dot

Step 4

Let's align everything. Select the square and the circle together, go to the Align panel (Window > Align) and press Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center. Click on Align To: to see if > Align to Selection is checked.

aligning the background and dot

Step 5

In this next step, we will need to get some helpers. Call for help, loud and clear—“Please, help me!” No—wait—just kidding! Don't scare your mom. Let’s quietly go to View > Smart Guides (Control-U). These quiet little helpers will help you to place a new circle on the corner of the square. 

Press down the Alt key and move the existing circle from the middle of the square diagonally to the upper left corner. You need to hold down the Alt key, because this helps to create a copy. The Smart Guides will help you to put the copy of the circle exactly on the upper left corner of the square. These two helpers will help you to perfectly align the circles in the right position.

Creating second dot

Step 6

Now, this time, press down the Alt key again and move the middle circle diagonally to the upper right corner of the square.

Creating third dot

Step 7

Hold down the Alt key once more and move the middle circle diagonally to the lower left corner of the square.

Creating fourth dot

Step 8

Last but not least, hold down the Alt key again and move the middle circle diagonally to the lower right corner of the square.

Creating fifth dot

Step 9

Now, let’s get rid of the unneeded parts of circles. We will cut these out by using our square. Select the square and make a copy in the front (Control-C, Control-F). This copy will be our cutter. 

Keep it selected and while holding down the Shift key (this is because you want to select two shapes), select the circle from the upper left corner. Go to Pathfinder (Window > Pathfinder) and press Intersect button. Be careful when you are selecting the shapes—make sure that you’re not accidentally moving them.

cutting first dot

Step 10

When you cut something out using our cutter, it disappears. So we need to create the cutter again. Select the square once more and make a copy in the front (Control-C, Control-F). Keep it selected and, holding down the Shift key, select the circle from the upper right corner. Go to Pathfinder (Window > Pathfinder) and press the Intersect button.

cutting second dot

Step 11

Now, using the same method, do the next circle—create a copy of the square and cut the circle from the lower left corner.

cutting third dot

Step 12

Again, the same method—cut the circle from the lower right corner.

cutting fourth dot

Step 13

To create a pattern from this, you need to drag everything you created to the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches). Select the square and all circles. Using your mouse, move it to the Swatches panel.

creating the pattern template draggin to the Swatches panel

Step 14

Since you've created a new swatch pattern, you can safely delete everything from your art board. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a square 600 px Width and Height. Go to the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and choose the new pattern that you just created. Look how adorable it is!

creating the completed pattern

Step 15

If you want the same pattern but with smaller dots, select the pattern (the 600 px Width and Height square on your art board), right-click > Transform > Scale. Enter the following options in the new dialogue window:

Scale panel

Enjoy your new pattern with smaller dots!

how looks completed pattern scaled to 50

Don't forget to save all your work: File > Save.

Awesome Work, You're Done!

Huge congratulations—you did an awesome job! I hope you’ve picked up new tricks from this tutorial and that you can easily create a polka-dot pattern for your next project. You can apply this pattern to any shape you want. 

You know what else you can do? You can also draw another shape instead of a circle for the pattern (as you did in the beginning of the tutorial), for example, a square or a hexagon. Just keep in mind that it has to be a solid shape! Have fun with the patterns!

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