Learn how to create a repeating floral pattern that's perfect for gift wrap, desktop wallpapers or textile designs. This tutorial uses one of our very own free vector packs and is great for readers with a beginner to intermediate skill level.
Create a new 750 px by 600 px CMYK document.
Now set the document grid to make it easier to line up the elements. Go to Preferences > Guides & Grid and set a gridline every 50px with 10 subdivisions.
Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and Option + Click onto the artboard to open the settings dialogue. Make a 50 px by 50 px square, click OK. This will make a portion of the repeating tile.
Make sure your artwork is set to Snap to Grid, this will help you snap the tiles into place. If this isn't done you can find the setting by going to View > Snap to Grid. Select the square with the Selection Tool (V) and hold down the Option key to drag the squares into place. You need to make a shape like the one in the image below (7 squares in total), this will make the repeat tile for the pattern.
Select all of the squares and fill them with the background color of your pattern. Go to the Pathfinder Panel and (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Unite button to create a single shape.
The image below is a demonstration of how the tiles will fit together, its staggered appearance helps to place elements that will flow diagonally across the repeat without leaving large areas of blank canvas. If you're creating your own design, you may have to piece together the tiles a few times to test and refine the design.
For this tutorial I will be using elements from the Exclusive Freebie Pack – Shiny Vector Flowers. Arrange the primary elements of the design to take up most of the art space.
Following the repeat of the pattern plan the secondary elements of the design, in this case I will extend the stem of the flower to meet with the edge of the tile. I've then added some stem at the pont where it will flow into the joining tile.
To make the pattern swatch, make a new layer above the image and select the Rectangle Tool (M). Option + Click onto the artboard to open the settings dialogue. Make a 350 px by 350 px square, click OK. Position the square near the middle of the artboard with the pattern tile in the bottom left side corner.
Go back to the image layer and select the entire pattern tile with the Selection Tool (V) and hold down the Option key to drag the tiles into place. The placement can be a bit confusing at first so I've colored the tiles below to show them more clearly.
The random colors in this image are to demonstrate the position of each tile.
The finished swatch should look something like the image below. As you can see there's some room for further design tweaks. With the main tile finished, anything inside of it can be changed without ruining the repeat.
To add some variation to the design I've changed the position and color for some of the secondary elements, this creates some focus points within the main pattern.
To make the design into a pattern tile, copy the square from the layer above the artwork and paste it over the main artwork. (Command + C then Command + F).
Set the fill and line color of the square to none. Move the un-filled square to the back with Shift + Command + Left Square Bracket. Select all of the objects and drag them into the Swatches Panel.
Here's the finished design. There's many different ways to use this method of pattern making so be sure to experiment with it and have fun. If you liked this tutorial you may like my previous pattern tutorial How to Make a Repeating Japanese Wave Pattern in Adobe Illustrator.
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