In the following steps, you will learn how to create a Japanese wave pattern in Adobe Illustrator.
What You'll Learn in This Japanese Wave Pattern Tutorial
- How to use the Appearance panel
- How to use the Pattern Options panel
- How to create a Japanese blue wave pattern
1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid
Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Centimeters from the Units drop-down menu, enter 20 in the width and height boxes, and then click More Settings. 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 Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 1 cm, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 1 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.
2. How to Create the First Japanese Wave Pattern
Pick the Ellipse Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke, and then select the fill and set its color to R=28 G=26 B=68.
Move to your artboard, hold down the Shift key, and simply create a 10 cm shape—the grid and Snap to Grid should make it easier.
Make sure that your circle stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).
Add a second fill for your shape using the Add New Fill button, and select it. Change the color of this new fill to white (R=255 G=255 B=255), and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset to -0.5 cm and click OK.
Make sure that your circle stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.
Select the dark blue fill and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button. Move the new fill on top of the white one, select it, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset to -1 cm and click OK.
Make sure that your circle stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.
Select the white fill and duplicate it. Move the new fill on top of the existing ones and select it. Open the already applied Offset Path effect, lower the Offset to -1.5 cm, and click OK.
Make sure that your circle is still selected, and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.
Select one of the dark blue fills and duplicate it. Move the new fill on top of the existing ones, and select it. Open the already applied Offset Path effect, lower the Offset to -2 cm, and click OK.
Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 2 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the first image.
Select this rectangle along with the circle and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).
Focus on the bottom side of your shape and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A).
Select the left anchor point, move it to the left so it snaps to the grid, and then drag it down by 4 cm. Select the right anchor point, move it to the right so it snaps to the grid and then drag it 4 cm down, as shown in the second image.
Switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and click these two anchor points to turn them into corner points, as shown in the third image.
Select your entire shape and open the Pattern Options panel (Window > Pattern Options). Open the fly-out menu of this panel and go to Make Pattern.
Name your pattern "JapaneseWavePattern 1" and then focus on the settings of this pattern. Select Brick by Row from the Tile Type drop-down menu and 1/2 from the Brick Offset drop-down menu. Set the Width to 10 cm and the Height to 5 cm, make sure that the Left in Front and Bottom in Front buttons are checked, and then click the Done button to save your pattern inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches).
3. How to Add Variations of a Japanese Pattern Wave
Let's quickly create some variations of this pattern. Double-click your pattern in the Swatches panel, and focus on the artboard. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 2 cm circle, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the following image.
Click the Save a Copy button to add this new version of your pattern to the Swatches panel, and name it "JapaneseWavePattern 2". Once you're done, delete that 2 cm circle and click Done to make sure that your original pattern does not change its appearance.
Select your second pattern from the Swatches panel and duplicate it. Double-click this new pattern, rename it "JapaneseWavePattern 3", and then focus on your artboard to change its appearance. All you have to do is inverse the colors. All white shapes should turn blue, and vice versa. Once you're done, click the Done button.
4. How to Create a Japanese Blue Wave Pattern
Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a new 10 cm circle, and fill it with R=92 G=158 B=160.
Add a second fill for your new circle, set the color to white, and apply a -0.2 cm Offset Path effect.
Add a third fill for this shape, set its color to R=92 G=158 B=160, and apply a -0.8 cm Offset Path effect.
Now for the more repetitive part. You need to add another nine alternating fills for your circle. With each white fill, you have to lower the settings of the previously used Offset Path effect by 0.2 cm, and with each teal fill, you have to lower the settings of the previously used Offset Path effect by 0.6 cm.
In the end, things should look like the following image.
Make sure that your circle is still selected, open the fly-out menu of the Pattern Options panel, and go to Make Pattern.
Name this new pattern "JapaneseWavePattern 4" and then focus on the settings of this pattern. Don't mess with the rest of the settings—just lower the Height to 2.5 cm, and then click the Done button to save your pattern inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches). This will be your Japanese blue wave pattern.
Congratulations! Your Japanese Wave Pattern Is Complete!
Here is how your Japanese pattern wave should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.
Feel free to adjust the final wave pattern and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to improve your Japanese pattern wave.
Popular Wave Pattern Assets From Envato Elements
Envato Elements is an excellent resource for wave patterns. Here's a short list with some of the most popular patterns that you can find.
Japanese Wave Pattern Collection (AI, EPS, JPG)
This mesmerizing collection of 12 Japanese themed seamless patterns can be the perfect start for a Japanese-themed design.
Minimalist Seamless Waves Patterns (AI, EPS, JPG, PNG)
This small collection of seamless wave patterns comprises three intricate patterns that can be easily scaled or recolored.
Wave Pattern (JPG, PNG, EPS, SVG)
This hand-drawn collection of seamless wave patterns comes in two color versions and can be used with or without the boats in any type of design.
Abstract Seamless Patterns (EPS, JPG)
This colorful set of abstract seamless wave patterns will help you create stunning effects in a few moments.
Colorful Seamless Waves Patterns (JPG, PNG, AI, EPS, PSD)
For a more basic wave design, you can easily use one of the patterns from this collection of colorful abstract wave seamless patterns.
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