Friday, January 25, 2013

Illustrator: Step By Step Tiled Pattern

Step 01: Open new artboard and draw a perfect 2" x 2" square in Illustrator

Step 02: Make sure snapping is turned on, your rulers are on and visible (CMND ;). Drag and snap guides to each side of the 2" x 2" box.

Step 03: Temporarily turn the 2" x 2" box off (eyeball for that layer in layers panel). Place the vector objects you would like to tile so that some of their form runs off at least 3 of the edges. Make sure the objects only have a fill (no stroke) and make sure they are solid, paths are closed and that they are made simply (not with tons of tiny elements grouped together). Where one form leaves the box it will enter the box on the opposite side so be careful with your spacing.

Step 04: Turn the 2" box layer back on. In the layers panel move it up so that it is above all other objects. Turn off the fill and stroke so all that is left is the "naked" path. Drag the black arrow over the entire group (selecting all objects and 2" invisible box). Open your pathfinder panel. Click the "divide" button in the bottom left.

Step 05: The divide button will have acted like a "cookie cutter" stamping it's edge downward into the underlying shapes. This allows you to drag the shapes that were sticking out from the original box and move them individually to their corresponding edge. Note in the above image the dog's feet, the rider of the horse, etc. Use the white arrow to select the pieces to be moved and hold SHIFT while dragging to assure they line up. Zoom in when you are done to double check everything meets the edges of the guides EXACTLY. If you find any gaps, fix them.

Step 06: Use the black arrow to select your tiled square and drag it to the Swatches panel. Now it is a usable pattern. Draw a giant rectangle and fill it with your pattern. Have fun.

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