Illustrator CS6 - Amazing New Pattern Tool

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Illustrator CS6 - Amazing New Pattern Tool

One of the most amazing new features of CS6 Illustrator is the new pattern tool. It’s surprisingly easy to use, so let’s go ahead! 

The first thing I’m going to do is create the shape I want to use for the pattern and I’ve created just a very quick flower shape, which I have dragged and dropped into the swatches panel. Do make sure that your shape, you’re going to use, doesn’t already contain a pattern. 

Initial Shape into Swatches

Initial Shape into Swatches

Basic Pattern

Basic Pattern

Pattern Options Panel

Pattern Options Panel

Brick Offset Option

Brick Offset Option

Change Overlap

Change Overlap

Change Overlap

Change Overlap

To edit the pattern, double click the pattern (the image you just created) within the swatches panel. This now opens up the pattern option area and shows your image, usually surrounded by a number of copies of itself making up a basic pattern. 

Basic Pattern

Basic Pattern

The first thing we’re going to look at is the Tile type in the Pattern Options panel. It’s set to grid, but by setting it to the other options, you can create offset rows or columns. 

Pattern Options Panel

Pattern Options Panel

Have an experiment with this and see what you like. Don’t forget to try out the Brick Offset option below the Tile Type which will change the amount of offset - anything from a quarter to four fifths. 

Brick Offset Option

Brick Offset Option

We’re now going to change the overlap of the pattern. This can be done in one of two ways. Either change the width and height figures - just below the brick offset. Or, go to the button at the top left hand corner of the panel, called the Pattern Tile tool, switch it on and you’ll notice that it allows you to manually drag the blue box around your original image that controls the surrounding area, by the handles. 

Change Overlap

Change Overlap

You can control the overlap of your pattern by changing the overlap buttons (near the bottom of the panel). You can either bring the left to the front, right to the front, top to the front or bottom to the front of the overlapping patterns! 

At the bottom of the Pattern Options panel, you can control number of the repetitions you see in your preview, as well as changing the transparency of the copies using the Dim Copies option. This is an editing feature only and does not affect your final pattern. 

When you’ve finished editing your pattern, click the Done button at the top of your page. Your pattern is now in your swatches panel and ready to be used as a fill or on a stroke. 

Next time, we will be looking at how to add to your pattern, edit your pattern in this area as well as scaling and rotating patterns, and building up complex multi-pattern patterns!