Make a Pattern in Illustrator

How to Make a Pattern in Illustrator

A tiled and true method.
Ash Ash (166)
Total time: 5 minutes 

Adobe Illustrator is filled to the brim with creative tools and useful features—the Pattern Tool is definitely one of my favorites!

This feature can save you loads of time when creating custom patterns from scratch. Any version of Illustrator will work, but some menus have moved around in newer versions. I'll be using Adobe Illustrator 2020 for this guide.

Here's everything you'll need to complete this guide:

Adobe Illustrator×1
Illustrator Blank Canvas

Start a new project in Adobe Illustrator. You can begin with a blank canvas by clicking Create new on the main menu or import an image by dragging it onto the workspace.

Illustrator Design

Design at least one tile for your pattern. You can use the tools in the tool tray to create something original or import an existing image to use.

For this guide, I'll create a tile with a spiral inside.

Illustrator Pattern Tool 2020

Patterns are created using the Pattern Tool. Before opening the Pattern Tool, be sure to select your artwork.

  1. Select the Selection Tool. The is in the left tool tray—it looks like a black cursor with a white border.
  2. Click on the object you want your pattern to be comprised of.
  3. Open the Object menu.
  4. Go to Pattern then Make

This will open a pattern menu. If you close out of it, you can always double click the new pattern from the pattern swatches to edit it again.

Illustrator Pattern Tool

Use this opportunity to refine your pattern settings. There are many properties you can play with to really dial in the pattern you want to achieve. Check out the Adobe website for a complete breakdown of Pattern Tool properties.

When you've adjusted your settings, click ✔️Done at the top of the window.

Adobe Illustrator Pattern

Once the pattern is created, it will appear in a list of swatches. These swatches work like colors to fill a space. You can get really creative in how to apply them. For example, the Pen Tool can be used to outline a custom shape for the pattern to fill.

Congratulations! You made an original pattern in Adobe Illustrator.