Creating your own repeat pattern tile is a simple skill that’s applicable to hundreds of fun projects—think wallpaper, book covers, posters, gift wrap, or your phone lock screen. The possibilities are endless!

These five quick steps will show you how to illustrate a pattern the old-fashioned way, by hand. No need for Photoshop or Illustrator (unless, of course, you’d like to digitize your pattern!)! Just grab a pen, paper, your brain, scissors, and (probably) a photocopier or printer.

Step 1: Draw a Design

Grab a piece of 8.5 x 11” paper, and start drawing a design in the middle of the page. Use a pen since it will photocopy best, or start with a pencil and trace over your lines. Make sure to distribute an even amount of solid color, which will help with visual consistency in the final pattern. Most importantly, steer clear from the edges of the paper!

Create your design, steering clear of the edges of the paper. 
Create your design, steering clear of the edges of the paper. 

Step 2: Cut, Flip, Tape

Now, you’ll want to cut your drawing in half lengthwise. (This is scary, but it’s part of the process! You can always copy, scan, or photograph your original for safekeeping.) Consider using an exacto knife for a clean cut, but scissors are fine, too.

Once you have your two pieces, flip them so that the original outer edges touch, back to back. Then, tape your two halves together. Tape on the backside so your drawing stays clean.

Cut your image, then retape it. 
Cut your image, then retape it. 

Step 3: Repeat, Cut (the Other Way), Flip, Tape

Rotate your page, and cut it in half again (width-wise this time, so that the two cuts form a cross). Flip these two new halves, and tape them back together, edge to edge. Again, the tape should go on the back.

Cutting your drawing is scary, but it’s part of the process!
Cutting your drawing is scary, but it’s part of the process!

Step 4: Draw in the Blank Spaces

Since your design is now on the outer edges of the page, you’re likely seeing a big blank space in the middle. Fill it in! Draw in all the empty bits and finish your drawing. Just as you did before, avoid on the edges.
When you’re done drawing, step back and admire your work. This is your repeat tile. Isn’t it beautiful?

A complete repeat tile.
A complete repeat tile.

Step 5: Copy, Copy, Copy—and Assemble!

Now that you have your tile, the possibilities are limitless! You can add color or embellishments. You can photocopy it several times and assemble the sheets together to create wallpaper, book covers, posters, or gift wrap. You can scan it and bring it into Photoshop or Illustrator for final touches, or to digitize it for your desktop or phone background. 

Most importantly, have fun. Happy patterning!

Your pattern tile is now gift wrap or a book cover!
Your pattern tile is now gift wrap or a book cover!

Want to Create Another Pattern?

Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand Drawn Wallpaper .