Discover Online Classes in Pattern Design 

Stripes, watercolor, flowers, and more.

You can do a lot with seamless patterns. 

Use them as background patterns on your devices, inspiration for text effects, or part of any branding you’re working on for a business or side hustle. A seamless floral pattern can even make the perfect central element for DIY stationery. Are your creative wheels turning? Good! 

The only thing better than a cool seamless pattern is a cool seamless pattern you can say you made yourself. You can track down plenty of free patterns online (more on that later), but that’s not as fun! Keep scrolling to learn how to flex some basic graphic design skills to create seamless patterns of your own

What Is a Seamless Pattern?

food pattern
A seamless pattern—like this takeout mashup by Patrice Horvath—has no seams or breaks.

A seamless pattern is a design—well, a pattern—that, when placed side-by-side with copies of itself, has no visible seams or breaks. It can be repeated over and over again infinitely to create an ongoing image of pretty much anything you want. 

Once you’re on the lookout for seamless patterns, you’ll start noticing them everywhere you look, and that might even inspire you to make your own! A quick search for “vintage seamless pattern tumblr” will inspire you to generate soft, romantic designs. If you’re looking for something a little more modern, a seamless triangle pattern might be more your style. 

How Do You Make a Seamless Pattern?

photoshop pattern
A seamless pattern can be as simple—or complex—as you’d like it to be.

You can use basic design software to make a seamless pattern to your exact specifications, even if you’re relatively new to graphic design and digital art.

Read on for the basics of how to make a seamless pattern in Illustrator. (Note: You can also learn how to make a seamless pattern in Photoshop or Procreate!)

Step 1: Set Up Your Document

blank photoshop
First thing’s first—a properly formatted canvas for your design.

You can start with a new document of any size in Adobe Illustrator, but there’s an important adjustment to make to your preferences. Open the preferences menu and be sure that the “Anti-aliased Artwork” option is not checked. This might seem like a small detail, but don’t leave it out of your process. 

Step 2: Create the Basis of Your Repeating Pattern

circle in photoshop
Every pattern begins with a single element.

Use the various design tools on the left side of your screen to add the simple shapes to your document that you’d like to use as the basis for your entire repeating pattern. 

Once you’re happy with the look of the shapes—which should constitute a single frame of sorts for your pattern—select all of them with your cursor at once, then group them together by selecting “Group” from the “Object” menu at the top of the screen. 

Step 3: Save Your Work! 

circle and line in photoshop
You can’t repeat it if you don’t save it first. 

Click and drag the grouped elements and drag them to the “Swatches” panel on the right side of your screen. This will create a new pattern swatch in that panel. 

Step 4: Apply the Pattern Swatch to a Rectangular Panel

circles
Now it’s looking like a pattern!

Click and drag the original shape you’ve created so that it’s outside of your document. Then, use the rectangle tool from the left side of the screen to create a panel inside the document. With that rectangle shape selected, you can choose the pattern swatch you’ve just created from the “Swatches” panel and your basic pattern will populate. 

This is, of course, a very basic seamless pattern, but once you’ve practiced these steps and gained additional skills with Illustrator (or your design software of choice), you’ll be a masterful seamless pattern generator!

Where to Find Free Seamless Patterns

Not sure you’re ready to take on creating your own seamless patterns? Here’s the good news: there are plenty of places to find them ready-made online—for free! 

Check out these resources for patterns that you can use to add texture, color, and depth to your designs:

Try Pattern Design in Photoshop

Easy Seamless Patterns With the New Pattern Making Tool in Adobe Photoshop