Line pattern art is a fundamental part of graphic design, and it can take so many forms: line patterns can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, zigzag, curved, wavy, cross-hatched, and more. Here, we introduce the concept of line patterns, give some attractive and inspiring examples of line art patterns, and walk you through the steps to follow to create your own using Adobe Illustrator and other design programs.

What is a Geometric Line in Art?

Geometry is the branch of mathematics that deals with lines, angles, curves, and shapes. So, a geometric line in art is one that is straight, regular, and uniform. Not all line patterns use straight geometric lines, but you’ll find that many of them do. In math, a line vector is a straight line between a starting point and a secondary point. 

What is a Line Pattern?

In art, this line vector doesn’t need to be straight, and in fact, many line patterns are not straight at all.

A pattern is a repeated or regular way of doing something, so a line pattern is where lines have been drawn or placed in a repeated, regular way to create a visual effect. “Regular,” though, doesn’t alway mean predictable or uniform. Although parallel lines are one type of line pattern, they’re not the only type. Artists and designers can get quite creative with the composition of line patterns.

Create Line Pattern Art in Illustrator

Illustrator for Lunch – Whimsical Diagonal Line Patterns.

Examples of Line Patterns to Draw

Student work by Emma Make for   Stripes and Line Patterns in Under 60 Seconds
Student work by Emma Make for Stripes and Line Patterns in Under 60 Seconds

This simple line pattern has a striking effect because of the contrasting black and white lines.

Student work by Stephanie Fricke-Goode for  Photoshop for Lunch - More Patterns - Diagonal Stripes, Chevrons, Plaid, Colorful Polka Dots
Student work by Stephanie Fricke-Goode for Photoshop for Lunch – More Patterns – Diagonal Stripes, Chevrons, Plaid, Colorful Polka Dots

These line patterns use stripes in very different ways, for diverse effects.

Student work by Paola Felisatti for  Illustrator for Lunch - Create a Plaid or Tartan Pattern
Student work by Paola Felisatti for Illustrator for Lunch – Create a Plaid or Tartan Pattern

Plaids and tartans are types of line art patterns commonly used in clothing, accessories, and furnishing.

Student work by Joy Vick for Stripes and Line Patterns in Under 60 Seconds
Student work by Joy Vick for Stripes and Line Patterns in Under 60 Seconds

Line patterns—like this geometric line art—can include lines going in multiple and opposing directions.

Student work by Stavroula Kaparou for  Pattern Design: From Straight to Wonky Lines with Adobe Illustrator and Fresco
Student work by Stavroula Kaparou for Pattern Design: From Straight to Wonky Lines with Adobe Illustrator and Fresco

Line patterns don’t need to be straight. This pattern uses curved, wonky lines.

Student work by Mona Iordache for  Illustrator for Lunch - Whimsical Diagonal Line Patterns
Student work by Mona Iordache for Illustrator for Lunch – Whimsical Diagonal Line Patterns

This line pattern creates a layered effect by coloring the lines differently so some lines sit atop other lines, and others lie underneath.

Photoshop and other design programs can be used to create organic-looking patterns.
Photoshop and other design programs can be used to create organic-looking patterns.

This pattern of lines and clouds repeats seamlessly in all directions and can be created using Photoshop.

Student work by Jesse Bradley for  Illustrator for Lunch - Pattern of Lines and Dots
Student work by Jesse Bradley for Illustrator for Lunch – Pattern of Lines and Dots

Line patterns can be combined with other types of graphic and geometric elements, like dots.

How to Make Line Patterns in Illustrator

Illustrator is the preferred program by many graphic designers. Why? Because it uses vector images (and vector lines) rather than raster images, as some other programs (like Photoshop) do. 

Raster images are pixelated, which is fine when you’re designing something small, but not so great if you want to enlarge an image. They’re also harder to edit. Vector images, on the other hand, can be scaled up much more easily and retain their sharpness and integrity at any size.

While this distinction may not matter to you too much if you’re just starting out designing line patterns, it’s always smart to get into good habits and to potentially simplify your future life by starting with the best tool for the job.

Another reason why designers love Illustrator is that it has a superior pen tool. This is handy if you want to create hand-drawn vector lines, and it makes line pattern drawing easy.

Many resources are available to teach the basics of Illustrator to beginners. This course focuses specifically on creating plaid and tartan patterns, a type of line pattern often used for fabric.

Creating a tartan-inspired line pattern drawing using Illustrator.
Creating a tartan-inspired line pattern drawing using Illustrator.

How to Make Line Patterns in Fresco

Adobe Fresco uses live brushes with the iPad’s stylus. If you love hand-painting and drawing but want to digitize your artistic practice, Fresco may be a more comfortable tool for you than the mouse-clicking required when using most other programs. 

Fresco is compatible with other Adobe programs (think, Illustrator and Photoshop) so you can create designs in one program and transfer them to another. This is the perfect way to take advantage of each program’s unique strong points without having to choose one over the other.

When it comes to creating line patterns, Fresco lets you easily create organic-looking, hand-drawn wavy patterns. Designer Maja Faber concedes that repeat wavy patterns are notoriously tricky to perfect with some other computer programs, but Fresco’s brushes imitate the strokes created by hand with a pencil or brush.

This class teaches you how to make straight and curvy lines using Fresco as well as Illustrator, and provides instruction on how to transfer files and designs between the two programs.

Designer Maja Faber uses Fresco to create digital line patterns with a hand-drawn feel.
Designer Maja Faber uses Fresco to create digital line patterns with a hand-drawn feel.

How to Make Line Patterns in Procreate

Graphic designer Cat Coquillette calls Procreate “an entire art studio located on your tablet, which you can take anywhere.” Line patterns are just one of the many things you can design with Procreate.

While Procreate is suitable for both professionals and beginners, it is considered to be a “step up” from Fresco in terms of difficulty level, so it’s a good tool to use once you’ve had practice with Fresco or are familiar with other design programs.

In this class, students learn to create basic and seamless repeat patterns in Procreate, which can include line patterns.

Procreate 5 can be used to create seamless repeat patterns, including line patterns.
Procreate 5 can be used to create seamless repeat patterns, including line patterns.

How to Make Line Patterns in Photoshop

Photoshop is an essential tool for photographers and designers working with photographic images, but it can be used for much more than working with photos. If you do have a photographic background, you can use many of the tips and tricks you already know to create line patterns. Otherwise, an introductory course to Photoshop is the place to start.

This class focuses on creating a variety of patterns using Photoshop, including diagonal stripes and plaid, which are essential line patterns. It does presume basic knowledge of Photoshop, as do many classes that focus on creating a specific type of pattern, which is why it’s important to take a class for beginners first.

Photoshop can be used for much more than photographic designs.
Photoshop can be used for much more than photographic designs.

Create Nature-Inspired Patterns!

Photoshop for Lunch – Create Organic Patterns.