Creating Decorative Patterns with Hand-Drawn Elements in Illustrator | Melissa Meyerson | Skillshare

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Creating Decorative Patterns with Hand-Drawn Elements in Illustrator

teacher avatar Melissa Meyerson, Digital Artist, Pattern Lover, Teacher

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Updated Intro Video for Class 1


    • 2.

      Raw Material


    • 3.

      Pattern Brushes


    • 4.

      Pattern Brushes and Transformations


    • 5.

      Color Swatches


    • 6.

      Live Paint


    • 7.

      Manual Pattern Tile


    • 8.

      Pattern Maker Tool


    • 9.

      Color and Pattern Library


    • 10.

      Final Project


    • 11.

      Printing your Surface Pattern Designs


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About This Class


This is an Introductory level class for Surface Pattern Design.  

Using hand-drawn elements and Illustrators' Pattern Brush tool, students start by making lots of fun, easy motifs.  The class also covers the coloring process, including creating swatches, and using the Live Paint and Recolor Artwork tools.  Students will learn how to create a "traditional" swatch, as well as experiment with the Pattern Maker tool, in order to create repeating pattern designs.  

By the end of the class, students will have numerous decorative patterned papers to print and use for numerous DIY projects.  

A Template is included for the Final Project, which is a set of 5 Decorative Papers.  I also included a Tool Settings information sheet.

Quick note: In my Intro video, I used a few product templates provided by designer Elizabeth Olwen, in her Skillshare class:  Pattern Design: Bring Your Artwork to Life on Products.  I highly recommend this class, as well as her other courses.  I also recommend all of Bonnie Christine's courses here on Skillshare.  But don't stop there, Skillshare has a lot of great pattern courses that you will find just by doing a search for Pattern Design.  

I really hope you enjoy the course!!  Ask any questions at any time and I will respond as soon as possible.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Melissa Meyerson

Digital Artist, Pattern Lover, Teacher


My name is Melissa. I am always happiest when I'm a part of any creative community. My first passion was black line art. I tried many other mediums in an effort to expand and grow as a creative, and then I discovered and fell madly in love with Digital Pattern Design.

I had a lot to learn, and I was so grateful for all the online opportunities available, as I took on these new learning curves.

I am now a graduate of all 4 Modules of the very popular, Make It In Design Courses, run by Rachael Taylor and Beth Kempton. I was thrilled to have one of my designs recently selected for The Surface Pattern Design Lookbook Vol.2, within the Global Geometric category.

I LOVE that Skillshare is here for all creatives, and I'm really excited to finally enter the commun... See full profile

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1. Updated Intro Video for Class 1: Hi, My name is Melissa. I'm a digital artist, and I love to create patterns. This is an intro level class called creating decorative patterns with hand drawn elements. It's quick. Mind easy. All your patterns can be printed from your home printer and used for all sorts, decorations and gifts. You'll be vector rise in your element, using the pattern, brush and transformation tools to create lots of fun motif. Any color creating a pattern, swatch tile and much more goals. Toe have lots of find colorful and decorative patterns for print, so in role now and let's get started. 2. Raw Material: hi. Thanks so much for enrolling. I really think you'll enjoy the course, so this first part is all about the raw material for your motifs. I had mentioned using lots of little doodles, and these should be in black ink. I use micron or pit pens, but you could also use a Sharpie. And for those of you who loved to draw mandalas but aren't sure how to convert them graphically, or maybe it's just a rough sketch, you can deconstruct it and use the separate shapes and elements. It's also fun to pick a theme like nature or organic shapes. First, your elements need to be scanned. I'm not covering the scanning process, but you should choose black and white and at least 300 d P. I. This first demo is cleaning up your hand drawn line work and Photoshopped. You just locate your scan and I'm going to right click and choose open with Photoshopped. If you're a scan, a sideways like mind, you go to image image rotation and I'll choose 90 degrees clockwise. Go to the bottom of the layers panel and choose the Little Half Circle Icon, which is a levels adjustment layer in the Levels dialog box there, I'm going to use these little eye droppers. This 1st 1 sets my black point and darkens my darks. This 2nd 1 is the white point, and I find that choosing the smudge here parts instead of a whiter spot is what works best . This will make everything a more uniform white, so it looks pretty clean. Next, I want to prepare my elements for the future steps, knowing that I'll be using the pattern brush tool. So grab your resume tool and move closer. When I drew these elements, I knew I wanted them to be straight at the bottom toe. Work best is a pattern brush, but I don't want these lines sticking out anymore because they're in pen. I need to erase them. So I just grabbed the eraser tool and Aiken size it up or down with my arrow keys. And I can also clean up any mess. If it's I don't want to. This element kind of like a string of beads. I know I only want one line to stick out, knowing that it will meet up with this little ball. So for this, I'll just erase one side. Just go through and continue with this process. Now you don't have to worry about every little gray area or smudgy bit, because when you use the image of life trace an illustrator, I was still able to get a really nice result. So this next demo is vector rising again. Locate your scan and this time opening illustrator, make sure your page of elements is selected. Go to the image trace panel. If you don't have it on the side like I do, just go to the menu and choose window and image trees from there. I'm not going to use any advanced settings for this process, but feel free to play with those settings as well. From the preset menu, I choose black and white logo. It says it might be slow. Just hit. Okay, Once that is done, you just see if the results look good. If you feel like the black lines or to light or weak, you can play with the threshold slider and get darker, heavier lines. But really, what is most important as it your lines do not break up. You want all your shapes to be closed for the coloring process So once you're happy with the results, you need to expand the tracing to make it official. Now I want to separate the black lines from the white background. You could choose Ignore White from the advanced section and image race. But this is the way I learned and what I prefer. So I get my white arrow or a direct selection tool and select any of the white space around the vectors and not the line work itself. Go to the menu and choose select same fill color to choose all the white and hit delete. Now you can see that you only have your black line work also to keep each of my element separate from each other off first on group the whole batch and because some of these individual elements air separate, I want to regroup thes so that they stay together and that is it for vectors. Next class will be turning these elements into pattern brushes 3. Pattern Brushes: So this is just a small sample of kind of motif seeking. Get from your elements, and I'm going to jump right into the first demo where we're going to create the pattern brushes. I have my first set of elements here on the left, and I'll just show real quick again what you can get with some experimenting. So I only have one to fall brushing here right now that I'll keep. But for any other brushes that were in here, I selected them and dragged them to the trash to focus just on the ones I'm creating. It's always fun to try elements that have what I'll call little wings on them. With these brushes, you can also start playing with your transformation tools here. This 1st 1 I'm going to reflect so I can have two equal sides. So click on your reflect tool found under the rotate tool, making sure it selected your option. Click or all click on a PC at the bottom right point. The option Click brings up your dialogue box and going to pick the vertical flip while it's still selected and just going to nudge it over a little with my arrow keys. I'm going to do the same thing with this one. But when I move it over, I'm just going to overlap the to the roster. Fine as is. So to make our first brush, I select the Element Dragon into the Bushes panel again. If your panel is not there, goto windows and select brushes. This will automatically open your dialogue box and choose pattern brush. Now the pattern Bristol log box comes up, and for now, I'm just creating the brushes. Later will play around more with the individual settings. I will choose the 10 setting at this point, so be able to change the color. I'm going to repeat this process for each and every element on my page and my panel. You'll see how they're all separate brushes now for this class. I'm just working with a circle or medallion motifs so all of my brushes air being applied to circle. So I go up to my shape tools, and if you hold down on the rectangle tool, you'll be able to select the Ellipse tool to make a perfect circle. You just need to hold down, shift option or shift all and drag out because the pattern brushes are applied to a stroke , not a Phil. I'll swap my Fillon stroke down here. While my circle is still selected, I'll choose my first brush. The rial fund here is when you start playing around the settings, which are accessed by clicking this options of selected object icon for its dialogue box. Now you can play a favorite setting to changes this scale size. I keep it fixed, and I could just move the slider back and forth. This determines how many times your initial element is repeated around the shape, so just play with it and see what you like when you can still see the initial shape you're applying it to. It means it's still live effect, and you want to always expand your effects before creating patterns. So goto object and choose expand appearance. The next one I'll do is for one of these little strip elements, and I'm going to be making additional adjustments so I'll do the same process and expand appearance again. But I'm not happy with the results, as is. I need to be able to access the individual pieces in there so I can clean it up a little because the pattern brush always groups everything. The first thing is to UN group. Now you can see that this motif is made up of two segments with one on top and one on bottom. Now find group again. I can get to each little piece separately. I'm going to nudge these little pieces around until they feel they line up better. So this is part of the process where you really want to experiment. Try more of the options, like flipping long flip across and spacing options. Have fun with this one. Last thing to point out is the idea of nesting. Some of these simple elements don't necessarily create an exciting motif in itself, so you can play around combining them one within the other and again, just experiment. 4. Pattern Brushes and Transformations: in this next class. We're still working with pattern brushes, but I want to show you how you can add a little more complex city and detail to your motifs . So I have a collection of some very simple elements, all separate vectors. At this point, the first thing I want to do is start arranging them into little clusters or stacking them on top of each other. I can also experiment with the reflect tool again. First, select the element in here. I'm going to drag out a copy, select the reflect tool, but this time choose horizontal instead of vertical. Now, in order to have the most precise control. When moving things around, you can move in really close to your element and get it exactly where you want it. It's much easier this way, then zoom back out when you're done with control or command zero. The next example is using a combination of elements next to each other. They make up the outer part of the motif here and a combination with elements stacked on top of each other, which formed the inner part of the motif, so rearranging and combining to make new pattern brushes is a great way to experiment. So I have one final demo showing how you can add some complexity with a little more manual control this time will be using the rotate tool. This next part will demonstrate how you add additional elements and very precisely placed them so they add to your motif. So I have these two elements a little squiggle in this little heart, and I already placed them exactly where we want them to close off some of the open space. This time I select the rotate tool, and I'm going to click approximately in the center of my motif. Then I need to select me to elements, and I need to hold down my option or alter accusing. Move them to the next spot with optional were dragging copy, and they're moving relative to the point I set. I will repeat this process all the way around, but as you can see here, there will be times when you can't get it to line up exactly where you want it, so we need to continue fiddling with it. You can use the rotate tool again to move just that element around a center point without clicking all or option, and you can stretch it by dragging the bounding box or rotating the bounding box etcetera. The main goal here is to make sure the spaces closed the best you can so you can fill it with color when we get to the live pain tool. These are all the areas where you will be able to add different colors and just continue around the hall motif with the same process. 5. Color Swatches: this class is about working with color palettes. There are lots of fun Resource is to explore. In this case, we're creating patterns for decorating, So I started exploring home Interior Resource is particularly better homes and gardens on their website and Oliver Pinterest. You'll see these amazing Inspiration board pallets these air paint colors, but they can just as easily be swatches. I'm just using this resource for this class, but eventually you'll take all the color. Inspiration from different resource is including your own artwork or photography, and develop your own unique pallets. These color palettes will be used to call you motifs with the live paint tool, but will also experiment with swapping colors around for lots of variation with the re color artwork tool. In this demo, I'll show a very popular method for creating swatches from a photograph. I'm using this tropical inspired palette. I need to create little squares for my swatches. I'll have a black stroke and no Phil. To start, I need more I'll just option or all drag another square. I need my selection of my eye dropper tools to sample the colors, and you can toggle back and forth between the two first select the black arrow and then the eyedropper, and to go back and forth, you hold down the command or control key. So with this first square selected in the fill box in front, you'll shift click to pick a color, and you can move the eyedropper around the photo to pick up different hues you can see within this one circle. There are darker and lighter colors from the shadows and highlights, so I just go through and pull all the colors I want. You could also sample any of the colors around the paints if you like, because you have all these options Now I need to add these colors to my Swatch panel as a new color group. When you define a color group, Illustrator puts them in a nice little folder. I did get rid of the black stroke because I don't want that as part of my color vert. You need to drag select the whole set click this new collar group icon, and the dialog box comes up. I'm going to recommend the selected artwork option. You got some extra controls with the global swatch, and we now have our palate and just repeat this for each new palette you want to create 6. Live Paint: in this class, you'll be using the live pain tal to add color to your motifs, a really fun process. So I have a few motifs here that were colored with the tropical palette from the last class . But with this first motif, I've separated the two pieces before I started my coloring like layering process. First, I need to select the motif and then select the life paint tool located here under this shape builder tool. I need to pick a color first, and when I hover over my motif, I'll see the outlines light up. As soon as I make my first click, I have turned it into a live pain object. I can go pick another color from the swatches, but I can also flip through my swatches with my arrow. Keys like pain will always highlight the areas that could be filled. If it doesn't, you may have a gap in your line work, which is why you want your initial drawings toe. Have solid black lines, need to zoom and really close to your motif. To get better access to small areas, you can also color these independent little bits not attached to the outlines for this inside motif. I just want a caller the outlines instead of each little nook and cranny. Just too many in this case. So this is not a live pain object. I just select it and choose a color from my swatches. I'm going to minimize this and place it on top of my other motif. If you don't see it, just choose object. Arrange. Bring different Because I'm adding a new element to the life pain object. I need to merge the two, select the whole thing and go toe object. Live pain. Merge to see those little squares around the edges. Now it concolor these areas separately. Once your motif is colored, you need to expand it. I didn't finish this one yet, but I'll show the process. You goto object, expand, Keep all the defaults as is and select. Okay, now what if I wanted to change the outline color? I need to both re select the motif and re select the live pain tool. It could be especially tricky to target the outlines unless you're really close. I'm still having trouble, so I need to zoom in even closer. And now I can see the outlines are highlighted for this next motif. I'm not going to walk through the whole thing, but you can see all of these little nooks can be filled with different colors, so it can be a lot of fun. And this last motif is more complex, as it's made up of multiple pieces nested and stacked on top of each other. But there is even more you can do to add little details. If you like using the plot brush, this is a great tool to add some Freehand line work. Just pick a color and start drawing. You can reduce the size with the arrow keys. You can make dots whatever you like. And last, but not least, a quick demo with the re color artwork tool. I just want to get some variations of my motifs by changing the colors around first, I'm going to use the same palette already have, and then I'm going to choose a different palette altogether. So really simple. Select the whole motif an option dragon over while it's still selected. Click on this re color artwork icon at the top here to open the dialogue engine now, because my colors are arranging groups, they will show up in the color group section. If you only have individual swatches in your swash panel, they will not show up here. So I just picked the group I want and start clicking on this randomly change color button. You just keep clicking until you find one you like. This could be very addictive. Next, I'm going to change the palate. So I drag it out again, and this time I'll choose a different palette for each one. 7. Manual Pattern Tile : learning to make pattern tiles manually. An illustrator is a really nice girl. Tohave, starting with a very basic tile, is a good way to learn the fundamentals. I'm going to go on my rectangle tool and click once to manually type in my dimensions. I can choose the color now as a background color, but I want my pattern to have a transparent background instead. Next, I grabbed my main motif and drug it into the square, and you can resize it to fill the space more. I want my motif to be exactly in the center of the square. So while it's still selected, I need to click on the rectangle twice. The second click on the rectangle defines it as the key object for alignment. I choose horizontal line center, vertical online center and you can see in this drop menu. I have alignment to key object. Next, I want to place the same motif around each of the four corners of my tile, so I will option drag this one to the first corner. As I'm dragging, I'm able to see the outlines and it makes it easy for me to snap the center to the corner for a title to be seamless, you always make sure that whatever crosses the line on one side is repeated on the other side. In this case, it crosses both the horizontal and the vertical lines. I will start with a horizontal move. I need a copy of this motif in the opposite corner. I like to use the Move dialog box, which opens when I double click the selection tool because my motif ISS six by six inches, I want my motif to move exactly six inches horizontally at this time. Just put zero for vertical and I choose copy so the original motif stays in place. Now I can select both of these and copy them vertically at the same time, typing zero for the horizontal this time next. So place my motif on this line with my smart guides turned on, and it's going to be the same process. I can also change the color now from here. It only needs to go vertically. Six inches. This next one will go horizontally six inches. So at this point you could add to your pattern by filling any of these empty areas so long as they don't cross the stroke line, you don't have to duplicate them. The next important step in the process is to select this rectangle. Make certain it is at the very back of everything else with object sent to back, and it must have no stroke and no fill. This tells illustrator what your tile boundaries are. Once that is done, you can select everything, making sure the invisible squares included and dragged into your swatches panel. Now the really fun part of testing your patter with a pattern. Phil goto an empty spot in your workspace. Drag out a large rectangle and select your new swatch so you can see how the background is transparent. Because the scale is so large, you will likely want to scale that down to look more like a patterned paper. So we double click the scale tool next to the rotate tool in the dialog box. He first need to uncheck the box that says transform objects so you will only be scaling the pattern itself. I click next in the number of this uniform box, and I can scale with my arrow keys, and if I hit shift an arrow keys, it jumps by increments of 10. When you like the size hit, okay, because I choose not to include a background color with the pattern, I will add one behind the pattern. I just copy and edit, paste him back and pick a color for my swatches. 8. Pattern Maker Tool: So this class is only relevant if you have either CS six or later, because earlier versions don't have a pattern maker tool if you have it. This is a great tool to experiment with, especially if you're creating patterns for specific size. Like in this class, it gives you some additional repeat options to play around with again. I'm just using these two motifs to start first, I need to select them and go to object pattern make to enter the pattern engine. It says The new swatches created for me and I say, OK, there is a lot to explore in here, and I'm really just touching the surface. So take the time to really test things out. I'm not naming it at this time, but I do want to change the repeat style for these simple decorative patterns. I really just use either brick by row or Brick by column. I'm not going to type in any setting through tile size. Instead, I'm going to click on this pattern tile tool icon at the top. This allows me to manually drag these handles around to either tighten the space or add more space. I can select any motif and move it around and you'll see each instance of that. Mo Chief moves automatically. I'll keep playing with the spacing. I know I want to scrunch this down a little, and when I'm happy with it, I'll come up to the top and select. Done. Because the swatch was added to my panel, I can now test it with the rectangle, and I want to scale it down again. Double click the scale tool. Make sure previews on and transform objects is unchecked. It remembered my last scale percentage, but you can change it if you need Teoh and again to add a background color. I go to edit, copy and edit, paste him back, and I choose the color. And because this is intended as an intro pattern class on just creating very simple patterns and using Onley a few features. But I absolutely encourage you to experiment and play because it's a really cool tool 9. Color and Pattern Library: This is a quick class about organizing your new pallets and patterns watches so you can quickly and easily find them when you're ready to print and for future use. Because I was making so many patterns for this class, I decided to keep everything in one master document in this demo. I'm going to start by creating portable little swatches from this batch of patterns that I made from this group of motifs. I have my little squares already here, and I did create each of these patterns without a background color. So I want to include that color with my swatch, so I'll fill each with their background color first, just selecting them from the Swatch panel, all from this one pallet over here. Next, I select offer of those squares and I need a copy of each placed on top. Go to edit, copy at it, paced in front. I also want to remove the stroke color. So Audie select them all, and she is my first watch again. I can toggle back and forth with my command or control key, and I'll sample this first pattern and repeat this for each one. I'll copy these and switch over to the master document I created. I'm using a 12 inch by eight inch document. I know I won't be putting this, but you can make it any size you want. I already have a bunch of swatches in here that I had made for this class and used in my intro image. And now I just want to add to it. I'm just gonna arrange them down here. And as I continue creating more patterns, I'll keep updating this document. Last thing to point out is that I'm also keeping all my color palettes in this document, but on a separate layer. And I can just high that layer when I don't need it. 10. Final Project: Hi. I really hope you're enjoying the class so far, and I love to see what your patterns are for the final project. I did include a template so you can have your patterns displayed as a set of papers, but feel free to share your patterns in any way you choose. I also have a little extra activity at the bottom if you like. This is what the template looks like. I have each paper arranged on a separate layer, so when I click on it, you see first paper, second paper and so on. And at the bottom, the circle shapes air on one layer because they don't overlap each other. I'm going to start by bringing in a selection of parents, watches from my master document from the previous class and place them to the side again because my background colors air separate from the patterns, I first need to fill each paper with my background color. The's first. You already have the right color, so I'll just change these next three because I don't want to mess up my layers. I need to do each paper completely before I move on to the next one so one by one, I'll do the edit copy and edit paste in front, and then I'll sample my first pattern. Repeat the same process for each paper. So because some of these papers are on an angle, chances are your pattern angle will not match the paper. I had already straightened most of them, so I'll show you how to do this with this one. Here, select just the pattern and double click your rotate tool again. Make sure the transform objects is unchecked and you can just click next to the number and start using your arrow keys to adjust the angle. Next. I included these little circles so you can play with changing the scale of the patterns to see what cool effects he can get, especially when you scale them really large. I place the pattern over my background. In this time, I'm going to scale it way up. I also want to move the pattern around within the circles, so I double click my move tool and play with the horizontal and vertical positions with my arrow keys. I could also use the re color artwork tool to change the colors. Okay, Once again, I strongly encourage you to let loose and play around with all these tools and really have fun experimenting. I would love to see everyone's patterns, so don't hesitate to share. Also feel free to share anything you've done up to this point, like your hand drawn elements and your motifs. The next in last class is a quick demo for printing your patterns. See there. 11. Printing your Surface Pattern Designs: So this is the last section of the class. I just want to do a quick demo of not only how you could easily print your patterns, but how I can also print so many variations from these same patterns. Just by changing the colors and the scale again, I want to work in layers so I can keep things more organized. I have the original pattern on the bottom, but additional layers for re colored and re scaled versions on top. I'm putting on my home printer, and I'm just gonna fill an 8.5 by 11 inch document with my background color and my pattern . But I don't like these colors at all, so I brought in a couple different palates to test out in any of these new versions that I like. I'm going to print them out, and I can also add any new patterns to my master document. For this pattern, I change the colors and the scale, and I looks completely different. That's it. I really hope you learned something new or gods and new ideas, and I definitely hope you'll have fun experimenting. I also want to encourage you to ask me any questions at any time. I will do my absolute best to give you a detailed answer as soon as possible and feel free to leave comments and reviews. This is my first class, so comments are appreciate it, and I just want to thank you again for enrolling in my class.