Easy Intro to Surface Pattern Design in Illustrator | Inez Jestine | Skillshare

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Easy Intro to Surface Pattern Design in Illustrator

teacher avatar Inez Jestine, surface pattern designer

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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

6 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. 1 Introduction and Trailer

    • 2. 2 Different Pattern Categories

    • 3. 3 Image Trace and Blob Brush Tools

    • 4. 4 Assembling the Pattern

    • 5. 5 Background and Clipping Mask 3

    • 6. 6 Final Notes

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About This Class


Welcome to my class where I plan to teach you to create seamless patterns in one sitting. We will be working in Adobe Illustrator using the blob brush tool (along with a few others) to build motifs and group them into patterns. There is no prior experience necessary. The class is geared toward anyone who is interested in creating their own wallpaper, gift wrap, or fabric, etc. or for anyone who might be interested in how patterns work.

Here is a guide on what you will learn:

  • The definition of motifs and how they play the starring role in patterns
  • The different kinds of patterns you can make
  • How to use the shape builder and the blob brush tool to create motifs
  • How to turn these motifs into a pattern and add a background color
  • To make a swatch out of your pattern that you can use in anything
  • Editing the pattern so that it’s symmetrical and perfectly what you’re seeking to create
  • The different uses for patterns

And just a couple things you will need:

  • Pencil and paper
  • Computer
  • Adobe Illustrator (free download here)
  • A Wacom drawing pad is optional, but it can make things so much easier if you invest in one 

Meet Your Teacher

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Inez Jestine

surface pattern designer


Hello! I'm Inez, a surface pattern designer currently living in San Diego, California. Most days you can find me drawing flowers on my iPad, but I also love teaching others how to do fun digital stuff. Join me in a class and I will try to give you an easy, fun, and productive learning experience. Connect with me on Instagram! I love meeting new people :)

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Related Skills

Illustration Creative

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1. 1 Introduction and Trailer: Hello, I'm in As Justine and I live and breathe surface pattern design, I first started to make patterns when I was a student in college, taking a fashion promotional strategies class at the time Photo shop was more prevalent, so I learned using the offset tool. Today, however, the industry seems to prefer illustrator and vector formats for for surface patterns. So it's really important to know how to how to use illustrator to make patterns. And when I had to relearn the process of making patterns you using illustrator I had to use about 4 to 5 different videos, and I took a lot of different notes before I finally got the hang of It s. So the purpose of this class is Teoh help you learn how to make seamless patterns with ease in one sitting and their endless passive possibilities with patterns. And I assure you, once you start making them, you're not gonna be able to stop 2. 2 Different Pattern Categories: the class project for this course is pretty basic. I would love to see your creation of a surface pattern design. I'd like you to think of an object you'd like to see your pattern on and style your pattern appropriately, um, questions to ask yourself can be What season is this for? Should it be more of a technical pattern or something more minimalistic, more feminine or universal? When you know these things ahead of time, it makes it a lot easier to envision what kind of pattern you'll want to make. So I'm gonna go over a few examples of different categories of patterns. Since patterns could be used in so many different things, it's really good to know what categories suits your object best s. So this is an example of floral pattern. Floral patterns are the most popular type of pattern, their classic and don't really ever seem to go out of style. Florals have been used since surface patterns were first being placed on fabrics and tapestries, so they're also very traditional and can be designed in the multiple multitude off ways. So this is an example of a more technical floral pattern. There is a lot more than just one or two motifs, and you could get lost in all the different directions. The pattern is flowing. Technical patterns take a little more time to create, as you can probably tell, but there's some of the most appreciated, Um, another very popular counter. Gory is a geometrics. I find them used a lot more to fix and toe accent more technical patterns. So, for example, maybe the lining of a purse or a tote bag. Uh, I also see geometrics in a lot of packaging. And, of course, there's always holiday patterns in the mix of categories. Pattern designers make a lot of these. I like to go more modern than traditional when I'm making holiday patterns. But maybe you might be interested in making a traditional holiday wrapping paper or greeting card for your class project. There are a lot of surface pattern designers that also focus on making designs out of foods . Thes designs could be popular and items for the kitchen like tea towels or aprons, or they can make fun patterns for apparel. Lots of different things. Uh, novelty patterns like this fish pattern could be very fun to make But I think it's important to have a purpose in mind when coming up with patterns like these, for example, kids wear or surfboards something that you can envision from beginning of the creation process. And I think it's a great idea to plan ahead when coming up with your pattern. Ah, mood board can also be beneficial, and we'll give you more clarity on what type of design you're gonna want to create. So think about the end goal for pattern first and then try to envision what kind of pattern you're wanting to create. Upload your project in the project section and feel free to use the hashtag well planned pattern when sharing on instagram so we can see everyone's work. All right, now we're ready to start working on our pattern. 3. 3 Image Trace and Blob Brush Tools: So we're going to begin with using the image trace tool, which is a tool that I would not recommend. But I wanted to show you how it's used and why I'm not the biggest fan of it. You might find that it works for your particular saw, although on a lot of people do use it, it's just not my preferred method method of making patterns unless I'm working with, um, wash your watercolors so we'll start by selecting the image of a scanned in drawing that I did and we'll go over to the image trace button. If the image trace box doesn't automatically pop up, you can find it by going to window and image trace. You'll want the presets of image trace to be in black and white local, and now you can increase or decrease the level of darkness in your image by adjusting the threshold. Next, he'll go to advanced and check the box that says, Ignore whites to basically lessen the amount of anchor points in your sketches. You'll then hit the expand button and right click on the image to ungroomed up or hit shift command G on your keyboard and now you can select each individual object on at it. So the reason I'm not the biggest fan of image traces because the lines and my sketches can be kind of imprecise. And even though I appreciate the hand drawn look in my patterns, thes sketches could look way better using the blob brush tool and simply drawing over them . So I did used the smooth tool, which I'll go over a little bit more in in the next and when I actually used the blob brush . But But even this move tool doesn't really work very well in image trace. So I'll just let you take a closer look at what I mean here. Okay, so we'll jump over to a new eight by eight inch document I created in C N y Que and I'm going to place a sketch. I simply snapped a photo of using my own iPhone onto the art board by going to file place and, uh, dragging it onto the art board at the size. I would like it to be a minute. Zoom in here and go over to my blob brush tool, which is shift be on your keyboard. Um, the thing about the blob brush tool is it's going to be recognized as a fill rather than a stroke. An illustrator. So, um minute, go over to my swatches panel and pick out the color. I would like Teoh outline with I think I'm going to use this pretty green one, and I will not need a stroke. So will change that by clicking X and all right, so we're set up, and, um, I used the wake, um, tablet to create most of my patterns. It says take a bit of a learning curve to adjust Teoh drawing tablets if you're a beginner to them. But once you get the hang of it, you won't want to go back to my house. So I'm gonna just start tracing over my image, and it doesn't have to match the sketch. Exactly. Um, as you can see, the lines are already so much smoother than if I had used the image trace tool. Big difference. Now you're gonna want Teoh close out any shapes that you plan on filling with color. Um, with the, uh, with the shape builder tool. Um, if there are any gaps in a shape, you won't be able to use the shape builder tool to color them in. So, for example, with these leaves here, I'm making sure Teoh not leave any gaps in closing them up. Hopefully that hopefully that makes sense. - Okay , so now money is the shape builder tool to fill the Laibson. Um, going to select the motif and go over to the shape builder tool, which is shift. I'm on your keyboard. You can see I can go over the leaf shapes with a different color, like a fun yellow. If I wanted to do that, um, I just have to go over to the pathfinder box, um, and find, merge and just merge the green and the yellow. Or I could drag over both of yellow Emma leaf motif the green leaf motif, um, to change the entire color. Well, im achieve to all be the same shade of green. Those. So, um, I can either go over each shape individually. And, um, if I did that, I'd go over to the Pathfinder tool where I find the unite button and unite. Hm. Or I could simply drag over the entire motif with that color, and it automatically unites once you do that. You won't be able to change the inside of the color of the leaves if you do that. So and, um, you will find all this info in the notes in the class project section, by the way, if you need to do so. All right. So I dragged my morning motif over to the art board, and, um, as you can probably tell, it does not have the smoothest edges. Luckily, there is a handy little tool called the smooth tool. And that's why I'm using right now. And, um, I just kind of go over different little anchor points. Um, that need a bit of straightening, and you'll notice it can help make a much finer shape, many at a little visual interest by lining the leaves with the darker color with the blob brush tool. It's a kind of part of my signature style, something that I really enjoy doing. So, um, contrast is a big part of my designs. So I used techniques, techniques like this often all right. Once I'm done adding all the darker details, I want to group everything together by selecting all and, uh, right clicking and clicking group or pushing command G on my keyboard. So I am going to work on a few of these motifs and aven to my Art Burke board and I We'll be seeing you in the next section. 4. 4 Assembling the Pattern: all right, so I finished up the rest of the motifs and added them to my our board. Some of the motifs have outlines, and some don't. But I did want to know that while drawing your motifs, it's a good idea to plan which elements are going to be different colors before accidentally uniting them. You can still adjust them later, but if you want to leave to be a separate color from a flower, for example, you want to think about that in advanced. So next I like to duplicate my motifs so that I have multiples of them. I'm going to show you how to duplicate an item straight across. First, you're going to select the motif, begin to move it click shift to keep it aligns and click option to duplicate it. And I'm gonna do that again with another motif here shift to keep it aligned. Click options duplicated. Okay. Another thing frequently done in surface pattern design is reflecting motifs so that you have a few of the same element facing different directions to reflect this piece of greenery. I just need to right click, hit, reflect, keep it at a 90 degree angle and hit. OK, so you're never really committed to your colors. If there is anything at all that you want to change in your designs, you can do that by entering isolation mode. And, um, isolation mode kind of freezes the rest of the objects and allows you to edit the specific object you double click on. So I'm gonna double click this, Um, see this little floral motif here and you'll be able to see that the rest of the moon chiefs are kind of faded outs once I get in isolation mode Diamond right now. Now, if I want to change the color of any elements on this motif, I can. So, for example, if I wanted to change the color of one of these stems, I could easily do that in isolation mode, even though they're grouped. For now, though, I'm pretty happy with my color scheme. So I'm gonna keep everything, as is just double click to get back out of isolation mode. And now we're ready to begin the fun part of assembling the pattern. Uhm, assembling the pattern for me consists of duplicating and reflecting multiple motifs and placing them in different areas of the art board. Um, that way a a person really has to search for where the pattern begins and ends. I like my patterns to be a seamless as possible, and this method tends to work best for me. So, um Okay, so going to start doing that now and you can follow along with me and okay , so now we're ready to begin to make this pattern nice and seamless. In order to do that will have to have everything that's on the left side on of the art board. Be copied to the right, and anything on the top be copied to the bottom and vice versa. So will begin selecting all of the items overlapping the left side of the art board in a right click. Go to transform and move, and the art board is eight by eight inches. So we'll want to copy those motifs eight inches horizontally and zero inches vertically, and you'll need to hit copy instead of okay. Otherwise, it'll adjust the other motifs and just move them and we'll do this. We're going to readjust everything, and then we'll do the top as well. Severino select the top items were going to right click. And we're gonna go to move after transform and want these to be copied to the bottom. So will want a zero horizontal position and an eight inch vertical position and hit copy. And I'm gonna reposition this little leave here. Now, these two flowers air coming off the bottom as well as the sides. So we're gonna have to copy them, so they're overlapping the art board on the top as well. Um, we'll take the same steps as before, but now, instead of just instead of doing just eight inches vertically, it'll be negative eight inches, since it's going from the bottom to the top. Um, whenever going from bottom to top or from rights toe left, it's gonna be a negative number instead of just ah normal positive number. And to select multiple items, by the way, you just have to click shift when, when selecting both. So whenever you're moving objects that are overlapping one side of the art board, you want to be sure to select their copy too, to be perfectly aligned. Okay, so we're going to copy this little green leaf here, too, since overlapping the bottom of the art board were in a right click move. Transform zero horizontal and negative. Eight. Since we're going from bottom to top for the vertical hit copy. All right. On. I'm just going to do some vinyl bits of tweaking and copying, and all right, now that everything is looking pretty well balanced overall and ready to create my background and, um, we're going to do that in the next video. 5. 5 Background and Clipping Mask 3: so now we're ready for a background of this pattern. Making a background for your pattern is really easy, but it is important for it to be aligned with your art board. Otherwise, you'll find hairlines in your pattern. At the end, we'll begin by going over to the rectangle box or by clicking em on your keyboard and double clicking to customize our with and height. Remember, the rectangle has to be the same. Size is your art board, so I'm gonna make the rectangle eight by 88 inches and click OK, now the rectangle is not aligned with the art board, so we'll need to fix that. We can go over to the align tool on the right, and since the rectangle is selected, that is the object that will be aligned and on the right bottom of the dialogue box will want to make sure it says Aligned Art Board will then go to Vertical Line Center and Horizontal Align Center that assures that the square is perfectly centered in the art board . Well, then wants you right click go to arrange and send it back so that it's behind our motifs. Um, I always play with different color options. So I'm gonna keep my square selected, go over to my swatches panel and see what color options I come up with. And, of course, you'll want Teoh the background color to have a nice flow with the rest of the colors in your motifs. You won't want anything to similar and shade unless you're going for a really monochromatic sort of look. So this blue kind of works for now. But I can also double click on it, Um, and see if there's another shade of it I might like better. So when you double click on the Phil, it'll bring up a color picker and you can kind of just play around with the shade of it. Okay, so we'll need to take a couple more steps before we can make a patterns. Watch out of this. But, um, once we create us, watch out of it. We can fill just about anything with it. So to make us watch, we're gonna first copy the background by clicking command, see? And we're gonna pasted to the back of everything my clicking command be and making sure that the copy does not have a Phil or a stroke. Well, then select everything the entire pattern, and we will simply drag it over to the swatches panel, and that makes it a swatch. So you definitely have to have that background copy. Um, in order for that to work now, I want to test my pattern. So I'm veered over to the left of my art board and, um, dragging out a rectangle to fill with this watch, as you can see, so that looks good. But I'm gonna I like to try a few different options for backgrounds, so I mean, I often change up the colors and the motifs. Sometimes I'll just change the background color. Um, any time you make changes, all you have to do is select everything again and create a brand new swatch. So, for example, in creating a brand new swatch with a black background now and just gonna fill this rectangle and always take a step back and look at the pattern from afar to see if there's anything that needs to be adjusted. And I like to compare, you know what, what, what the end usage could be, um, for example, maybe like a baby pattern purses a fall women's clothing pattern. I like to play around, see which color I like better ended up with this pretty mauve background. I feel like it really screams fall, and we're about to start a new fall season. So the color combo was appropriate, and we're now ready. Toe make a clipping mask and clipping mask will basically make it so that you no longer see the objects outside of the art board edges. So you'll only see this watch itself. And to do that, we're gonna need Teoh, select everything in the pattern and group it together by right clicking and going to group for clicking Command G. Well, then need to make Ah yet another eight by eight inch square to center on the top of the art board, and I'll have to align that square by going to the align box again. But another option is you can also copy your background and hit command V um, but the point is that you want brand new eight by eight and swear on top of your art board , and we're gonna keep that square selected and hit shift to simultaneously select the group to pattern behind it. Then you'll right click and hit. Make a clipping mask, and that is your patterns. Watch 6. 6 Final Notes: So that's a wrap on learning to make surface patterns. I really hope you enjoyed this class. There really are so many endless possibilities with surface patterns, you can create fabric wallpaper stationary. You can even if you have a blawg. You can make patterns for your blawg or you can make die Stop wallpaper out of them. Um, there are so many possibilities. I will continue. Teoh teach classes here on the skill share. So if you enjoy this class, please follow along. I'm also on Instagram under Justine designs, and it's my favorite platform. So I have a lot of fun over there. Um, I look forward to seeing your guys projects. And, um, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Think it