Shading with Patterns in Illustrator | Jamie Bartlett | Skillshare

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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.

      Course Trailer


    • 2.

      Creating Patterns


    • 3.

      Adjust and Making New Patterns


    • 4.

      Swatch Palettes


    • 5.

      Shading with Patterns


    • 6.

      Adjusting Colors


    • 7.

      Texturing Edges


    • 8.

      Adding Grain


    • 9.



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About This Class


For this class we’re going to be playing with patterns in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll show you the ins and outs of making all kinds of creative patterns. We’ll start with a basic dot halftone, then from there, we’ll explore endless pattern possibilities. Once all our patterns are built, I’ll show you a few ways I like to use them in my artwork.

Using halftones and other patterns for shading is great for giving your designs a more retro feel. I’ll also be showing you how to roughen up your illustration and add some textured grain to your artwork to push that retro flair just a little bit further.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jamie Bartlett

Graphic designer and left-handed letterer


Jamie Bartlett is a graphic designer and left-handed letterer working out of Denver, CO. She graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Graphic Design and now runs a shop for her hand lettered designs and fonts. Her work reflects everything she loves in life: a good cup of coffee, nerdy design terms, tandem bikes, road trips, and so much more.

Check out all Jamie's classes to learn her tricks of the trade. 

To see what she's up to now, follow her on Instagram and Dribbble.


  &... See full profile

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1. Course Trailer: Hi guys, I'm Jamie Bartlett [inaudible]. For this class, we're going to be playing with patterns in Adobe Illustrator. We'll start with a basic dot halftone, then from there, we'll explore endless pattern possibilities. Once all our patterns are built, I'll show you a few ways I like to use them in my artwork. Using halftones and other patterns for shading is great for giving your designs a more retro feel. I'll also be showing you how to roughed up your illustrations and add some textured grain to your artwork to push that retro flare just a little bit further. For the class project, you'll be picking your favorite toy from childhood, and designing a simple vector illustration of that item to apply to your new half tone pattern too. Alright, let's get started. I can't wait to see what you guys create. 2. Creating Patterns: We're going to start by building all of our patterns first, before we even open up any artwork. Let's create just a blank document, it doesn't really matter what size. I'm just going to make mine 800 by 800 pixels. Let's make sure our color mode is set to RGB, and everything else looks good. Now that we have our blank document, we're going to start with a circle halftone pattern first. Find your Ellipse tool and just make a simple circle in the middle. Fill it with black and we don't need to have a stroke on it. Go ahead and click that to "None" and then go up to "Object", "Pattern", "Make pattern". If this comes up, just click "OK". Now you can see we have the pattern options panel open over here. Now this panel is only available for see CS6 or higher. If you have CS5 or an older version, I'll show you how to work around that in just a minute. These are all of our pattern options. As you can see, anything inside this square is what's going to be repeated around it. This is just giving us a preview of what our pattern tile is going to look like. Over here in the Pattern Options, you can name your pattern and just to keep it organized, I'm going to name this small halftone. Next we have Tile Type. If you go to the drop-down, you can see we have Grid, Brick by Row, Brick by Column, and all these other ones. This is just setting up how your object in this square is going to be tiled. If we change it to "Brick by Row" and then make our circle a little bit smaller, you're able to see how it's more of a brick pattern where there's two circles and then the next row, it's offset in the middle, just like bricks. Then the next one we have is Brick Offset. Right now it's set to half, but there's lots of different options you can choose there. If you choose a quarter, it's going to move the row above it a quarter of the distance from this row. I'm going to keep mine at half. Let's move down to the "Width" and the "Height". Right now we have a really large sized pattern. For what we're using this pattern for, for shading and adding details to artwork, we need our pattern much smaller. Let's change the width and the height down to 15 pixels. This blue box is the tile size, so our circle is way bigger than that. Then let's bring our circle down smaller and zoom in, that's looking better. Now you saw when I made my circle smaller, the box stayed the same size. It's still 15 by 15 pixels. If I check "Size Tile to Art", it resizes my tile square to the same size as my circle, and now there's no gap in between any of my circles. This option would be useful for seamless patterns. Things that you want to be repeated without any gaps in between. But we're just going to undo, so we're back to where we were and this way we can control the spacing in between each tile. Next, we have, "Move Tile with Art". That just means that if I move my artwork anywhere on this page, that tile is going to move with it. But if I wanted to put this dot not directly in the center of the tile, then all I need to do is uncheck that and I can move this anywhere I want. This is helpful if you want to have multiple items inside your square. I'm just going to undo back to where I was, make sure that's checked. Then let's move on down the panel. Next down here, all of these options are just preview options of how we're seeing the pattern previewed. By default is set to 5 by 5, but there's a whole bunch of different options of how it's displayed. If you prefer something different and you want to see more of the pattern, you can choose one of the higher ones, or just leave it at 5 by 5. Next we have "Dim Copies", Around here, all these dots are the preview of the pattern. If you want to see that less you can just turn it down to about 20 percent or just leave it at 70. We also have "Show Tile Edge". That's just whether or not you want to see the tile. I think it's helpful to know where the pattern is aligned. Then the last box, if you have that checked, it just shows what is going to preview as your swatch, which is this preview right here. That's just giving you a preview of what's going to show up in your swatches panel. But I don't find all that necessary, so I'm just going to leave that unchecked. Now that we have a basic working pattern, let's go ahead and save it and we can always come back and edit it if we're not happy with it. We'll just go up here and click on "Done". That went ahead and added it over here in our swatches panel. Now I need to zoom out, so I can see my art board, and let's just test out this pattern and see how it worked. We'll just make a rectangle, and we will make sure our fill is selected over here and not our stroke, because we want the fill to be what is filled with the dots. Then we'll click on our swatches, and there is our dots. That's looking pretty good. If you're working in CS5 or older, I'll show you how to make a pattern without the pattern options that I just went through, so we'll use that same circle. First, what we need to do is make a square that is 15 pixels by 15 pixels. Once you have the rectangle tool selected, click anywhere on the aboard and your rectangle panel will pop up and you just need to type 15 pixels by 15 pixels and click "OK". I'm just going to align this to the center of my board just to keep it easy to work with. Next I'm going to select my circle and also align that to the center horizontally and center vertically. Then I'll go up to transform and we're going to make our circle 10 pixels by 10 pixels. Let's zoom in so we can see what's happening. Select a square. Let's just swap the fill and stroke so there's no fill and there's a little bit of a stroke. We're treating this box just like the box we saw on the pattern panel. Now that I can see how big the circle is, I'm going make it just a little bit smaller, so we have more space around our repeated pattern. I don't want this box to show up in my final pattern, so I'm just going to select it, and then go down here, and turn off the outline. The reason I need to keep this box is to keep the gaps around the circle so that the circle doesn't just get repeated right next to the next one. Let's select both of those items, go into our swatches, and then just drag it in. Now let's see how that pattern turned out. I'm going to zoom out, will make a large rectangle, then I'm going to go to my swatches, and we're going to fill it with the pattern that we just made. If you compare those two, we can see that this one has that brick pattern, and this one is perfectly straight rows. You don't have those brick options if you're working with CS5 or older. To make a halftone pattern, you have to do this offset by hand. First we're going to resize our square because we need more space in there for more circles. We're just going to enlarge this square a little bit. We'll keep this circle right in the middle. Click and hold "Option", and then drag our circle to duplicate that. We're going to line the middle of that circle right on the corner of that square. The easiest way to do this is make sure that you have smart guides on. You can see the smart guides are the pink highlights showing up and it helps you snap two paths. If you don't have smart guides turned on, just press "App or U" on your keyboard to turn them on. Now that we have these two circles, we need to select both of them, and then we need to center these circles in the square. Once you have them centered, now we can take this stroke back off the box, select the square and the two circles, and drag our new swatch into the swatches panel. Let's zoom out and test that out. Let's draw a big rectangle and we're going to fill it with our new swatch. That looks great. That's how you make patterns with older versions of Illustrator. I'm going to delete that, and then let's go back to our other pattern. 3. Adjust and Making New Patterns: Now let's say we want to make another pattern but this time we want our circles to be smaller. First, I'm going to delete these two patterns because I don't need them. Then I'm going to click on my other halftone pattern and I'm just going to drag it down here to the new pattern icon and I created a new pattern. To edit the pattern, you just need a double-click on the new pattern icon and then that just brings up the pattern options panel again and we can make all the adjustments we want. I'm going to zoom in and then we just want to resize our dot into some smaller about like that and that easily I can just go up here and click ''Done.'' Then I can apply this to another rectangle just to preview it and we're making lots of great patterns. That's how you can keep the same grid spacing but adjust the halftone density. Now, you don't have to just use circles for halftones. Let's go ahead and make another copy of this. Go in and edit it and we'll zoom in so we can see it nice. If we don't want to circle, we can just delete that. Let's say we want to do a diamond. We want to move that in the center so I need to go over here and uncheck move tile with art so that I can just move this freely in the center. I'm going to select the scale tool and we'll just squeeze that down to be more of a diamond shape and now we have a pretty cool diamond pattern. Another halftone I like to do is lines. Let me exit out of this one. I'm going to create a new pattern, I'm going back up to object, pattern, make. The default is 100 by 100. We're going to make that back down to 15 by 15, zoom back in. For the line, I'm going to have the tile type set to grid, then I'm going to actually make my square smaller. We'll do 10 by 10. Select my line tool, start at the top right, drag all the way down to the bottom left and then we're going to put a one-point stroke on that line and that's the really easy line, the halftone pattern. We can click ''Done'' and let's preview that one. It can look a little funny if you're not viewing it at 100 percent. If you just zoom in, that cleans it up and looks great. Another good idea is to view this with pixel preview turned on. If you go to view, go to pixel preview. This shows what it's going to look like if you plan on exporting it as a raster image which I do. Then just go back and turn it off. Now, let's take a look at some of the other tile options. Let's de-select everything and then go back to object, pattern and make and let's change the tile type to one of the hex, hex by column. We're going to increase the width to make the hexagon a little more symmetrical, let's do 110. Grab our line tool and let's just start going from one corner to the other, add a stroke to that path and if you just connect all of the corners, you can make some pretty interesting patterns. Another option is you can add multiple shapes inside the same tile. You can even have some of those shapes be outlines instead of fills. Let's say we want to do a square and the circle, we'll fill the circle. I'll do another little circle and whatever you put in this tile will show up in your swatch. If you wanted to change these shapes to colors, you totally can. You can even use effects. Let's just draw a line here. We'll go up to effect, go to distort and transform and we're going to add a zigzag. Make sure we have preview set. You can do some fun retro looking patterns like that and you don't have to keep your patterns perfectly square either. You saw how I increased the width to 110. If I change my title type back to a grid, I can increase the width to be 200. All those options affect how your tile is going to happen. Have fun playing around with it, get creative and see what you can come up with. I'm going to cancel this one because I'm not going to save this pattern. 4. Swatch Palettes: Then I want to show you how you can save your swatches as your own palate. In order to put our halftones in their own palette, we have to delete everything else in this palette first. We'll start with these two groups. We'll just select them. Then hit the trash can. Then I'll just select this one down here, hold shift and click the white one, delete all those, and then illustrator isn't going to let us delete these, but that's okay. Now, we're ready to save these on their own palette. We're going to go up here to this menu, click "Save Swatch Library as AI". We can name this whatever we want. I'm going to name mine Halftones. Leave it in the swatches folder that it automatically brings up, hit "Save". I'm going to say replace, you won't need to do that. Now whenever you open up a new document, you can easily load your halftones. To do that, all you need to do is go back to that same menu and say "Open Swatch Library", go down to User Defined, and that's where you'll see all the halftones and all the patterns you make. Just click halftones and that brings up all your patterns. Now we're ready to start applying our patterns to our artwork. 5. Shading with Patterns: My artwork is all done. It's designed how I want it. It just needs some halftones, and some effects added to it. There are two different ways that I like to apply halftones to my artwork. But first we need to load our halftone patterns. Just go up to that menu. Open Swatch Library, down to user-defined, and pick your halftones you just created. I added a few more into mine so that we have lots of options to play with. There are two different ways that I like to use when applying halftones. The first one is just a simple copy, and paste of the object that I'm shading. I want to cover this whole trigger with dots. I'm just going to select that copy, apple C, and then apple F to paste directly in front. Then make sure that your fill is in front so that you're applying the circles to the fill, and not the stroke. I'm going to apply this smaller halftone pattern here. But because I have all these different halftones, I can very quickly just test out a few to see what I like best. But for this one, I'm going to stick with the second size. I'm not going to worry about the color of the dots right now, we'll worry about that later. I just want to get everything shaded, and looking the way I want. Next, I'm going to add a little highlight dots up here. A way to quickly do that is to use the brush tool. You can actually paint the pattern right on your object. If you just click, and start painting with your paintbrush, it paints the dots straight on your design, but that's way too small of a stroke. If I just increase the stroke size a little bit, I can see more of my dots. You can see here that this time around there's actually no fill. It's applying the pattern to the stroke. Then again, I can test out which halftones I want to use this time. With this one, I'll stick with the same sized dots as I had before. You can always go in with the direct selection tool, and adjust any of these points if you want to get really detailed. Next, I'm going to go ahead, and apply some line half tones to the handle here. I'm going to do it the same way as I just did with the brush tool. Make sure nothing is selected then select your paintbrush tool. This time I'm going to use one of my line patterns. All I'm going to do is take my mouse, and play around with that, and get some cool lines. You can again adjust the stroke or just any of your paths. I'm going to make that a little bigger. They start to bleed together a little bit, and there's that. Then next, I want to add another highlight right up here. With my brush tool. I'm going to use the same size half tone as I did for the other two. If you're not happy with it the first time, you can always delete it, and try painting it on again. Another way to make your shape is to simply just use the pen tool. With that selected, you don't have to be all that perfect because you're just filling it with dots anyway. Quickly go around your shape that you want to make. Then that automatically made the outline dots, then I just need to switch it to the fill. This one, I'm going to change it to be 1.5 times size bigger on my fill, and not the stroke. Make any adjustments you need. I don't want that to bump into my red there. Once you have it looking how you want, we're ready to move on to coloring. 6. Adjusting Colors: Unfortunately, you can't just click on any of these dots and change the color to be whatever color you want while there are still swatches. Because, potentially you could have multiple colors inside one swatch. In order to be able to edit the color of our dots, we need to do a few things. Let's start with this highlight up here that is working with a Stroke instead of a Fill. The first thing we need to do is go up to Object and Expand Appearance. That makes it so it's a Fill and no longer a Stroke but the Fill is still a swatch. You can see that down here. We're still working with this swatch so we need to get rid of that. We'll go back up to Object and then go to Expand and make sure we are expanding the fill. Hit "Okay". Now the dots are all inside of this mask. Just to see what we're working with, instead of selecting the mask, if we want to select the contents inside which are the dots, we can see all of these dots inside this mask and there are a lot more than what we need. In order just to clean everything up and keep it simple, we're going to merge this and that way all that's left is the dots that we're actually seeing. We need to go to our Pathfinder tool. Mine's already open down here but if yours isn't, just go to Window and down to Pathfinder. Then go down here to the third one in the Pathfinders says, merge. I can see that the fill color is black and it's no longer a pattern. I'm using this area of half-tones as more of a highlight. I want it to be lighter than my red color. I'm going to switch to my Eyedropper tool by pressing I on the keyboard, hold down shift and click on my red. Now my dots are the same color. You can change those dots to any color you want, just by double-clicking on your fill and adjusting it here. But one thing I like to do is just going over here to my color guide and just choosing one of these colors. This with the arrow right here is my current color I'm using. I'm just going to go one tint lighter and see what that looks like. We'll deselect and that's not quite as noticeable as I want. I'm going to go one more lighter. That's better. All right. Now, we're ready to move on to other dots. For this one and this one, they're both strokes. I can select both of those at the same time and do the same thing we just did. Go to Object, Expand Appearance and then I can select all the other ones that are already Fills and then go to Object, Expand. Make sure Fill is selected. Click, "Okay". Now, we need a merger, but we need to do one at a time. Merge each shape. It looks like something happened with this one and it messed up. Let's do those steps again. We'll Object, Expand. Okay. What happened here is that the pattern inside was made up of a stroke. We need to expand the Fill and the Stroke. Click, "Okay". Now we should be able to merge it. There we go. Now, let's go through and start changing the colors of these. This one's going to be a lighter version of my blue, so I'll switch back to the Eyedropper tool, shift, sample, that blue. We'll go two tints lighter and then we'll start changing these ones. For this one, I want it to be darker than my blue so we'll try doing one tint darker. Yeah, that looks good there. This one I want to be that same tint of blue. Then this one, I'm actually going to make this yellow. Now my colors are done. 7. Texturing Edges: Now that all my half tones and colors are done, I want to add a little more style to my work to make it seem a little more retro. One thing I'm gonna do is roughen all the edges of my artwork. The simple way to do that is just select everything but the background, go up to Effect, Distort and Transform, and then choose Roughen. Then make sure you have Preview Check so you can see what's happening. You can see that's way too much. So we're going to change the size to 1 percent, change this here to absolute, change the detail to 40. Then I'm gonna make my points smooth instead of corners. Then I'll press OK, and we'll deselect so we can see everything. That just gives all the edges just a little bit of roughness. Again, if you want to see what this looks like when you export it, just go up to View and Pixel Preview, and you can see that there. An alternate method to roughen up your dots, if you don't want to use the Roughen Filter, is by rasterizing it and then live tracing it. So for now, I'm going to just take off my roughen on these dots, and so they're back to being smooth. Then you can just go to Object, Rasterize and then change the resolution to 150, Check Transparent, hit OK. Now all those dots are raster. Then what you want to do is now you want to image trace them. So if you go up here, you can press Image Trace, and then to get our image trace panel, we'll click this icon, then we can do some adjusting. We want to see our advanced options here. So first we want to change our mode from black and white to color. We want to limit our colors to one color because we don't need a bunch. Then make sure you check Ignore White. Then you can adjust all these paths and corners and noise to make your circles less perfect. You can do something like that. Once you're happy with it, all you need to do is go up here and click Expand, and it's back to being a vector. So those are just two different options to roughen up your art work a little bit and make the dots a little less perfect. 8. Adding Grain: The last step is just adding some grain over the overall image. So what you need to do is select your background, copy and paste in front. Bring that over on top of everything. So press shift command and the right bracket to bring it all the way to the front. Next, we want to add a gradient to this. Am zoom it out a little bit so we can see better. Find your gradient tool, click in your backs, and then let's adjust this line here so you can just redo that by clicking wherever you want and adjusting it, something like that. Then find your gradient panel, and we're just going to start adding some other values of gray all along this line. The first thing we want to do is make sure we don't have anything that's pure white. We're going to change this to a lighter gray just by dragging this arrow up a little bit. Once we have that, I'm just going to start adding a gradient slider by moving your arrow off of the path until you get the plus sign, and then adding a path. We're just going to start adding a few in here, and adjusting all of these. Space them out a little even, it doesn't matter all that much. The different values of gray are just going to add a different variation of how much grain is applied. So we can double-click on these, we're going to switch it to gray scale and bring this down to be lighter, and make this one darker, until you get something looking like that. Then go up to effect, texture and grain. We're going to change our grain type to sprinkles, put that back to 70 and 50. But you can play around with that and add as much grain or as little grain as you want. Click okay when you're happy, then we need to go to our transparency palette, then we need to change our blending mode from normal to overlay. That's showing up a little too much grain, so you can just go over here and adjust the opacity to what you want. I'm going to turn mine down. Let's try 20. Let's do a little more let's do 30. Zoom in. I'm going to go back down to 20, and that just adds some nice texture to our artwork. Once you're all done with your design, we can export it for the web so you can share it in your class project by going up to file, export, save for web, will change the file format to JPEG. The quality will leave at high, as long as your image looks good here and the window, then you're good to go. Click save, and put it wherever you want. I'll just put mine on the desktop for now. Hit save, and now you're ready to upload to your class project. 9. Thanks!: All right guys, that's it. Thank you so much for taking my class, I hope you were able to learn a few things in Adobe Illustrator and you had fun playing with some patterns. Once you're all finished, don't forget to upload your toy to your class projects so that we can all check it out. If you share it on Instagram, feel free to tag me @jamiebartlettdesign, I love seeing your work. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask and if you're not already, be sure to follow me here on skill share so that you can get updates whenever I post a new class. Thanks again guys, I'll see you next time.