How to Manipulate Seamless Patterns in Illustrator, Part 1
In a previous tutorial, I demonstrated my favorite way to create a seamless vector pattern. These patterns are great to use as backgrounds or textures for design projects. When you‘re working on a background for a design project, knowing how to manipulate these patterns can be a real time-saver, allowing you to shift your focus to other, more complex design elements. In this article, I will share techniques on how to use and manipulate these patterns in Adobe Illustrator.Next: Create 3D Designs with Extrude and Bevel Effects in Illustrator
Turn your Pattern into a Swatch
1. Select the pattern and go to Window > Swatches and choose Swatch Options from the dropdown menu in the Swatches window that appears. Confirm that the pattern color exists as a Global Swatch. (“Global” should be checked in the Swatch Options dialog box.) Click OK.
2. Select the pattern.
3. Drag and drop the selection into the Swatches Palette.
4. Double click the new swatch, name it, and click OK.
Use a Pattern as an Object Fill
1. Select your Pattern Swatch to apply it as a fill (or stroke.)
2. Draw an object.
Transform Patterns Independently of the Object
3. Inside the dialog box, uncheck all the boxes except for “Patterns.”
4. Apply your desired scale percentage, and click OK.
Note that this same technique applies to all transformations (rotations, shearing, etc.) in Illustrator.
Edit your Colors on the Fly
1. Double click on your Global Color Swatch to open the Swatches Options dialog box.
2. Dial in a new color, and click OK to apply it to your pattern.
Replace your Pattern
1. Select a new pattern.
2. Press and hold the Opt key, (Alt for PC) then drag and drop your selection directly on top of the previous pattern swatch.
Your artwork will automatically update with the new pattern.
Expand your Pattern
3. Confirm that “Fill” is checked, then click OK.
4. Press “Cmd+Shift+G” (“Ctrl+Shift+G” for PC) to ungroup.
5. Click Divide in the Pathfinder window.
You should now have a clean outline.
These tips can save you time and provide you with multiple options when working with patterns. In Part 2, we‘ll examine how you can experiment with warping as well as how to create a pattern brush.