Shop Talk

How to Make a Geometric Pattern in Illustrator

After last week’s tutorial on how to make a typography poster in photoshop, this week, we’re sticking to the design beat with a look at how to make a geometric pattern in Illustrator. If you haven’t already, check out our comprehensive guide to making a repeat pattern in Illustrator. It’s so good, seriously go and look!

Okay, so now you can make a very simple and striking geometric design in Illustrator. These simple steps below are an easy, foundational guide to making your own geometric pattern that you can save to your swatches for later. This is a jumping-off point for you to get creative with your shapes (hexagon, anyone?) and colors and share your creations in the comments below.

1. Crack a blank page and make a square

Open a new board, to make the pattern. I started with a simple A4 size, which is at least 2500+ x 5000+ pixels. Nice and large is best here, especially if you want to make your pattern on awesome things like iPad cases.

Snap on your grids and draw up a small square that fits snugly inside a grid box (having everything lined up will make things easier later, and give you the option to get creative with your design).

2. Rotate the square 45 degrees

Rotate your square 45 degrees. We’re going to chop off the bottom of the square to create your triangle. To do so easily, just grab another rectangle and pull it over the bottom half of the square. Then delete the rectangle and you will be left with the top half of your square, which is a shiny new triangle. This triangle is the foundation of the design, so make sure it fits perfectly within the square. Highlight shapes to delete them by clicking “Option” and dragging your mouse over the areas you’d like to select.

3. Copy, paste, and rotate your triangles

Make a copy of your perfectly aligned triangle and paste it. As soon as you’ve pasted it, fill-color it with a sliding grey scale so you can identify it. You can get creative with the placement of your shades of grey here, we’ve chosen a classical single light point shading, working from the lightest grey on the right and the darkest shade on the left. Rotate your triangle (to do so accurately, right-click on the triangle and select “rotate” and input the number of degrees (45) you require. You can make your triangles form a perfect square, or you can make them deliberately a little bit off. I’ve made ours ever so slightly off so the top and bottom triangles are over-lapping to make the pattern more interesting.

4. Copy and paste your square and repeat

Once you’ve copied and pasted one square, select two and do the same. Continue doing this until you’ve got a huge block of your pattern. Be careful when pasting that you don’t leave very thin gaps between squares or rows, this seems to happen if you don’t manually make sure your squares and rows of patterns are nice and snug.

5. Rotate rows of your pattern for variety

If the pattern is looking a bit too neat, you can select (Option > drag over the shapes you want to select) a portion of your pattern and then right-click to select “Rotate”. Once you have the Rotate box open, enter 180 to switch every second row of your pattern around. This will slightly disrupt your pattern, while building a secondary visual pattern into your er… pattern. If you want to change up the shading of your triangles at this point, now’s the time before we begin to add color.

6. Add a rectangle to add color

Drag a huge rectangle to fit over your pattern. Choose a color that you’re happy with to dominate the design, so you can set the tone of the work. Go to “Window>Transparency” and from the “Transparency” box choose 40%. Repeat this to step to intensify the color within the pattern. Change the drop-down box from “Normal” to “Color Burn” and watch your colors pop across your pattern.

Repeat this step a third time. Now, select a second complimentary color. Again, drop the opacity to 40%.

7. Save as a pattern

Once you’re happy with your pattern, you can save it so you can use it again. Go to the menu “Object” then find “Pattern” then hit “Make”. You’ll see your design appear selected, and you can watch it appear in your “Swatches” on the right hand side vertical menu. Huzzah!

8. Use it to clothe your gadgets

You can play around with your colors here until your heart’s content. Then, make some stellar wrapping paper, iPhone, iPad or Samsung cases, or a poster to stare at until you see double everywhere you go.

Have you had any success making a geometric patterns in Illustrator ? Do you have any favorite RB images that use a lot of wonderful deigns? Please share your work, and the work of others in the comments below.