Deke’s Techniques: Creating tile patterns in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Although tile patterns have been around since the early days, Adobe Illustrator CS6 has a new Pattern Options panel that helps you wrangle your repeating pattern into place. In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke shows you how to use this feature to create a seamless pattern of arithmetically defined spirals (those same spirals he showed you how to create in last week’s free movie.)

Deke begins by arranging the spirals in a cluster that will become the core pattern element, and showing you a few tips for getting that cluster arranged. Once you’ve got your base the way you want it, select it and choose Object > Pattern > Make to enter pattern-editing mode in the new panel.

Deke demonstrates how the panel gives you options for the type of tile you want (a standard grid, an offset brick pattern, or a hexagonally repeating tile) as well as how you want the pattern to offset and overlap. The result is this sea of swirls:

Spiral pattern made using the Pattern Options panel in Adobe Illustrator CS6 to create a tile effect

Thanks to the pattern maker’s ability to make copies, this can easily be duplicated with different colors, overlaps, sizing, and more, like this:

Tile pattern made in Adobe Illustrator CS6 modified and colored using the Pattern Options panel

There are a couple of qualities to this panel that may not be intuitive (like when to click Done versus when to hit the Esc key). Deke explains all within this week’s episode.

If you’re not working in Illustrator CS6 yet, but would like to explore tile patterns, Deke also has an exclusive movie for members this week called Making a hex pattern in CS5 and earlier that shows you how to explore working with tiles in earlier versions of Illustrator.


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Share this:Share on Facebook3Tweet about this on Twitter3Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest8Share on LinkedIn0 - start learning today

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply