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How to make a repeat pattern

| By: Gill Chantler (Community manager / illustrator @ Briefbox)

Creating your first repeat pattern can be a tricky technique to master. There are so many approaches to choose from online which can often rather than not involve a lot of mathematical equations and overly complicated layouts… Though don’t panic, if you’re not the most technically minded. For this blog, I’m going to show you a really easy technique on how to create your first repeat pattern design. Check out my steps below!

Step 1. Sketch your design out
On a clean piece of paper sketch out your design. It is very important that your design is sketched out in the centre and does not touch the edges of the page. You also don’t have to worry about creating a perfectly symmetrical design here. The best thing about this technique is that even the loosest, most organic illustration will work well as fully resolved and repeatable textile design.

Step 2. Prepare your artwork
Once you’re happy with the design, scan it into your computer and get it up on photoshop. Have a quick play with the levels, brightness and contrast to remove any smudges or marks on the page. Now you should be left with a nice, clean image with clear black outlines. If you’d like to add any colour to the image, now’s the time! Lock your layers and apply some awesome colours to your artwork. I would advise that you work to a limited colour palette. Too many colours can overcomplicate the design, once it’s replicated. So keep it nice and straightforward at this stage!

3. Save down your ‘master’ design
For safe keeping, save your initial design as a ‘master’ copy. You will need this design in the final stages of creating your repeat pattern.

4. Create your repeat!
Now you should have the design, nicely placed in the centre of your artboard, coloured and ready for turning into a repeat pattern. Select the ‘filter’ option in your drop down menu. Click ‘other’ and scroll down to ‘offset’. From here click ‘wrap around’ and play with the horizontal and vertical values until your design is cut up and touching the four outer edges of your artboard. Don’t panic(!) remember, that you haven’t lost your original design as it’s been saved in the earlier stages of this process.

5. Finalise your repeat pattern
This bit’s a little fiddly, so take the steps nice and slowly! Place your original design into the centre of the page. In order to turn this into a tile-able pattern, go back to your drop down menu and click edit> pattern> define pattern. Name and save your pattern. From here, click layer> layer style> pattern overlay. This pattern will now be saved as a layered file, which you can use as a repeat at your leisure!

And here’s my finished design:


As the final stages of this design are a little technical, I would advise doing some initial trial versions to nail down the technique, before working on your first professional brief for a client. All in all, I hope you’ve enjoyed this process and feel confident about creating your first repeat pattern!

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