Mexican prints are known for their bold colours and beautiful flowery, repetitive geometric shapes. In this tutorial, Berlin-based artist Amrei Hofstätter (aka Vertico's Puppets) will show you how to create a complex, colourful pattern by using just two simple geometric objects in Illustrator.
Amrei will also show you how you can turn your artwork into a pattern swatch that can easily be used to fill other shapes. You'll also learn what details are important when you create a seamless pattern.
These patterns can be used in a wide range of forms from textiles for fashion design to inclusion within other artworks. See Amrei's work at the end of this tutorial to see how she incorporates patterns into her abstract pieces to add an eye-catching vibrancy of riotous colour.
Open up a new document in Illustrator (the size doesn't really matter). Reveal the rulers with
Cmd/Ctrl + R. Click on the ruler while holding Alt and change the units to Pixels.
Create an Octagon and a Triangle with the Polygon tool. Start with a small Octagon as centrepiece and add elements until you have a flowery shape.
Through merely copying and rotating you can achieve an infinity of kaleidoscopic objects. The corners of the pieces should fit together, so use the guides and be very exact when you rotate them.
For our pattern we are going to need one main flower and two complementary ones, which you can easily create out of each other. Play around with the composition -- the best way to find unique patterns is through good old trial and error.
Use the Pathfinder (
Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + F9) to delete all invisible elements within the flowers. This is very important for later, when you are going to use the Crop tool.
Next we are going to bring some colour to our flowers. By using bold and bright colours schemes and radial gradients you will achieve a voluminous effect.
If you are unsure about the best way to combine colours, see the May edition of
Digital Arts: which reveals how you can create vibrant colour schemes that tap the latest trends.
Now let’s create the actual pattern. We are going for a tiled look, so first create a square behind your main flower that matches its size exactly.
Use the Align tool so the corners of the outer Octagon touch the borders of the tile. Fill the square. Don’t be shy to choose a strong, complementary colour so the flower stands out nicely.
Use the Transform palette (
Shift + F8) to align four tiles as a square. You can do this easily by setting the X value to the width of your square and choose Copy. Select both tiles again and do the same just now with the Y value.
Copy-and-paste the two small complementary flowers a few times and place them in the free spaces between your big flowers. They need to be aligned exactly on the lines to get a neat pattern. Fill the space behind them with another strong, complementary colour.
We now need to trim through these flowers to create a square that repeats seamlessly. Select all (
Cmd/Ctrl + A), then go to Object > Expand. Select the Stroke option to convert all strokes into shapes.
Draw a square that's the exact size of your pattern (without the bits of the flowers that extend beyond it) and align them. Select both the square and the overlapping flowers, then use the Crop tool to cut off the overlapping elements.
Now we are going to convert our pattern into a swatch so it's easy to put into our artworks. To do this, simply select the whole pattern and drag it into the Swatch panel.
To test it works, draw a simple shape. Go to the Swatch panel and chose the swatch that has just appeared. Et voila!
Amrei Hofstätter is a freelance Illustrator and artist currently residing in Berlin. She has shown her work in various solo and collective international exhibitions. Fashion designer Manish Arora has collaborated with her for his latest Fall/Winter Collection which was presented at Paris Fashion Week 2011.