How to Fill a Shape With a Repeated Pattern in Illustrator


Illustrator's pattern functions allow you to fill shapes and other objects with tiled objects instead of solid blocks of color. Patterns are applied using pre-configured swatches, which can be selected and applied in a similar way to a regular fill color. Patterns are created in Illustrator using the “Make Pattern” menu, which allows you to generate pattern swatches from individual pieces of artwork as well as configuring the size and layout of the tiles used in a particular design.

  • Create the objects that you want to use as the basis for your pattern.

  • Press “V” to bring up the Selection Tool, and then click and drag to select the objects. Click on the “Object” menu, and then select “Make” from the “Pattern” submenu. This will bring up the “Make Pattern” menu box.

  • Click on the “Name” menu option to edit the name of your pattern.

  • Use the “Tile Type” drop-down menu to select the shape of the tiles used by your pattern. You can select from rectangular or hexagonal tiles, aligned by either row or column. Alternatively, click on the “Pattern Tile Tool” option and then click on the tile lines surrounding your design to make manual adjustments.

  • Use the “H Spacing” and “V Spacing” options to adjust the gap in between each tile, and then click “Done” to close the “Make Pattern” window. This will create the pattern swatch and add an icon for it in the “Swatches” menu.

  • Create the shape you want to fill. With the shape selected, click on your pattern's icon in the “Swatches” panel. The shape will be filled in using the pattern you created.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can edit your pattern after it has been created by double-clicking on its icon in the “Swatches” panel.
  • Information in this article applies to Adobe Illustrator CC and CS6. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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