Tutorial – Illustrator – Creating a swatch from a pattern

Here is a tutorial I learnt while in college. The program used was Adobe Illustrator CS5. This tutorial focuses on an pattern that has been constructed, then turning it into a tile so to speak, and then making that into a swatch so it can be used on any Illustrator work in the future if required. I’ll include screenshots along the way as well as my notes.

NB: The file I got for this was off Moodle, the VLE system for K College and opened in Illustrator. This is how it looked at the beginning. The first stage of this tutorial is to detail the steps required to remove the excess part of the design outside of the box:

  1. To begin this process you need to draw a rectangle (Tools panel > Rectangle Tool) to line up with the edge of the box on one side. It needs to be lined up perfectly, so either zoom in, or press cmd + y (ctrl for Windows OS) as a keyboard shortcut to enter wire frame mode, which shows the entire design as a set of outlines, making it easier to position things. To return to a normal view at anytime, just press cmd + y again. 
  2. Once the shape is drawn, select that and the fruit outside of the box. Do be careful though not to select the outside box. Open the Pathfinder palette so it is visible (Window > Pathfinder). There are two rows of buttons on the palette, we want the second one from the left on the bottom row, named ‘Trim’. Click that and you should see the excess parts of fruit disappear. 
  3. Go to the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow on the Tools Panel) and click on a corner point of the rectangle to only select that, not any of the fruit. Hitting the backspace key twice will remove the shape.
  4. Repeat for the other three sides.
  5. The final step is to remove the black box around the edge. Simply select the shape (Tools Panel > Selection Tool) and hit the backspace key. It should now look like the image below:

So now we have a finished tile, it needs to be made into a swatch. Here’s how I did this:

  1. Choose the Selection Tool and drag it across everything. (Tools Panel > Selection Tool) or press cmd + a as a keyboard shortcut. 
  2. Open the Swatches palette (Window > Swatches)
  3. Drag the selected fruit ’tile’ across and drop it on an empty part of the Swatches palette. It should now appear, albeit at a very small size.

That’s it! In theory, it should be ready to use. To test this, I clicked the swatch I had just created in the palette, which places into the Fill box on the Tools Panel and drew a shape and as you should see, it fills the shape with the pattern.


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