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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Creating Repeat Patterns with Photoshop, Illustrator and Artlandia Plug-in Software

Artists that hope to license their work to the giftwrap, scrapbook, wallpaper, and fabric industries need to create repeat patterns to enhance their art collections. But producing ONLY basic and simple repeat patterns is no longer adequate. Manufacturers expect to see a variation of basic, half-drop, tossed and much more to make a collection more interesting.  Below is information on how to create them.

In the past, surface designers painted repeat patterns by hand but more and more are now using Adobe Illustrator. Vector software such as Illustrator allows the artist to easily alter colors, icon shapes and also enlarge icons without losing resolution. Raster software such as Adobe Photoshop is often used by artists that scan paintings into the computer and isolate icons for use in patterns. Read "What is the Difference between Photoshop and Illustrator?" to learn about raster and vector images.

Below are links to video, written instruction, and e-book tutorials on how to create various patterns in Photoshop and Illustrator. Also below is a description of Artlandia plug-in software for Photoshop and Illustrator that AUTOMATICALLY creates all kinds of patterns.

Tutorials on Creating Various Repeat Patterns in Photoshop and Illustrator
Some of the following tutorials use Photoshop offset, clone tool and layer mask to simplify the repeat process when creating patterns. It may seem a little complicated at first. But once the concept is understood, creating various repeats is very simple and fast to do.

video - "Photoshop Tutorial: Creating Patterns/Basic and Basic-Offset Patterns"
Note: The instructions to click in the corner of the image window while the move tool is selected (in order to open the offset controls) may not work for all versions of Photoshop. An alternative method is to open the dialog box by selecting Filter/Other/Offset.

video (3 parts) - "Make a custom repeating pattern in photoshop - part 1," "Make a custom repeating pattern in photoshop - part 2," "Make a custom repeating pattern in photoshop - part 3."

video - using Photoshop & Second Life fashion software - "Make a Half-Drop"

written tutorial - intricate toss pattern with examples in using it on clothing "Classic Illustrator Tutorial: Create Beautiful Repeating Patterns"

written tutorial - "Creating Repeating Patterns in Photoshop Tutorial"

e-book instructions using Photoshop by Tara Reed (two available - $87 for both): "Basic Repeat Borders & Patterns" and "Half Drop Repeat Patterns"

Software that Automatically Creates Patterns
Plug-in software for Illustrator
SymmetryWorks 5 software by Artlandia is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. It works best with vector objects (Illustrator created objects) but also supports jpg and other raster file formats. Thus Photoshop raster images can be imported into Illustrator and patterns created with the plug-in. It allows artists to automatically create 17 repeating patterns such as all over, tossed, spot, half-drop, quarter-drop, step, sliding, composite, counterchanged, gradations. The cost is $275 for the full version of SymmetryWorks 5 and $399 for SymmetryWorks LP (version with additional features). Check out the comparison chart for more information. Note: Because the company states that the software works best with vector objects, I suspect that it may be slow when creating raster image patterns.

Plug-in software for Photoshop
SymmetryShop 3 software by Artlandia is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. It allows artists to automatically create 17 repeating patterns and supports vector images but is more limited in what can be done than what can be done in SymmetryWorks. Check out the comparison chart for more information. The cost is $341 for the full version.

Note: The cost is $539 to purchase both SymmetryShop 3 and SymmetryWorks 5.

I do not own either software package because I just discovered it when doing research for this article. However, they both look VERY impressive and will make pattern creation very fast and easy. I recommend that artists at least look at Artlandia website and try out the demo versions for Photoshop and Illustrator plug-ins. Also read the user comments and see what artists have to say about SymmetryWorks! Note: There are no user comments for SymmetryShop 3.

Make sure that you read the comments section of this article! Artist Dori Melton has used Artlandia software and comments on problems that she had with it.

I welcome any comments and additional information pertinent to this article. Please write them in the below comment section.


  1. I also have a repeat/tile tutorial that I did on my blog if you don't mind my mentioning it: No charge ;)

  2. Jen,
    I don't mind mentioning additional resources especially if there is no charge. A ;) back at you.

  3. Joan, once again - fantastic information, thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Make sure that plug in is compatible with whatever version of photoshop you have, if you purchase it.

  5. Once again a great resource, thanks Joan. I learn so much from your blog.

  6. Thanks Joan. I can't wait to check out all these great links in this post. I do have both of the Artlandia plugins but have only really worked in the one for Illustrator. It is remarkable software and you are absolutely right about using raster images in AI. The first time I tried it, it crashed my computer then said the file was corrupted. After consulting with an instructor of mine, I made sure that the raster image was first reduced in PSD to 100% of the final size I intended in the Illustrator pattern and that solved the problem. The Artlandia people are very friendly and responsive via email or phone but their manual was very hard to understand. So much so that I & a group of my friends who have the software hired the above-mentioned instructor to figure it out for us & provide lessons. I am encouraging her to write a manual herself to sell.

  7. Thanks for the informative comment Dori! I and readers of this article will find it very helpful.

  8. I am interested in creating patterns from my art and also utilizing the backgrounds of the paintings , which are somewhat detailed. For instance: a painting of a pink, red, and yellow seahorse that has a whimsical striped background. What software would you recommend me looking into? Thx. Gerri

  9. Gerri,
    You should use Adobe Photoshop to extract icons such as seahorses and striped background after scanning your art. You will then be able to use the icons and backgrounds to create the patterns. Read "Photoshop Tips:Tweaking Scanned Art" ( for information on how to to extract icons. Good luck!

  10. Thank you for posting Joan! Loved all the tutorials. I bought Artlandia SymmetryWorks/Symmetryshop bundle last week and I agree with Dori the manual is a little hard to follow. But it's like a little magic -albeit expensive magic-to see the patterns happen. I am running Symmetryshop in PS5 - better to upgrade to a PS4 or PS5 - frustrating running in earlier PS version. Floating panel was great. I agree, the people at Artlandia were very responsive after I had a few difficulties with loading it (Igor especially is great). I for one would love to buy that manual Dori wrote about!

  11. Two questions:
    1. how does this software compare to illistrators CS6's built in ability to create seamless patterns?
    2. Have you guys found any way -or does the SymetryWork software- decrease the file size of the repeating patterns created in illustrator? I'm finding that placing and embedding multiple raster graphics from PS into illustrator to make a patten is creating HUGE file sizes.

    I have actually been considering trying to create a repeat in InDesign to we if its any better. Or a second idea I had was to set up the objects in ai, and then export all object to individual layers and bring back into PS for the repeat to see if this helped with file size...

  12. Sorry but I don't know the answers to your questions Erin. It's been too many years since I've created patterns. I've been spending most of my time creating art for other products such as flags and cards.