I remember a few years ago when I started designing patterns… It was a fairly steep learning curve to learn all the pattern making techniques. I wished then that we, budding surface pattern designers, had more affordable resources to help us take those first steps, design patterns easily and see results a bit quicker.
Times have changed and surface pattern design has become more popular, thus more and more resources are being created that help us streamline the pattern design process, e.g. the pattern maker feature in Adobe Illustrator. In this post I’ll share with you some of these resources…
Believe me, I’m a sucker for time-saving apps, plugins, add-ons, etc… but bear in mind that, while these resources might help us with some of the struggles and give us faster results, nothing beats knowing the theory inside out and being able to design patterns without relying on any extras or having to pay money for the privilege. You can even create seamless repeating patterns by hand, using just paper, pens and a Stanley knife, as shown in this post by illustrator Julia Rothman.
So if you’re just starting out as a pattern designer, while I totally encourage you to have a go at the resources on this list if you fancy them, I recommend you get the pattern design foundations solidly built first. You can have a look at the ’10 best Skillshare classes for budding pattern designers’ post for some fab learning resources. I promise that knowing at least the basics will make your life as a designer a lot easier.
These resources are by no means the be all and end all of creating patterns. They all have their pros and cons and will only help you to create very simple repeats. For more advanced/intricate designs you will probably need, as I said before, a deeper understanding of the task at hand and more robust applications. Also, remember that software doesn’t make a designer, it’s just a tool to help you bring your ideas to life. Your artistic brain is the thing that will help you produce gorgeous designs!
Please note: As a partner of the Creative Market Partner Program, I’ll get a small commission if you buy any of the resources listed here (at no extra cost to you, but it does help run the blog!). But please be assured that I only recommend stuff that I believe would enhance your life as a designer and that I would buy/use myself.
So here they are, 10 creative resources to help you design patterns easily (all available at Creative Market):
ADD-ONS FOR ADOBE PHOTOSHOP
In this pack you get 2 different sizes of Photoshop layered files which use smart objects to create seamless patterns. You can use the gorgeous graphics included or your own artwork.
With this pack you can create your own pattern within seconds with the pattern creator, create your own arrangement or even randomly mix the graphic and place it to your product. They would look great on anything. So many possibilities! – re.source
These are some pre-made Photoshop layered files which you can use to create 8 styles of patterns with the icons provided or better still, using your own artwork.
PSD Pattern Creator allows you to create custom patterns in Photoshop. Create single or multi-layered patterns, choose between 8 different styles (offset, random, small, large icons etc.) You can also add wording above, inbetween pattern layers or both! And use a colour or photo for the background. With so many stylistic options the pattern creations are endless. – Design Surplus
These are also Photoshop files, ready to create patterns in 2 different styles (straight or offset), with the icons provided or your own artwork. It has some nice added extras like special fills (watercolour, gold, etc…) and textures (paper, ink stamp, etc…).
PatternPress makes the process of making seamless patterns easy and also adds a heap of extra touches to make them look even more amazing. – Ian Barnard
ADD-ONS FOR ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR
Smart Patterns gives you 100 Illustrator template files, each with a different pattern style. It cleverly works with AI symbols. You add your own artwork to the symbol and voila, the pattern updates instantly.
Smart Patterns for Illustrator is a collection of most common pattern templates. It uses new dynamic symbols features in Illustrator CC. Easily edit your pattern unit, place your artwork and create your custom patterns within seconds… Add your pattern into your swatches library your future usage. – Creative Graphics
This is a script for Illustrator which can create 20 different styles of patterns with your chosen artwork. It uses the AI artboard as the boundaries for the pattern tile. It can also create all 20 patterns at the same time with one click if that’s what you’re after.
Magic Pattern Pro is a script for Adobe Illustrator which automatically creates seamless patterns from any sample of your art. There are 20 templates of patterns inside. – MAi Tools
These are layered Illustrator template files containing 9 symmetrical options. It uses live-mirroring to create different shapes and patterns.
With this easy to use template pack, create symmetrical patterns and shapes in X-axis, Y-axis, as well as X & Y-axis simultaneously. – Esquivel Type Foundry
These are also some live-mirroring Illustrator templates. As its name suggests, you get 27 mirror options with this pack.
Live Mirror is a set of templates for Adobe Illustrator which allows to create symmetry design, circular ornaments and patterns, kaleidoscopic and other reflection effects. There are 27 templates inside with a lot of mirror effects and instant symmetry. – MAi Tools
This is a very well thought out Illustrator add-on, including template files and scripts, which generate perfectly built mandalas, or symmetrical circular patterns. It comes with a good amount of artwork to start with but you can also add your own designs.
Mandala Creator Pro is a very unique tool that lets you create your own mandalas in just minutes. It has an easy interface that works perfectly with adobe illustrator to create mathematically perfect mandala rings. With over 140 complex patterns included, you have endless possibilities. – everdrifter
These are Illustrator template files with 25 different options for symmetrical circular patterns. You add your artwork on one segment and it automatically updates the other segments for you.
This is a large collection of templates for Adobe Illustrator, you can use to instantly create symmetrical patterns of different styles. There are four types of symmetries: reflection, reflection-crop, rotation and rotation-crop. – Graphic Spirit
This is not a pattern maker tool as such, but I thought it was so useful for making patterns that I should add it to this list. This Illustrator script helps you to get rid of artwork that is outside the artboard by cropping it neatly or masking it with just one click. As some of you might have already found out, this sometimes comes in very handy.
Super Magic Eraser is a script for Adobe Illustrator which automatically cuts and deletes vector objects outside Artboard. Cuts linear and radial gradient correctly. Keeps pictures editable after usage with accurate and clean results. Has new stable algorithm to prevent freezing your computer with big vector files. Also script can create clipping masks instead of crop. – MAi Tools
I hope you find this collection of tools useful. If you like browsing around in Creative Market, you can find all these resources in a Collection I have created called Pitter Pattern – Pattern Resources.
Most of these resources have very good instructional videos and/or documentation, which you can have a look at before you commit to buying. Also, please ask the creators if you have any questions/doubts about any of the products’ features.