Learn how to make a vector repeating pattern swatch from a pattern created using a MadPattern template.

The Madpattern Illustrator templates include instructions for saving swatches as bitmap files but most users will want to create vector swatches. How to do this is not either clear or intuitive. This video shows you how to make a vector pattern swatch and how to save and open it so you can use it again in future.

Video covers downloading and opening a MadPattern template. How to create a pattern and then how to save a vector repeating pattern swatch. It also shows how to save the swatch and how to load it to use it again in future. Also covered is how to recolor the pattern and resize it.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley.

Welcome to this video tutorial.

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can create a vector pattern swatch using Mad Pattern templates for creating repeatable patters.

Before we get started making our vector pattern swatch let’s have a look and see what we’re aiming at.

This is a vector pattern swatch that I created earlier using the Mad Pattern templates and all I need to do is to open the swatches library they’re saved into and add it as a fill to a shape such as this one here.

It can be scaled and colored and we’ll see that again in a short period of time.

But for now we need to go and have a look and see where we’re going to get these Mad Pattern templates from.

You’ll find the Mad Pattern templates at madpattern.com.

They’re said to be compatible with Illustrator CS4 and 5.

They’re also compatible with 5.

Click here to download them.

On my website at projectwoman.com you’ll see that I have a link from my Home page to Mad Pattern template images.

These show you the series of templates that you’re being given and how they repeat.

It’s pretty critical once you get into this to know exactly which one you need to get the repeating style that you want.

We’re actually going to use P3M1 here in just a minute.

Now once you’ve downloaded and extracted the files you can open them in Illustrator.

You can choose File, New from Template but I’m actually just going to open the template itself and this is the P3M1 template.

Now when you open these templates the first thing you’ll want to do is to show your layers palette because that will show you what’s going on.

Every template will have a layer that has the exact same name as the template itself.

It will also have a small amount of information which you can turn off by clicking the Info icon here.

If you read the info it does tell you a little bit of what you need to do to actually start creating the illustration for the template and also it will tell you how you can save this for web and devices.

Now the swatch saved for web and devices is a raster swatch so it won’t be scalable to a really high degree.

It would of course be a document that you could use in Photoshop but if you want a vector swatch then that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.

So we’re going to turn off the Info and we’re going to turn off the template elements and we’re going to click in here in this clipped elements area because that’s where we’re going to create the pattern itself.

I’m just going to zoom in here, make this a lot larger to that we can see the area that we’re going to be working.

I’m going to create a simple heart for my pattern swatch so I’m just going to quickly with the Pen tool draw a heart shape.

I’m not worried too much about how it looks.

I’ve got my handles turned off so I’m just going to make sure I turn them on and let’s just call that good for my heart.

Now I am going to color it so I’m just going to get my color swatches.

I’m going to fill it with a pink color and around the edges I’m just going to make it a navy blue.

Now I’d like my stroke to be a little bit bigger so I’m just going to grab my Appearance panel because I often find that stroke and things are a little bit easier to manage in the Appearance panel.

So we’ll give it a nice wide stroke.

Now before we leave here we can also grab the Ellipse tool and we’ll drag out a couple of circles.

So I’m just going to click on the edge here of this triangle.

So I’m looking for the anchor point.

I’m going to hold Alt and Shift so I can grab and drag a circle.

I’ll just reverse the colors here.

I’ll choose my Move tool, click on the object, choose Edit, Copy and then Edit, Paste in Place.

So that gives me a duplicate of this which then I can move over the very edge of this end of the triangle.

I’m going to do the same thing with Edit, Copy, Edit, Paste in Place and this time I’ll put mine at the very bottom of the triangle.

So this is what we have so far as our pattern.

Oops, let’s just grab that there.

So this is our pattern.

And having created the pattern we’re now in a position where we can go and save it as a vector swatch.

Now to do this we need to understand a couple of things about these Mad Pattern templates and one is that this is the area in which we draw our shape.

But this is an art board and this art board is fairly critical because it tells us how big our pattern repeat is going to be.

So I’m going to click here on this Art Board tool here and I just want to click on Art Board too because I want to select it because I want to read off a little bit of information about it.

To do this I’m going to click Art Board Options and this opens this Art Board Options dialog.

And these are the two measurements I’m interested in.

I want to know the width and the height of this art board and I need to know it exactly.

So this .21 pixels, that’s critical too.

So it’s 300 x 173.21 pixels.

I’m just going to cancel out of here because I just need that information, nothing more.

Now I’m going to select and create a rectangle but I’m just going to click once on the background here because I want to type in those measurements that I just got, 300 x 173.21 pixels and click Ok.

Now this is my shape but as you can see it’s got a blue fill and a pink outline.

We just can’t see that because the shape is not in the area in which the repeat pattern is being created.

If I do move it into that area you can see that it does have that fill and that edge to it.

Now it’s critical that it doesn’t have any of those features so with it selected I’m going to turn off the stroke and I’m going to turn off the fill.

So this is now an empty rectangle.

If you’re familiar with working with repeating patterns in Illustrator CS5, 4 and earlier then you’ll know that you need this unfilled rectangle to actually select and create a repeating pattern.

Now I’ve just opened my clipped elements group here.

I’m just going to drag the path all the way down to behind the background.

I just want to tuck it away for now.

And now what I want to do is to expand this layer P3M1.

Now I can’t expand it right now with this clipping mask and also this dummy path that are here with lock icons on them so I need to go in and unlock these two icons.

And then I’m going to select P3M1, the layer that corresponds with the template name, and click on all of these layers here so that everything is selected.

Now I’ll choose Object, Expand Appearance.

If you don’t see Expand Appearance here, if it’s grayed out, then you’ve done something or left something unselected or selected when it shouldn’t be.

So just exit out of this menu and go back and check that these lock icons are deselected and that you have P3M1 or whatever the layer is that corresponds with the template name selected and that these are all selected here because you absolutely have to have Expand Appearance available.

So I’ve clicked Expand Appearance and now you can see that I’ve got this very interesting sort of pattern of things happening in the background.

That’s exactly as it should be because I did need to expand the appearance of all these shapes.

So now I’m going to go back and reselect here the rectangle shape and then I’m going to select all these other objects as well.

So I’ve got everything selected here that makes up the swatch that I want to save.

And having done that I’m going to go and grab my Move tool and drag from the middle of this rectangle so that I’m dragging and dropping it into the Swatches panel.

And this then becomes my swatch.

So to test it before we leave here I’m going to turn off all these layers.

I’m going to click the topmost layer and I’m going to add a brand new layer so that I can add a filled rectangle over the tops.

I’ve just dragged out a rectangle here.

Now we can’t see it.

But you can now see it has a border and we want to select Fill and we want to drop our pattern fill in there so that we can check to make sure that everything looks perfect.

And I suggest you go one step further and that you actually resize this pattern.

So again, making sure that we have this rectangle selected let’s go to Object, Transform Scale and let’s make sure that we’re not transforming the object ourselves but that we are transforming the pattern.

And now we’re reducing it to 25 percent and we can see that this is a perfect pattern.

It’s repeating exactly the way it should be.

It’s looking absolutely perfect.

And if it looks perfect then you’re right to go.

If it isn’t perfect then just turn off this layer, get rid of this layer and just step back and recreate your pattern.

But we’re ready to go.

Now the problem with this is if I get rid of this document as I’m tempted to do I’m going to lose this pattern swatch and it’s not coming back any time soon.

I would have to recreate it.

So I need to save it.

So I’m going to click the dropdown list here now and chose Save Swatch Library as an Eye.

This is the one you want, the one at the very bottom.

And I’m going to call this heart2 mad pattern because I’ve got a heart1 already there just so that we know that this is the pattern swatch we just created.

I’m going to click Save.

So having done that I can now get rid of this image.

I don’t need it any longer and while I might usually save it in case I want to come back and make alterations to it today I’m just going to trash it.

So I’m just going to close it.

And now let’s go and test our pattern swatch.

I’ll choose File and New because I’m going to create a brand new landscape orientation document.

I’m going to drag out a rectangle on that document and if we go to the swatches palette you’ll see that our swatch has gone.

And that is to be expected.

We have to go and grab it.

We have to go and load it.

So from the swatches palette I’m going to choose Open Swatch Library and we’re going to choose User Defined and then heart2 mad pattern because that’s the one that I just saved.

Here is my pattern swatch.

I’ve got fill selected so I’m just going to click here and the object is now filled with my pattern.

And again we can test this by choosing Object, Transform, Scale.

Now this pattern can be scaled as big or as small as you like because it is a vector pattern.

So I’m just going to scale it here.

Now not only can we scale it we can also recolor it.

So if all you wanted to know was how to create a vector pattern for a Mad Pattern template then you’re off and running now.

But if you want to know how to recolor this hang around and we’re going to have a look at this too.

So to recolor it I’m going back to my swatches here.

I’m going to grab my color swatches and I want to create this color scheme here as a new swatch.

So I’m going to click here for new color group and I want to use the selected artwork and I’ll click Ok.

And so now these are here as global colors.

I’m going to select over that and click here the Edit or Apply Color Group button and this opens this color dialog.

Now I can use this color dialog to make changes for example I can say I don’t like this blue for example and I want to make it a sort of aqua color.

And that will make it aqua.

But I can also click the Edit button here and individually change these colors by dragging on the slider.

So I can drag around and the two colors maintain the same distance from each other but I can make them less saturated or more saturated by just dragging in or out on either of these sliders.

Now I can also unlock the slider here so that they’re now independent of each other.

So I can select whatever colors I want for the fill and for the stroke color on the pattern that is being used to fill this rectangle.

So when I’m done I’ll click Ok and I do want to save the changes and so they’re now saved as a swatch.

So you have all sorts of options here using the Mad Pattern templates and there are some really, really good patterns there.

And we’ll have a look at some more things that you can do with these Mad Pattern templates in upcoming videos.

But for this video I just wanted to make sure that you were able to save your patterns as a vector swatch because that’s going to be critical in being able to resize these patterns to any size and particularly very, very large sizes without losing details in your patterns.

I’m Helen Bradley.

Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial.

Look out on this YouTube channel for more YouTube videos on Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom and a whole lot more.

And also visit my website at projectwoman.com.

Helen Bradley