If you work with pre-made patterns in your projects, getting to grips with using pattern swatches will make working with patterns much simpler. If you currently use PNGs or JPEGs for your patterns, these 3 reasons should convince you to give pattern swatches a go:
They are scalable vectors, meaning they can be resized larger or smaller without loosing quality and becoming pixelated.
Their colours can be changed. No need to keep buying the same pattern packs in different color combinations. Instead buy one swatch pack and change the colours yourself.
They are tileable. Pattern swatches are often seamless, which means the pattern can repeat without noticeable edges.
However, if you’ve not used patterns swatches before it may seem a little daunting, so I’ve put together this tutorial for you on how use Illustrator pattern swatches.
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1. Load the Pattern Swatches
First download and unzip your purchased pattern swatches. The ones used in the video are my “Sprig!” collection, and you can find them here: https://crmrkt.com/M5eBKQ
Open a document in Illustrator and them open the “Swatches” panel by going to Window – Swatches.
Open the “Swatch Libraries Menu” from the little stacked books icon in the bottom right corner.
Select “Other Library” and then navigate to the .AI swatches file you want to load, select it and click “Open”.
You now have a window containing your pattern swatches.
2. Apply a Pattern Swatch
Applying a pattern swatch to an object is just the same as applying a colour. Simply select your object and then click on the pattern swatch of your choice. You can apply the swatch to the fill or path of the object, so make sure you have the correct one selected in the side bar.
3. Scale the Pattern
Once the pattern is applied to an object, you may decide you want to scale the pattern’s size. Select the object and then open the “Scale” panel by going to “Object”- “Transform” – “Scale”
As you don’t want to scale the object, only its pattern, uncheck the “Transform Objects” check box and make sure the “Transform Pattern” check box is checked. Use the “Uniform” scale to scale the pattern in proportion. Change the scale to less than 100% to make it smaller or larger than 100% to make it larger. Have a play until you have the pattern as you like it. Check the “Preview” check box to preview your changes. When you are happy with the result click “Ok” to apply the scale.
To change the colours of a pattern swatch, the pattern swatch needs to be in the main Swatches Panel. You can move a swatch there by double clicking on it or dragging it across. Any patterns you have already applied to an object will appear in the main pattern Swatches Panel automatically.
From within the main Swatches Panel double click on the swatch you want to edit. The swatch will open. Click on an element within the square swatch and the “Recolor Artwork” icon will appear on the top menu bar. Click on it.
A panel is now open showing you all the colours in the swatch. Double click on each colour in turn to change it. Click OK.
Click on “Save a Copy” to save a copy of the newly coloured swatch, and give it a name. Then click “Cancel” so no changes are applied to the original swatch. You will now see the new swatch in the main Swatches Panel and you can apply it to your object.