1. Make all the little things you want in your pattern - objects, shapes, background, etc. In this case, I made lots of little gears to use as a pattern in my robot cheater quilt.
2. Create a background rectangle in the size you want the repeat to be. This rectangle shouldn’t be any old size - make the length and width easy numbers to work with. A good way to select this size is to make it a bit smaller in size than the space you’d need to easily fit in all of your shapes. My rectangle is 3” tall and 5” wide.
3. Arrange the pieces of your pattern on top of the rectangle (I like to put the rectangle in a lower level from the shapes, and lock it, so I don’t accidentally move the rectangle while I arrange the shapes.)
4. Make sure some of your shapes go off the edges of your rectangle. If you don’t, your pattern will look silly, because you’ll see horizontal and vertical strips of blank space where the original rectangle’s edges were located. You wouldn’t want that, would you?
5. Ok, let’s make those shapes that go off the edge of one side of the rectangle come into the rectangle from the other side. (Oh prepositions, don’t fail me now!!!) Select all the shapes that go over the top edge of the rectangle by drawing a box around them with the select arrow (V).
6. Press CTRL-C (substitute Command for CTRL when you’re using a Mac) to copy those shapes, and CTRL-F to paste the copy directly on top of the originals.
7. Now, we’re gonna move these copies down so they come up into the bottom of the rectangle. Without clicking off of the shapes, and with the select arrow (V), type ENTER. This opens up a box that lets you describe where you want your copies to move. Fill in the distance as the height of the rectangle and the degrees as -90. My distance was 3”, and my angle was -90. See the next step for an explanation as to how to choose that angle. The ‘position’ data doesn’t matter.
8. Once the move happened, you can click off your shapes and admire your fancy footwork. Now you need to repeat this step for shapes hanging off the left, right, or bottom of your rectangle. Use this diagram, or your understanding of the Unit Circle, to determine what angle you need to move shapes in a particular direction.
Voila! Everything is copied perfectly. Notice that in addition to copying gears down to the bottom of the rectangle, I had to copy one gear from the bottom of the rectangle to the top.
9. Once everything is copied, and anything that is going off one side of the background rectangle is coming into the rectangle on the opposite side, unlock your rectangle layer. Copy and paste the rectangle using CTRL-F, so once again there are two shapes directly on top of one another. Then in your layers toolbar, select only the bottom rectangle. Set this bottom rectangle to have no fill and no border. This rectangle is what Illustrator uses as the bounds of the repeat, and it needs to be at the very bottom and have no fill/border. In the picture below, you can see the first two Paths in Layer 2 look like the same rectangle. One’s just below the other. Here, I’ve highlighted the rectangle on the bottom so I can set its fill and border to nothing.
11. Phew! Ok! We are ready to go! Draw a selection box around all the elements of your repeat, and drag the whole shebang into the swatch toolbar.
12. Tada! Your repeat is created. Want to see it? Somewhere else on your workspace, draw a rectangle, and select your pattern swatch to fill it with your repeat. Now you can check the composition - is it pretty? Are there empty areas that need to be filled, or shapes you need to separate more? Make changes to the original shapes as necessary. Just make sure that if you’re moving a shape that goes off the edge of the rectangle, you choose its copy too and move them together.
I ended up being pretty happy with this composition - there are spaces, but none of them are jarring. When I put all the patterns I made together for the robot quilt, though, I realized that I don’t like these colors too much, so that’s something I may change.
13. Brag to your friends about how awesome your pattern is. Surely they have never seen anything so fine? Surely!
Using Live Paint in illustrator allows you to color shapes surrounded on all sides by lines or vectors. I’m not an expert in Live Paint since, well, I just learned how to use it a few days ago. But it’s been fun to play around with it, and I look forward to learning more about it in the coming weeks!
1. Scan your drawing. My super dull uninteresting scanner gets the job done.
2. Open a new document in Illustrator, and drag in the file that contains your drawing.
3. Select your drawing, and go to Live Trace>Inked Drawing. (Not “grayscale”, like what’s highlighted here. Boy, it is hard to take screen captures for this sort of stuff on my mac!) (Also, on second thought, you might not like Inked Drawing best here. Feel free to play around with the other options.) Then click “Expand”.
4. Hurray! Now you have a lovely vector version of your drawing. Celebrate by doing a quick google search of “Why did Lacey Chabert leave Family Guy?” because now is the time that that needs answering, obvi.
5. It turns out, the internet is not really sure about this whole Lacey Chabert thing. Ok, back to your drawing. (I had to then select and delete the little extra bit of another drawing that’s on the left side of my scan.) Select your drawing and go to Object>Live Paint>Make.
6. Click the little paint bucket, or press K, to start Live Painting. Just pick a color and click the space you want to fill…see how parts of the drawing light up when you hover over them with the paint bucket? That means your dreams are coming true.
7. Finish coloring in your drawing. Adorable, no? I made this little boot red, like Ted’s boots on How I Met Your Mother.
What do you think? If you’ve never tried Live Paint before, does it seem doable? If you have used it before, do you have any tips or tricks to share?