Swatch Pattern Tutorial

Creating a Brick Swatch Pattern in Illustrator

Who says building a brick wall has to be hard work? Our designers want to make sure you don’t have to break a sweat!

Recreating the exterior of the Day Block building using a brick swatch pattern really made our home on the web feel like the real deal. Using basic Illustrator tools, a simple design and a little attention to detail, you’d never know our shiny, new building is more than a hundred years old.

Here’s how we did it…

Simple Setup

Let “Guides” Be Your….Guide – So we started with a basic web document in Illustrator. The first thing we did before diving in was to get our “Rulers” (“View” + “Show Rulers” or ⌘+R) and “Guides” ready to swim. We needed a center point to base our bricks off of, since making a swatch requires pixel-perfect measurements.

Simply drag out a guide from the left hand ruler into the document somewhere, anywhere. Then drag the top-left corner of the ruler and snap it to that Guide. By doing that, we get the x- and y-positions of “0px”.


Basic Shapes

Making Rectangles – Now that our rulers and guides are good to go, we can make our simple rectangle. So, select your “Rectangle Tool” (M) and draw a 50px by 25px box with a fill color of your choosing. We center aligned the brick to the guide by selecting it’s “top-center” reference point and gave it an x- and y-position of “0px”. With our brick center aligned we can now make some copies.

Select the brick and make a copy (⌘+C or select the brick and hold “option” while dragging). Then paste the brick (⌘+V) and move it directly underneath the other one. We gave it an x-position of “-26px” and a y-position of -”27px”. With the second brick selected still, we copied it again and gave it an x-position of “26px”. These bricks are all you need to make an entire brick wall.


Making the Pattern

Group and Crop – We selected all three of our bricks ( ⌘+A) and grouped them together ( ⌘+G). All we have left to do is crop these things up so that when the pattern repeats, everything matches up properly.

After crunching some numbers, we determined that a new rectangle with dimensions of “52px” by “54px” would be sufficient to crop our bricks properly. So, with that new rectangle created we gave it an x-position of “0px” and a y-position of “1px”. (The reason we offset it “1px” up is because the space between the bricks needs to be accounted for.)

After centering the rectangle over the top of the others we did a select all (⌘+A) and opened the “Pathfinder” (“Window” + “Pathfinder”). In the pathfinder we chose the “Crop” icon. This removed any brick outside of the top rectangle. Once that is done, drag the brick image into the “Swatch Panel” and a new swatch is automatically created. (You can double click on the swatch to rename it.)


Updating the Swatch

Changing the Look – By dragging the swatch you just created out of the swatch pattern, you can modify it and simply drag it back in to create a new swatch style.

Closing Comments

You now know how we created a swatch pattern in Illustrator. This is another method you can use to transform a basic pattern into a life-like illustration.

We hope you found this tutorial made building a brick wall seem like a piece of cake.

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