Create Illustrator Pattern Fill Swatches

In this video tutorial I show students in my Automatic Patterns class how to make Adobe Illustrator pattern fill swatches that will repeat seamlessly from the patterns we create in class. If you’re already familiar with the class, you can skip the introduction and go right to 1:30, where the tutorial begins.

In the class, we create repeat patterns using Transform Effects, allowing you to tweak a pattern and see the changes update instantly in CS4 and CS5 – something unheard of before the introduction of the new CS6 Pattern Mode. In this tutorial we create swatch art from the pattern by first expanding it and then deleting excess art to create a single unit of the repeating design.

The class focuses on exporting png and jpeg images of Illustrator repeat patterns for Spoonflower fabric, blogging, digital scrapbooking and crafting. The tutorial above shows the steps for creating Illustrator fill swatches, so the patterns you create in class can also be applied to any vector art you’re working on in Illustrator.

The tutorial also highlights one of my favorite Adobe Illustrator tools, the Eraser tool. It’s great for working with expanded pattern art, but I’m sure you’ll discover your own uses for the Eraser.

Here’s a great tip I got from a student in the class: Before you erase the excess pattern art as I demonstrate in the video tutorial, switch to Outline Mode (command/control y). This will save some of the processing time of erasing large amounts of pattern art in Preview mode. Have fun!


  1. Love your classes and your youtube channel.Have taken all of them and learnt so much. TFS