October 2015: Pattern Mode Pointers!

LauraCoyle- ravens plain

As much as I love Illustrator’s Pattern Editing Mode, I can’t say I’m completely raven about it. 😉 To me, it’s an incredibly helpful, powerful feature in Illustrator that has a couple of frustrating limitations.

Lesson number 7 from our Pattern Power class will give you tips to keep frustration at bay.

Click the image below to watch the lesson. This lesson is password-protected, just subscribe to our email list and we’ll send it to you right away!

grey screen shot

designing with the night sky

Using one of my favorite tips from the Lesson 7 video, I designed this Halloween Raven pattern to be used as an envelope lining for one of my greeting cards.

I used Illustrator’s Transparency Grid to give the artboard/canvas a periwinkle background color. This way, I’m not limited to designing on a white background – which makes it hard to see the moon!

raven with black

(To go straight to the tip in the video and skip the preamble, it starts at 3:20)

The “preamble” in the video explains that you could add a solid color background to your tile in Pattern Mode, but if you’re working with anything more than a Grid Repeat it becomes a headache when that background shape starts to overlap your motifs. Hence, my Transparency Grid workaround (Mac color picker):

  • Choose > View > Show Transparency Grid
  • Choose File > Document Setup (General Tab)
  • Click on one of the 2 color boxes to change grid colors

raven w black and grey

  • Choose (or mix) a color from color picker
  • Save the color by dragging swatch at lower left of picker to one of the empty boxes at right
  • Close picker, click box to change second color
  • Choose saved color, close picker, hit ok to close Document Setup
  • Background complete! (Turn off in View > Hide Transparency Grid)

I was excited to see a recent improvement in the Mac color picker: an eyedropper. Unfortunately the resulting color isn’t a perfect match, and seems to get darker. I have better luck just mixing what I want with the HSB sliders. In the end, the color is just for visualization purposes; the Transparency Grid does not print.

For final art, I apply a solid color background to whatever shape contains my pattern fill using the appearance panel. The Pattern Power class goes into more detail on preparing patterns for real world use.

california 1

rocks 1

in other news…

In September I took a trip to California. My husband and I went to San Francisco and did a coastal drive south to see Monterey, Big Sur, and San Simeon. There was so much amazingly beautiful scenery, both natural and man-made, that I spent a lot of time with the camera pressed to my face.

In San Francisco, we saw a show of J.M.W. Turner paintings at the deYoung museum. It was called Painting Set Free and focused on the later part of his career where his painting was becoming more experimental and radically expressive for his time. The London Times wrote this on the occasion of his last show, a year before he died in 1851 at the age of 76: “It would seem as if Mr. Turner had possessed in youth all the dignity of age to exchange it in age for all the effervescence of youth.” That’s something worth remembering – and it was so obvious in the paintings I saw – that years spent in pursuit of painting, art, music, etc., can result in amazing freedom of expression.

John and I hope you’ve had some good time to look around at the scenery and recharge your own creative batteries! We are looking forward to next month, when we will collaborate more on illustratoring.com – and on cooking a turkey dinner!

John continues keeping our Facebook page looking awesome, and I hope you’ve enjoyed his posts – I know I have!

laura photog