'Technique of the Week' is an ongoing series where the art and development teams here at Second Avenue will dish out some quick, useful, and hopefully fun tips and techniques. We will try and provide some insight on the skills that allow us to realize our projects or observations about works that inspire us creatively.
With this being the inaugural 'Technique of the Week' post, I wanted to kick things off with the infinitely useful skill of crafting custom holiday wrapping paper. Okay, well-- the practical part of this is making a seamless pattern with custom characters and designs. This work flow will let you make quirky and fun patterns that are great for fabrics, print designs, and in this case: wrapping paper.
Let's dive in.
I used Adobe Illustrator to create my pattern, however any graphic editing tool can be used in conjunction with hand drawings as well as digital ones.
First, I made a few characters.
Try and implement color and shape diversity to break things up, as this will make the end product more interesting. I also made up a few smaller elements to spice up some of the white space and fill out the final result.
Once you have your designs built, set up a perfect square. I went with 400x400 for this exercise.
Behold, a square.
I like to populate the edges first. This is where elements are going to be cut off and need to be aligned to ensure seamless repetition.
I placed my Santa on the left edge and will need to duplicate him and align him along the x-axis so that he will be cut off on the exact same spot on the opposite side of the square. The best way to achieve this is to look at where the first instance is located on the axis, and then use the transform box to position the duplicate.
We know that the square is 400x400 pixels, therefore we need to move the duplicate Santa over exactly 400 pixels in the x-axis.
Located in the top right of Illustrator, the transform box allows you to manually position or scale the selected item based on its registration point. In this instance, I changed the x- axis box from 0 to 400. Exact positioning is necessary for a seamless pattern. Use the x and y-axis boxes to ensure that everything is in line.
Double Santa all the way!
Next, start to place your other elements around the border.
Finish your composition making sure to use the smaller elements to fill in where the pattern might start to break apart.
Once you have everything how you want it, we can make this into a pattern.
Duplicate the box and paste it on top of all your elements. Delete the original box that is on the bottom layer.
Use your cursor to select everything. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.
Name your pattern in the box that pops up, and hit OK.
Now, a square will remain with the pattern area defined by the mask. The background will be transparent if you deleted the original square.
Select the masked square and go to Edit> Define Pattern.
Name your new pattern in the pop up box (leave all other settings the same) and hit OK!
If you look in the Swatches palette, your pattern will be there.
Create a new shape of any size and scale you want, and then select your new custom palette from the swatches.
It should apply to the shape and have a transparent background. The reason I like to give it transparency is because now that you have the pattern, you can duplicate the shape and place it underneath the original, and then fill the new shape with any color. This allows for quick and easy color manipulation.
Now you have a great custom pattern that you can have printed and use for giving your gifts that extra personal touch!