How to make a repeating pattern

It’s been a long while since I wrote a tutorial and since I’ve been interested on making patterns recently, I thought I’d share my step by step guide with you.

For some reason I find it immensely satisfying to make a pattern out of an original drawing or painting. It can give a whole new feel to a piece of artwork, anything from a doodle to a detailed painting can be converted into a beautiful design which you can use to make wrapping paper, fabric, phone covers – you name it!

It took me a little bit of research to find out how to make a continuous pattern, with no obvious start and end. It felt like an epiphany when I created my first shell design (see my post ‘Wildlife Illustrations‘) and it inspired me to try more. It’s amazingly simple when you’ve got the hang of it – here’s how to make a repeating pattern…

Step 1 – Illustrate your design

You can either use a piece of artwork you already have, or start from scratch on any size paper you like. The most important thing at this stage is keeping your design away from the edges of the page – none of the design should go over the edge.

how to make a repeating pattern

Step 2 – Scan your design

You’ll need to cut up your design, so unless you want to ruin your original artwork, it’s best to scan and print it.

Step 3 – Cut and stick

Cut your design in half, right down the middle vertically (be brave!).

how to make a repeating pattern

Swap the pieces over, so the right piece is on the left, and the left piece is on the right, and tape the join down the back.

how to make a repeating pattern

Step 4 – Cut and stick again

Cut the design in half again, this time across the middle vertically.

how to make a repeating pattern

Swap the pieces over so the top piece is on the bottom and vice versa. Tape the join down the back.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Step 5 – Fill in the gaps

There will be some noticeable gaps in the design you’re left with.

how to draw a repeating pattern

You can fill these with anything you like – patterns or shapes, doodles or extra illustrations for your pattern.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Step 6 – Scan and multiply

Scan the image into your computer and then repeat it over and over again, as many times as you like.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Of course, if you’re handy on the computer, you can do the cutting and sticking part digitally, which will make for a cleaner, more professional finish.

If you give this tutorial a go, I’d love to see the results – leave me a photo on my Facebook page and I might even include it in a blog post!

Take a look at my other tutorials if you’re feeling crafty!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

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