How to Fill with a Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

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Adding a pattern fill to your designs in Adobe Illustrator is the best way to add visual interest and texture. Fortunately, Illustrator makes it easy to use patterns in your work. With a variety of preset patterns to select from and the ability to create your own from symbols or artwork, the possibilities are endless.

Once you've applied a pattern to an object, you can easily resize, reposition, or even rotate it to execute the desired effect. Let's look into how to add and manipulate patterns in Illustrator.

If you want to add texture and interest to your designs in Adobe Illustrator, pattern fills are a great option. To access them, simply open the Swatches panel by going to Window > Swatches.

How To Fill an Object with a Pattern in Illustrator

If you prefer to add some visual interest to your designs, applying a pattern to objects is the best way to do it. Luckily, it's an easy process that can be done in just a few clicks using the Swatches menu. In this article, we'll walk you through how to use a pattern tile as a fill object.

To use a pattern design as a fill object, it must first be added to the Swatches menu. This can be done by importing the pattern tile and following these steps:

  1. Select “Add to Swatches” from the menu options.
  2. Name the pattern and select the proper color mode.
  3. Click “OK” to add the pattern to the Swatches menu and make it obtainable as a fill object.

I'll cover these steps in detail below.

A decorative pattern used in Adobe Illustrator

Step 1: Add the Pattern to the Swatches

To add your pattern design to the swatches selection, open the Swatches panel. You can do this by navigating to Window > Swatches. Once the menu is open, simply click and drag your pattern onto it. Your pattern will then be indexed as a usable pattern swatch.

Swatches panel

Step 2: Fill a Shape or Object with a Selected Pattern

After adding the pattern design as a swatch, the next step is to create a shape or object on the canvas. In this example, we'll use a circle shape. Select the circle shape tool and draw the shape on the canvas. Then, fill the shape with the pattern swatch by selecting it from the swatches panel. Voila! Your pattern is now applied to the shape.

A decorative pattern and a solid red circle
The pattern has now been applied to the circle

Moving a Pattern in Illustrator

If you want to adjust the position of a pattern on a shape in Illustrator, it's easy to do. By default, the pattern will be centered on the shape, but you can move it to a different position using the transform tool.

Simply select the shape with the pattern applied, and then use the transform tool to adjust the position of the pattern as desired. With a few clicks, you can easily customize your design's look and make it your own.

First, right-click on the shape, select “Transform” and then “Move.” Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Control + Shift + M (PC) or Command + Shift + M (Mac). This will open the Move menu, where you can adjust the horizontal and vertical values to move the pattern in the desired direction.

Just ensure you only have Transform Patterns selected in the Options menu. Having Transform Objects selected as well will move both the object and the pattern at the same time.

Final Thoughts

Adding pattern fills and moving patterns in Illustrator is very easy once you know the basic steps. With this simple technique you can quickly transform your designs and illustrations, creating work that truly stands out.