You just bought a new set of patterns for Illustrator. You open them and there’s just a blank artboard. If you’re new to pattern swatches, you’re probably going to tell the seller that they’ve sent you a bad file or even ask for a refund.
Since I love using them, I didn’t realize that there are so many people that are not familiar with them. This is why I want to show you how to install and use pattern swatches in Illustrator.
Download the free hand-drawn patterns
If you haven’t bought any patterns lately, you can download this pattern swatch that has 6 hand-drawn patterns that you can use for your blog’s graphics or illustrations.
They are free for personal use only, but you can find patterns for commercial use in the shop. Please do not sell or redistribute them as they are. If you want to share them with your readers, you can do so by posting a link to this site.
Watch on YouTube
Please subscribe to Elan Creative Co’s channel if you want to see more video tutorials.
How to install pattern swatches
Unzip your new patterns by right-clicking on it and choosing “Extract” or by using a free unzip software like 7-Zip.
There are two ways to install a pattern swatch. First, locate your swatch file. Adobe Illustrator pattern swatches have a .ai extension, which is the extension of almost all Illustrator files.
You can easily open the file by double-clicking on it. This is where it gets confusing for some users because they might find a blank artboard or an image with just one pattern.
If you look at the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), you will notice that the color swatches are replaced by patterns.
This is not the best way to open them if you want to add a pattern to your artwork. Create a new document or open the files you want to edit and go to the Swatches Library menu to install the pattern swatches. Go to Other Library and find the pattern swatch you want to use.
A new swatch library will pop up. It will have all the patterns you’ve downloaded and sometimes it might also contain color swatches or groups.
You can click on the patterns to add them to your Swatches panel. The pattern library only allows you to view the pattern collection. So you will have to move them to the Swatches panel in order to add new patterns to the collection or delete existing ones.Learn how to work with pattern swatches in Illustrator and download 6 free pattern swatchesClick To Tweet
How to use pattern swatches
Now that you know how to install your pattern swatches, it’s time for the fun part. Using pattern swatches is just as easy as using color swatches and they are a great way to give your designs a unique look.
Adding patterns to graphics
If you want to add patterns to your blog’s featured images, you just have to select the background using the Selection Tool (V). Then go to the Swatches panel and click on the pattern you want to use. Deselect the shape by clicking on the gray area outside your artboard or try another pattern.
You can add patterns to any shape, not just to rectangles or circles. Just draw a shape using the Brush tool or the Pen tool and apply a pattern to it by clicking on your favorite pattern from the Swatches panel.
Using patterns with the Blob Brush tool
Since pattern swatches work just like color swatches, you can even draw using a pattern instead of a solid color.
Why the Blob Brush? Because it’s the most amazing Illustrator tool, especially if you like drawing using a tablet. It helps you create solid vector shapes or fill out the background of sketches that don’t consist of closed paths.
Select the Blob Brush (Shift + B) from the Tools panel and double-click on it to open the Settings. You can adjust the size and roundness of the brush.
Set the Fill color to none and use your favorite pattern for the Stroke. Now all you have to do is draw. You don’t have to hold down the mouse while creating the entire shape. As long as you keep the same pattern or color, each shape you paint will be added to the first.
Adding patterns to text
If you want to add a fun pattern to your text, select the Type tool, click on your artboard, use your favorite pattern as the Fill color and start typing. That’s it!
You don’t have to use clipping masks anymore, but make sure that you use a font that’s easy to read and a pattern that’s not too busy.
How to create and recolor pattern swatches
If you want to create your own patterns or recolor these swatches to match your branding, check out these posts:
Do you use pattern swatches in Illustrator?