I love making terrazzo patterns. It looks like a very complex pattern, but it’s actually easy to make using a few Illustrator tools.
What is terrazzo?
If you are unfamiliar with the name, terrazzo is a flooring material that’s made from chips of marble, granite, or glass that are set in concrete. I’m sure you’ve seen terrazzo floors before because it’s a pretty common and cheap material.
Recently, it has been used a lot in interior design for walls and countertops, and it’s also great for branding.
How to make seamless terrazzo patterns in Illustrator
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How to make terrazzo shapes
Open Illustrator and create a new document. I like to start with a 6x6in artboard and use it to create a pattern tile that’s the same size.
We are going to use the Pen tool (P) to create the shapes. Make sure you remove the stroke and set the fill color to black or any other color that you want.
Start by clicking on the canvas to add the first anchor point. Then add other anchor points until you have an irregular shape that resembles a chip of glass or marble. To close the path, move your cursor over the first anchor point and click on it.
Create other shapes until you fill the artboard. I like to make something that resembles a puzzle, but the way it looks now is not very important. Just make sure you have many different shapes.
Recolor the shapes
Choose a color palette and change the colors of the shapes. I used 5 different colors for this patterns.
You will be able to change the colors using the Recolor Artwork tool after you finish the terrazzo pattern.
How to make terrazzo patterns
This pattern looks more like a mosaic so we will use a couple of tools to make it look like a real terrazzo pattern.
First, select all the shapes and go to Object > Path > Simplify. Click on Preview to view the changes in real time.
Change the Curve Precision and the Angle Threshold until the shapes look more natural.
I usually use a Curve Precision that’s between 40-80% and an Angle Threshold that’s around 130°.
Next, make sure all the shapes are selected and go to Object > Transform > Transform Each (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + D). This is the most important step because it will create that organic terrazzo look.
Make sure preview is checked, then move each slider to see what it does:
- Scale: will change the size of each shape. I usually use the same scale for horizontal and vertical; otherwise, they might look distorted.
- Move: will move all the shapes
- Rotate: like the name says, will rotate the shapes at the desired angle.
If you look in the Options section, you have a checkbox for Random. Select it and start playing with the sliders.
If you check the Random option, some of the shapes will be scaled and moved, while others will remain the same.
You can create many terrazzo patterns just by changing these options and the colors.
This is how my terrazzo background looks:
All we have to do now is to turn this motif into a seamless pattern.
How to make seamless terrazzo patterns
If you are using an older version of Illustrator, you will have to use the manual method. For Illustrator CS5 and newer, you can use the Pattern tool, as I do.
Select the shapes and go to Object > Pattern > Make. When you do this, the Pattern menu will open and a copy of your pattern will be added to the Swatches panel.
The first thing I like to do is change the Width and Height of the pattern to the Width and Height of the artboard (6x6in). You can use any size you like, just remember what it is because you will need it to save the seamless pattern tile.
The pattern looks much better now, but I want to make a few changes before I save it.
I usually use the Selection tool (V) to move some of the shapes and cover the large white areas. I also like to make sure that there aren’t any shapes that are aligned in a straight line.
When you are happy with the way your pattern looks, click Done to save it.
How to save the seamless terrazzo pattern
To save the seamless pattern tile, click on the pattern in the Swatches panel, and using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle that’s the same size as your pattern tile (6x6in). You can also save one that’s twice the size of the pattern tile. These patterns will be tileable and you will be able to print them on fabrics.
Have fun making terrazzo patterns in Illustrator!