Pattern Making with the Move Tool
Hey guys! I wanted to share with you all my go-to way for pattern making in Illustrator… using the Move option under the Transform Menu (Command+Shift+M). I like to work in even numbers when creating the “artboard” for my pattern so that I can easily duplicate and move to the opposite border to complete the repeat. You could work with a 400×400 square or 500×100 rectangle… size doesn’t matter just make sure you note the dimensions you are working so your repeat will align. For our example, we will be working in a 400×400 pixel square:
Select all the objects that extend past the top portion, Command+C to copy, Command+F to paste a duplicate in front, then Command+Shift+M to open the Move dialogue box. Since we are repeating the top to the bottom border, Horizontal should be 0 px and Vertical 400 px. (If working from the bottom the Horizontal would still be 0 but the Vertical would be -400).
Now you will do the same with the right side, select all that extend off the right, Command+C to copy, Command+F to paste a duplicate in front, then Command+Shift+M to open the Move dialogue box. To move a copy to the left side your Horizontal should be at -400 px and Horizontal at 0 px. If you want to copy what is on the left side to the right side the settings should be 400 px for Horizontal and 0 px for Vertical.
Something to keep in mind when working on the repeats, if you make the move and notice that objects overlap what’s happening in the middle, you have to select both the top/bottom or left/right instance, and then use the arrow keys to adjust. This will ensure your repeat happens correctly.
Once your repeated edges are complete and you are happy with the center you can go about making your pattern any way you choose. You could mask it so it’s a complete square or what I like to do is duplicate the background square, send it to the back and make sure the stroke and the fill are both set to “none”. Then you can select the whole pattern and drag and drop into the Swatches panel. Note: You can also do this when masking out the edges, just select your masked pattern and drag into the Swatches panel!