Illustrator ® Swatches / Patterns for CC CS6 CS5 CS4 CS3 CS2 CS1 etc
Updated: March 7th, 2014
Free Illustrator pattern swatches
Swatches for Illustrator installation video
A video showing how to install the swatches - the swatches are easy to load and use and can be used to create millions of wonderful designs. Even more powerful now with the latest pattern editor feature of Illustrator. The video is on youtube and is by me (Andrew Buckle)
Illustrator swatches tutorials
Swatches for Illustrator videos
Illustrator swatches - commercial (CU4CU) use
All the above volumes are by graphicxtras.com, all for commercial (CU4CU) use - use to them to create items for sale and more. Adobe and Illustrator are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. The Illustrator swatches are for use in 1000s of ways. To use them, it is very simple - simply open the file via the swatches palette and they are then loaded into the application and can then be used over and over and over. The swatches sets on this page are a mix of different swatches - some are colorful, some are B&W but they are all amazing and all are seamless tiles for any size of work. You can use them with virtually all features of the application such as with text and paths. The paths can also be combined either just combining them as paths but you can also combine multiple swatches in Illustrator (all versions from 10) via the appearance palette. If you combine the swatches, you can also then just save the combinations via the graphic styles palette and you can then combine Illustrator live effects and other fills to create truly awesome designs for all your projects. The swatches on this site are all by this site, they are all for commercial (CU4CU) and personal use. We have been creating swatches for Adobe ® Illustrator for the last 10 years or so (and probably before). The swatches can also be exported to other applications so if you are using Illustrator AND Photoshop or other parts of the amazing creative suite then you can export the designs for use as patterns and textures as well as layers and design elements in other applications - so these designs are not just for Adobe ® Illustrator. They are for use in a vast range of applications. You can also export the swatches as a PNG file or TIFF etc via the export command in the file commands. Once saved as a non vector format, the swatch design can be used to create layers etc in other tools. The swatches can be re-sized, they can be transformed and much more. You can also use the amazing and unique swatches on this page (and also the others on the other swatches pages on this site - just search for them via the google search) to create amazing symbols for Adobe ® Illustrator as well as Illustrator brushes. A toolkit for all uses.
How to modify Illustrator swatches ?
If you wish to modify a pattern then select the design in the palette and drag to the artboard. Once the pattern is accessible via the artboard you can then double click the pattern swatches to enter the Illustrator isolation mode for the pattern and then modify the artwork. You can change the pattern design, re-color the various parts of the pattern as well as shift and rotate. On exit from isolation mode (right click 'exit isolation mode') or click the isolation mode bread crumbs to return to the normal artboard. Select the artwork and the bounding box for the pattern and drag back to the swatches palette and save as a new pattern for future use in Illustrator.
How to apply an Illustrator swatch to a path ?
Simply select the Illustrator path and then select one of the pattern in the swatches palette. The path can be either a normal path or text. You can then modify the underlying pattern and its relationship with the path via the transform menu (de-select the object setting)
How to use swatches with the appearance palette ?
The appearance palette is a useful feature of Illustrator and you can modify any existing fill of a path and you can also add a new fill and stroke or multiple fills and strokes as well as effects to the pattern. You can use the appearance palette to create truly complex as well as subtle designs using a single pattern or multiple patterns added to a path. You can blend the various swatches by using the blending modes (difference, darken, multiply) or using transparency / opacity.
How to re-size a pattern / Illustrator pattern ?
Select the path, fill with a pattern swatch and then go to the object menu and apply the transform commands such as scale / rotate / shear and the key thing to remember is to uncheck the object option and leave the pattern checked. The pattern can then be re-sized to 1% or 1000% of the original size. Another option is as before, modify the swatch by dragging the design from the swatches palette and then re-size the design using the scale or selection / scale tools and then saving the new design as a much bigger or much smaller swatch.
How to use a swatch as an Illustrator shape ?
Select a path and then fill the path with a design (be it pattern) and then go to the window menu and select shapes and drag the design from the artboard to the shapes palette. You can also go to the swatch palette (window menu) and then drag one (or more) of the swatches to the artboard - you can only do this with a pattern. The swatch can then be exported via the pasteboard to other applications such as Photoshop
Creating 100s of variant swatches for Adobe ® Illustrator
One of the great new features (along with the trace) of Illustrator CC / CS6 is the pattern editor. Now you can open a swatches palette library and then double click any of the Illustrator swatches and you will then enter the pattern editor where you can tweak the swatch in 1000s of ways and even better, you can save a copy by clicking the save a copy option
So the above pattern, select the shape and then change the color, change the size, rotate, introduce new shapes and much more and just keep clicking the save a copy - all the swatches are saved as seamless tile designs to the palette. You can even save the swatches to earlier formats of the Illustrator for use in 10 (that is how I create the sets on this site). Not sure that works well if you use different tile types - it certainly works fine with the default which is the default type of Illustrator swatches in previous versions of Illustrator
As you can see from above, endless possible variations of swatches designs can be created - you can add multiple shapes, remove shapes and more. The tool does have quirks and perhaps these will be resolved in updates but sometimes fragments of paths can be left. As with all things, the end result Illustrator swatch should be tested with a variety of different shapes as well as text.
The Illustrator swatches can be applied via the libraries and they can be applied to a whole range of different paths (as mentioned, you might wish to scale the swatch via the transformation commands)
Trying to edit the swatches, a dialog appears - this is one of my favorite bugbears of Illustrator as endless dialogs appear and many seem to offer no way of removing them. The dialog appears when you try and edit a pattern that was created in CS6 and saved in an earlier format. I wish the dialog would appear only once, as it is probably likely you will remember that you have to release the clipping mask (oddly, this doesn't always seem to be the case as sometimes there is no clipping mask to remove). I would prefer an option to remove this Illustrator swatch dialog or perhaps even better, a default option to 'release the clipping mask' as I always prefer the best results. Also, editing the pattern might require the ungrouping of the shapes and that command can be found in the Illustrator object menu.
Image trace and Illustrator fills
You can apply the illustrator swatches to traced items. Open an image and then apply the image trace feature (greatly enhanced with CS6)
Use the image trace on a placed image to convert the image into a vector. Use the live paint bucket tool to add fills to the image trace - those live paint regions can be filled with solid colors as well as Illustrator swatches. You can apply the same swatch to all regions of the image or apply different swatches to different regions with different sizes and rotations applied.
Of course, sometimes some images work better with fills than others. You can also use the Illustrator swatches with strokes as well as combine them in millions of ways with the appearance palette.
Tutorial - Applying Illustrator® swatches to text
This tutorial will work with any swatch.
1) Select text. Open the swatches palette, place the required swatch in the Illustrator swatches palette
2) Go to the appearance palette. Go to the right menu and select the add new fill command.
3) Apply a swatch to the selected appearance fill, the swatch will now fill the text. The text now has a swatch applied. The text can be changed at any point. The Illustrator can be changed at any point - the swatch can be scaled, rotated and sheared as required in Illustrator. The text now has a swatch applied.
4) Add another fill (in the appearance palette) and fill with another or the same swatch. Go to the transparency palette and set the blend mode to difference. Change the scale of the swatch as well as the angle again via the transformations. You can create complex color within the text. You can do this with patterns as well as blend swatches.