Pattern Design for the Rest of Us

Creating Repeat Patterns: Blending Units of Repetition

ENHANCED in SymmetryMill 2
Mirror symmetries naturally produce patterns without visible divisions between repeated units. For other symmetries, it is possible to create seamless patterns by blending (melding together) neighboring units.
As a point of reference, blending is useful for creating conversational, naturalistic, figurative, floral, geometric, and many other types of designs. In SymmetryMill, you can control blending by choosing the amount of blending and its type, and then apply additional effects to the blending boundaries.
If a pattern’s symmetry allows different degrees of blending in the horizontal and vertical directions, you will be able to use both Blend H and Blend V sliders in the Parameters panel. Otherwise, simply set the value of the horizontal blending and SymmetryMill will automatically choose an appropriate amount for the vertical blending, depending on symmetry type.
Blend sliders
Note: Both horizontal and vertical blending are disabled for symmetries that involve two mirrors and, therefore, achieve seamless patterns without blending.
Furthermore, using the Blend Mode popup menu, you can choose among the following types of blending:
  • Normal (Normal, Average, Enhanced Average, and Dissolve)
  • Darken (Darken, Darker Color, Multiply, Soft Color Burn, Color Burn, Inverse Color Burn, and Linear Burn)
  • Lighten (Lighten, Lighter Color, Screen, Soft Color Dodge, Color Dodge, Inverse Color Dodge, and Linear Dodge (Add))
  • Contrast (Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Linear Light, Pin Light, and Hard Mix)
  • Reflect (Reflect, Glow, Freeze, Heat, and Phoenix)
  • Cancellation (Difference, Negate, Exclude, Subtract, Stamp, and Erase)
  • Composite (Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity)
No blending
No blending
Normal blending
Normal blending
Average blending
Enhanced Average blending
Enhanced Average
Dissolve blending
Darken blending
Darker Color blending
Darker Color
Multiply blending
Soft Color Burn blending
Soft Color Burn
Color Burn blending
Color Burn
Inverse Color Burn blending
Inverse Color Burn
Linear Burn blending
Linear Burn
Lighten blending
Lighter Color blending
Lighter Color
Screen blending
Soft Color Dodge blending
Soft Color Dodge
Color Dodge blending
Color Dodge
Inverse Color Dodge blending
Inverse Color Dodge
Linear Dodge blending
Linear Dodge
Overlay blending
Soft Light blending
Soft Light
Hard Light blending
Hard Light
Vivid Light blending
Vivid Light
Linear Light blending
Linear Light
Pin Light blending
Pin Light
Hard Mix blending
Hard Mix
Reflect blending
Glow blending
Freeze blending
Heat blending
Phoenix blending
Difference blending
Negate blending
Exclude blending
Subtract blending
Stamp blending
Erase blending
Hue blending
Saturation blending
Color blending
Luminosity blending
Some blend modes, such as Normal and Average, may give differing results only for semi-transparent images.
Place the cursor over the Blend Mode popup menu and scroll with your mouse wheel to quickly try various blend modes.
Run the Explorer after selecting the Blend amount, Blend mode, and Dissolve edges checkboxes in the Explorer Preferences dialog to generate a wide variety of blending effects for your patterns.
As you will see, there are no "good" or "bad" blend modes, but they all can be useful depending on your source image, unit boundaries, and design choices.