Pattern design on Illustrator

Frequently asked questions about SymmetryWorks

What is Artlandia SymmetryWorks?

Artlandia SymmetryWorks is an Adobe Illustrator plug-in that instantly turns your artwork into a pattern by using the artwork as a motif. When you edit the motif, the plug-in automatically updates the entire pattern.

Do I need to know how to construct a pattern?

No, the plug-in makes all the necessary transformations (rotations, reflections, and so on) for you. The seventeen symmetry controls in the SymmetryWorks panel allow you to choose a type of pattern and convert between different types with a click of the mouse.

Once a pattern is created, can I add other objects to it?

Yes, you can simply paste inside a SymmetryWorks pattern using the usual Illustrator Paste in Front and Paste in Back commands (or the corresponding keyboard shortcuts). You can also draw patterns in insertion mode.

Is there a way to change the repeat size?

Every SymmetryWorks pattern has a dedicated element, called the control path, that you can use to interactively change the repeat size of your patterns—without going through any intermediary dialog boxes.

Can I change colors in repeated motifs?

Yes, SymmetryWorks lets you create a wide variety of counterchange patterns. There are buttons for all the 46 ways to combine symmetry operations with color reversals. Additionally, you can customize color reversals in repeated cells and tiles and introduce color reversals within the main repeated unit too.

Can I create interlocking patterns?

Yes—just as easily as you can stack repeating units together as simple blocks. For an example of interlocking patterns, see tessellations.

From which Illustrator objects can I create a pattern?

From just about any Illustrator object. You can use simple paths, compound paths, clipping masks, brushes, gradients, transparencies, symbols, blends, mesh objects, all classes of type objects (point type, area type, and type on a path), and all types of imported raster (bitmap) images recognized by Illustrator (including Photoshop, TIFF, GIF, and JPEG images).

What is the difference between Illustrator's own pattern maker and SymmetryWorks?

Good question! The differences are many, but the following are crucial:

  • Illustrator makes patterns with just one symmetry (Simple shift); with SymmetryWorks you have all the seventeen symmetries at your disposal.
  • Illustrator paints all motifs exactly the same way, while SymmetryWorks automatically creates a wide variety of counterchange patterns.
  • When you save an Illustrator pattern, all its active components—brushes, symbols, blends, compound shapes, effects, nested patterns, and others—are expanded. That is, the next time you come to edit your pattern, you will have to deal with the object's components, rather than with the object that you put in. With SymmetryWorks, you can always edit all these objects live.
  • With SymmetryWorks, you can take advantage of replicas, multi-replicas, and layouts that let you automatically create whole new classes of patterns.
  • With SymmetryWorks LP, you can edit your pattern swatches and see your Illustrator objects painted with these swatches updated as you edit.
Can I convert a SymmetryWorks pattern into an Illustrator pattern?

Yes, the Save Pattern Swatch button in the SymmetryWorks panel adds your SymmetryWorks pattern to the Illustrator Swatches panel.

Can I make a pattern from a scanned image (raster image, Photoshop file)?

Yes, SymmetryWorks fully supports raster images. Use a part of the image or the entire image. Switch between separate and blended units of repetition with a single click. Or, if your image is relatively simple, convert it to vector art object using the Illustrator auto-trace tool.

Can I send my SymmetryWorks patterns to a client who does not have the plug-in?

Yes, your client will be able to see and print your SymmetryWorks patterns even without SymmetryWorks.

Can I use SymmetryWorks to create quilt patterns?

Of course. Illustrator has long been used as a quilting software when designers wanted flexibility and precision combined with convenient filters for creating geometric shapes. Now SymmetryWorks adds the ability to automatically create repeats, which makes the Illustrator/SymmetryWorks combination ideal for quilt designers.

I have never thought of using Adobe Illustrator for textile design...

Indeed, it was rather impractical in the past. But now SymmetryWorks provides you with the most sophisticated, easy-to-use, and inexpensive computer-aided textile design system (CAD). There are many built-in features specifically for textile designers. See our solution pages for more information.

I am a textile designer. Will SymmetryWorks create the standard straight (block) repeats and the half-drop repeats for me?

Absolutely. SymmetryWorks has the built-in drop and brick repeats. You can easily make the half-drop, quarter-drop, and other fractional drop repeats. It is equally easy to create irregular (step or sliding) repeats with arbitrary drop values as well as all other repeats used in textile design.

I am new to pattern design. I don't know what all these repeats mean. Will SymmetryWorks teach me what I need to create nice patterns?

The plug-in comes with a detailed user guide, which introduces all the built-in layouts and teaches you how to create your own repeat systems. Also, many pattern design terms are defined and illustrated in the Artlandia Glossary of Pattern Design. Specifically, here are the definitions and examples of "repeating patterns" and "seamless patterns".

How do repeats created with SymmetryWorks differ from ones created with high-end textile design CAD systems?

If you use vector elements, your SymmetryWorks repeats will also be vector-based, so you can easily scale them without loss of quality. When needed, you can import repeats produced by SymmetryWorks into raster-based programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, at any resolution.

Will SymmetryWorks create wallpaper designs for PC and background patterns for web pages?

Yes, you can easily crop a SymmetryWorks pattern down to exactly one rectangular tile. Then simply export the file from Illustrator in, say, JPEG format. Click here for an example.

Is there any way to make plaid and stripe patterns?

It is easy to create both traditional and original plaid and stripe designs. You can interactively change the color and position of stripes, add or delete stripes, and change one type of pattern to another with a single click. To start, make a few straight lines and try the symmetry types Mirror & glide, Pinwheel, and others in the SymmetryWorks panel. You will also find that the multi-replica feature makes it very easy to create check patterns.

Can I create kaleidoscopic patterns?

Easily. Kaleidoscope is one of the available symmetry types.

How is SymmetryWorks different from LivePresets?

SymmetryWorks makes sophisticated patterns and lets you create a pattern swatch. LivePresets lets you edit a pattern swatch and interactively apply the swatch to your artworks. The plug-ins are not substitutes for each other, but are very much complementary. Click here for a comparison chart.

Can I edit SymmetryWorks pattern swatches in LivePresets?

LivePresets is tightly integrated with SymmetryWorks and lets you edit SymmetryWorks swatches as either expanded patterns or SymmetryWorks patterns.

What is SymmetryWorks LP?

SymmetryWorks LP is a combination of SymmetryWorks and LivePresets. You can run SymmetryWorks inside LivePresets swatches and interactively edit symbols with LivePresets inside SymmetryWorks patterns. With SymmetryWorks LP, you can even edit one SymmetryWorks pattern inside another. Click here to see how it works.

Does the plug-in work in Illustrator X?

The shipping version of SymmetryWorks is fully compatible with Illustrator CS6 and Illustrator CC, including the latest releases of Creative Cloud. There is also a solution for earlier Illustrator versions from 10+.

Is there a user guide for SymmetryWorks?

You bet! Feel free to download a PDF file.

Is there a try-out version of SymmetryWorks?

Yes, you can download the free demo version here.

Any advice on how to get into the pattern design business?

Tips on the business of pattern design are here.

OK, I have only ten minutes to create a certificate (an optical design, a geometric pattern, a camouflage...). Any help?

Take a look at the Artlandia Collection.

I prefer to work with Photoshop. Do you have a product for me?

You may want to check our Photoshop plug-in for pattern design: Artlandia SymmetryShop. Click here for a comparison chart.