A Tutorial on How to Create Plaid Vector Patterns in Illustrator

Written by ryan crooks
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A Tutorial on How to Create Plaid Vector Patterns in Illustrator
Plaid is composed of interwoven polychromatic horizontal and vertical bands. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Plaid patterns periodically become fashionable in design, and the visually active colour fields in the pattern add dynamism to materials and layouts. Although plaid patterns have been used throughout history, they are not commonly included as swatches or fields in graphic design software. If you would like to create a vector-based plaid pattern using Adobe Illustrator, you will need to separate the horizontal and vertical colour fields in the plaid pattern and specify the pattern's colours.

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Open Illustrator

Open Adobe Illustrator and select "New" from the "File" menu. A new page spread will open.

Draw a Horizontal Field

Select the "Rectangle" tool from the toolbar or press the "M" key. Click and drag the boundary of a rectangle to create a horizontal band. Change the colour of the rectangle by double-clicking the "Stroke" and "Fill" swatches at the bottom of the toolbar.

Copy and Adjust the Horizontal Fields

Select the horizontal band. Click the "Edit" menu and select "Copy." Click the "Edit" menu again and select "Paste in Front." Drag the new horizontal band directly above the first band and adjust the colour with the "Stroke" and "Fill" swatches. Drag the edge of the rectangle using the "Direct Selection" tool from the toolbar to change the width of the new band. Repeat these steps until you have a square of horizontal bands. Select all of the horizontal bands and click "Group" under the "Object" menu.

Copy, Rotate, Overlay and Add Transparency

Copy the grouped square of bands using the "Copy" and "Paste" commands in the "Edit" menu and rotate the duplicated pattern 90 degrees, using the "Rotate" tool from the toolbar. Open the transparency panel by selecting "Transparency" under the "Window" menu. Select both of the squares and change the "Opacity" to 50 per cent. Drag the vertical bands over the horizontal bands; the plaid pattern will appear.

Create Swatch

Select the horizontal and vertical bands and click "Group" under the "Object" menu. Open the "Swatches" panel by selecting "Swatches" under the "Window" menu. Click and drag the grouped horizontal and vertical bands of the plaid pattern to the "Swatches" panel; a new swatch of your plaid pattern will appear. Click and drag the plaid swatch to any drawn object in Illustrator you would like to have appear in the plaid pattern.

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