I’m crazy for patterns. Some patterns are tiled (regularly repeating over and over again, called tessellations), some are random and never repeat. My love of patterns is easy to trace to my childhood: My step-mother (who was a graphic designer) would give me sheets of Letraset rubdown transfers or Format (which could be cut out with an X-acto blade and transferred to paper). I spent hours burnishing, cutting, making…
So, for every designer, illustrator, or pattern-lover out there, here are 20 free PDF files you can download and use in your work. You can Place them in InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop. You can also open these in Illustrator if you want to see or edit the individual patterns or vector objects.
Each one is big enough to cover either an A4 or a Letter sized page, and each one is vector, so you can scale it up or down to whatever size you want.
Before we get to the downloads, here are a few examples of how you might use these patterns. These first three show some of these patterns placed into InDesign frames:
Next, this spiral pattern was opened in InDesign and individual objects were colorized:
As I said, each of these patterns is a full page. The graphics below are just samples cut from the middle of the pattern. Just click on each image to download its PDF and see the whole page. Or you may want to right-click on the image and choose Save As (or Save Link As, depending on your web browser).
How Were They Made?
In the late 1980s I found myself learning the PostScript programming language, which is particularly well-suited for high-quality graphics and is what all EPS files are written in. I started writing custom patterns and even turned some of these into a commercial package for Aldus Freehand users, called PSfx (later PSpatterns). In the mid-90s, the patterns were repurposed to form the heart of an InDesign plug-in called PatternMaker, from Teacup Software.
The cool thing about PatternMaker is that every pattern is infinitely customizable! Change a few values and you can totally change a pattern into something else.
I used PatternMaker to make a number of these patterns, such as the one above.
However, some of the patterns were created with custom PostScript code that I wrote or edited. For example, the ones that have rotating polygons (some with regular steps and some with random steps).
How Are You Using Them?
If you use these patterns, we’d love to hear about it! Put links to graphics in the comments below! If there are other patterns you wish you had, let us know, too.