Creating a seamless pattern isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s easy to spend hours in Photoshop trying to create texture that will repeat perfectly, only to find that it’s slightly off, but it isn’t easy to get those little imperfections fixed. Instead, you need a tool that will automate the process of making your pattern repeating, taking care of the hard part while freeing you to focus on your design.
The COLOURlovers team has created a ton of tools for anyone who loves colors, palettes, patterns, and more. Their web site lets you discover new designs and share them, and their development team has been creating new creative tools to help you get in on the creation process.
Starting with their simple Seamless Lite web app, a free tool to create basic patterns online, COLOURlovers created an advanced pattern creation tool for your desktop: Seamless Studio. This app lets your pattern designs come to life easier than ever. Let’s take a look and see if this is the tool that’s been missing from your design toolkit.
Pattern Making on Any Computer
While Seamless Studio’s younger sibling, Seamless Lite, is a web app, Seamless Studio isn’t a traditional web app. Instead, it’s powered by Adobe Air so it can run as a native Windows, Mac, and Linux app using native web technology. Plus, it’s integrated with COLOURlovers’ web apps so you can easily share the patterns you create.
Installing Seamless Studio is easy. Just download the installer for your OS, or make sure you’ve got Adobe Air installed and download the .air file directly. Seamless Studio has a free 15 day trial, so you can try it out without entering a license key. If you decide you like it, you can buy a license for $49, or, if you’re a COLOURlovers member, you can currently get at $20 off coupon.
Getting started with Seamless Studio is simple. It’s laid out like many other graphics editing programs, with palettes for elements, colors, and layers. The rest of the program is your canvas, with the box in the center being your actual repeating tile you’ll save. Seamless Studio automatically makes sure whatever’s there will repeat throughout the app perfectly.
Creating Your Patterns
First off, you should pick out a nice palette of colors for your design. Seamless Studio has a nice color picker built in that makes it easy to get the exact shade you want. You can pick up to 5 colors for your palette, and could even add colors from their hex codes from existing palettes you love.
Next up, you’ll need to decide what elements you’d like to include in your design. Seamless includes a wide range of shapes, from standard geometric figures and lines to animal and vehicle silhouettes. If that’s not enough, you can import your own images to include in the design, making it uniquely your own. But for most patterns, combinations of shapes will cover everything you need.
Once you’ve decided what to add to your design, there’s two great ways to add elements. You can drag new elements which will come in at a preset size, and can be moved or resized later. Or, you can select the pen tool on the top, then select your shape, and click to put the element where you want. Once you’ve clicked, keep holding down while dragging to rotate or resize your section. This works especially nice on a touchpad.
Seamless Studio will automatically make sure everything repeats correctly, so your whole design will look just like it does in the small center box. If you want to position elements more precisely, you can open a grid from the View menu. Then, each element is saved in its own layer, so you can easily rearrange or tweak them from the bottom left layers menu.
Quick Tip: Seamless Studio uses Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y for undo and redo, respectively, even on Macs. That’s the standard on PCs, but might feel a bit odd to Mac users.
One thing I found frustrating was changing the active color that would be used when I added new elements. By default, Seamless will use the last selected color from your palette when you add a new element. But, if you want to switch colors, you’ll have to click the color box, and that opens the color chooser, taking 3 clicks instead of one. Instead, a better way is to simply change the color on your elements’ layer box. Click the color on the layer, and you can quickly pick from your palette colors directly. That’s also a great way to test and see how changing the colors would change your design.
Once you’re finished with your masterpiece, Seamless Studio is ready to help you put it to action. You can export it as a a png or jpg file to use directly in your web designs, as a tiled background, or any where else you want to put your design to work. Alternately, you can export your design as a SVG file to import into Adobe Illustrator or any other vector graphics editor. You can also upload your design directly to COLOURlovers’ site to share with others.
Seamless Studio shows how the right tool can really make your job easier. It focuses on one thing – making patterns, and it does a great job at it. If you’ve wanted a great way to make beautiful repeating patterns for your designs, this is a great choice. Even though it’s an Air app, and had a few oddities from being a cross-platform app, it’s overall a very polished app, as you would expect from the COLOURlovers team.
If you’ve given it a try, we’d love to know what you think of it. Feel free to share links of any textures you make in the comments below!