Using and Saving Pattern Swatches in Adobe Illustrator


I use Adobe Illustrator every day, and am always working with patterns. Creating swatch collections are a great way to organize your designs and easily access them in any document.  Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to create a little tutorial on how to use and save your pattern swatches. 

For this tutorial, I will be using my Thicket Thatch Patterns pack to demonstrate using and saving your patterns. You can use any vector seamless repeating patterns to do this tutorial; either ones you have purchased, or created yourself in Adobe Illustrator.

Watch the video below or read the written tutorial following the video.

Adding Your Swatches to the Swatches Panel

 Select your swatch


Now Click and Drag the pattern over to the Swatches Panel


Next, name your pattern swatch by going to the Swatch Menu

and selecting > Swatch Options


A box will come up where you can type in the name of your new pattern swatch.

Add with Pattern Options

Another way to add your patterns to the Swatches Panel is to do the following:

With your pattern selected, Go to Object > Pattern > Make


This will bring up the Pattern Options box and will automatically add the pattern to the Swatches Panel

The Pattern Options box gives you editing options for your pattern, shows a nice preview of your repeat, and you can also edit the name of your pattern within this panel.


Once your patterns are in the Swatches Panel, you can easily access the Pattern Options box by double clicking on your swatch.

Saving Your Pattern Swatches

Once you have all your patterns in the Swatches Panel, you can save them to load in any new document.

To save your pattern swatches, go to the Swatch Libraries Menu


Then Select > Save Swatches


This will save the swatches to the default location for Adobe Illustrator swatch files.

Name your pattern collection and Select > Save to save them.

Saving your Swatches to another Folder

You can save your swatches to another file location by simply setting up a new folder in a design folder or project folder and saving it there instead of the default save location.

Loading Your Pattern Swatches in a New Document

To load the new pattern collection you saved in a new document, 

Go to the Swatch Libraries Menu, and Select > User Defined


Select your named Pattern Swatches Collection and it will load into your new document.

If you saved your Pattern Swatches in another folder location, and wish to load your files from there: 

Go to the Swatch Libraries Menu, and Select > Other Library


If you are using Adobe Illustrator CC, you can also save your patterns in the Creative Cloud Libraries.


Get a copy of the vector long sleeve t-shirt and pants shapes I used in the free graphics section. You can use the mockup clothing shapes to promote your own patterns and designs. 

Files are saved out as Ai CS3+ and EPS CS3+, and example patterns shown are not included.

Have you made patterns in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop? What is your favorite pattern type? My favorite type of pattern to create is a random pattern.