Create an Easy Seamless Wave Pattern (Customizable, too!)

Updated: May 4

Have you ever wanted to add a simple wave pattern as a background to your design or a graphic to use with your web software and were disappointed with the pre-made patterns in Illustrator and Photoshop?

The limited selection and inability to customize those cookie cutter patterns choked my creativity. So, I attempted to create my own wave pattern. Armed with the confidence of creating successful seamless patterns in the past, I thought ‘How hard can this be?’

I thought wrong...

More math needed for this bad pattern!

I had approached this in the usual way of starting a seamless pattern. I started with a 1000 x 1000 px document in Illustrator, and then used the Pen tool, and Transform Effects options. I soon discovered the difficulty in predicting a consistent wave and ended up with a choppy unpredictable pattern. In order to get this wave to cooperate I needed to be more intentional with my math.

A much better pattern.

After a some trial and error with the Zig Zag effect, I tested the pattern and there it was. A seamless wave pattern with the flexibility to customize. I'd like to show you how to do it in a few easy steps.

Note: This tutorial is recommended for intermediate Illustrator users. I used Adobe Illustrator CC 2019 and a Mac for this article, some keyboard keys and tools may be different depending on the computer you use or the version of of Illustrator.

Troubleshooting Tips are at the end of this article for some of the problems I encountered while making this pattern, you might encounter different problems that I'm unaware of. Leave a message for Wittner Design on the contact page and I'll work through the problem and add it to Troubleshooting.

Illustrator: Use these settings when creating a new document.

STEP 1: Creating the Document.

Create a New document, use the settings in the image above then click Create. If you have a different color mode than RGB you can find it in More Settings, click on More Settings to open up its panel and find Color Mode, click on it and in the drop down menu click RGB then click Create Document.

Create and Align Your Beginning Line.

STEP 2: Creating and Aligning the Beginning line.

Make sure you have No Fill, and you have a blac