Vector Freebie & Micro Tutorial: Seamless Swirls

Hey it’s a Monday morning freebie! This one took a little extra time to make, so I really hope you enjoy it. It is (mostly) seamless, so you can drop it into your swatches panel and fill any shape with it.

free vector preview

I say mostly because it went through a series of transformations – one of which was an export to photoshop (for some wacom-esque highlighting) followed by a hi-res auto trace in Illustrator. So, some edges are slightly off, but the overall seamless effect is there. Go ahead and download it, but stick around for some behind the scene paparazzi shots of how it was made.


I’ll admit it – I had never made a seamless pattern before. I knew I wanted it to be swirly, so I pen-tooled some reference photos for ingredients as I brainstormed just how this was going to work.
free vector ingredients

By the time these ingredients were ready I had a plan for a workable but really laborious process to make a seamless pattern. In the screenshots below you’ll find an explanation of how it was done, but really, if you know of a better way please share in the comments!

EDITED: Track6 knows a much more accurate and quick way to accomplish these steps and was nice enough to share it with everybody in the comments. The idea is the same, but the process better. Thanks!

free vector seamless pattern step 1

free vector pattern step 2

free vector pattern step 3

free vector pattern step 5

As you can see from the last screenshot, the pattern was still quite a mess at this stage. Filling out the middle took a little while of puzzle piecing everything together. By the end of the workday last Friday I had spent a little too much time on this thing, and still wasn’t happy. So over the weekend curves were smoothed and highlights added, and finally it was starting to look right. An anxious face showed up in the curves so I made a little preview image just for fun.

free vector fun preview
So that’s the story of this freebie! I hope if you embark on making your own custom seamless pattern you’ll share some shortcuts with me in the comments.

Jeff’s Weekly Review July 21-29

Judging by the welcoming response to last week’s review, I’ll go ahead and continue with this one. You suggested that I keep posting the reviews because it reminds you that you’re either a) slacking off and need to get to work or b) “oh, i’m not as much of a slacker as I thought!” Here’s what I got accomplished this week.

  • Worked on a simple wordpress theme with Adam Law for a redesign of Red Ferret
  • Did some sketches for a few illustrations for Complex Magazine. Oliver and I start final concepts this week.
  • My Trivium Design from last week along with some from Dave and Oliver all got approved. See below for those.
  • Assigned a job for Chris Comella. Write an article about the why packaging design is awesome.
  • Worked on a tee for New Kids on the Block. I might need to do some more this week.
  • Successfully participated in my second “Jam Night” – I played drums with a couple other musicians on Tuesday nights. It’s fun to get out and play with people I’ve never met that are 30 years my senior.
  • Started working on Phase 3 of the Arsenal. The customization of the “My Account” section.
  • Cleaned one of the toilets at Go Media for my chore. We use Chorebuster around here to keep things tidy.
  • Published part 1 of the 15 mistakes article that you have probably already read. I spent time promoting the article as well. Can’t wait for part 2.

Trivium design by Oliver Barrett

Trivium Design by Jeff Finley

Trivium shirt design by Dave Tevenal

Trivium shirt design by Oliver Barrett