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How to Create an African Celebratory Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to create an African celebratory pattern in Adobe Illustrator. To bring this pattern to life, we’ll create different elements that represent African culture such as sacred African symbols, shapes, and silhouettes, and then we’ll combine all the elements to create a seamless pattern. Excited? Let’s get started then!

1. How to Set Up the Canvas

Create a new 600 px by 600 px document in Illustrator with the given settings:

Setting up the canvas

2. How to Create the Triangles

Step 1

We’ll start by forming the first element of our pattern: triangles. First, select the Polygon Tool, and then click once on the canvas and change the radius to 50 px and the Sides to 3.

Step 2

Next, change the fill color to teal #14aaa3.

Changing the color of the triangle

Step 3

Now that we have changed the color of the first triangle, we want to duplicate the triangle and rotate it. Activate the Selection Tool (V), and then select the shape and hold down Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape while pressing Shift. Next, press Control-D seven times to create more triangles.

Duplicating the triangle once
Duplicating the triangle multiple times

Step 4

Now that we have our triangles, we want to group them and change the rotation. Activate the Selection Tool (V), select all the triangles, and press Control-G to group them. Next, select the grouped elements, Right-click, select Transform, and then Rotate. Change the angle to 180.

Changing the rotation

Step 5

Now, we want to center the shapesSelect the elements, and then press Shift-F7 to bring out the Align panel and click on Horizontal Align Center. Make sure to select Align to Artboard in the Align adjustment panel.

Aligning the shapes

Step 6

Next, we want to add another layer of triangles on top. Activate the Selection Tool (V), and then select the triangles, hold down Alt, and drag the shape slightly on top while pressing Shift. Fill it in yellow #edb71e.

Adding more triangles

3. How to Create the Circles and the African Symbol

Step 1

Create a new layer and name it medium circles. Then, activate the Ellipse Tool (L), fill it with red #e22227, and click on the canvas. Change the Width and Height to 20 px

Setting up the size of the circle

Step 2

Next, place the circle between the first two triangles. Activate the Selection Tool (V), select the circle, hold down Alt, and drag the shape down while pressing Shift as shown below.

Step 3

Now, we want to duplicate the circles between each triangle. Activate the Selection Tool (V), select the circles, and press Control-G to group them. Then, hold down Alt and drag the shapes into the spaces while pressing Shift as shown below.

Duplicating more circles to fill the space

Step 4

Before creating the African love symbol, we want to separate each part with thin rectangles. Activate the Rectangle Tool (M), fill it in red #e22227, and then click on the canvas and change the Width to 600 px and Height to 5.3333 px as shown below.

Changing the settings of the rectangles

Step 5

Next, activate the Selection Tool (V) and place the shape under the triangles. Then duplicate the shape by pressing Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape as shown below.

Duplicating the rectangle

Step 6

Now we want to create the African love symbol. Create a new layer and name it Love symbol. Then, activate the Pen Tool (P) and start by drawing half of the shape as shown below.

Drawing the love symbol

Step 7

Then duplicate the shape by pressing Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape as shown below.

Step 8

Now, we want to reflect the shape. Select the duplicated shape, Right-Click, and select Transform > Reflect.

Transforming and reflecting
End result

Step 9

Now that we have reflected the shape, we want to finish the symbol. Activate the Pen Tool (P), click on the bottom right anchor point, and draw the shape as shown below.

Drawing the right wing

Step 10

Next, select the Pen Tool (P), and click on the top left anchor point to finish the left wing as shown below. 

Finishing the left wing

Step 11

Now that we have finished drawing the symbol, we want to change the color. Fill it in a light yellow #fcde62. Next, activate the Selection Tool (V) and make the shape smaller, pressing Shift while resizing. Then, select the symbol and place it as shown below. 

Next, we want to duplicate the shape. Select the symbol and hold down Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape while pressing Shift. Next, press Control-D until the space is filled.

Changing the color and duplicating the symbol

4. How to Create the Woman Silhouette

Step 1

Create a new layer and name it woman. Then, activate the Ellipse Tool (L) and fill it in cream #f4eabc, and click on the canvas. Change the Width and Height to 15 px

Drawing the silhouettes head

Step 2

Then, select the Pen Tool (P) and start drawing the body as shown below. Start from the circle to the left arm and keep moving. 

End result of shape

Step 3

Now that we have finished drawing the silhouette, activate the Selection Tool (V) and place the shape under the rectangle shape. Next, we want to duplicate the shape. Select the silhouette, hold down Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape while pressing Shift. 

Duplicating the silhouette

Step 4

Next, we want to fill the space with more silhouettes. Press Control-D until the space is filled as shown below.

Filling the space with more silhouette

5. How to Create the Man Silhouette

Step 1

Before drawing the man silhouette, we want to break the designs with more lines and circles in between. First, drag one of the previous red rectangles, hold down Alt on the keyboard, and drag the shape while pressing Shift. Duplicate the shape twice, as shown below.

Adding more lines to break down the design

Step 2

Next, we want to fill the space between the two lines with small circles. Activate the Ellipse Tool (L), fill it in yellow #ecb71e, and click on the canvas. Change the Width and Height to 9 px

Settings for the circle

Step 3

Now, use the Selection Tool (V) to place the circle between the two shapes, and duplicate the circle once. Press Alt on the keyboard and drag the shape while pressing Shift. Duplicate the circle as shown below.

Duplicating the circle

Step 4

Next, we want to fill the space with more circles. Press Control-D until the space is filled as shown below.

Filling the space with more circles

Step 5

Now that we have broken down our pattern a little bit, we want to draw the man silhouette. Activate the Pen Tool (P) and draw the silhouette as shown below.

Drawing the man silhouette

Step 6

Next, we want to draw another shape between the arms and the trumpet. Activate the Pen Tool (P) and draw the shape as shown below.

Finshing the drawing

Step 7

Now that we’ve finished drawing the silhouette, we want to change the color and duplicate the silhouette to fill the space. Select the silhouette and fill it in cream #f4eabc. Then, select the shape between the arms and fill it in green #10755b. Next, select both shapes and press Control-G to group them. Then, press Alt on the keyboard, drag the shape while pressing Shift, and press Control-D until the space is filled as shown below.

Filling the space with the man silhouette

6. How to Create the Waves, Triangles, and Background

Step 1

First, we want to break down the pattern a little bit. Activate the Rectangle Tool (M), fill it with cream #f4eabc, and draw a thin rectangle under the silhouette as shown below.

Step 2

Now, we want to draw the waves. Choose the Pen Tool (P), fill it with blue #17aaa3, and then place each wave between the silhouettes as shown below.

Adding the waves

Step 3

Next, we want to duplicate the triangles and circles from the top to the bottom. Select the triangles and circles and press Control-G to group them. Then, press Alt on the keyboard and drag the shapes under the rectangle as shown below. Hold Shift while duplicating. Next, select the duplicated elements, Right-Click, Transform > Rotate.

Adding the final elements

Step 4

Now that we have finished drawing all objects, we want to add our background. Create a new layer and name it background. Place this layer under all layers. Then, activate the Rectangle Tool (M) and fill it in green #10755b. Next, drag the rectangle all over the canvas as shown below.

Adding the background

7. How to Make the Pattern Seamless

Step 1

Now, we want to readjust the design to be able to make it seamless. All elements except the lines have to be inside the artboard. Activate the Selection Tool (V), select all the objects that are hanging on the sides, and resize them as shown below.

Re-arranging all elements inside the artboard

Step 2

Now that we have adjusted everything, we want to make a clipping mask to remove any objects hanging around the artboard. Activate the Rectangle Tool (M), fill it with white #ffffff, and click on the canvas. Change the Width and Height to 600 px. Then, select all elements, including the background, and Right-click > Make Clipping Mask.

Making a Clipping mask

Step 3

Here is the fun part! We can now make it seamless. Select the artwork, and then go to Object > Pattern > Make. Change the Width and Height to 600 px. 

Making it seamless
Final result

Congratulations! Our African Celebratory Pattern Is Done!

Great job! We’ve finished creating our African celebratory pattern. I hope this tutorial brought you a joyful mood and helped you to discover some new tips and tricks which will be useful for your future artworks! Keep creating.

End result