How to create a baroque pattern in Illustrator

How to create a baroque pattern in Illustrator

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a decorative pattern in Illustrator starting from a sketch. The process is really easy to follow. You’ll need only 10 steps to create a baroque stylished pattern. Have a try!


Step 1

This tutorial starts from paper. It’s more difficult (for me) to draw baroque ornament directly in Illustrator. Anyway decorations we are going to draw are really simple to do. So don’t worry, this is not a tutorial for professional drawers.

I love baroque, so after have spent hours creating these kind of illustrations, I’m able to re-create them without lots of troubles. If you need an inspirational reference, take a look at home wallpaper design galleries (for example

The last thing before start: I’m going to create a pattern using a baroque illustration, but you can use any kind of decorative element.

Here is my sketch. You will notice that it’s only a half of the whole decorative element. This is because Illustrator will allow us to reflect that half part to complete the decoration.

baroque pattern sketch

Step 2

Scan the sketch and open it in Illustrator. Select it and click on the arrow on the top-right of the layers window. Then select “template”. In this way we will reduce the opacity and lock the sketch layer in order to use it as a reference while working with the pen tool.

scan the ornament and open it in Illustrator

Step 3

Create a new layer and title it “ornament”. Press ctrl+R to activate the rule, then click and drag from the rule to create a vertical guide. Place the guide in correspondence of the sketched vertical line.

activate the rule and create a guide

Step 4

Set stroke color to black and fill color to transparent. Then start tracing every decoration.

Step 5

Once you’ve outlined all the decorations, select all of them and switch fill color to black and stroke color to transparent:

Step 6

Hide the guide. Then select all decorative elements, open the pathfinder window (Window>Pathfinder) and press Alt+Unite shape button. Then hit “Expand”. This will create a single compound path.

Step 7

With the path still selected, grab the reflect tool. A blue anchor point will appear. This is the point around what the shape will be reflected, so place it on a point along the right edge of the shape. Then press alt+shift and drag to create the second half of the illustration.

Why to press alt while reflecting? Because in this way you’ll create a duplicated shape

Why to press shift while reflecting? Because it makes easier to place the duplicated shape in the correct position

Step 8

Select both the shapes and merge them

Step 9

At this point you can delete the sketch layer. In order to create the pattern you have to establish the distance from a decoration to the next one. For this purpose create a rectangle and place it below the illustration (the color is not important. I choose this light green to show where to put the rectangle.)

Tip: do you want to align the rectangle with the illustration? Select both of them and use the align buttons in the option bar (top)

Step 10

Duplicate the illustration (click+alt on the illustration and drag). We will now divide it into 4 parts that will be placed at each corner of the rectangle. To do this grab the line tool and create 2 lines that intersect the illustration (the duplicated one. You can hide the first illustration with the rectangle for the moment):

Step 11

Divide the illustration in 4 parts using the pathfinder (hit the divide button) and place each part at each corner of the rectangle

Step 12

Switch the rectangle color to transparent. Select everything and create a group (ctrl+G). Finally drag the illustration into the swatches window. Compliments! You’ve just created a nice pattern

The pattern in action

Create a yellow rectangle. Copy (ctrl+C) and paste in front (ctrl+F). You have now 2 overlapped rectangles. Select the upper one then click on the pattern in the swatches window.

Note: I created a new pattern for the image below. I used the same decorative element but a different color (blue instead of black).

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(+add yours)
  1. Bart V

    Final result is really nice! Gonne try this for sure :)

  2. kisstheson

    nice will try.

  3. Another great proof for all in doubt – sketching is everything in graphic design! Great job!

  4. This is so beautiful and pretty simple! Thank you. :)

  5. Nice job… Thanks for the tut..

  6. Nice tutorial, thanks!

  7. Trying to do one myself atm, its actually an excellent exercise for any person interested in graphic design.
    .-= h1brd´s last blog ..Well-travelled websites =-.

  8. Great tutorial, very thorough and creative. Thanks for posting, I’m sure this resource will come in handy for quite a few of your readers.
    .-= Iowa pi law´s last blog ..None injured in manufacturing plant explosion =-.

  9. I use repeats daily as a textile designer in Illustrator… Great work. I couldn’t have taught it better myself! Legit.

  10. Good patern and cool tutorial.

  11. Graham

    Thanks very much for this tutorial…it’s very helpful and you’re very talented.
    I just have a question about ‘step 4′. When you say “Then start tracing every decoration.”…do you use just the pen tool to do that? Or is there a better way to ‘trace’.
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Graham,
      Yes I use the pen tool. It’s in my opinion the best tool if you need full control while tracing a sketch.
      Thanks for your kindly words

  12. Spectre-7

    Very nice tutorial, and a very lovely result. I do have one question though… when you say this:

    “Hide the guide. Then select all decorative elements, open the pathfinder window (Window>Pathfinder) and press Alt+Unite shape button. Then hit “Expand”. This will create a single compound path.”

    Wouldn’t it be easier just to hit the Unite without Alt? At least in CS4 and later, I believe that Alt+Unite causes the operation to remain live (editable, that is), while Unite without Alt automatically Expands the operation. Am I missing something here?

    Again, thank you for the wonderful tutorial and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more. :)

    • Hi mate,
      The only difference (I’m using CS4) is that alt+unite+expand creates a single path, while by pressing only “unite button” I have a group. I personally don’t love to create lots of groups in Illustrator, so when they are not necessary I prefer to create a single path. Anyway for the purpose of this tutorial you can use both solutions.

      Thanks for stopping by

  13. Very nice. Thanks for this detailed tutorial.
    .-= Waheed Akhtar´s last blog ..20+ Highly Detailed Black And White Illustration Collection =-.

  14. Danmaxito

    Awesome Tutorial!

  15. musc

    1000 x thanks for this well explained & excellent tut
    for a beginner like (and not knowing English well) the sample images help a lot

    thanks :)

  16. Awesome, step by step very nice tutorial

  17. Irene

    Thank you !! it’s so useful and easy to follow =)

  18. saza


  19. Amir Hashemi

    Thank youfor your great tutorials.
    could i translate your tutorial to my anguage and use it in my own website with mentioning the source?
    I will be happy to do that.
    thank you again.

  20. Ancient fox

    I like this tutorial, but my hand draw bad.I will not hand draw?I should be what to do?Hoping to hear your Suggestions?

  21. srishti


    Wow!!!! a very good tutorial.I request you to add a tutorial for advanced baroque designing..

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