General discussions on Technical Illustration
prof. hemispheres
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Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:08 am

Illustrator: Patterns where the repeat isn't so noticeable..

by prof. hemispheres Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:55 am

Hey all,
It's been ages since I posted here, but every once in awhile I need some advice. I have an architectural front elevation that I am drawing in color...very detailed. I am working on the roof now. One of the things I am running into is creating a pattern that looks good for the roof shingles. Everything that I come up with has a very noticeable repeat to it. It's not so bad if you drop the pattern into a small shape, but if you drop it into a big shape, the repeat becomes very noticeable. Also, I hate creating "patterns" in Illustrator, and really wish there was someone out there that sold them in various a large set of architectural roof patterns would be nice.

The problem with this pattern is that it appears on the real house that the shingles alternate in shade, but it's super pattern at all. Which is why I'm kinda not sure what to do with this.

Anyway, here is a pic of the roof:

And here is my drawing... I'm actually not too bothered with what I came up with, but if you zoom in, it's obvious the pattern is not right, but at the level it's sitting at right now, it doesn't look bad. Ignore the spots/lines that look emphasized (dark)...this is just from reducing on the screen and screen capture affecting it's look. I am going to add transparent-to-black fades, multiplied over these shingles just to give it some depth.

Any advice for making this look really nice?
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Illustrator: Patterns where the repeat isn't so noticeab

by JamesProvost Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:24 pm

Looking good, very detailed!

Check out this script called Vary Hues. It allows you to vary or randomize the fill color, stroke color or opacity of the selected objects.

In the case of the roof, what you could do is make a copy of the roof object with the shingle-pattern fill to a new layer. Then Expand the artwork and ungroup it so that each shingle is its own object. Select them all and make their fill color black. Then run the script (File > Scripts > Vary Hues) and enter values to vary their opacity (eg. 0,50 to randomize their opacities between 0% and 50%).

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 9.12.46 AM.png

If you don't like the results you can undo the script and try again with different values. You could also play with the layer's blending modes and overall opacity.

If you feel that there are too many tiles being varied, or you want more contrast, it looks like this script would allow you to randomly select a percentage of the objects, which you could then delete or set to 0% opacity.

When you're happy with the results, group all the random shingles, make another copy of the roof object to this layer and use it to make a clipping mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make)

The drawback to this method is that the shading/randomness is separate from the pattern, so they could get misaligned. To solve this, you could make a new pattern with a larger tile (more shingles) and follow the same steps. You'll have to find the balance between tile size and the amount of randomness.

Hope that helps. If there's an easier way, I'd love to hear it!
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