Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

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Inkscape Pattern Fill TutorialIf you’re looking to create Inkscape patterns using the pattern fill command, it’s much easier than you think.  This is a great technique to use for many purposes, plus you can get really creative without a lot of effort.  Inkscape is one of the best pattern making software tools to create repeating patterns from tiled patterns.  You basically make one tiled pattern vector and repeat the pattern many times over.  The Inkscape pattern is created from a clone tile pattern using either a design you create or an image you like.  The easy and creative part is at the end using the Inkscape object to pattern command to apply your pattern to a design.

Let’s get started making a simple Inkscape pattern vector design from a royalty-free bit of clip art I’ve downloaded from   I’ll modify it for use in my Inkscape pattern than I’ll use the Inkscape pattern fill command to apply my pattern to my Inkscape design.

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I found this elephant but since it’s a bit too complicated for a simple pattern I’ll modify it.  I’ve shown the original elephant I found; the blue-purple and pink versions are my basic design that will become my Inkscape pattern.

Elephants for Inkscape pattern

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

Pre-pattern Steps

To start, I imported the EPS file into Inkscape (File > Import ) then made several duplicates (Right-click > Duplicate or just use CTRL+D).  Just for the record although I don’t go into the step by step details here, I’ve used the Ungroup command to separate the elephant elements (eye, ear, body, and flowers) and then used the Path > Combine to combine the body and flowers into one.   I’ve also made a second copy (shown below) where I selected the entire elephant combined all elements to get the elephant silhouette that I’ll eventually fill with my pattern.

Elephant silhouette For Inkscape Pattern Fill

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

Picking the Inkscape Pattern Colors Using Inkscape Swatches

I picked my Inkscape pattern colors from 2 Inkscape swatches (Gingham and Baby Cameo) that I made earlier in another posting here (60 Free Inkscape swatches).  Inkscape swatches provide color combo ideas I can apply to my elephants before creating my Inkscape pattern.  In fact, the Inkscape swatches are a great way to quickly test color combinations until I find what I like.  I love using Inkscape swatches of pre-set complementary color combinations.  I would normally use Adobe’s Kuler or Palettrons Color Designer to provide a starting point for complementary color combinations but with swatches, I can skip that step.

Color List Fb

I chose a set of “baby” pastels that I liked. If you’d like my FREE Inkscape Swatch files for your designs, simply subscribe and get access.

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If you’d like to know how I quickly make my Inkscape swatches that I use for complementary color combinations, just check out my article “60 Free Inkscape Swatches”.

Importing My Free Elephant Graphic

First I’ve imported the free elephant EPS file into Inkscape (File > Import ), made the modification to merge the flowers into the body, and made the color changes by selecting the areas of the elephant while using my swatch.  Next I right clicked and make a duplicate of the blue-purple elephant and changed the colors to pink.

Creating The Inkscape Pattern

Under Document Properties > Grid  I set my X and Y spacing t0 20 pixels and my major line to 10 pixels.

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

Next I created a temporary grey square as a background.  Selecting the square and the blue-purple elephant I used the Align and Distribution to center the elephant. I actually had to also left-aligned elephant with square background and fit the elephant inside the square.  I repeated this with the pink elephant.

Next I created the first part of the pattern by selected my blue-purple elephant and going to Edit > Create Cloned Tiles and made a  2 x 2 set of cloned tiles (4 tiles total).  I selected the original elephant square and moved that to the side.  I removed opposite tiles as shown. Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

This was also repeated with the pink elephant but with the reverse tiles removed.  Once combined as a group this became my tile for the Inkscape pattern.

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

Creating the Tiled Clones – Repeating Patterns

Then selecting this new group as my tile I used the Edit > Clone > Create Tiled Clones and set the variables for a 4 x 4 set of tiles.  I went back to the “master tiles” (aka the original blue-purple and pink elephant to change the grey background to white.

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial

Selecting the “master tile”, right-click and select Group.  Right-click again and select “enter Group #xxxx”.  The XXXX will be specific number associated with the group.  Then click the background and change the color to white.  Repeating this for the pink elephant with make the file tiles all have a white background.


Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial


Using The Inkscape Pattern Fill Command

Now I use the tiles to fill in the elephant silhouette.  I select the silhouette, click on Fill and Stroke and select “Pattern”.  My newly created Pattern for this Inkscape design will be listed at the top.  By changing the size of the tiles I can change the size of the fill in the elephant.

Here’s the final design

Inkscape Pattern Fill Tutorial


You can see me make this.  Just check out the video.

If you liked this consider sharing it. Thanks.


how to create inkscape patterns using the inkscape pattern fill command

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