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    Tiling (How to Create Repeating Patterns)

    If you’d like to take an element of your design and make it a repeating pattern (for example on rolled wrapping paper), you can tile it in two ways: Horizontal or Tile. There's a tiny bit of math, but these tips help simplify the process. Just remember, the magic number is 36!



    In the design tool, select Layers->Design Placement and choose the “Horizontal” option. With this setting, your design area is a 36” wide x 30” tall panel that repeats horizontally. 


    To get clean seams where one panel ends and the next one starts, use tile size widths that are whole number factors of 36 (for example: 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, or 36). 


    In the following examples, the design element is a single purple circle. We'll use it to create different repeating patterns of the circle.

    Remember, your panel is 36" wide x 30" tall. So when tile size is set to 6"x6", you get a panel that is 6 circles wide (36 ÷ 6 = 6) and 5 circles tall (30 ÷ 6 = 5)



    But see what happens when you use an 8"x8" tile size for the purple circle. There are 4.5 circles across your 36" x 30" panel now (36 ÷ 8 = 4.5), which results in an uneven seam when the panel starts repeating horizontally. 36 ÷ 8 does not result in a whole number! 


    But when you change the tile size to 9"x9", you get a panel that is 4 circles wide (36 ÷ 9 = 4) and 3.33 circles tall (30 ÷ 9 = 3.33) because that's what fits in your 36"x30" panel. Notice that you get a cut off circle along the bottom edge, but you get clean seams when the panel repeats horizontally again because dividing 36 by 9 results in a whole number.


    Remember, It’s easier to use square tile sizes where the width and height are equal and are whole number factors of 36 (2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, or 36). But feel free to experiment with rectangular tiles and other values too!



    The second method of tiling is to choose the “Tile” option for Layers->Design Placement. With this setting, it’s best to use tile size settings 6"x6", 3"x3", 2"x2", or 1"x1" for clean repetition of your design element throughout the entire pattern. 


    With this setting, every 36”x30” panel is divided into a grid of 6”x6" squares. The panel itself is always 6 squares wide and 5 squares tall. However, the design area you work in now is one of these 6” squares and your tile size setting creates a “virtual” tile that tries to fit in one of these 6” squares.

    It's a bit confusing, so let's look at some examples.


    To start, setting the tile size to 6"x6" gives you a very clean grid because your element is the same size as the 6”x6" square. See how there is one circle in the design area and it repeats 6 across and 5 tall in the preview. With a 6"x6" tile size, the entire design area fits exactly into one of these squares. Nice! 



    When you change the tile size to 3"x3", you now have 4 circles in the 6”x6" square. The "virtual tile" size is now only half as wide and half as tall as the 6"x6" square. Notice how this looks in the preview now.



    But if you set your tile size to 12"x12" only ¼ of your virtual tile can fit in the 6”x6" square because the "virtual tile" is twice as wide and twice as tall as the 6"x6" square. This means only this portion of your design element is visible to repeat in the pattern.



    When Layers->Design Placement is set to “Tile”, it’s best to use tile size settings 6"x6", 3"x3", 2"x2", or 1"x1" for clean repetition of your design element throughout the entire pattern.

    Tiling can be a powerful tool to help you create lovely, beautiful patterns over a large surface. Try out the tips in this article. Experiment with different tile sizes and patterns. And remember the magic number is 36!