Patterns in Graphic Design: Understanding What it Means and How to Use It

Graphic design contains many elements that fit together in a cohesive, highly effective whole. One of those elements is patterns. With effective use of patterns, you can help draw the eye, emphasize specific elements of your design, or make it easier for viewers to see exactly what you're focusing on as you create and share your designs.

What Does Using Patterns Mean in Graphic Design?

Patterns are repeating elements in your graphic designs. In order to have a pattern, you must have at least two elements working in concert with one another. You can have a pattern that takes up your entire design, which can emphasize continuity and repetition, or a pattern that simply occurs a couple of times over the whole design. A design counts as containing a pattern as long as the separate design elements repeat in that pattern, regardless of the size or number of elements.

How to Use Patterns in Graphic Design

Texture and patterns can accomplish several key goals in your piece. They can:

  • Define surfaces
  • Show or impact scale
  • Convey a specific design style
  • Add visual interest to a particular area of the design
  • Draw attention to a specific area

You can use patterns in your designs in several key ways.

1. Use patterns related to logo or branding colors to help create branded merchandise.

Patterns often appear across branded merchandise and content for various industries. For example, you can use a repeating pattern based on your logo or the colors you often use to help create stationary or to design a header for a website.

2. Use patterns and textures to bring your design to life.

In the real world, items have texture and pattern. They aren't simple, static backgrounds. By adding textures and patterns to your design, you can enhance the appearance of your design and bring it to life.

3. Incorporate patterns into areas of the design that you want to highlight.

By incorporating patterns as part of your overall design, you can often make those areas of the design stand out. You can also use patterns to call attention to specific elements that you want to repeat.

4. Use repeating patterns to help highlight the most important elements in your design.

By using the same patterns, you can evoke a sense of familiarity and help show what you want viewers to focus on most. Repeating patterns can help showcase the most important elements and pieces of your graphic designs.

5. Break the pattern to help different elements of your piece stand out.

Including a pattern creates a sense of visual familiarity and lets viewers know what to expect next. Breaking the pattern can help highlight a specific element or attribute, bringing attention to that area. Breaking a pattern creates a distinct visual effect and can evoke an emotional reaction in your viewers.

6. Establish a pattern that viewers will associate with specific elements.

In comics, you might show a pattern that goes with a specific character or setting. When creating websites, you might establish a pattern that your viewers can note to differentiate between specific pages. Viewers may not actively note the pattern, but they will passively take it in, setting their expectations and gradually connecting that pattern with those specific details.


From geometric patterns to natural patterns that incorporate the world around you, you can utilize patterns as a highly effective part of the graphic design process. CorelDRAW can help you design those initial patterns or reproduce them to design a cohesive final product that will draw attention to where you want it. Check out our software today to start designing.

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