Going back to the foundations of things, I actually learned the proper definition of the basic repeat pattern today. Although it might seem too simple to define, it does comes in handy for when you contrast it with more complicated patterns. So far I have only really experimented with the basic repeat. It’s exactly what you think it is actually. Also called the full-drop repeat, it means you are tiling your swatch one next to the other, left and right along a horizontal line. Then row by row of course…so a huge grid is formed to cover your surface area. It’s easiest to see with a simple element, such as my little curly tail drawing below.
This is sometimes called a straight repeat or square repeat as well. To contrast with this simple repeat pattern, you might have seen fabric where the swatch definitely looks like it is staggered up and down. That is when you get into the different repeat pattern options. For example, in reviewing fabrics on the Spoonflower site, you will have the option to choose from basic repeat, half-drop, half-brick, and mirror repeat. A quick glance shows you that there are differences in how you choose to repeat your work.
The basic repeat pattern is generically what you can do in Photoshop and Illustrator, using the “Define pattern…” commands. For the other types, I suspect you can figure out what the eventual swatch should be to create the same effect, using the same tools. In fact, with a bit of sketching I know that it won’t be too hard to test out how those various repeat patterns will look. However, there are software programs or plugins that make it easier.
Either way, I am still a bit confused in that…you certainly have to know what type of repeat pattern you will be using in the end to finish off your designs. To ensure that the edges wrap properly for the sprawling type of images and designs…rather than a single element. I wonder if designers usually just go with the basic repeat, because it’s easier! The other patterns come in handy, if that is what you were planning to create anyway. Hmm…definitely a question for the veterans out there. I suppose it will make more sense as I design more and more patterns.