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Fixing lines in Illustrator patterns
By Jason McConnell on Dec, 18 2013

If you have used Illustrator to create patterns, you probably have come across white (or dark) lines in your patterns:
white lines

These little lines will show up in your patterns if your repeat isn’t created properly and sometimes even when you have created the pattern properly.

In this blog ill point out the common cause of these evil little lines as well as a few workarounds to fix them.


Step 1a: Check your repeat box (pre CS6)

* Check out our video training section for how to make seamless repeats if you are new to repeats.

In versions of Illustrator before CS6, a transparent box (we’ll call it a repeat box) is placed behind your pattern objects to tell illustrator to only repeat what is within this repeat box.

Sometimes the repeat box gets moved or isn’t the exact size as the color background box above it, so that can cause lines to appear in your patterns.

white-lines-precs6

You can check to see if that is the problem by zooming in to your pattern and go to View / Outline to see if your repeat box and background box are lined up properly.

white-lines-outline

Once the repeat box and background box are lined up properly, drag the pattern into swatches and try filling your objects again.

white lines fixed

You can also delete the existing repeat box and make a new one by copying the background box, go to Edit / Paste in Back and finally make the box you pasted in the back transparent fill and stroke.


Step 1b: Is your background box a different size than your pattern tile (CS6 and up)

In the new Pattern feature (which is the best feature ever!) it is easy to create a background box that isnt the exact size as your pattern tile or that isnt lining up properly with your pattern tile. When this happens it can create those white lines in your patterns.

white lines purple 3

Make sure that your pattern tile and background are the same exact size and that they are lined up properly. You can do this manually by zooming in real close and resizing the background box or adjusting the pattern tile.

You can also move all objects into the center of the background rectangle and then check the ‘Size Tile to Art’ box in the Pattern Options panel. This will re-size the Pattern tile exactly to your background box.

white-lines-purple1

Then uncheck the ‘Size Tile to Art’ box and move the objects around as you like and click Done when done.

white lines purple 2


Step 2: Still see lines? It could be a redraw issue.

If you still see thin white lines in your patterns, try zooming in and out to different zoom levels. Chances are that if you see the lines at some zoom levels but not others then this issue is just illustrator doing a bad job of redrawing the page at certain zoom levels.

white lines
no white lines

If you still see the lines at all zoom levels, then double check that your repeat box is lined up properly.


Step 3: Try turning off Anti-Aliasing

Another thing you can do is turn off Anti-Aliasing of artwork in Illustrator Preferences. Go to Illustrator / Preferences / General on a Mac or Edit / Preferences / General on a PC and uncheck the Anti-aliased Artwork option.

Illustrator Preferences

Not only will this fix some of those redraw issues with the white grid lines but it can actually help speed up Illustrator. Anti-Aliasing is the smoothing of the edges of your artwork and it is very taxing on illustrator, so turning it off will help Illustrator render your page faster when you zoom in and out, pan around or change any objects on your page.

Anti-Aliased Art off


Step 4: Last resort, add a second fill to your object

If you still see these little buggers and you know for sure that everything is correct with your repeat box (pre CS6) or the pattern tile (CS6-CC) then try adding a second fill to your object(s).

White lines

Select your object that has the pattern fill with the lines and go to the Appearance Panel. From there go to the Fly Out menu on the right side and choose Add New Fill. Change the bottom fill attribute color to the color that would work best (in my case green) and Voila no more lines!

You can also try changing the second fill attribute to the same pattern. Using the Direct Selection Tool, hold the Tilde Key ~ and nudge the pattern just a pixel or two up and over. This usually does a great job for me of getting rid of the lines if all else fails.

Appearance panel Add New Fill

No more lines

That’s all for this blog, thanks for reading!
Jason