There’s a couple of methods for creating complex circular patterns in Adobe Illustrator. One technique uses pattern brushes, but it involves designing multiple patterns that seamlessly repeat, which can be a difficult task in itself. Alternatively, you can make use of Illustrator’s symbol feature to create a pseudo kaleidoscope effect where a segment of your design is duplicated around a centre point to form a mirrored effect. Follow my step by step Illustrator tutorial to learn how to create a vector mandala pattern of your own. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can build extremely detailed circular patterns with this process.

How To Create a Complex Mandala Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

This is the kind of complex mandala pattern we’ll be creating in this tutorial. It looks like it requires a lot of tedious drawing, but it’s actually quite simple thanks to the symbols feature in Adobe Illustrator. With this technique we can draw just a small segment of the design, then Illustrator will automatically construct the complete circular pattern.

Begin by creating a new document in Adobe Illustrator. Select the Polygon tool and click on the artboard to bring up the shape settings. The more sides your shape has, the more detailed the pattern will be. Enter 12, along with a radius of around 100mm.

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27 Comments

  1. So maaaany Thank u, Chris! really loved the outcome, plus I learned, like always, new fantastic methods and techniques! I’ll wait for the next one ;)

  2. I am professionally graphics designer.I love your tutorials.reat tutorial, I found what i was looking for and this is gonna help me a lot.Thanks a lot to the Team and Best of luck for still more to come!!

  3. Hey this is really awesome. I really love the articles you share. I just want to ask that if you know how to make word collage? Like there are 15-20 or more words and you adjust them horizontally and vertically to make a great shape for a text? If yes, please write an article or revert on my mail. Thank you in advance. :)

  4. Great tutorial (as always)! Extremly useful and easy to follow. I’m rather new to vector graphics and your blog is my favourite place to find some tips and try out some new techniques. Thanks a lot!

  5. That’s great, Chris! I’ve a little problem with the Pathfinder step, but it must be an equivocation from myself. I’ll follow your actualizations more often. Thanks

    • Hey Fabri

      What happens when you use the Pathfinder? Make sure you’re hitting the Divide button (first icon on the second row).
      It doesn’t appear to do anything until you Ungroup the objects, then the triangles can be individually selected.

  6. Thanks for this tutorial! I love the mandalas but was intimidated by what I assumed was hours of intricate work. This simple method made a beautiful mandala out of my rookie Illustrator drawing skills. Thanks again!

  7. I love this tutorial! I had some difficulty getting it to fill out the rest of the triangles and had to do a copy as we did in the beginning with the triangles. I didn’t get the warning message when I double clicked the first triangle so not sure what happened. Will try a new design tomorrow. I’m using CC version.

  8. What a fantastic tutorial! I never knew about the Symbols Panel. Thank you again for teaching me something new (again!). I can’t wait to try this out.

  9. Wow. What a killer tutorial!!!
    I learned so much from this one. Messed up my first attempt (managed to exit symbol edit mode plus several other errors).
    However, perseverance was rewarded and I managed to get it right second time through.
    To my shame, I’ve never used the arc or line segment tool (always getting by with the pen) so this alone was worth the price of admission!
    Like all the best lessons, it’s the possibilities for further development and experimentation that this technique suggests that are so exciting. My initial experiments with variable width profile lines are producing some great results (brushes less so!). Anyway, that’s the fun of it.
    Thanks Chris for a wonderful lesson. I realise that these must take a lot of effort to produce but it’s greatly appreciated.

  10. Great step by step tutorial. It looks a little complex, but I guess that’s the point in creating a complex pattern. The pattern is beautiful, though! Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. Thanks as always Chris. Great tutorial – always looking for ways to turn simple to complex quickly, and I can imagine applying these methods to a number of creative processes. Will be looking forward to the next one…

  12. Great tutorial! A little trick that might help if you need to go back and edit is to split your triangle down the middle from the get-go.

    Take your half triangle and convert that to a symbol, reflect/copy that symbol so you have the full triangle again made up of two symbols. Then continue on with duplicating around 12 times as before.

    This helps because then you don’t need to go back and forth between steps if you are making adjustments – it’s already reflected.

    • This was the first thing I did with my project. Also, if you are interested in taking this design and making it into a wallpaper or something…then you create a new file the size of your desktop wallpaper you want. Then drag and drop your new Mandela into the new art board. It will create a linked image. Then you just line up and tile the image until it fills the artboard. Once you have it all lined up, save that artboard. Any time you make changes in the original mandala file it will make the changes in the wallpaper file.

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