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When I think of patterns, the first thing that comes to mind is fabric. While Seamless Studio ($49, 15-day free trial) can certainly generate beautiful patterns for anything from blankets to sundresses, you can also use it to design gorgeous custom wallpapers (for your real walls, as well as for your desktop), and elegant website backgrounds.
The tricky part about making a seamless pattern is… well, making it seamless. It’s easy to start up a vector drawing application (such as the free Inkscape) and throw some basic shapes on a canvas. But how do you make sure your design can be cut into one basic square which then lines up to a beautiful pattern when repeated again and again?
Seamless Studio makes this effortless. Your canvas is that basic square. That square is surrounded by multiple “view-only” copies of itself. As you drag a shape onto the square, you instantly see it multiplied, and can see how it impacts the whole pattern. Perhaps a design element looks good when looking at the basic block of the pattern, but makes the whole pattern too busy when you look at it from a distance. With Seamless Studio, you can instantly tell.
The program comes with a large collection of shapes you can use in your pattern, divided into thirteen categories, such as food or transportation. You can also import your own shapes in Seamless Studio, as long as they’re in SVG format (a format used for vector graphics). And since the shapes used are vector-based, they remain crisp when scaled and rotated.
Seamless Studio offers two modes for working with color: One is called “Custom Colors,” and is pretty much what you would expect: It lets you individually color any element in your design with a color of your choosing. You can end up with a pattern that has 30 colors if you’d like (no gradients, though).
The second mode is called “Colourlovers Template,” and imposes a constraint of five colors. The idea is to select any five-color palette out of the thousands shared on the Colourlovers website, and use just those colors to style your creation. Once your pattern is ready, Seamless Studio provides you with an easy way to contribute back to the community and upload it directly to Colourlovers.
One feature missing from the current version of Seamless Studio is easy palette import from Colourlovers (or any other source for that matter). You must manually specify the Hex or RGB code for each of your five colors, and there is no way to save palettes for later use. Importing palettes is a feature planned for a future release.
Seamless Studio runs on Adobe Air, which is a nice framework but is not without its quirks: When a sub-window (such as the Options dialog) was open and I clicked the Seamless Studio taskbar icon, the main window appeared and covered the dialog, and it took me a moment to figure out why the app was frozen (it was waiting for input in the hidden dialog). I just ran it again, and the dialog snapped back into focus.
It's a niche application, but Seamless Studio is good at what it does. If your job (or hobby) call for some original seamless patterns, this is an app well worth checking.