Create Square, Diamond, Hex Repeating Grid Patterns

Create interesting repeating grid patterns with the Hatch Fill and Pattern Fill components in the Ortelius Style Inspector. A wide variety of repeating patterns, including square and hexagonal grids, are available in the default style set. Here’s how to get creative with your own.


Using the Hatch Fill Component

Simple grid patterns are made super easy with Hatch Fill. First draw a largish shape on your drawing canvas. With this shape selected your new style will be applied so you can view your pattern as you create it.

  1. Open the Style Inspector and choose “New Style” from the drop-down Action Menu (looks like a gear).
  2. To create any regular grid, you’ll overlay two sets of lines at 90-degree angles from each other. Do this by adding “+” a Hatch Fill component and setting your line style. You can adjust color, width, spacing, and even make rough wobbly lines.
  3. Next, under the Action Menu, choose “Duplicate Style Component” to add an exact copy. In this second Hatch Fill component, change the angle of the style so it is 90-degrees from the first (for demonstration we’ve also changed the color).
  4. You’ve just created your first grid! Name the style and add it to the Library if you want to keep it for future use.

Grid Using Hatch Fill

Try a diamond pattern by setting the first Hatch Fill angle to 45-degrees and the second Hatch Fill to 135-degrees. Voila, a diamond grid!

Using the Pattern Fill Component

For more complex grids use the Pattern Fill component. In the Style Inspector, choose “New Style” from the drop-down Action Menu. To create your custom fill pattern, we need to create the smallest possible element that can be repeated in a pattern. The following shows a hexagonal pattern, and the red rectangle shows where the pattern repeats:Repeating Pattern in Hex Grid

  1. First create the drawing element(s) that will be the building block for your pattern (see the hint below for hex patterns). In your drawing area, use the drawing tools to draw the repeating portion of your pattern. On most grid patterns, the key is to have equidistant lines for a regular grid.
  2. After you’ve completed your drawing element, copy it and work with the copy (that way you’ll have the original if you want to tweek it a bit more). Working with the copy, select your drawing objects and use the Graphics > Combine > Append function from the main menu. (This is mostly done for efficiency – to make the shape smaller and simpler. You could just as easily group them together, but Ortelius likes Append since it creates a single shape. It’s smaller on disk and probably adds slightly to performance since there’s less data to read.)
  3. Then, simply copy and paste the graphic into the pattern-well in the Style Inspector to create the repeating pattern. Adjust your pattern settings (size, spacing, etc).
  4. Some patterns will use more than one instance of the Pattern Fill component. For instance, a hexagonal grid requires two Pattern Fill components – one for the left side of the pattern and one for the right.
  5. Name the style and add it to the Library if you want to keep it for future use.
Left and right side of hex pattern elements, with orange spacers

Left and right side of hex pattern elements, with orange spacers

HINT: With a hexagonal grid, we need two pattern elements (the left and right sides of the pattern) and spacers need inserted to achieve the desired results. Make the color of your spacers fully transparent so they don’t show on your end result (here we’ve colored them orange). Create one side of the element first, then group, copy/paste, and flip it to create the other element. Look at an existing hex pattern from the Style Inspector to get ideas on the settings. Finally, if you will be layering the grid pattern on top of your map, make sure there is no solid fill as part of your pattern.