Drawing a Fishnet in Illustrator

Fishnet patterns show up in functional and decorative contexts.
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Whether it forms part of a fishing device or a pair of stockings, a fishnet pattern consists of repeated diamond shapes formed by intertwined ropes, strings or threads. Drawing a fishnet manually or attempting to create it with a set of diagonal lines can be a time-consuming exercise, especially given the difficulty of deciphering the angle to which you must rotate intersecting sets of parallel strokes to form the grid you need. You can speed the process of building these kinds of repeating patterns in Adobe Illustrator through the program's shape-drawing tools and its keyboard commands for duplicating objects.

Press "Ctrl-F10" to open the Stroke panel. Set the weight to the default of 1 point, and then press "D" to set the Fill and Stroke colors to their respective defaults of white and black.

Press "M" to activate the Rectangle tool. Click on your artboard to open the Rectangle dialog box so you can enter dimensions and create a shape of a specific size.

Enter "12 pt" for the width and "24 pt" for the height of your rectangle. You can use other dimensions that maintain the same one-to-two ratio between width and height. Click the "OK" button to create your shape.

Open the "Object" menu, select the "Path" submenu, and then choose "Add Anchor Points." Illustrator adds a new anchor point exactly at the midpoint of each line segment of the rectangle.

Press the hyphen key on your keyboard to switch to the Delete Anchor Point tool, and then click on the anchor point at each of the four corners of the rectangle. Your rectangle turns into a diamond shape.

Open the "View" menu and verify that you're using the Smart Guides feature. If no check mark appears in front of the feature name, select it in the menu to activate it.

Press "V" to switch to the Selection tool. Press the "Alt" key, click and hold on the anchor point at the top of the diamond-shaped path, and then press the "Shift" key to constrain the movement of the shape as you drag downward to create a duplicate. Release your pointing device and keyboard keys as soon as you see the Smart Guides message "Intersect," indicating that you created a duplicate with a top anchor point that coincides with the bottom anchor point of the original shape. Press "Ctrl-D" repeatedly to continue creating aligned copies of the diamond shape.

Marquee around the column of diamond shapes to select all of them. Press the "Alt" key, click and hold on the anchor point at the left corner of the topmost diamond-shaped path, and then press the "Shift" key to constrain movement as you drag to the right to create a duplicate of the entire column of shapes. Release your pointing device and keys when you see the Smart Guides message "Intersect," indicating that you duplicated the selection with the left anchor points of the copies coinciding with the right anchor points of the originals. Press "Ctrl-D" repeatedly to continue creating aligned copies of the column of shapes.

  • You can't join closed shapes together to form a single object, and you can't join more than two anchor points. To force a fishnet pattern comprised of multiple shapes to fill like a single object, select all the diamond shapes, and then press "F8" to turn them into a compound path.
  • Information in this article applies to Adobe Illustrator CS6 and CC. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
  • To remove extraneous anchor points, press "A" to switch to the Direct Selection tool, and then "Shift-click" on them to select them. Click on the unlabeled Remove Selected Anchor Points button in the Control panel to remove all of them in one step.
  • To allow background tone to show through the fishnet, marquee around all your diamond shapes with the Selection tool, click on the Fill box in the Tools panel, and then select the None swatch below it to remove the opaque fill.
  • To make the fishnet look worn and stretched, apply the Roughen filter at low settings. Start with two percent for size and 10 to the inch for detail, with the Points control set to "Corner."

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.