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What Are Step and Repeat Banners?

Step and repeat banners are those large photo backdrops that you often see used for event photography during red carpet and fashion events as well as during press conferences. They typically have repeating patterns printed on them, usually logos and emblems of the host of the event as well as those of event sponsors. Today, step and repeat banners are also used to add a glamorous feel to any event, including proms, birthdays, weddings and company parties. There’s been a renewed interest in step and repeat banners as photos taken in front of them can create brand impressions when shared on social media.

Why do they call it a step and repeat?

Step and repeat simply refers to the process of creating a layout where images are repeated multiple times, usually in a uniform pattern. While you can print whatever you want on a step and repeat banner, this layout is popular for these banners as it allows brand impressions to be made regardless of the angle a photographer uses when shooting subjects in front of the banner.

How do you create a step and repeat in Illustrator?

There are several ways you can create a step and repeat pattern in Adobe Illustrator. The simplest way would be to manually select an object (typically a brand logo) and copy and paste them across your canvas.

To copy:
  • Select the the object you want to duplicate.
  • Hit “CTRL + C”. On a Mac, hit “Command +C”.

To paste the object: 
  • Hit “CTRL + V”. On a Mac, use “Command +V”.
  • Drag the duplicated object to the desired position on your canvas.

For a more professional look, you’ll probably want to align the objects you created. 

To align the duplicated objects:
  • Arrange them roughly into a row.
  • Next, select all the objects in that row and click on “Vertical Align Top” to automatically align all the objects along their top edge.
  • While all the objects are still selected, click ““Horizontal Distribute Center” to distribute the objects equidistant from each other.
  • Copy and paste these rows as needed.

How do you create a step and repeat in Indesign?

Adobe Indesign has a special function specifically for step and repeat patterns. The specifics will vary with each version, but in most cases you should be able to do it this way:

  • Select and position the object precisely where you want the step and repeat pattern to begin. If you need to create a pattern with a multiple objects, click on the Object menu and select the “Group” command to treat them all as one object.
  • Select the original object and choose "Step and Repeat" from the Edit menu.

The Step and Repeat dialog box will open.
  • Input the number of copies in the "Repeat Count" field and the distance in the vertical offset and horizontal offset fields
  • You can copy an object diagonally by changing both offset fields.
  • Click "OK."

Adobe InDesign will generate a step and repeat pattern of your object across the page. If it doesn’t look right, you can undo the generated pattern and redo the input values.

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