Early identification of problematic patterns in very large scale integration (VLSI) designs is of great value as the lithographic simulation tools face significant timing challenges. To reduce the processing time, such a tool selects only a fraction of possible patterns which have a probable area of failure, with the risk of missing some problematic patterns. We introduce a fast method to automatically extract patterns based on their structure and context, using the Voronoi diagram of line-segments as derived from the edges of VLSI design shapes. Designers put line segments around the problematic locations in patterns called “gauges,” along which the critical distance is measured. The gauge center is the midpoint of a gauge. We first use the Voronoi diagram of VLSI shapes to identify possible problematic locations, represented as gauge centers. Then we use the derived locations to extract windows containing the problematic patterns from the design layout. The problematic locations are prioritized by the shape and proximity information of the design polygons. We perform experiments for pattern selection in a portion of a 22-nm random logic design layout. The design layout had 38,584 design polygons (consisting of 199,946 line segments) on layer Mx, and 7079 markers generated by an optical rule checker (ORC) tool. The optical rules specify requirements for printing circuits with minimum dimension. Markers are the locations of some optical rule violations in the layout. We verify our approach by comparing the coverage of our extracted patterns to the ORC-generated markers. We further derive a similarity measure between patterns and between layouts. The similarity measure helps to identify a set of representative gauges that reduces the number of patterns for analysis.