Sunday 6 January 2013

Repeat Patterns

This is just a tiny little post about making repeat patterns. I've been meaning to teach myself offset pattern making forever and finally found some YouTube and blog tutorials this weekend. It has been such great fun that I though some of you might enjoy having a go yourselves. I have linked to the guides I used here: Illustrator, Photoshop, Paper. The links are for both digitally and hand making patterns. My style of work means that I end up doing a mix of both, usually drawing out the elements by hand and manipulating them no my computer. 

One of my aims this year is to share more information about my work precesses, providing folks find it interesting enough to read. Below I'm showing a few of the steps I took to create a design which uses a repeat pattern.

1. The first step for me is usually coming up with an idea but in this case I decided to draw up the Grumpy Cat Christmas card I had already thought of so I jumped straight into the hands on stuff. My designs start life as crappy little thumbnail drawings, as shown below. Sometimes these are in sketchbooks but more often than not they are on napkins, receipts or the back of my hand.
2. Only a small percentage of my thumbnails get drawn up. It's funny how many ideas that seem great in a light bulb moment turn out to be utter nonsense. I have two drawing styles one is semi cartoony and one is more sleek illustration. The semi cartoony slightly crappy style is much more naturally how I like to draw and I opted for this route for Grumpy Cat mark 2. Below you can see the pattern elements as well as the main illustration (I've cut them up so they fit on the scanner).
 3. Once the images are scanned in I play with colour and placement before offsetting the design and turning it into a pattern. One thing I picked up at art school is that patterns for fabrics and wrapping paper should work which ever way they are rotated. This is why some of the cats faces are side ways and upside down.
4. Here's the pattern being used as part of the background within the finished illustration.
5. And here are a couple of other patterns I made over the weekend. I kind of want this one as a dress. Might have to join Spoonflower and learn how to sew to make that a reality. 
6. I think this one still needs work, it's made from the fruit and veg illustration I did for the Seasons Eatings calendar.
Making patterns is fun. I think I'll be making a few more and hopefully will get better the more I do. I highly recommend giving it a go. 


  1. Nice work Colleen! Thanks for the links, been thinking about doing some research into it myself but you've done the hard yards for us already! Such a honey!

  2. I love this post! And would love to see some of your designs on Spoonflower :)

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