If you follow me on Instagram you know I’ve been pattern crazy lately. Since I started to post the patterns, a lot of folks have asked about my process and how I’m creating them. I thought I’d demystify the process and share how I make them with you here. I’ve never taken a course in pattern design, this is just my method that I came to after playing around with making patterns over the years. I’m not sure if this is how everyone else does it but it works for me. If you’ve got some Photoshop skills, this will be pretty easy to replicate, if not, this will seem hella complicated so you may wanna head over to Design Sponge who has a pretty great tutorial by the wonderful Julia Rothman on repeating patterns that doesn’t require Photoshop) Read on to get the scoop on my meathod>>
1. I start off by doing watercolor sketches in my notebook. Simple enough, right?
2. Next I scan the page into the computer at 300DPI.
3. After I import the scanned jpg into photoshop, I cut out each shape/sketch using the Magic Wand tool or the Magnetic Lasso tool and paste them all onto separate layers.
4. Then I create a new document and make a square or rectangle shape from the Guides.
5. Next I start cutting and pasting the shapes into the square. I move them around until I like the way they look. I may tweak the colors at this stage to get the right tones. It’s OK if the shapes go outside the lines.
5. Once I’ve filled up the square, I turn it into a clean tile. And this is the trickiest part of the whole deal. You see how that grey feather on the left is poking outside the Guide? Well, using the Rectangular Marquee tool I cut the part that’s outside the box. I add a new Guide to mark the top of where the piece is going outside the line (as shown above) and paste it at that exact same place, but on the opposite side of the square.
6. Now you’ll notice that the part of the feather that was over the line, is now on the opposite side of the square. Next, I repeat this step with all of the pieces that are coming outside the square even a little bit. So if you look at the orange leaf in the upper left corner, you’ll notice the top of the leaf is now down on the bottom, left corner of the tile. Now be sure to save a version of your tile in PSD format, so that the layers remain in tact before moving to the next step.
7. Hide the background layer and Merge Visible Layers so that your tile is now all on one layer. Now you just select all, copy and paste your tiles to line them up together and to start the repeat.
8. Keep on adding pieces on all sides and make the repeat as small as four squares or as large as your computer will allow…
10. And that’s it! It really just takes some practice, but once you get it down it’s actually pretty amazing how fast and easy it can be to make a repeating pattern…watch out though, it’s addicting!
Once you have your repeat pattern done, you can use companies like Spoonflower or Fabric on Demand to design your own wallpaper, fabric or gift wrap. Wouldn’t it be fun to make fabric and upholster a chair or make curtains with your own watercolor sketches?! I can’t wait until I get to start to see my patterns appearing in jungalows around the world–and hopefully that will be happening soon–but more on that later…
Let me know if you have any questions!