Doesn't this feel like the most un-May May in the world? I swear it's rained and poured for 756 days now. While the sunshine is AWOL, I've been working on a nice little summery picnic brief! I wanted to share the process of creating my recent patterns as I love seeing projects grow from ideas into full blown adult outcomes and I thought you might love seeing it too.
The Brief & The Moodboard
I like to start a brief by gathering some inspiration. I tend to take myself out on walks or to certain places depending on the project subject. Pinterest is also a great source for inspiring imagery but I do like to be careful to focus on photographs and vintage illustrations/advertisements rather than fellow illustrators. I made a long list of words that I associate "picnic" with. Those words lead my individual, detailed searches to make up my moodboard along with my own imagery. At this point, I tend to create a colour palette from the common colours in my moodboard as this will be a starting point for the pattern making process. I've linked my Picnic Pinterest board here so you can find all the sources to each image.
Initial Ideas & Sketches
This is one of my favourite parts of the pattern making process. I just like to drawn out and jot down anything I have in my head with the brief in mind following on from collecting inspiration. There were little themes I knew I definitely wanted to explore. One of them was strawberries! I definitely have summer on my mind as all I could think of was a sunny pattern made up of wild strawberries. I wasn't sure whether I wanted it to be a cute, ditsy print or a larger print at this point, but I did have a vision of fabric so that would determine the scale of the design for me. This board was made in Procreate on my iPad as I can sketch on lots of layers and lay them out in a cohesive way that made sense to my process.
Expanding on the Strawberry Theme & Creating Design Element
The fun bit - designing! The next step was to create the actual design elements that I wanted in the pattern. I was experimenting on the Adobe Fresco app and the live brushes are AMAZING! There are watercolour and oil paintbrushes. They mimic the actual materials so well. I preferred the oil paint texture and thought the blending was really authentic looking. So I created these simple, painterly strawberry elements to make up the pattern and experimented with layouts and colour ways.
Making the Pattern
This was only the second repeating pattern I've made.. ever. So I'm still learning the different methods and techniques of creating a seamless design. And let me tell ya, it ain't easy! I read tutorial after tutorial, watched a bunch of videos and everyone did it in a completely different way. This pattern was made on Procreate using a grid method to create a tile that can be repeated seamlessly. I've since learnt a very simple method on Adobe Photoshop which has changed my life but I do like the Procreate grid method, even if it is very time consuming!
I was super proud of this pattern! I liked the painterly feel of the design elements. But as I started working with it, I realised, technically, it wasn't the best. The scale wasn't how I would like it and the elements were pixelated in test prints. At this point, I was disheartened. I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm very dramatic (!!!), so I was ready to give up on pattern making forever. I can draw and I can paint, but I'm not clued up on the technical design requirements side. So, I let myself be dramatic and curse my past self for choosing Fine Art as a degree instead of Graphic Design or Illustration. I then saw my lovely pal, and now my mentor and receiver of panicked WhatsApp messages, Becki. She gave me a super helpful technical checklist for creating ready to print work and I went away and googled for hours. Stuff like, RGB and CMYK, TIFFs, PDFs, DPI.. I mean.. Mind. Blown. The next step now was to just go back and practice. Relearn what I thought I knew. Try again!
The Second Attempt
Referring back to the same initial strawberry sketches and some past sketchbook work, I redesigned the elements that made up the pattern. Now I was able to actually create a simple seamless pattern, I wanted to produce a design which was full and lively. I am so so pleased with the outcome. I used Procreate for all the elements, making sure I worked on a larger canvas so the DPI would be the right size. When I was happy with the final pattern tile, I imported it into Adobe Photoshop and converted the colour profiles so it was ready for print. Test prints galore, I finally got the colours perfect and I am so proud of this little pattern.
The aim of my brief is to create a set of cohesive patterns and motifs that can be used on prints or cards that would come across as a strong collection. I'm still work on the cohesive bit while I still get the hang of all the technicalities but I'm excited about it! I will be sharing the full collection in my newsletter next week as well as launching this month's limited edition print for subscribers to get first grabs as there will only be 15 of each colour way. I shared the print design over on my Instagram, if you'd like to take a peek!
Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate any feedback and ideas of what you'd like to see and read about on the blog. It will be a mix of portfolio processes and sketchbook scans with some rambly chats along the way!