What is Surface Pattern Design? It’s artwork that is created as a surface decoration. It can be patterns, hand-lettering and quirky illustrations!
Why Surface Pattern Design? Simple Answer. It’s used everywhere! Fabric design, household products, quirky phone cases, tee Shirts, you name it, you got it!
Talking about pattern design takes me back to when I started doing watercolors. I made one illustration a day for a month. And since I believe the future is digital, I decided to digitise them and convert them into patterns.
There were a few things that helped me do it but most of all it was the Procreate App. I enjoyed creating patterns and it got me excited to imagine how my merchandise would look like! I am inspired by the nature and used Spring flowers as my main subject. I ended up creating a series of floral watercolor illustrations. This acted as a base for my motif creation which was then converted into seamless repeating patterns.
Funny story, at first I created patterns which weren’t in fact seamless! I doubt anyone ever noticed on Instagram, shh! It was only with time that I realised what was missing. I guess I liked how my patterns looked anyway!
The most important skill to have to create patterns is your observing power. Observe the world around you. You can find inspiration in every nook and corner. I like to make a mood board of what inspires me and then come up with a sketch of how I want the illustration to look like. Make your own inspiration library. Organise those color combinations and photographs.
Once you have gathered ideas, the next step is to learn how to make an illustration. My personal recommendation is to learn a design software. It can be the Procreate App for iOS or Adobe Illustrator. Sounds intimidating? Don’t let it scare you. When I started, I knew nothing about these softwares either. But I can promise you that there are many resources available online. And remember, any progress is good progress!
That reminds me, practice, practice and practice! Try to create one pattern everyday. It doesn’t matter if it is incomplete. You can come back to it after days have passed by and work on it again. This will give you an insight into your personal style. And trust me, it will work wonders for your design portfolio!
There may be times when you think your pattern didn’t turn out great, but don’t trash it. You never know what you might feel when you look at it again with a fresh perspective.
It’s easy to be inspired on social media, but tread lightly. Find your own personal style and evolve it. Try to have a common theme and story behind the pattern and use similar color schemes. For example, it could be an underwater theme, a holiday design or a spring floral. This will show coherence and uniformity in your thought process.
Create a list of motifs you want to create in a pattern. Consider adding the top view, side view and front view to give it a variation. Don’t worry if there isn’t a lot of variation at first. You can always use a textural background to make it busier. That’s exactly what I did with my patterns!
Size matters. Create a pattern on a size that is scalable to a wallpaper design or maybe a tote bag! It breaks my heart when I realise that some of my patterns may come out too pixelated if I try to print them. Only because I was not mindful of the sizes when I started out!
Have fun. It’s important to have fun as you create as that immensely impacts your design. Play with the patterns, make two or three drafts and then pick the one you like the most. Sometimes inverting the colors can be a good idea!
So go ahead and use these tips to create your patterns while having fun and finding your own comprehensive process!
Before you know it, your audience will start enquiring about fabric design and maybe even some cool ceramics!