Sunday, January 16, 2011

Learning the Art of Pattern Making

(fabric image courtesy Spoonflower.com)

I'm happy to say that, Yes, you can teach a middle-aged, let's say, kitten, new tricks! Somehow I don't feel like calling myself a dog - nothing against my sweet white shepherd.

I've been looking for ways to turn my paintings and designs into fabric. My first problem, however, was how to create a repeating pattern. Back in my art school days I took the required fabric design class, but back then we didn't use computers to create our patterns, we actually did it by hand. So, I knew the basic concept of how to do it with a new design specifically created using those techniques. It was time consuming, though, and was difficult to incorporate my current painting images. Then my husband mentioned - hey, why don't you search for info on the net? Of course. And what do you know, right away I came to this article by Sara Elands. Perfect!

Great article! And I had all the necessary tools right in my Photoshop Elements program. (Definitely use the article for more definitive steps and snapshots right out of Photoshop.) I am now ready to begin!

So, I started with my "Finding Sparrows" design, which seemed like a nice simple image to learn the steps in the process. And then I...

  1. Erased the turquoise background in the painting
  2. Opened a new document in a fat quarter size (18 x 21 in) and started pasting copies of my little sparrow
  3. Rotated and flipped the various sparrow images
  4. flattened my layers
  5. Used the filter "other" to offset the image first vertically
  6. Moved and adjusted sparrows to better fill the gaps
  7. flattened my layers again
  8. Then offset horizontally
  9. Moved and adjusted again
  10. flattened my layers
  11. Cont. steps 5 - 10 until I felt there were no gaps in my pattern
  12. Erased the background (so that it would go over other patterns with just the sparrow and no white background)
  13. Then created a pattern by selecting "all", "edit", "define pattern"
I could then fill any size image with a repeating pattern of this design. I chose to do another pattern in stripes, and then combine the 2 patterns. It was a great way to practice the techniques in the article. Next, I'll try it again with a painting and blending the edges together after I offset the image. We'll see how it goes... and if all is well, you'll find my designs available for purchase on fabric in a variety of sizes/yardage on Spoonflower!
(fabric image courtesy Spoonflower.com)

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