I’m really proud, and happy, that I followed through on my goal to start creating surface designs. I designed the first one in January, and decided to commit to “1 Surface Design a Month.” That goal, and the end of the month deadline, really pushed me to put in the work.
12 Surface Designs
January – Art Supplies
February – Valentine’s Day
March – Gardening
April – Dahlias
May – Sandcastles
June – Echinacea
July – Shells
August – Ice Cream Cones
October – Leaves
November – Nutcrackers
December – Toy Soldiers
I’m always asking you, “What’s your favorite?” And I would love to hear, but I’ll also tell you my favorites.
I really liked when I started using the technique of creating the ink lines and watercolor backgrounds separately and then merging them in Photoshop. I started this with the shell pattern. I think the watercolor really adds a depth that you can’t get with Photoshop brushes. I started this technique with the shells, and continued it with the leaves – which is my favorite design in this style.
My other technique is drawing the elements in my sketchbook and adding color in Photoshop. My favorite design, using this technique, is the Toy Soldiers. They are just so cute!
Will I be continuing with surface design in 2016? Absolutely! As you know, I’ve made the Nutcracker and Toy Soldier patterns available on Spoonflower, where you can have them printed as fabric or gift wrap. It is really interesting to see the designs printed and to think about how it will be used. It makes you think about the design, and what works and doesn’t. It’s a different perspective than just seeing it flat on the computer screen.
In the new year, I’ll be adding a few of the other “12 designs” onto Spoonflower. And I plan to continue designing one new one a month!
Here is my pattern design for September. As you may have seen, I’ve been drawing and painting feathers all month, so it’s seemed appropriate to turn them into a pattern. I pieced this pattern together from my sketchbook (see below). I wanted this pattern to be much tighter than ones I’ve designed so far this year. This tighter pattern, required more playing and arranging in Photoshop becauses once I thought the pattern was “set” and I tried repeating it, things would overlap and I’d have to readjust and try repeating it again.
If you know Photoshop and want to try creating a pattern, I’ve included my steps below.
Creating a pattern in Photoshop:
- Scan artwork
- In Photoshop: separate each element of your design into different layers
- Within your artboard, create the area for your “repeat” using guides. (translation: use guides to create a box within your artboard. You can expand the canvas size before this step.)
- Arrange your elements. They can go over the guides.
- On a separate layer outline the guides to make a box.
- Create a group with the box and element layers – call it “original”
- Duplicate the “original” group. Drag to the right so the left edge of the box touches the right guide
- Duplicate the group again. Drag to the left so the right edge of the box touches the left guide
- Select the three groups and duplicate them. Drag the 3 duplicate layers up, so the bottom of the boxes touch the top guide
- Duplicate the three groups again. Drag them down, so the top of the boxes touch the bottom guide
- If any adjustments need to be made – delete all but your “original” group, make the adjustments and repeat steps 7-10
- When you are happy with your repeating pattern, hide all the layers with the box outline.
- Crop to the guides to create your “repeat.”
Below, you can see my boxes. The center box is where I have my guides (which are not visible).
Slight variations on my feather pattern.
No distress in the background.
Distress shows yellow.
Which one do you like best? 🙂
Copyright 2015 Eileen McKenna. All rights reserved.
I didn’t even realize I loved trees until they kept popping up in my paintings and illustrations. Drawing feathers was more of an accident. I was painting a sunflower when the watercolors bled beyond the shape of the sunflower. I moved on to another version, putting this accident to the side. Over the next couple of weeks whenever I looked at this accident, I saw a feather. Eventually I added ink details to turn it into a feather. You can read more about that “happy accident” here.
Since this “accident,” I’ve draw a lot of feathers, especially over the last couple of weeks. Recently I sketched several feathers in my book. I wanted to add a color background to them, so I started over and drew more feathers on watercolor paper.
For two of the paintings I started with the simple outline of feathers, then painted the backgrounds, and a little color to some of the feathers. I added the feather details in ink after. On the third painting, I painted a feather shape with a pink, purple, blue blend and added ink details afterwards.
I have a good feeling my September pattern will end up being feathers! 🙂
Recently someone reached out to me on Instagram and asked if I’d like to submit a piece of art to be put on a tshirt and sold through their site. Since I’ve never gotten around to uploading my designs to one of those other sites (that put your design on all kinds of things), I thought, “Why not?”
I decided to create a custom piece for the tshirt and sent it off to them to see what they thought. Next thing I know it’s up on the site. How funny to see the models wearing my design!
If you are interested – you can purchase a tshirt here. Or maybe you want to submit one of your designs? 🙂