My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


Leave a comment

Free Pattern: Sew a Super Deluxe Drawstring Backpack!

Free Pattern: Sew a Super Deluxe Drawstring Backpack
Mary Earle-Sigler of the Daily Sew, 
has created a drawstring bag “that you could sew with little experience, with ease, that could be sewn in almost any type of fabric and possibly some you already own. A carry-all for any size, any gender, and could be made for any personality or in any style with the choice of fabric (did someone say suede?) Plus there’s plenty of surface space for embellishing, painting, patching or bedazzling.” Mary says, “You can sew this bag. It isn’t difficult and I provide you with very detailed, step by step instructions with a lot of photographs.”

Visit thedailysew.com to download your Super Deluxe Drawstring Bag pattern and instructions for Free! I couldn’t be happier that Mary chose my “Swimming Laps” fabric for the bag! But not just any bag! A drawstring bag with a pocket so your keys don’t get lost in the bottom of the bag and another pocket for your phone. A bag with enough room to carry your stuff plus your water bottle, and still, have space for more!”

Advertisements


10 Comments

Gardening Fabric Print

gardeningswatch
Sunday was so warm, we could almost imagine working in the garden. Which reminds me … I recently uploaded my “Love Gardening” print to Spoonflower. I love the little swatch I ordered! I’ve been pinning ideas for projects I could make with the print. See my Pinterest board here.

Since my sewing skills are nil, I really need to team up with a sewing blogger. It could be a mutually beneficial relationship – I’ll design the prints, and you sew them into something great! Let me know if anyone is interested, or knows someone. 🙂

The “Love Gardening” print is available as fabric, gift wrap, and wallpaper! Click here to check it out.


10 Comments

Bananas for Monkeys

monkeypatternrepeat
When I was little I wanted a pet monkey so badly. I told my mom, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it in the closet when we go out.” As if that was the least of her worries. I doubt monkeys were on the approved pet list in my NYC suburb.

The latest Spoonflower design challenge is “Year of the Monkey.” A couple of weeks back, I played around in my sketchbook, but nothing great emerged. But, I couldn’t get the contest out of my mind. So, with just a couple of days left until the deadline, I started sketching again. See my sketches here and what I’m learning about surface design.

It feels great to follow through and enter the contest. Before I started “My Creative Resolution” in 2014, I was notorious for having an idea and not following through, especially if my first draft wasn’t successful.

If you’d like to check out the other “Year of the Monkey” submissions, or vote for someone you know’s design (wink wink) click here. 🙂


16 Comments

Designing Patterns – important things to remember.

monkeysketch
If I knew what I was getting into, maybe I wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about pursuing pattern design. Ha ha. I say this because I am realizing all the aspects that go into designing for fabric, gift wrap, and beyond. My head was spinning a bit this weekend, as all I took it all in.

Things I need to remember:

  1. Select colors from a color guide, don’t rely on the computer screen. As a graphic designer, I should know this, but I get caught up in the screen colors and forget. Then my swatch arrives and I’m surprised by the colors! And I have a fabric swatch of Spoonflower’s color guide! Now, I’m keeping it next to my computer.
  2. What is the repeat? I get caught up in the illustrations, and forget that the way they work together is almost more important than what they are. I’m reading an interesting book called Patternalia, An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns. It’s a quirky book. I’ve already started to look at patterns differently. In the book, they mention pattern effects like “figure-ground reversal – This is where the figure and background are equally sized and therefore easily confused with each other.”
  3. Observe other patterns. I find observing helpful when I’m trying to learn something new. Looking through patterns, determining if I think they are “successful,” and why, is really helping me. Again, it is all about how the elements work together and repeat.
  4. Is simpler better? I definitely overcomplicate things. I need to remember that simple is often better. Some of the successful Spoonflower patterns I looked through, had the simplest elements.

I decided to give the latest Spoonflower contest a try: The Year of the Monkey. I started by doodling in my sketchbook. At first, my monkeys were downright scary – too realistic, too scary. After I simplified them, they got cuter. When I had a few I liked, I started to sketch out how they could work together. I was getting very detailed and complicated, with many elements. When I sat at the computer, and scanned in my favorite illustrations, I made the decision to simplify. The deadline is today after all! 😉

Planning the pattern:
monkeysketch2


9 Comments

Toy Soldier Pattern

toysoldiers2_5inchhighrepeat
When I was a kid I watched the March of the Wooden Soldiers every year. Maybe that’s what inspired the design of my second holiday pattern. (The first was nutcrackers.)

toysoldiers2_5inchhigh
I’ve ordered the Toy Soldier pattern as gift wrap from Spoonflower and I can’t wait for it to arrive! This year I want to be especially crafty and creative with my wrapping. And I plan on sharing my creations on Instagram – I hope you’ll follow along! 🙂


10 Comments

Nutcracker Pattern – and it’s available as fabric and gift wrap on Spoonflower!

nutcrackersrepeating
I’m so excited to announce that this Nutcracker pattern is available on Spoonflower and can be ordered as fabric or gift wrap! I just received some Nutcracker fabric and I’m excited to make something with it for the holidays!


You all know how passionate I’ve been about surface design this year! I’ve been wanting to take the next step, and see these patterns in action. And make them available to anyone else who is interested in them. I plan on adding some of the past year’s pattern designs to my Spoonflower shop too. If there is a particular one you are interested in, please let me know (links below).

This Nutcracker pattern is my “November” design. I know it’s jumping ahead of Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t help myself! I’ve already uploaded another holiday design and am waiting to see it printed. I’ll share with you, once I have it in my hands!

My surface designs this year:
January – August
September (includes a tutorial on making a repeating pattern)
October


16 Comments

Self imposed deadlines {and a leaf pattern}

leavespatterncolor
I remember, way back in elementary school, staring a project early, but never finishing it until the night before it was due. I needed the deadline to motivate me to finish.

All these years later I know the power deadlines have to motivate me. Now, I’m using this to my advantage. If I want to accomplish something I set a deadline. In my work, these soft deadlines are supported by the client waiting for the final product. In my creative life, these “made up” deadlines are supported by you. If I write on the blog, I’m going to do something, I intend to follow through on that promise. Whether anyone remembers or not!

This leaf pattern design is my October surface design. Yes, I’m a couple of days late, but I got caught up in my Halloween creations!

I’ve designed one a month this year! That’s 10 so far! I’m really proud that I set “surface design” as a goal for 2015 and have achieved it. I designed the first one in January. That’s when I committed to “a design a month.’ Setting the monthly deadline has made all the difference in pushing myself and getting it done.

Have you set deadlines for yourself? How did that work out? If you haven’t, are you considering it now? I’d love to hear!

If you’d like to learn how to turn your artwork into a repeating pattern, read this recent post.


16 Comments

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop {Feathers my pattern for September.}

featherspattern1d
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.
feathersinink

If you know Photoshop and want to try creating a pattern, I’ve included my steps below.

Creating a pattern in Photoshop:

  1. Scan artwork
  2. In Photoshop: separate each element of your design into different layers
  3. 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.)
  4. Arrange your elements. They can go over the guides.
  5. On a separate layer outline the guides to make a box.
  6. Create a group with the box and element layers – call it “original”
  7. Duplicate the “original” group. Drag to the right so the left edge of the box touches the right guide
  8. Duplicate the group again. Drag to the left so the right edge of the box touches the left guide
  9. Select the three groups and duplicate them. Drag the 3 duplicate layers up, so the bottom of the boxes touch the top guide
  10. Duplicate the three groups again. Drag them down, so the top of the boxes touch the bottom guide
  11. If any adjustments need to be made – delete all but your “original” group, make the adjustments and repeat steps 7-10
  12. When you are happy with your repeating pattern, hide all the layers with the box outline.
  13. 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).
featherspatternboxes

Slight variations on my feather pattern.
No distress in the background. 
featherspattern1

Distress shows yellow.
featherspatterndy

Which one do you like best? 🙂

Copyright 2015 Eileen McKenna. All rights reserved.


13 Comments

Pattern of Ice Cream Cones … Mmmm

watercoloricecreamcones
It’s very fitting that my pattern for August is ice cream cones. I’ve gotten into the habit of having ice cream almost every night this Summer!

I created this pattern using the same process as last month’s pattern, Shells. I doodled the ice cream cones in my sketchbook, painted the backgrounds separately and then mashed them together and arranged them in Photoshop.

If you’ve missed them, I’ve been illustrating a pattern a month this year:

July – Shells
June – Echinacea
May – Sandcastles
April – Dahlias
March – Gardening
February – Valentine’s Day
January – Art Supplies

It helps to have the deadline of the end of the month. I wouldn’t be as motivated without it.

I entered the Sandcastle pattern into a Spoonflower contest a few months ago. I’d love to try another contest and upload more of my patterns onto Spoonflower. A goal to work towards before the end of the year. 🙂


11 Comments

A pattern for July – Seashells

shellspattern
I really enjoyed creating this pattern. It brought me back to collecting shells as a kid and marveling at the patterns and colors. Oh wait, I still do that!

This pattern started with doodles in my sketchbook. I drew a lot of shells! I have jarfuls on hand for reference.
shells-2

Then on watercolor paper I painted shells using different colors. I took creative liberties with this step.
shellswatercolor-1

I scanned everything in, and layered the outlines and watercolors together in Photoshop. I also added a textured background. After I had my arrangement set, I repeated it to see how it worked. I had to shift things a bit when the shells overlapped.

I truly felt inspired creating this pattern. It felt very nostalgic for me. And I can’t wait to get back down to the beach to collect more shells.