my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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Swimming Laps – a fabric print

Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I’ve loved the pool since I was little. I swam on a swim team all year round as soon as I finished lessons, and continued all the way through high school. My mother was from the city and can’t swim well. When the family moved to the beach she decided all her children had to learn to swim. I’ve done the same with my kids. They pursue other things during the school year, but come summer they all swim for the local pool.

Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

This print pattern was created from swimmers and watercolor areas in my sketchbook, combined and overlapped in Photoshop. I’ve lamented before that I can’t sew, but I’m determined to make something with this fabric – maybe a drawstring bag or headband. I’ve been pinning patterns on my Pinterest board. I just need to find a friend who sews!

Interested in making something with this fabric? Order it from Spoonflower. See my other print designs here.


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Zest for Life Citrus Print Pattern

Citrus print pattern - lemons, limes, oranges. Available as fabric, gift wrap, wallpaper
Recently looking through my sketchbook, I found a page of citrus fruits I painted, and thought it was a great start to a print design. I scanned the page, and played around with the elements in Photoshop, to come up with the above repeating pattern design. I’m loving the bright yellow, orange, and green colors!

Sketchbook page:
Citrus fruit watercolor and ink sketchbook page
My Canson sketchbook is especially great for working in watercolor and ink because of the thick weight pages. And I love that the pages are bright white.

Here is the repeat:

Want to purchase this pattern, or see my other patterns, as fabric, gift wrap or wallpaper? Visit my Spoonflower shop here.

I’m on a mission this year to design a pattern a month! See my past designs here.

Want to learn how to create repeating patterns in Photoshop? Read this post.
How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.

This post contains affiliate links to products I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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A swimming pattern…perhaps

Swimmers in my sketchbook. An idea for a pattern design.

My goal this year is to design a pattern a month. So as the month starts to wind down, I’m thinking about swimmers.

Last month I created an ice cream truck pattern from illustrations in my sketchbook. It’s available for purchase on Spoonflower here.

Ice cream truck print pattern / fabric

Ice Cream truck treats fabric print on a pillow

In January I designed a penguin polar bear pattern. Available here.

polar bear penguin Christmas pattern with Christmas trees, wreaths, and mistletoe

See all my designs in my Spoonflower shop.

Want to learn how to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop? Read:

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.

 


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How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.
Nothing completes a day at the beach like a treat from the ice cream truck! I created this fabric print using illustrations from my sketchbook. Want to create a pattern from your illustrations? Follow the instructions below.

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop

  1. Scan your artwork (or draw your elements in Photoshop)
  2. Create a new file in Photoshop that is the size of your intended repeat size.
  3. Create a layer that is a solid color (will not be visible in the design – just for positioning. Mine is white.)
  4. Double the size of the file (for example repeat is 3 x 4, make file size 6 x 8)
  5. Use guides to Mark the repeat area (solid area)
  6. Import the scanned artwork into your file
  7. Separate the elements of your artwork into different layers
  8. Size the elements and arrange them mostly within this rectangle (the guides) – elements can go over the guidelines.
  9. Create a background color that is the entire file size – keep it out of all the groups we will be making (it needs to be positioned below all the other layers)
  10. When you are happy with the arrangement create a group with all the layers – except the background color
  11. Copy the group 2x, place one group to the left of the guide and one to the right using the color layer as a guide for positioning
  12. Create a group of the three groups – the original, the right and the left, make a copy
  13. Place the copy above the original group (above the guide)
  14. Create another copy and place it below.
  15. Turn off the color layer in each group that was for placement only
  16. Do you like the arrangement of all the elements now that the elements are repeating? (If elements go over the guidelines in your design, this is where you will see if things accidentally overlap, or are too close to one another.) If yes go to step 18. If no go to step 17.
  17. If not, delete all the groups except the original, adjust the position of the elements, and repeat the steps of copying the group and placing left and right and then making a group from the 3 groups and copying to place above and below.
  18. To save the final repeat, first go IMAGE, CANVAS SIZE and enter the original repeat size.
  19. Test your repeat – open the repeat, change background to layer, increase canvas size by double. Copy repeat layer and place to the right, left, above, below. Do the elements line up properly? If so yes…
  20. Upload the final repeat file, and order a test fabric swatch. I use Spoonflower.com.

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop
Want to see another example of designing a repeat? Read this blog post.
Another helpful post: Designing Patterns – important things to remember.

Want to order the Ice Cream Truck pattern as fabric, wallpaper, gift wrap? Visit my Spoonflower shop here.

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For 3 years and over 400 posts, I have shared my creative journey with you, but there is so much more I want to share! So I’ve decided to start an email newsletter. It will be a collection of all the things that inspire me… “my creative collection.” It will contain – artists and makers, places, crafts and art mediums, tutorials, podcasts, interesting articles, and more. All the things that inspire me, and will hopefully inspire you! The first issue is due out early March! Sign up here so you don’t miss it.

 


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Polar Bear, Penguin Christmas pattern

polarpatternfinalrepeating
At this point, you’ve  probably put away your Christmas decorations. I apologize for being out of season, but I’ve designed a pattern with some of my Christmas countdown artwork, and am excited to share it.

In 2015 I designed a pattern a month. It was a very motivating challenge, so I’m doing it again in 2017. This Polar Bear, Penguin, Christmas pattern is my first design of the year. And I’m currently working on a design with my watercolor nutcrackers. Interested in pattern design? I’ve written a few helpful posts you may want to check out:

2015 Patterns

In 2016 I designed a handful of patterns, mostly using watercolors and hand drawn elements. I’m especially fond of the ink daisies overlaying the watercolor background. I plan on using this technique again.

I think the most successful patterns were created after the fact – when I didn’t set out to design a pattern. I created the artwork, and then said, “I like that, I think I’ll use it in a pattern.” Time to look through my sketchbooks and paintings! Many of my designs are available on Spoonflower as fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap. 


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My growing collection of pattern designs

img_0685
The other day a swatch of my Christmas Elves pattern arrived. It’s so exciting to see my designs off the sketchbook page, off the computer screen, and printed. And even more exciting…last week someone ordered my gardening fabric. I wish I could see what they make with it! I’m so proud of my growing collection.

See all my designs here.


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With Digital Design the Possibilities are Endless

newchristmaspatternfinalrepeatw
As I sat down at the computer to design a pattern around my elf sketches, I quickly realized the sketches were just the tip of the iceberg. What kind of background did I want? A snowy scene? Or maybe a plaid background? When working with pens, paper, watercolor – basically any tools not on the computer – we have choices and options but once we move forward with a decision, things can only be changed so much. On the computer anything can be undone, changed, resized, rotated, colors altered, layers overlayed, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming! And I work as a graphic designer for a living. It must be the blending of the two – the hand drawn and the computer – that has my head swimming!

I started with the elves from my sketchbook and added this snowy night background behind them. It was interesting, but the dark sky didn’t seem right for Christmas gift wrap. I tried the plaid background, but I didn’t like the computer drawn plaid behind the watercolor. But, I ordered a fabric swatch of the snowy night out of curiosity.
gingerbreadhousesrepeatw elvesplaidrepeatw

Another day I went back to the sketchbook and drew Christmas elements, and eventually added watercolor to them. I also painted stripes in red and green. Back at the computer (on another day), I scanned and played around with the different elements. I liked using the watercolor stripes much better than the computer plaid. Although it was a challenge to get the stripes to look right when I repeated the pattern. I’ve order a swatch of this pattern, so I’ll keep you posted!

Here’s the Christmas Watercolor Stripes design without the repeat:
newchristmaspattern2w

I’m interested in your thoughts! Out of the 3 designs, which do you like the best?

  1. Christmas Watercolor Stripes
  2. Snowy night at the North Pole
  3. Elves on plaid

Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!! 🙂

If you’d like to see my other gift wrap and fabric designs, please click here.

 


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Overlay designs to create a new design and a pattern

montaukdaisypatternwm
I recently came across a watercolor painting I did in pinks, blues and yellows. At the time I was trying to paint abstractly. The other day for my InkTober challenge I drew Montauk daisies, which are in bloom in the yard. I immediately thought of that watercolor and thought it would be cool to overlay the daisies over it.

inkdaisieswatercolorpost

I did something a little different with this pattern. I set up the watercolor painting so the edges don’t fall in the same place as the edges of the ink drawing. (They fall in the center.)

I’m happy to be designing patterns again and remembering how to have the background line up differently was a small victory for me! Last time I was working with a pattern I was struggling with having it be organic and actually lining up when it repeated.

If you’d like to learn more here is a post on how to create a pattern. Let me know if you’d like more info on the subject. 🙂

Here is the design on repeat:

montaukdaisypatternrepeatwm


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A Crab Pattern

crabrepeat

crabset
Another pattern design for you. I forgot all about pattern design last month until the 29th. But, once I remembered, I went straight to my crab sketch. One of you commented that you knew I’d turn it into something. Well with your encouragement I have. 🙂
crabsketches

I painted the backgrounds separately in watercolor. And put everything together in Photoshop. With the spring weather here, summer can’t be far behind!

crabback-1 crabback sand

Learn more about how I create patterns here.

 


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Try String Art! A heart shaped tutorial.

finalstringartheart
I’ve been wanting to try string art for months. When I saw my Valentine’s Day pattern printed – I knew it would make the perfect background. Have you been wanting to try string art? If so, gather these materials and read on.

  • 8″ x 10″ frame with the glass removed
  • 8″ x 10″ piece of cork board (or use an additional piece of corrugated cardboard)
  • 3 pieces of 8″ x 10″ corrugated cardboard
  • patterned paper cut to 8″ x 10″
  • red embossing thread
  • nails – I used wire nails (#18 x 3/4″), approx. 50 nails
  • hammer
  • scissors
  • spray mount or other adhesive
  1. Take the glass out of the frame and use the frame backing to cut the cork board, cardboard pieces, and patterned paper.
    cutpaper
  2. Apply adhesive to the patterned paper and secure to cork board
    spraysmooth
  3. Place paper and cork board (facedown) into the frame. Put one – three cardboard pieces behind it. If frame backing fits, use it. Otherwise use tape to secure cardboard to the back of the frame. Use enough cardboard for a tight fit. Flip frame over.
    cardboardtapepaper
  4. Cut out heart to use as template
    cuttemplate
  5. Place heart in the center of the frame and use a nail to poke holes (equally spaced) around the heart.
    poke
  6. Remove the heart and hammer nails into the holes.
    nail nails
  7. Knot one end of the embossing string to one nail. Trim loose string.
    tie
  8. Wrap string around a nail on the opposite side of the heart. I wrapped the string fully around the nail, before string the next nail.
    firstwrapstring1
  9. Continue stringing the heart by wrapping around nails on the opposite sides (randomly). String until the heart is filled in, and every nail is wrapped at least once.
    string2 string3
  10. Then, wrap around each nail in clockwise order, completing an outline of the heart.
    stringedge
  11. Display your beautiful creation!
    finalstringart

I want to see your creation! Post your work and tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna. Use #mcrstringheart. See more of my pattern designs here.