My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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Designing a Summer Print Pattern

Goggles print pattern
I challenged myself to design one fabric print a month this year. Since June is winding down, it was time to get to it. When I first started designing patterns I would sit with a blank page and start drawing. Since then I’ve changed my approach. Now when I’m designing, I go to my sketchbook and paintings and look for artwork I’ve already created that would work well as a repeating pattern.

I’m in a summer frame of mind, so I selected this painting of goggles. Click here to read the details of the steps I take to create a pattern in Photoshop.
Watercolor goggles

I tried designing a pattern with the goggles before, but didn’t have success. This time, I had a new vision. I isolated the goggles, leaving only a little of the blue background and adjusted the colors to create the goggles in every color of the rainbow. I struggled a bit with how to get the design to repeat perfectly when the goggles were in a diagonal line. Sometimes I make things harder than they need to be. So, I revised the design to be a more organic placement and in doing so made it easier to create the repeat. I added a blue background color. I’m excited for the fabric swatch of this design to arrive!

So far my “Swimming Laps” design is my most popular one.
Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I recently reworked my Valentine squares to become a new “Pool Tile” design. The swatch of this design should be arriving any day.
Watercolor pool tiles fabric print design.
Valentine’s Day Squares:

See all of my fabric print designs in my Spoonflower shop.

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Fabric Design

Fabric designs by Eileen McKenna. Available for purchase at https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/eileenmckennaI enjoy designing fabric prints and love getting an email from Spoonflower that says someone ordered one. I’m excited to design some new fabrics with summer as inspiration. I have a few collaborations in the works, and am looking forward to seeing some of these fabrics put to use. If you sew, please contact me if you are interested in collaborating.

All fabrics are available for sale at Spoonflower.com.

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


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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.

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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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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