Blog header reads Concept to Collection How I Create New Pattern Collections

How I Create New Surface Pattern Collections

On the blog today I want to show you the way I take an idea or concept and turn it into a whole pattern collection with a hero design, secondary and complimentary designs and, in some cases placement prints too.

Developing a Surface Design Concept

Getting Started

A pattern concept can develop a number of ways. Some of these include looking at trends, thinking about the audience I am designing for, or thinking about the product it will be used for. Sometimes even a sketch or doodle will kick off a whole concept!

If you have seen my most recent blog posts you may have noticed I am a little bit taken with Australian native flowers at the moment (read: obsessed). I love their shape, texture and the amazing colours they display.

For my most recent collection  I was trying to create a simplified motif that might suite a younger audience. An interesting and new way of drawing banksia flowers came to mind. BOOM! There it was; a playful, naïve banksia bloom, just what I needed.

“Wouldn’t this look great on textiles for girls?!” I said to myself.

A sketchbook closeup showing a stylised banksia
A sketch book with hand drawn florals and textures

Sketches and Brainstorming

Feeling like I had something, I continued to play around with the shape and structure of the motifs, creating individual blooms with overlapping leaves. I was starting to feel very happy with how the motifs were looking and could see them in a hero pattern, perhaps with each coloured differently.

Brainstorming came next. One design does not make a collection! With a sketchbook in hand, tea by my side and a puppy on my lap, I started looking at different ways I could bring together elements from within the hero pattern to create complementary patterns.

These are used to  create interest, contrast and add to the storytelling of the collection. In this case I was thinking about the different parts of the flower and plant like the leaves, pollen from a flower and the line work I had used in the hero pattern.  I also wanted to create a secondary pattern that used a limited colour palette.

Developing the Pattern Collection

Designing and Inking

With much of the motifs decided on, it was time to pull it all together into structured designs and inked motifs. The hero pattern needs a lot of work to get the motifs to fit together in a lovely repeated pattern. Good old fashioned pen and paper is one of my favourite was to achieve this.

Next comes preparation for digitising. For this collection the best way to digitise and give me the most flexibility when colouring, I needed to redraw each motif or element in its individual parts in black ink. It’s a lot of work, but worth it, I promise. Black ink is also important for good quality scans and reduces the time it the next stages take.

I love this stage. Pulling the motifs apart to ink them, then bringing them back together in Adobe Illustrator is so much fun! I do this so that individual parts of each motif can be coloured separately in Illustrator without needing to edit heavily. It helps keep the hand drawn feel in my motifs.

Ink drawings on white paper, ready for scanning
Nine coloured squares showing a colour palette of ochre, mustard and dusty blue

Refining and Scaling

Sadly, not all designs that have made it to this stage will make it into the final collection. Some fall into place while others can’t (or won’t) fit nicely within the collection. (Sorry swirly dotty pattern, you’re gone!) But don’t worry, those that don’t make it this time are tucked away and may make some future design collection.

This stage also involves finalising the colour palette. Again, looking at current and future trends is important here. In this case I wanted to use ochre and mustard colours with dusty blues and pinks.

Now is also the time scale those patterns so that they create the harmony needed for a cohesive and complimentary pattern collection. Seeing patterns side by side can also lead to some colour changes in the support patterns to create a nice balance.

The Final Surface Pattern Collection

And here it is! Introducing the Precious Blooms Pattern Collection. This is a sample of the five patterns and three placement prints that make up the collection.

Precious Bloom Pattern Collection

Interested in seeing the whole collection? Precious Blooms is currently available for licensing through my portfolio, as well as a large range of complete pattern collections. You can gain access via my portfolio access form.

Thanks for reading this post and learning a bit more about the process I use to go from a concept to a pattern collection. If you would like to learn more about pattern collections have a look at this blog post, all about the different types of patterns you can find in collections.

Chat again soon.

Shelley

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