You cannot but be aware that the festive season has officially started. I could not miss it and I felt I had a kind of obligation to make a pattern for this special occasion.
Please follow me through the process of making my new Christmas Baubles pattern. I’ll show you how I’ve used my sketches to add more texture and how I created variety in my pattern tile using simple tricks.
So far I’ve already made a few patterns using different techniques. I also gathered inspiration from other surface pattern designers. It helped me to have a better knowledge of my tastes and what I’m good at (or at least not too bad). Today I can confidently say that I like patterns with colours, depth and texture. I like to experiment on paper and bring hand made features into a design.
Most of my patterns start with a vision. No joke but I usually “see” a pattern in my head (often in the bathroom before going to bed) and then try to recreate it in my sketchbook before maybe make it for real later. I wish I could take pictures of inside my brain, it would be so much easier!
For this new pattern, I imagined a simple one made of several Christmas baubles, each of them with a different motif on it. I wanted the baubles to be cut in paper and the motifs to be hand drawn. That makes a brilliant design brief! And a good opportunity to talk about texture and variety in patterns.
I would not be able to design a single pattern without the learning resources from Skillshare.com. I’ve already followed several classes from digitizing sketches to hand lettering and of course pattern design. One of these excellent classes is Pattern Play: Combining Illustrator and Photoshop from Dylan Mierzwinski that you can follow here. In her videos, she explains how to use both of Illustrator and Photoshop features to make colourful patterns with hand sketched elements. I’ve used her tips here for the first time and I’m so glad with the results that I’m not going to stop there!
For the baubles, I wanted to make simple shapes. I cut circles in paper because I like the not so perfect effect it gives. And I scanned them.
Then I started to draw motifs to fill these circles. I used black ink on white paper and made several styles: rounds, lines and stars and flakes to remind of Christmas. I finally scanned these sketches ready to be used!
I wanted a Christmassy colour palette but something different from the traditional green and red. I made some research on Pinterest and found nice pictures from which I collected colours to make my palette.
First tile in Illustrator
To make my first tile, I imported my scanned circles and sketches in Illustrator and then “live traced” everything. Live trace is a very powerful tool that transforms an image into a vector. Then you can work on this vector by changing its shape, size, colour…
I also worked on the colour in Illustrator as it is very easy, especially with the recolour artwork tool.
Here is my first tile:
It is pretty easy to create patterns in Illustrator. Live Trace is a very powerful and convenient tool but its main drawback is that it smooths the lines a lot and we lose a bit of the hand drawn effect of the ketches. If we want to keep the initial texture of the sketches, we need to use our scans and this can only be done with Photoshop.
This is what Dylan explained in her Skillshare class and that I applied here.
Let’s go through the different steps very quickly:
- Create a first tile in Illustrator. Place the different elements of the motif (circles and live traced lines), play with colours and test the pattern. When you’re happy, delete all the live traced lines to keep only the coloured circles and the background.
- Export as JPEG and open in Photoshop.
- In Photoshop, use the scans of the sketches to put the lines back in place on the baubles.
- Test the pattern in Photoshop (yes you can easily create patterns in PS) and export again as a JPEG!
On the pictures below, you can see the difference between the bauble with the live traced lines on the left and the scanned sketches on the right:
This gives this new tile:
As you can see, the baubles made from Photoshop look more authentic than the ones made from Illustrator.
We now have a tile with hand drawn lines giving a nice organic effect. If we repeat it basically, by stacking the tile in a grid format, it gives the following design:
It is nice but when you look at it, the repeat is obvious and it looks too well organised. I’ve got a couple of tricks to make it more elaborated without adding too much workload.
The first trick consists in duplicating the baubles and changing their colour and place in the tile. You can easily get a twice as big tile very quickly like that one:
Then if you apply the same repeat style as previously, it looks much better. The repeat is not as obvious and it looks more sophisticated.
Change the pattern repeat
If you’re an experienced pattern observer, you can still see the block repeat above. Why not use a different and more complex style of repeat instead? In the design below, I’ve used our new bigger tile and applied a half-brick repeat where tiles are arranged like bricks on a house. Adding an offset adds more complexity and make it less obvious to see the repeat.
Another common repeat is the half drop where this time the offset is made vertically.
Change the arrangement
So far, the baubles were aligned in my tiles, both vertically and horizontally. This arrangement is very basic and can be easily caught by the eyes. There’s nothing wrong about it, it is a style and can suit many patterns. But if the grid arrangement does bother you, you could for example arrange the baubles in a diamond style like in the tile below:
This results in the following design:
By changing the arrangement of the elements on the tile, it looks more complex and sophisticated and you have the illusion of increased variety.
Explore different colourways
Finally, you can add variety by using different colourways with more or less colours.
I created a second palette made of nuances of grey and pink:
and another one made of grey and white only:
From my initial 12 different baubles, I created several patterns and increased their sophistication by using very simple tricks. I also managed to use the hand drawn texture of my sketches by using Photoshop in combination with Illustrator.
I learned a lot during the making of this new pattern and really enjoyed it. I’m pleased with my creation. I believe it would make a great wrapping paper. I can imagine the grey of the grey and white pattern printed with silver paint, it would be perfect for a Christmas present!
I’m now ready to fully dive into the festive season. What about you?