Hello folks! Today I’m going to take a few minutes to walk you step-by-step through my coloring / pattern making process. It’s actually really fun and easy – this piece was completed in a little under two hours on a Sunday evening.
First thing’s first – I do lots of sketching, and decide on what sort of icons I’d like my pattern to have. Llew was sketching morning glories for his 101floral blog – so I decided I wanted to draw some flowers too. I had a botanical drawing book of roses laying near the couch so I flipped that open and started sketching.
Above is one of the pages of sketches I used for this pattern. While I was drawing I kept in mind that I wanted my flowers to be connected by stems with leaves, buds, and thorns. I took time to sketch a lot of leaf clusters separately, so it would be easy to collage them into the pattern once I had a composition set.
Composition is the must difficult part of the process for me. Once I was done sketching, I scanned, and brought all the pieces into Photoshop and began to toss my pattern. Spending a lot of time on this step is important to make sure the composition is balanced (you don’t want all the flowers to be squashed together on one side, with a big holes elsewhere), and that the repeat lines up.
If you are unfamiliar with how to create a repeat pattern, just remember that for a simple toss pattern whatever icon goes on the art board on the left (or top, right, bottom, etc.) make sure it’s repeated on the opposite side. This ensures that when the pattern is tiled, the pieces match up perfectly! For a more comprehensive pattern tutorial visit this post by Digital Arts Online.
As you can see above, with the flower toss composed, I can start to design where my leaves and stems will fall. I ended up changing things slightly in Photoshop, but this was the foundation of my design.
Once I finished inking I scan and bring everything into Photoshop. Usually I scan my work as a bitmap tiff, but today I scanned in greyscale to preserve some of the subtle textures of the graphite. Using the levels adjustors I’ll clean up my scan, darkening the line work, and clearing away as much of the paper texture, and sketching as I can.
After I’m happy with the clarity and crispness of my line work, I’ll use the channels option to select the line work and fill the selection on a new layer. This separates my line work from the white background it was scanned on, and makes it easier for me to color. With my new line work I’ll start realigning (and checking, and realigning, and checking) my pattern using my first composition as my guide.
Now for the fun part! I spend time laying my flats and choosing a color combination I like. Normally I spend a lot more time working on a color palette, but because this was a quick exercise, and for “fun”, I used one from another pattern I really liked by Elizabeth Olwen. I’ve been really digging her pattern work by the way!
Next is another super challenging part for me – getting those darn stems not to look whack. I probably spent the most time on this part. Moving things around, rotating, resizing, and constantly checking to see if the repeat works and is balanced. Because I drew a lot of the leaves, and stems separately, it makes it easier for me to “frankenstein” this piece together – using bits and pieces from all of my line work.
Once the stems are in place I add details such as, but not limited to, the insides of the flowers, colored line work, and subtle texture. Viola! A pattern masterpiece in under two hours!
Here’s the final again, in case you forgot:
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I also wanted to share some great resources for all of those interested in pattern design!