Pattern Making: My New Obsession

Ever since Spoonflower made its grand entrance to the World Wide Web offering fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap made by fellow crafters and artisans, I have been fascinated with pattern design. Now, I don't mean clothing patterns, like how to make dresses or anything like that. I am talking about repeating patterns. 

However, for me, learning how to make patterns was not as easy as others claimed. I'm totally thinking it was just me? Or maybe I learn a different way? Anyway, I read some great blogs that helped me with the basic concept of pattern making. I especially loved the old school style tutorial by Julia Rothman. She breaks down pattern making by using a pen and paper. This way, although more time consuming, at least shows the basic concepts of pattern making.

I started experimenting with basic patterns using my beloved art app Procreate. This app is only $5 and it is the most amazing program. Ideally you want a nice size iPad (the iPad Pro), ad the Apple Pencil. This combination makes creating art effortless. However, you can totally use a pen and paper too, you will need a scanner for this option.

After much research and trial and error (there was SO much trial and error), I started to find my way making my own patterns. Some tips that I found helpful:

1) It is best to start with a perfect square "canvas" to work on

2) Don't have any of your art touch the edges of the canvas. 

3) Start very simple so it's easier to spot any errors

Here is the first initial drawing I created in Procreate. The square canvas is 8"x8" The dpi is 150, so the image is also 1200x1200pixels (or 150x8). For fabric printing, 150px is ideal, no need to use 300px like you would for a paper print.

Here is the first initial drawing I created in Procreate. The square canvas is 8"x8" The dpi is 150, so the image is also 1200x1200pixels (or 150x8). For fabric printing, 150px is ideal, no need to use 300px like you would for a paper print.

OK, so now I have a square drawing that I drew in my Procreate app. Now you need some sort of Photoshop. I use an old Photoshop Elements that works fine. There ispossibly other software you could use, just make sure there is an offset option. You'll see why below...

So here, I uploaded my image from the Procreate app to Photoshop Elements. Since you know that the image is 1200x1200 pixels (remember 8"x150dpi+1200?), Find the "Offset" function. For Elements, it is Filter-Other-Offset. Once you click that a little box will pop up. Since the canvas is a square (1200x1200), offset the horizontal and vertical by half, so 600x600 (see why it is so much easier to make the canvas a square?). Click OK and voila! You will see something like the photo above. Now my birds are slightly overlapping the edges. 

So here, I uploaded my image from the Procreate app to Photoshop Elements. Since you know that the image is 1200x1200 pixels (remember 8"x150dpi+1200?), Find the "Offset" function. For Elements, it is Filter-Other-Offset. Once you click that a little box will pop up. Since the canvas is a square (1200x1200), offset the horizontal and vertical by half, so 600x600 (see why it is so much easier to make the canvas a square?). Click OK and voila! You will see something like the photo above. Now my birds are slightly overlapping the edges. 

You can save this new offset image now. Then, if you choose to upload your design in Spoonflower, you can select this new offset image and Spoonflower will automatically make it a repeating pattern. 

I pulled this right from Spoonflower, so I apologize that the resolution isn't great (the original file is much cleaner!) See? A repeating pattern!

I pulled this right from Spoonflower, so I apologize that the resolution isn't great (the original file is much cleaner!) See? A repeating pattern!

If you don't want to upload to Spoonflower, but still want a repeating pattern, you can still make it in Photoshop. With your new offset pattern, Go to Edit, Define Pattern. Title the pattern and hit OK. Now, go to the fill icon (you know, the one where you can fill spaces up with solid color with one click?), well, there is an option to select a pattern. You should see your pattern there. Then, to test how it looks, I usually open a new canvas, and resize it to double what the pattern is. So, since the pattern is 8"x8", I will open a canvas that is 16"x16", or whatever size you want so long as it is larger than the pattern. Then, select your pattern from the drop down menu of the fill icon, and click the canvas. the pattern should automatically fill in the canvas.