Summer School with Make it in Design
The Make it in Design team very kindly provided a fantastic pattern design summer school over the last few weeks. We had three sets of assignments, about two weeks apart and there was a Beginner Track, Intermediate Track and Advanced Track and there was a different brief, but within the same megatrend. I had only signed up for the Advanced Track, having taken Modules 1 through 3 of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design, but once I was in the Facebook group (which had over a 1000 members!), I saw people discussing the other briefs and thought I wanted to have a go at them all. Luckily, although registration for the summer school was closed by then, people signed up for one track were able to register for the others, so I got all three briefs.
Assignment 1 – Impulse
Assignment 1 followed the Impulse megatrend, with lots of trend guidance courtesy of Stylesight and additional information and suggestions from Rachael Taylor and the Make it in Design team. Due to dashing off on holiday (to somewhere without wi-fi!) shortly after the assignment came out, I was actually only able to submit to the Beginner Track, but I completed the other tracks when I came home, because I wanted to.
I started off drawing lots of sketches and also a bit of mark-making for texture.
I also tried out some textures using ink and water splodges.
I created a moodboard for the Advanced Track, but didn’t manage to for the others, since I was away. I won’t post it here, as I used photos from Pinterest, as it was just for my personal moodboard. If I were creating a moodboard to share publicly, or for a client, I would use copyright-free imagery, stock imagery and my own images.
Beginner Track – Tropical Paradise
These patterns were created from some of the scanned pictures above. I image traced them, and then created a number of different versions – silhouettes, lines only and ‘cut outs’ (i.e. lines missing) and then laid them out together to fill a repeating tile (a square). I tried some half-drop layouts, but felt that a straight repeat worked particularly well here. I do really like the dark background, as the motifs jump out a lot, but I think the light grey background works better for the tropical feel. This track was definitely my favourite one – maybe because I got to make a conversational print, which is one of my favourites (after florals). (This is all done in Illustrator.)
You can see the other Assignment 1 Beginner Track entries in the gallery.
Intermediate Track – Retro Geometric
I started off with some plain arches within squares, which is quite a pleasing shape (I think, anyway!), but it looked a bit too plain, so I added in some textures using some of the mark-making I had done. (This is all done in Illustrator.)
You can see the other Assignment 1 Intermediate Track entries in the gallery.
Advanced Track – Water Rays
I wanted to include some texture in here, so used some of the ink splodges and recoloured them with the colour palette provided. I used this as a background layer and then overlaid a variety of my wave drawings – again some, as cut outs, some as lines only and some as lines with fills. I varied the scale of the wave drawings and used a standard repeat for some layers, and a half-drop for the larger, top wave. [This was mostly done in Illustrator, though the ink splodges were recoloured in Photoshop.]
You can see the other Assignment 1 Advanced Track entries in the gallery.
Assignment 2 – Confluence
Assignment 2 followed the megatrend Confluence and combined tribal with animal print, neither of which usually appeal to me much (especially the animal print – really, really dislike animal print on clothes, maybe because it makes me think too much about the use of animal skin and fur in clothing!).
Again, I started off with some sketches (actually, this time, I also had a pencil sketch page in my sketchbook, with notes – you can’t see it very well from the photo, sorry!), drawing women carrying pots on their heads (something that always amazes me!), trees (I looked up a bunch of African trees), and vases, as well as some decorative motifs and some animal print textures.
Beginner Track – Tribal Shapes
This one was my favourite – again, probably because of getting to do a conversational print. Also, I took a lot of inspiration from my mum’s living room, which she has themed to Africa and which is full of African art, from wooden statues, to masks, to beautifully painted trays and tapestries and paintings. I also love these bright colours – they really sing out to me. I made a tonne of different patterns for this one. I submitted the first one.
You can see the other Assignment 2 Beginner Track entries in the gallery.
Intermediate Track – Animal Print
Here are the animal print patterns I made, none of which really sing out to me, I’m afraid. I submitted the first one, which is a layered combination of three of the patterns, using opacity to provide texture.
You can see the other Assignment 2 Intermediate Track entries in the gallery.
Advanced Track – Tribal Collage
And finally, for the tribal collage brief, I used patterns from the beginner track and combined them in a collage using animal print shapes from the intermediate track. I submitted the first one.
You can see the other Assignment 2 Advanced Track entries in the gallery.
Assignment 3 – Dissonance
Assignment 3 followed the megatrend Dissonance. My favourite was the Advanced Track, which I was immediately drawn to and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I also liked the Intermediate feathers theme, but the Beginner Track really didn’t draw me in at all. I’m not big on jewels (in the sense of gems and diamonds, at least – I love jewellery made from glass and colourful beads and some nice stones, though usually not precious ones). I still completed the Beginner Track, though, but at the very last minute and not with as much thought and effort as the rest. Oh yes, and this time, I actually made mock-ups for the Intermediate and Advanced patterns. Which was actually kind of fun, so I may do it a bit more often. (Though these were wallpaper mock-ups, which are much easier to do than boxes, or mugs and things like that!)
Note: The gallery links for Assignment 3 will go live at some point on Friday 5 September – they are not live at the time of posting.
I did some sketches, and a few feather pictures with my watercolour brush pens (though didn’t end up using the latter). I also did some sketches and took notes for the Advanced track tiles, though they were created entirely in Illustrator.
Beginner Track – Jewels
As I said, this was done fairly quickly. I used geometric shapes and opacity to give the feeling of gemstones and then created a somewhat scattered repeat, with a manual flipped half-drop. I quite like this as a simple pattern (perhaps to be a co-ordinate within a collection), though I’m not entirely sure it fully depicts the jewel theme.
You can see the other Assignment 3 Beginner Track entries in the gallery.
Intermediate Track – Feathers
This was fun. It uses my fairly common method of drawing with pen (Pentel Brush Pen and Sakura Pigma Microns), scanning, image tracing, and then The hardest bit was deciding on the colour palette to use! The top one (with mock-up) is what I submitted, and then there are a bunch of other colourways, that didn’t make the pick.
You can see the other Assignment 3 Intermediate Track entries in the gallery.
Advanced Track – Intricate Chaos
And finally, my favourite – probably of the whole of summer school – intricate chaos. In the brief, there was some imagery (and in the Stylesight trend reports for Dissonance, too) of intricate tile designs and that immediately sprang out to me as what I wanted to do for this. I love, love, love blue and white tiles and thought I would do that throughout (and ended up submitting it), but there were also some very colourful tiles featured in the brief, so i thought I’d also give it a go with a colourful version. I created the designs entirely in Illustrator, first of all creating a grid with vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, so that I could snap the elements to them. i then created a background that I wanted to repeat on all tiles, that would allow them to fit together, while being actually different designs – so there’s a circle and square that fits together at the corners and circles that fit together on each of the sides – if you look at the mock-up, you can see more clearly how it works.
I created four tile designs, loosely based on my initial sketches. I used a lot of ellipses, and also did a new trick of drawing a line (or a spiral), changing the stroke to a brush or calligraphic style, and making it a big stroke weight, then outlining the stroke, to make it into a shape, rather than a stroke. I made a lot of use of the Transform > Rotate tool as well, to get repeated rotated symmetrical elements. And then I made the tiles into symbols and repeated them to create a four-by-four tile. Once repeated, I made a number of tweaks until I was happy with how they fitted together.
This is what I submitted, but I went through a number of versions before getting there, and got some really helpful feedback in the Facebook group (seriously, the Facebook groups in all these classes are absolutely amazing – everyone’s at varying stages of their careers, with various experience and education behind them; some people are or have been art directors; some work for top design companies or big brands, and everyone is incredibly generous with sharing their methods or suggestions and tips with technology), including added something into the white squares, which I think made a massive difference.
And here’s some bits from the process.
You can see the other Assignment 3 Advanced Track entries in the gallery.
If you’re interested in surface pattern design, do take a look at the courses offered by MIID. I have done Modules 1, 2 and 3 and am hoping to do Module 4 some time next year (depending on the timing of the courses offered). I would say they have been worth every penny and are an excellent investment in your career, if you are looking to make surface pattern design your career, of course!