Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Periwinkle Patch - an Ogee-shaped Repeating Pattern

One evening a couple of weeks ago, I doodled a design that included some periwinkle flowers from an old tracing I had made back in the 1980s when I was doing a lot of screenprinting. 

I had been wanting to make a floral pattern that curved and trailed upwards in a natural-looking way and this seemed to be ideal for the purpose. So I experimented with various lay-outs and decided on a traditional ‘ogee’ shape for the basic unit of my main design. It came together really well at the sketching stage but I had never made an ogee-shaped repeat pattern and was entirely at a loss as to where to start.

I didn't entirely succeed in getting rid of the distracting white lines
I tried – and failed - to find an online tutorial. And members of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design  group were unable to advise me how to go about this in Photoshop. After trying to work it out logically – but unsuccessfully – several times, and each time re-painting the pattern from scratch, I was tearing my hair out in exasperation! At one point I almost gave up. 

But then I thought of one more way to try, and while I was half-watching Ireland trounce Wales in the first of the Six Nations Rugby matches, I fiddled with graph paper and tracing paper, transferred my pattern to the computer as soon as the match was over, and realised that I was on my way to succeeding, even though the pattern didn’t entirely match up and I hadn’t quite managed to avoid the white ‘alleyways’ of negative space that are so distracting but not readily apparent until you see the pattern in repeat.

And some of the related patterns that I made to complete the collection didn’t work as well as I’d hoped they would. It all pointed to the fact that my knowledge of Photoshop for making repeating patterns was still very shaky. I had discovered a few very helpful and time-saving tips in my attempts to make the ogee-shape repeat properly. So I thought it was likely that I could learn all that I needed to know if only I could give it some sizable chunks of time and my full attention instead of trying to fit in snatches of designing time around my normal work.

I tried rearranging the flowers more times than I can remember - making a 'tossed' repeat isn't as easy as it looks!
Which is how I came to make the decision to put all my other work on hold for a week and make learning to use Photoshop to make repeating patterns my priority. What a difference it made, not feeling pressured to get on with uploading to Zazzle or Greeting Card Universe!

By the end of the week, I had tried and tested various instructions for making the different kinds of repeats, block repeats, half-drop, brick repeats and I had found a method of making a diamond repeat that could easily be converted to make the ogee repeats easily and accurately - next time!

This motif is from a sketch I made of the periwinkles in my garden 25 years ago!
I scoured the Internet and consulted my three books for ways to avoid having to ‘mend the seams’ in the more complex patterns – and discovered that mending the seams is normal practice. I also searched in vain for advice on how to avoid ‘tracking’ and ‘alleyways’ in a ‘tossed’ repeat and concluded that this is something that can probably only be developed through experience.

This gave me the confidence to use the remaining day of my ‘week off’ to learn other Photoshop techniques such as ‘mapping’ a pattern onto a product and making a watermark in Photoshop. So I have no regrets whatsoever about neglecting my usual work for a week.

And here's the funny thing: when I came to make a ‘presentation board’ of my patterns, I noticed that, without being at all aware of what I was doing, I had created a collection that embodied my newly discovered ‘Country and Eastern’ signature style!



Carole Barkett said...

Beautiful collection of patterns all in my favorite colors. I would love to see fabric in these designs.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you so much for your encouraging comments, Carole. I generally have fabric in mind when I create patterns, more specifically patterns for patchwork fabric in this case.