|Floral Repeating Pattern made by the 'cutting up paper' method|
I had wanted to learn how to make repeating patterns from my floral paintings for a very long time. I wanted to make patterns that had a hand-painted look, similar to so many of the Liberty prints and the fabrics used in Monsoon clothing and accessories that I love.
I had to some extent succeeded by the ‘cutting up paper’ method, combined with some tidying up in paint.net. But I felt sure there was a better way and when I saw that making ‘technical repeats’ in Photoshop was included in the course, I thought it would be the answer. Sadly, it wasn’t.
But I did learn a few things about Photoshop – apart from the fact that it's a tremendously finickity program! – and with lots of help from fellow students, online tutorials and forums, plus three books that were Christmas gifts, I’ve finally found ways to do all the things I wanted to, ways that work!
So, with a very big thank you to all who have helped and encouraged me on this sometimes very frustrating journey, I’ve decided that over the next weeks and months, I’ll pass on what I’ve learnt.
First of all, perhaps we need to sort out what is meant by a ‘pattern’.
The phrase ‘surface pattern’ is often used to describe any sort sort of ornamentation that decorates a plain
surface. But as I pointed out in ‘Hard-wired for Pattern-Making’, the dictionary definitions often suggest an element of repetition.
This is the first definition that Google provided:
Noun: A repeated decorative design.
Verb: Decorate with a recurring design.
And I shall use the word ‘pattern’ to denote a repeating pattern or recurring motif.
We’ll begin by looking at the various types of patterns and next time I’ll give some instructions for making some of them, beginning with the simplest so that you can build your skill, post by post. I’ll be available to answer any queries and if I don’t know the answer, there’s a good chance I’ll know someone who does!
|A watercolour painting that I'll use as a motif to demonstrate how to make a repeating pattern in Photoshop.|
The first thing to say is that there are many different kinds of patterns.
There are the obvious categories, such as 'floral', 'geometric', 'ethnic' . . . some of them overlapping. And there are three classifications you may come across, with which you may not be quite as familiar. These are ‘organic’, ‘graphic’ and ‘conversational’.
|A 'Geometric' pattern - but also an Islamic one, therefore it could be classified as 'Ethnic' too.|
|This pattern, named 'Jungle', is not truly 'Ethnic' in that it came from my imagination rather than an ethnic source. But I think it has an 'ethnic'/'tribal' feel about it!|
|'Seaweed' - an example of an 'Organic' pattern|
|Although the motif for this 'Jungle' pattern was hand-drawn and the motifs are arranged to represent flowers, it is the nearest I have come to a 'Graphic' style.|
|I put two motifs together for this exercise in 'Conversational' patterns - both the frog and the water lily stand alone as hand-painted greeting cards.|
In the next in this series of ‘Repeating Patterns’ posts, I’ll cover the most common types of repeats, together with instructions for how to create the most straightforward one in Photoshop.
Meanwhile, here’s a list of basic things you’ll need to know how to use or, at least, how to find in Photoshop:
1. Open/Close File. Open New File to the size you want. Resize: canvas size.
2. Show/Hide Grid, snap to grid. Guides – how to use them, Snap to guides.
3. Colour palette – how to swap background/foreground colours.
4. Cascade Windows. (Windows > Arrange >Cascade) Show Layers, History, Colours.
5. Change the % view of your open window. Fit to screen.
6. Layers – hide/unlock. Send to back/front (under Layers > Arrange)
7. Adjust Tolerance/Opacity/Brush Size
8. Tools: Move, Rectangle, Crop, Clone Stamp, Paint Bucket, Magic Wand, Gradient Tool, Ink
-dropper tool, Text tool.
And please, don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something I’ve written or if you have a question that I haven’t covered.
Together we’ll make some glorious painterly patterns!
As an experiment, I've made this post into a .pdf file that I'm hoping you can download if you're interested in keeping these 'how to' posts -
to download a .pdf of this post,
condensed into 4 pages
in case you want to print it out.