I’m in week two of my #100daysofpatterns project and I’m still at it. I have a confession, I had 10 days holidays so I’m picking up where I left off, but it wasn’t all wasted time as I saw the work of Laura Slater at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, so eyes peeled for a round up post of her work as inspiration. Although I’m a few weeks behinD with my #100daysproject the same principles apply. Wake up, work on patterns, repeat.
I started this week with a bit of head scratching as this weeks prompts is ‘Thankful for’. It’s tricky because a lot of things I’m thankful for are not tangible. In the end I decided to go off piste and use the prompt ‘Fauna’ to direct this week’s project. I’ll make a tenuous connection, I have tenderly (neglected) an aloe Vvra plant since I was a student and somehow it has just flowered in the most gorgeous orange. I like big scale prints, so I’m dreaming up overlapping banana leaves and cheese plant leaves. Here’s my my mood board that got me started:
From here I set about drawing plants in my sketchbook and scanning them in. Here’s a spread from my sketchbook.
Next, I knew I needed to improve my technical skills on how to get my motifs to repeat in Adobe Illustrator. I went to SkillShare, one of the staff picks was From Abstract Handmade Marks on Paper to Seamless Surface Patterns in Illustrator taught by Attitude Creative. Although the class didn’t teach, exactly, what I was trying to create, it walked through creating hand drawn marks, editing them in photoshop and it used the pattern tool in Illustrator to create multiple iterations and repeat patterns. The tutor’s teaching style really resonated with me, a great pace, clear instructions and constantly recapping key points, which is vital when you’re flipping between screens, multi-tasking and trying to take on information. I found her accent, really calming, which is crucial if you’re anything like me and have to rewatch sections, multiple times, without loosing your head.
The first chapters require you to make abstract marks, experimenting with differnt media and scales to get a range of handdrawn marks to work with. It encourages me to step away from my comfort zone of fineliners and pencil, and I reached for different types of pens and indian ink. I loved the process, I found it liberating, I made tons of different lines, which are great to use in patterns and add texture. Then I generated line drawings of leaves and I created pages and pages and they kind of exploded all over my desk.
From here,the class guides you to scan your image in for optimum quality, how to set up your photoshop document, how to clean up any marks, how to select only the marks and how to prepare the file for Illustrator. Next in Illustrator, you’re walked through how to vectorise your marks, how to use the live trace function and how to use the pattern tool, first for single marks.
Then finally, you’re taught how to use multiple marks and add colour and extract your patterns for use in other design work.
It was a steep learning curve, which is why this post is a little later than planned, it soon became apparent that there was no way, at my current skill level was I going to be able draw, scan, edit and repeat a pattern in one day, when I was spending half my time stuck in Skillshare watching tutorials trying to work out the technical side. But I had plenty of line drawings and images to work from so after a day or two making all my lines and motifs, I focused on the technical side so I could play catch up. Even though there was a lot of head scratching, I feel like once I finally cracked how to make a pattern tile repeat, it was worth the ground work and now the good bit, the real creative stuff can start.
What was really interesting to me, was how the marks were created in black and colour was applied later. In week one, I had scanned water colour images in and was a little disapointed that the colour lacked vibrancy. In Illustrator you can easily add and swap colours around using the re-colour artwork tool, for this to work at it’s best, you need swatches with a collection of colours you want to use in your designs. Whilst I was designing/drawing/ sewing last week, (I can’t remember which) I watched another Skillshare tutorial by surface designer Bonnie Christie, Master Colour With The ReColour Artwork Tool.
Wow, I feel like I’ve offloaded, but I learnt a lot this week, I am loving doing a #100daysproject because it feels like it builds momentum and it’s true, ‘creativity finds you working’. I struggled with the technical side and when I was stuck in Skillshare trying to figure out how to make my patterns repeat, and I was desperate to get designing I felt overwhelmed. It was so frustrating because I couldn’t get what I wanted from my head to the page. So I took the pressure off of making one pattern a day, and just decided to show up at my computer, watch more videos, keep drawing and soon enough I got there. When you’re just starting out there is the ‘the gap’ a term coined by David Shiyang Liu’s between one’s taste and one’s skills. This beautiful video sums it up entirely, so I’d urge you to watch it if you’re creating work and in any doubt. I definitely felt stuck in ‘the gap’ this week, but that is why Skillshare really, really is great because it teaches you the skills. You can’t teach taste or style, but you can teach technical skills. Having access to artists and designers from all over the world in your bedroom is well, unbelievably liberating and democratic. I’d love to be able to study a course to retrain, but my body isn’t reliable enough to turn up on the same time consistently and nor am I in a financial position to commit to the cost.
You can sign up to 2 months free skillshare, using this link here.
For now, happy making and never stop learning.
Claire & co.