Pattern Development > Steps 4, 5 + 6: Scan, Manipulate, & Colorize

step4_sketch-scanI’m working on a custom pattern for All of Us {r}evolution and thought it might be neat to share with you how I go about creating custom patterns and my whole artistic process.

Other links in this series:

Steps 1-3 > Question, Prep & Sketch Like a Mad Thing

On to steps 4-6!


Step 4: Scan and clean-up sketches

Everything starts with a simple sketch for my artwork. (I rarely work in any other medium but pen & paper. I love the portability of this a simple sketchbook and it suits my sketchy, youthful, off-the-cuff style.)

Working with a sketchbook and pen also makes my work easy to scan. Heck, sometimes, if I’m on the road, I’ll use my iPhone as a scanner and take a shot of a design. I use apps such as JotNot & Camera+ to really clean up the images well before bringing them into my computer. Whatever works, I say! The faster I can get my ideas down and translate them, the better. (I LOVE my iPhone. Thanks much, Steve Jobs.)


Usually, tho, I use a scanner and the one I own is a $199 piece of awesome ~ a Canon MP640R (above). It’s an all-in-one but the scanner software it comes with is highly tweak-able for output settings and I can scan up to 1200 dpi.

When scanning, I output to at least 600 dpi as that gives me the best results with the little “Clean-up Scans” Photoshop Action that I’ve created. (You should try it out! I use it a LOT and it saves soooo much time.)


Once scanned in, I bring the image into Photoshop, press play on the Action and then clean the image up further, if it needs it.

I then separate each part and piece into it’s own layer, as a Color Fill Layer. (My action creates this type of layer.) I like to work in Color Fill Layers when I design in Photoshop. It’s easier to change colors on the fly, I’ve found.


Step 5: Arrange and manipulate the design

Once I have all parts and pieces of a design cleaned up, it’s time to start putting them together in a pleasing layout.

For patterns, I create a Photoshop file (or Illustrator file, depending on end use and the artwork) that is square. I tend to create my files to the 3600px x 3600px size. (12inx12in at 300dpi) This size allows usage for a variety of applications ~ from fabric to scrapbook pages to wallpaper.

Note: It’s usually good to ask ahead of time if you are creating a custom design what the end usage size needs to be, of course! For All of Us {r}evolution, it’s still a bit undecided as to what size I’ll need the design, so I tried to work as large as possible.

I start developing the pattern repeat within the square, making sure the design doesn’t go outside of the artboard bounds. (If you go past the edges the repeat will not be seamless. I’ll go over this in the next post!)


Step 6: Colorize to add the BAM-powness!

Once I have started to fill my square in oh-so-pleasingly, I add some color. (Sometimes the design will even start with color. Just depends on the design.)


Color can really guide where the design goes and it’s my favorite part of designing! I LOVE me some color! Pattern is such a pretty way to splash color all around.


NEXT UP: Steps 7-9 > Present, Build the Repeat, Tweak & Finalize


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