20 december 2015

Draw all the things: I think I can see a pattern here

Wow! How time flies! We have arrived at my last post for this year's Draw All the Things! Don't zone out just yet because tomorrow Hanne will officially close with a post on textures, but today I'm talking patterns!

Maybe you've wondered before about fabric designs and how they're made. Maybe you've wanted to have your own fabric printed! Simple repeats like square repeats, half drops, half bricks or mirrored patterns aren't hard to figure out, and most fabric printing sites have a built-in feature to design those basic repeats. But what if you want an all-over pattern? In that case, you need a tile, and I'm going to show you how easy it is to create one!

First you start with a piece of paper. Any size works, really. I chose square because it's a tiny bit easier. Draw something on the center of the page. You can go big, but make sure your drawing doesn't touch any of the edges!

Next we are going to create a new page with space to draw what will fill up the gaps between the repeats of the first drawing. To do this, we will have to cut up the original. Draw a horizontal and a vertical line through the center of the paper, like so:

Next, cut along those lines and rearrange your pieces. This is a little hard to explain, but you basically switch everything around. Bottom left becomes top right, and the other way round. This should make it clearer:

What you should end up with is a drawing with edges that meet up seamlessly when they are tiled and a nice blank space in the middle to fill in. You can do whatever you want here, but again, make sure none of your drawing touches the edge of the paper! I went with a bird:

In this case (and since it's just a demonstration) I didn't bother working on a fresh sheet of paper for this second part of the drawing. Normally, I'd layer a new sheet over the cut-and-pasted one and use a lightbox (or window) to see the first drawing, then scan and put the whole thing together in Photoshop.

But what if I told you the whole cutting and pasting isn't even necessary! You can use Photoshop to do this very quickly and more accurately:

Open your file in Photoshop. I gave it a little bit of colour because pretty. Take a look at your image size, and make a mental note (or a real one) of the height and width in pixels. This is going to be important!

Take a look at your filters and select 'Other', then 'Offset'. Now for the crazy stuff!

Remember the correct amount of pixels? Divide those by two and enter them for the horizontal and vertical values. Make sure to select 'Wrap Around' and see what cool things your drawing is doing!

If you are working digitally, you can just fill in the blank space in your file right there and be all set. If you are working on paper first like I am, it's easiest to print the image and use it as a base for your further drawing:

I did it on a separate sheet of paper (putting it on top of the printout) so I wouldn't have to remove the printed areas later. Scan this second page, edit it the way you want to and paste it into the first file. You now have a tile! This is what mine looks like as a repeat:

A few final things to keep in mind: the bigger your individual drawings are, the more obvious your pattern repeat will be. If you fill up a page with tiny doodles it will be harder to see where the tile repeats itself! This all comes down to personal preference or what you want to use your pattern for. It looks like a whole lot of information, but once you get the basic principles it's really not that hard to create your own repeat patterns!

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