In June, I will be spending a week at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg TN. I haven’t ever been to Arrowmont, but I have heard all kinds of amazing things about the experience there, so I am excited to have been invited.
Our class at Arrowmont will be intense. We have 37 hours to explore all kinds of techniques for designing your own fabric. For the class in April at Spoonflower, we are going to focus on Adobe Illustrator, but for this one at Arrowmont, it is all about Photoshop and layers and texture. I have had several potential students email with questions about the class (which is awesome) and so I thought I should talk a little more about what we will be doing, since the description in the Arrowmont catalog is necessarily brief.
My theme for this class will be exploring the different paths you can take to design fabric. Everyone knows the feeling of staring at a blank page with an equally blank mind. Where do you start?
We are going to start this class by building a common vocabulary. We will talk about pixels and resolution and color. We will learn about different design tools that are common to Photoshop and other graphics programs (select, layer, opacity, offsets). Then we will start building a toolbox of techniques. Each day in this class we will take a different path to start a fabric design. One day we will work with scanned found objects; one day we will start with photos; one day we will doodle with paint. We […]
Proofing and touching up the pattern is the finishing step to create the seamless arrow design and I am going to do that with the Photoshop pattern tool. The first thing I do is select the whole design (Edit -> Select All) and create a pattern tile by choosing Edit -> Define Pattern and click OK.
To proof the design, I create a new blank file that is the size of a yard of fabric. That’s an arbitrary size – I just think it’s nice to look at a large number of repeats.
Then I choose Edit -> Fill from the menu. From the pop-up Fill menu, choose Pattern from the contents drop down menu. Just below that in Options there is another drop down and in it, you should find that pattern you just saved. (See what I mean about a little hidden.)
Now you can see what it looks like when the tile is repeating across a whole yard of fabric. And right away a couple of things jump out at me.
Oops. I didn’t think about the edges and I have a blank space where there aren’t any arrows. […]
(This is Part Two of a tutorial for creating a seamless arrows print. See Part 1 here.)
Part two of the tutorial is all about making the design seamless. What does that mean? I want these arrows to look like they are traveling all over the fabric without having a a start and stop. Even though I only made a small section of the design, I want it to look like I designed something bigger and disguise the edges of the repeating element.
Check and adjust your lines.
With this design, one way to make it look seamless is to make sure that any line that extends off the edge of the drawing, joins up with the design again. In orange I circled two lines, which go off the edge at the top of the repeat, and then show up again at the bottom. When I make this tile repeat and put two identical tiles next to each other, those lines will match up and look like they are one continuous line. I should also say, you don’t have to always work in a repeat, in fact I don’t make repeats very often, but for this particular project I just needed some yardage and not a specific shape. So a repeat was the easy way to go. Make sense?
Try the Pattern Tool.
Illustrator also has a Pattern Tool which you can use to get a preview of what that repeating element will look like. Select all of the elements in your design and then go to Object -> Pattern -> Make.
My second project for my Jerome Grant is all about the story. My partner Dawn and I have been friends since the 7th grade. Dawn is now a professor, teaching art at a community college. She isn’t a digital or fabric person at all; she gravitates towards printmaking and book arts. I thought it would be fun to go “offline” with Dawn and write a series of postcards to one another. I bought several packages of blank cards and a bunch of stamps and we mailed our conversation back and forth with one side of the card for words and one side for a sketch of something. She block printed, I water colored with tea and we talked about art. Why do I hate working with the color red? Do you have a “go to” doodle that you always draw when you don’t know what to draw?
Dawn really inspired me to do something hands on and get away from the computer a little bit. So I started a series of designs based on cut paper collages made from found paper and junk mail. I now have about 6 designs based on that idea and I am really loving that whole set of work. We talked a little at the beginning of the project about making a garment that told a story. Could a dress be a book?
This design is the base I started from. Two sizes of circle punches and a stack of catalogs and envelopes. I made 4 like this that became the final fabric design. They alternate between bright colors with no text and grey/black/white with text on them. I wanted to […]
Often when I teach an intro fabric design class, the students and I create a collaborative fabric design during class, which I have printed and mail to them after class. This most recent class played along with me and made this design using speech bubble shaped post-it-notes and wrote their favorite “clean” swear word. I thought it would make a funny fabric, especially given the day I had before I got to class. So I scanned our design and got ready to put it into a repeat and it just seemed sort of blah. We needed a much more colorful fabric to match our colorful language. So I added some color and after I sent the swatches, I told my class I would post a tutorial about how I did it so they could check back. My screenshots for this are in Photoshop, but many other design programs have the same tools you can use.
We started with a scanned image of post-it-notes on black paper. I scanned this at 150 dpi because I wanted to print it at the same size and that is the resolution I need for fabric.
The first thing I wanted to do was to move the speech bubbles to a layer all by themselves. This way I could insert something into the background and have them float over top. When I open the image in Photoshop, it automatically makes it a locked background layer. (See the lock icon?) When I go to the Layers palette and double click the layer that says Background, it will unlock it and convert it to a regular layer (Layer 0), which is […]