Pattern-making

Lately, I have made several repeating patterns in the good old paper-and-pencil way, and I found it more tactile than combining every element of the pattern in Photoshop, and I enjoyed doing it more, too. Before I tried this, I thought this way of making a pattern would be very complicated to do, but after having gotten the hang of it, I discovered some simple tricks that make it all so much easier!

That's why I decided to make a little tutorial of the process, and share these little tricks with you :-)

 The finished pattern

The finished pattern


First, decide what you want to turn into a repeating pattern. I wanted to draw a magnolia tree that day, so I started drawing a branch with those beautiful flowers in the middle of my paper, leaving blank space all around it to fill in later. After you have finished your 'base drawing' comes the hardest part of the process. yes, indeed, the hardest part is in the beginning already. Which is cutting right through your drawing. Twice, even :-) 

 Step one: draw something.

Step one: draw something.

With a sharp knife, make a horizontal cut right through the middle of your drawing. Tape them back together with the top and bottom side switched. Then make a vertical cut right through the middle, and tape your drawing back, with the left and the right side switched this time. You will then end up with your initial drawing in the corners of your paper, and a lot of blank space in the middle that you can start to fill in with new drawings, in my case, with more magnolias.

Why I called this the hardest part, is not only because it is slightly terrifying to cut straight through your drawing, but also because you have to do this meticulously if you want the repeat to work. In order for the repeat to work you have to start with a perfect rectangular piece of paper, and make cuts that are perfectly parrallel to the sides. If your cuts are crooked even in the slightest, you will end up with a pattern that doesn't fit perfectly when you turn it in a repeat in photoshop later, which will mean you end up with a lot of extra work to make it fit. I learned this the hard way, too. As you see when you look at the picture attentively, the cuts in the top don't align perfectly, so I had to do a lot of clone-stamping in photoshop afterwards...

 Step two: the first drawing is cut in four, and you can start filling in the blank space.

Step two: the first drawing is cut in four, and you can start filling in the blank space.

 Step three: the blank space is almost filled in.

Step three: the blank space is almost filled in.

At this stage you will probably end up with a drawing where most of the paper is filled in, but you will probably still have some white along the edges. So now here comes a great tip: use washi-tape to fix your drawing back together, so that you can unpeel the tape at this stage, and revert to the original shape of your drawing. This is a great way to be able to fill in the last blank parts of the paper, and also to be able to connect parts of your pattern. In my case, I was able to connect some branches of my tree, so that I would end up with flowy lines that really pulled the pattern together.

 Step four: the last adjustments to make sure everything fits right.

Step four: the last adjustments to make sure everything fits right.

Now your pattern is finished, and ready to be scanned and turned into a repeating pattern in photoshop. You can still tweak the colors a bit there if you feel like it, and maybe add a background, but the most part of the work (and the most enjoyable) is already done :-)

You can see my end result in the top of this blogpost. I hope my tips were helpful, and I wish you all lots of fun trying this out for yourself!