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Patterns have been a part of cultures around the globe for centuries. From fashion and branding to interior design and signage, patterns blanket and beautify our world. Designers are often asked to create new patterns from scratch, and although digital tools make the process easier than ever, it can still be a perplexing task.
In this installment of Drawing Vector Graphics, Von Glitschka demystifies the pattern design process, explaining tessellations (mathematical tiles that lie at the heart of patterns) and visiting the various methods of creating new patterns. He shows how to build repeating patterns with Illustrator's pattern tools and pattern brushes, and incorporate patterns into your design. The course also features patterns from some of the industry's most inspiring designers.
New drawing tools are great, but in context of digital workflows it's still important to understand how to create a repeat vector base pattern from scratch. This is a common theme that runs throughout all of my courses on lynda.com. And that is, the importance of drawing as it relates to the creative process. Drawing improves design because it helps you establish a clear foundation on what you're going to create before you attempt to create it in vector form.
And when you need to create a repeat pattern from scratch, drawing will be the very first step you will take in working out your patterning design idea. So, let me walk you through a pattern I've drawn now. This is a thumbnail sketch for a pattern design I've created called pollinate. And when I first sketch out a thumbnail sketch, I'll first draw out roughly, it doesn't have to be precise at this stage, a bounding box. And you can see that bounding box rectangular shape here.
And then I draw out, sketch out my, my pattern design motif. In this case, it's a floral pattern. And I'm keeping in mind that anywhere where the artwork goes off any side, either top, bottom, left, or right, it's going to come in on the opposing opposite sides. So, you see this little floral flower blossom here at the top left. It's going off, so I'm kind of in a general, rough sense keeping space open on the bottom, knowing that that's going to come in on the bottom.
And on the left, I have this vine going off to the left and I'm keeping, in a general sense, space open for it to come in on the right. Now, this is really crude in terms of its spacing and how everything's going to fit together. It's not very precise, but it encapsulates and captures the essence of the idea I'm going for. It's at this stage that I'll take this thumbnail sketch and I'll scan it in. And when I do that, I print it out at a larger size, such as showing here on this sheet of paper.
And I've established a more precise bounding box using the tools on the computer to do so. And also, when I have it at this stage, I'm also beta testing of sorts my thumbnail sketch. So, you can see how I've replicated this blossom right here to make sure it comes in. And I'm allowing space. Because I did this little beta testing I had to make my bounding box a little taller than what I originally had.
And so, I've tested a few of those elements. So, it's at this stage I'm going to start, I'm going to go to analog. Basically go to a light table such as I have here. And I'll use vellum. I prefer using vellum over tracing paper because I can erase and it won't tear the paper. And I can use tape on it and it comes off very easily. So, it's easy to make edits. You're going to make a lot of changes and drawing explorations at this stage. So, the first thing I do is, I draw up this same bounding box so I have that.
This is going to serve as my guide. As I draw things out, I'll use other sheets of, of velum. And it's at this stage, I'm going to switch from my simple pencil, that I use to do thumbnails, and I'll switch to a mechanical pencil. This is going to allow me to draw more precisely. And so, the same principle is true at this stage of refining my artwork is that anywhere where an element goes off the edge. In this case, this leaf motif right here. What I'm going to do is I'm going to go ahead and draw out that leaf.
And this is where I just use my underlying thumbnail sketch just to guide my drawing. And it's all about drawing it the way you're going to build it. Meaning, I'm drawing it as a shape because, when I build it in Illustrator, it's going to be a shape that's a fill with no stroke. So, I'm defining the exact form and shape. Once I have, I have that drawing off, drawing established, I'll make little marks that align with the bounding box on the sheet below it, so you can see how I've done that here.
Now I'll slide it down and align it with the bounding box at the bottom and you can see how it's an easy way to kind of draw out your artwork and make sure it's fitting. Right now, I think in my design, I have a little too much space there. So, I'll make adjustments to that as I go, go along. But overall, you'll do that for all your artwork. Anything that falls within the bounding box can be positioned anywhere. Any element of your design that goes outside the bounding box, such as this leaf that goes off the top.
That means it's going to come on the bottom. This vine, it goes off the left. It's going to come in on the right. So on and so forth with the other elements in your design. So, I'll use many layers of tracing paper. That's why you use a light table, because the more layers you get, you need to be able to see through that to make revisions and improvements to your art. So, over time, what I'll end up with is a refined sketch. It's showing here. And you can see my bounding box established still and wherever the art is going off, it's, I'm allowing for the space for it to come in on the, the right hand side here where the vine is.
And same thing with this flower and this leaf, and other elements, so these little elements down here in the bottom right are going to come in here on the top and I've allowed space for that. When you have your final art worked out in this form, it's now easy to take it, bring it to the computer, scan it in. And you'll see me, later in this course, build out this design completely and precisely. Using vector artwork. But now I want to show you another design that uses the same methodology but it's a completely different theme.
And this design started in a somewhat unorthodox way. Normally, I thumbnail sketch out my drawings. But in this case, I teach a class at a local college up in Oregon. And we did a pattern design assignment. And so, I was on a white board actually. This is a print out of a photograph of a white board drawing I did. Where I showed the students how you'd establish a bounding box and this happens to be a under the sea type of theme.
And, in this case, I'm explaining how, if the sea turtle goes off the top, it'll come in the, in on the bottom. The tail of the shark, if it goes off on the right, comes in off the left. Well, as I was explaining this, I saw this rough sketch. But I saw the potential for really great pattern design. And so, that's where I took this and it inspired my rough sketch, so this is the rough thumbnail sketch.
Once again, I established the bounding box and I start working out balance and form and how shapes of the various elements in the design interact, so once again, the sea turtle and allowing space for it to come in on the bottom. I'll make decisions as I create my artwork such as the shark's head here. I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be rounded or if I wanted it to come to a point so, I'll work out those type of details in this stage.
Using, once again, just, sheets of vellum over the top to draw out and refine the, the various points of the design motif. Here's a good example of that. Where I have this angler fish. And, but initially, I was thinking he might be a nice little eel. But it didn't work in terms of the spacing. So, I edited it down and made his body more compact. Here's another example with the jellyfish, trying a different type of form on that jellyfish, but ending up going with a more beefier to fit the static I was going for.
I experimented with various heads with the, how to pull off the, the sea turtle. So, that all works well when you're working on independent sheets. And once you establish what you have and you know it's going to work. That's when I'll put it underneath and I'll draw it out more precisely. Such as shown here. So, this is my rough sketch. So, I'll refine this even to one more at one more stage of drawing. And that is for my final refined sketch, which is shown here.
And you can see all the various elements I've added to it since the thumbnail sketch. And even I'll continue to make improvements on this as I go to Vector. And so, once you draw out your pattern and you refine your pattern artwork in analog, it's going to facilitate and work as a road map for building your vector artwork.
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