Hi, I’m Eileen McKenna. I’ve been painting in watercolor for close to 10 years. This year my focus has been on painting the beach – my favorite place. I’m lucky enough to live on Long Island in New York, close to the beach. Whenever I visit, I take lots of pictures, which I paint from. You can see many of my beach paintings here.
Blue Wave #11
I’ve been blogging about my creative projects since January 2014 at www.mycreativeresolution.com. When I entered the blogging world, I quickly became fascinated by the print patterns I saw – those repeating patterns for fabric, gift wrap, wallpaper, any surface!
In my second year of blogging I set a goal to design one pattern a month. Since then, I’ve designed over 25 print patterns. Most are available for sale on Spoonflower.
I try to work regularly in my sketchbook – doodling with a smooth black gel pen. Sometimes I paint these doodles with watercolor (sometimes it’s watercolor first, pen second). When I’m ready to design a pattern I’ll look in my sketchbook for illustrations that stand out.
Creating A Repeated Pattern
The trick with designing patterns is creating a “repeat” – a small image that you can place to the left, right, above, and below itself and it will seamlessly repeat, so that you don’t see any edges and none of the elements get cut off.
Recently, I took this sunflower painting/illustration I created and scanned it to make a repeating pattern. In Photoshop, I create an art board larger than my intended repeat size and use guides to mark the repeat. Elements can overlap the guides, but anything that goes over gets cut off. So for a sunflower that gets cut off on the top, the rest of the flower must exist at the bottom to complete the sunflower. Like this:
When I’m finished laying out the elements, I crop the image at the guidelines to create my repeat. Here is the final repeat:
When it is repeated it looks like this:
Another fabric pattern I created is called Swimming Laps
This is what the repeat looks like:
Once I drew the swimmers in my sketchbook, I knew I wanted to turn them into a pattern. Because of this, I drew the lane lines separately, as well as painted dabs of water for the background separate from the swimmers. I did this because I thought it would be easier (to make the design seamless) if the background was in pieces that I could manipulate and overlap in Photoshop.
Currently, I’m working on a wave print pattern – merging my two loves, painting the beach and designing fabric prints. If you’re interesting in turning your artwork into a repeating pattern, this post provides step-by-step instruction.