Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My design process

Today I thought I'd share some of my design processes with you here.

I'm sure everyone has their own way of doing things but do you ever wonder how people go about it? I've recently been working on some new repeat patterns to have printed as yardage and they're as good as finished now so once I've selected my colours and ordered the fabric the rest is up to the printers.

Remember how I started a design and illustration library a while back? Then I said I might use some of the illustrations in future work... well that's what I started out doing. You will be seeing the Lyrebird in repeat and I did do the Waratah in repeat which I really like but have decided to release it later. The reason behind that is that I was going to use my Wattle design as a repeat but wanted to incorporate a Wattle Bird, when I heard one in my back garden I grabbed my camera and took this shot:


... and well, that's when everything changed. I started seeing all the beautiful curves of the branches as well as all the new buds on them and thought the Bottle Brush would be nicer than the Wattle... and once I was on to this I thought I would stick to a bird theme as part of this suite of designs and save the Waratah for later.

As this is one of my images I decided to 'draw' straight onto the computer, so I placed the image in Illustrator and began the painstaking process of tracing the image:


After I feel I have enough form I place the design into an artboard the size of one repeat, i.e. 1500mm wide x 500-600mm high and start mucking around with the repeat to see how it works and if any areas need filling in, etc. I usually save a copy of the design each step of the way, the one on the left would be the one I'm currently working on with previous versions tucked away to the right. I continue along with this process until the motif repeats nicely (not seen here)...


... and in this case my finished motif is this:


... and I'm really happy with it so it will also make its way onto a greeting card in the future to join ranks with my other flora & fauna series... and you might even see it one day as gift wrap.

In working the repeat (which I won't show yet until it's been printed) I originally went with a more traditional repeat, i.e. where this motif was repeated continuously - vertically and horizontally. I didn't mind it so much but the Lyrebird design does this too and I wanted to make each of them a little different so I ended up making some significant changes.

The third design has a nondescript bird set amongst clusters and wisps of Brachycome (native daisy). I hope people are going to like my designs, it's always down to personal taste and I guess being so new to this I'm still trying define my own style (or that of the business products) and part of this will no doubt come from how they are received.

I have to be honest and say it's hard when you're starting out. I have had my original 3 designs out there for a little bit, as well as off-the-shelf products made from them but I don't want people to think that's all I'm capable of, like that is my only style or colour combination - which is one of the reasons why it is important to have designs printed in more than one colour way and also preferably on different colour base-cloth as this can change the look and feel of a design dramatically and where one might appeal to one person it may not to another and vice versa.

This is why I'm often saying 'stay tuned' because I want people to know there is more coming :)

Back to the subject of the design process... other designs evolve from sketches such as these: 

I would then scan these into the computer and again begin the painstaking task of tracing the drawing, which can morph into something different, as seen with the wattle (above) so the drawing can just act as a starting point for the idea. I just find that Live Trace doesn't give me the results I want and so I prefer to take the time to 'draw' it properly.

So there you have it, some of my design processes. I should probably get a Graphics Tablet but for now I'm ok using the pen and pencil tools, we each have our own way. How do you design? Feel free to share :) I've always loved to draw and it's something I haven't done for a very long time. I recently dug out some drawings I had around the place and uploaded these to my flickr photostream to share - also, capturing them digitally will preserve them as some of them are aging - but I know they're not museum pieces so it's no big deal.