Designing a Product Line: Making Products From Your Designs + Illustrations | Pauline Stanley | Skillshare

Designing a Product Line: Making Products From Your Designs + Illustrations

Pauline Stanley,

Designing a Product Line: Making Products From Your Designs + Illustrations

Pauline Stanley,

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
9 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Why Create Products

    • 3. Types of Products

    • 4. Inspiration + Ideas

    • 5. Design Considerations

    • 6. Sketching, Mockups + Prototypes

    • 7. Producing Products

    • 8. Next Steps

    • 9. Final Thoughts + Project

13 students are watching this class
  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Hi, I’m Pauline Stanley, I’m a designer/artist/illustrator and the designer behind my art brand, Pauline Stanley Studio. I’ve been designing and selling my art, jewelry, home goods and gift products for the past 8 years and I’m here to share all the product design, tips, tricks and techniques I’ve learned along the way.

In this class, we’ll be going over how to design a product line and specifically how to turn your ideas, designs and illustrations into physical products. We’ll be talking about why you’d want to create products, types of products you could make and sell, the design ideation process, sketching and creating prototypes, to actually producing the final product.

This class is great for anyone interested in designing their own products or anyone that currently sells their work but is interested in learning more about the process. Some experience with design and illustration is helpful, but this is also a great starting point for simply getting familiar with product design concepts.

For the class project, you’ll be creating one or more product illustrations based on your designs or if you’re ready, you’ll go ahead and make your actual products.

I’d love to see what you’ll create and I hope you’ll join me in class.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Pauline Stanley


Hi, I’m Pauline Stanley, a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, artist and photographer living in Richmond, VA. My work is inspired by natural elements, Scandinavian + midcentury design, geometric shapes + patterns.

I run a product business, Pauline Stanley Studio, designing and making art, jewelry and home goods.

You can find me here:


Shop Website:


See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.



1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Pauline Stanley. I'm a designer artist and illustrator and the designer behind my art brand, Pauline Stanley Studio. I've been designing and selling my art, jewelry, home goods, and gift products for the past eight years and I'm here to share all the product design, tips, tricks, and techniques I've learned along the way. In this class, we'll be going over how to design a product line, specifically how to turn your designs and illustrations into physical products. We'll be talking about why you would want to create products, the types of products you can make, the design process, sketching, and creating prototypes to making the actual finish product. This class is great for anyone who is interested in designing their own products or for someone who currently sells their work, but is interested in learning more about the process. Some experience with design and illustration is helpful, but this is also a great starting point if you're just simply trying to get familiar with product design concepts. For the class project, you'll be creating one or more product illustrations based on your designs, or if you're ready, you'll create the final finished products. I'd love to see what you create. Hope you join me in class. 2. Why Create Products: Why create products? May be you're just starting out and you're interested in pursuing your creativity and looking for a creative outlet. May be you're designer, artist or illustrator, that already makes creative work and you're looking to actually create things you can offer for sale yourself. If you're already bringing an income, it could be a great opportunity to bring in side income. If you're working in the design industry already, it's a great way to diversify your income streams. This is important, so if the money slows in one avenue of your business, you can count on income from another area of your business. For freelancers, it allows you to follow your own artistic interests instead of only working off someone else's direction. It's also great because instead of working on one thing and that it's just done, you can take the time to really create something unique and then reproduce and sell again and again. But may be you're in it for the long haul and you'd like to grow this until full-time business and make a living off of selling your work. You may be interested in building a creative career and following. Finally, making and selling your own products opens you up to attracting other creative opportunities such as licensing and collaborations. Putting your work out there and building some recognition and a following could attract other opportunities such as licensing, where a company uses your designs and illustrations on their products. When you bring your designs to life yourself, it gives other companies a chance to see your unique style and point of view as a creative designer. It also opens you up to collaborations, where you can work with another brand to make and promote a product together. 3. Types of Products: Types of products. The first type of product is a paper product, and it's the easiest point of entry and creating physical products in my opinion. This is a great avenue for designers, illustrators, artists, and photographers as they are already creating visual work. It is pretty simple and straightforward to make paper products such as art prints and greeting cards using your work. Handmade and craft products. These are items that can be made by hand using a particular craft technique. Some examples are; ceramics, jewelry, or hand printed items. Manufactured products; this is where you work with a company that will make the product in their factory and ship completed products to you to sell. Some examples here are, enamel paints and patches. A mix of both. These are handmade products that are made by outsourcing a company to do some parts of the process and then you do some parts of the process in house, which just means under your watch and the place where you work. Surface design products. These are your designs and illustrations printed on different types of products such as t-shirts, mugs, art prints, tea towels, tool bags, phone cases, or fabric. 4. Inspiration + Ideas: Design inspiration and ideas. You may already have designs and illustrations you'd like to use in mind, and that'll be a great place to start. But if not, a good place to start is to make a list of all your ideas, products, and subjects you're interested in exploring. Think about what you'd like and what you would want. Chances are if you'd like to own these types of products, then there are others out there that would too. Think about your interests and passions. What feels you? Pay attention to your preferences, what colors, styles, or themes are you drawn to? Also pay attention to what you do not like. This is all part of developing your style and point of view as a designer. I encourage you to look at design books, magazines, blogs, Pinterest, even products in other shops and stores to develop these tastes. Research, it's always a good idea to do a lot of research when making products to sell. You have to be sure there's a market for what you're going to make. Take your ideas and see what's out there. What's popular? Pay attention to trends in the marketplace, look for patterns, what you're seeing a lot of. Here are some good places to look for this information, Etsy, you can look at the editor picks on Etsy. They're usually featuring and putting together collections of trending items. Pinterest, just search for the types of things your interested in making and you'll find a lot of inspiration. You could even search, trends 2019, and you will find some useful information there as well. Other places to look out for trends are design blogs, magazines, and even colleagues. What are the other people in your field making? From here, I suggest saving your findings as a visual reference. You can make a private inspiration board on Pinterest with your findings, or when you're scrolling Instagram, you can save things that inspire you by clicking the little flag button next to posts. You can go back and reference these as inspiration when you're sketching and designing your new product line. It's important to note here that you don't have to do all the trends. Good product ideas for you would be where your interests meet with what's timely and of the moment. In a Venn diagram, your sweet spot would be right in the middle where your interests and trends intersect. Also, you don't want to just do what everyone else is doing out there. You want to figure out what you can add and what you can expand on. How can you make your product unique and innovative. At the same time, don't be discouraged about what else is out there. There's room for you, and what you make will always be a little different because it comes from your unique blend of your point of view and mix of interests and life experience and your work should always add to the conversation. 5. Design Considerations: Design considerations. We talked about developing this in the last lesson, but the main idea here when creating your product line is finding your niche style and design aesthetic. You want to create a cohesive collection so that your brand is recognizable, makes sense to your audience, and attracts your target customer. I would encourage you to think of five or so key words or ideas that would describe your design aesthetic, it's helpful to circle back to these words when designing. For myself, here are my go to concepts. They are the ideas that I am most passionate about. One is keeping it simple, I love clean, minimal, simple, strong geometric shapes and design. My second is a earthy or natural aesthetic in both subject and material, I love nature inspired design, I love plants, but I also love natural materials such as using metal, gemstones, wood, and paper. My third is having a relaxed down to earth approachable style. My fourth concept is texture. I love texture, I think it gives life to a product and it shows evidence of the hand and it shows human imperfections that I think are so important in finding that special something in a product. Fifth, with colors, it's either neutral or I love earthy, muted colors or vintage retro colors. In these ideas I've listed, it's not only my design aesthetic, but my personal aesthetic and philosophy, something that personally gives me life and brings me joy, so it's easy for me to make work and share it. What words and ideas apply to your design aesthetic. Another thing to consider is whether you'll be making one type of product versus making different types of products. There are pros and cons here, for example, if you're making one type of product, people might take you more seriously as a professional crafts-person. If you make different kinds of products, you can make other different things in the same style for the same type of customer, so you could possibly open yourself up to selling more. If you do make different types of products, you should always be making sure that your different products will relate to each other and that your products are attracting a similar buyer with a specific style. You should design keeping a target customer in mind. My story, after making different kinds of products at first, I decided to focus on designing jewelry. I felt the creative edge to make different products again and over the last few years, I started making accessories, art, and home goods, I ended up having more opportunities present themselves, perhaps because I was able to reach a wider audience than just jewelry fans. I still try to take care to make sure my product line is cohesive and that my audience would be interested in the different types of products I offer. I see it as more about positioning myself as a lifestyle art brand at this point. Another design practice I like to use is using the same design across different products. This is nice because I can design something one time, and if I can see that it's doing well in one area, it's likely that it will be able to be translated to another product and do well in another area. It only adds to build a cohesive collection and style, and there's less risk when making a new product because it has proven interests in the previous products. In the beginning, I'd advise to have a nice variety of products available, whether one type of product or different. In this stage, you want to test and get feedback and refine, see what's getting interest, see how you can further better the product, see what sticks. Things will not be perfect at first, but putting it out there and taking it from there is how you will learn. You will not know what you don't know at first, it just takes experience, so you have to start. Finally, when we're talking about design, we have to talk about function, does it do what it's supposed to do well? Make sure that the customer is going to have a good experience with your product. If it's well-designed, it should fulfill its purpose. Pay attention to feedback that your customers are giving you and make sure that you're revising and refining based on their feedback. 6. Sketching, Mockups + Prototypes: Something to note here is that this process will look different depending on what product you're making. I'll provide a few examples of how you may develop your new products but please translate this as best you can to whatever you are making. This part is where you need to get your ideas out of your head and onto the paper computer or physical world in some way or another. This can be a messy process. I know it is for me. The point is to get it all out there first and then refine. Think of it like a rough draft in writing. You lay out the material first and then further sculpt and refine the material from there. Hand drawing is the most direct and simple technique to getting your ideas out. Use simple sketches here. They don't need to be perfect. It's just to get an idea of the direction of where you're going and the composition. If you're experienced enough, you may sometimes want to skip hand drawing and go straight to digitally drawing. I do this sometimes if I'm using simple shapes or sometimes if I already have parts of the designs drawn for something else done in the past. Depending on your product, your next step is that you may need to take time here to work out specific measurements needed to make the product. Say you've drawn out your sketches and you're ready to further refine your ideas. You have a couple options here. You can get your hand drawing into digital form and finish it there. You could even go on to develop a digital mock up. This can help with visualizing how the end product will look. Once tip here is to print the design out to get an idea of size. I personally will make and print various adjustments in size till I get it just right. This is also the best route to go if you're working with the manufacturer. They need a finished drawing and specific measurements to make your product. Depending on your product, you may want to make your actual prototype based on just your hand drawing. If you hand make your own products, you may just want to sketch your ideas and then get right to working with your hands to make the thing. I'm going to take you through some of the steps I've used when I've made my products. Here are some examples of sketches I've done when getting ideas out on paper. As you can see, it's messy but it gets all out there. The idea here is just to get it out of my head and on paper so I can start playing around with it. Here, I've moved on to inking some of the designs using tracing paper. I then usually use the trace tool in Adobe Illustrator to turn these into digital drawings. Then in Illustrator, I further refine them as you can see here. Some of these examples, I started working digitally but the same concepts apply. I first build the shapes and then further refine until I'm happy with the final design. You can see here in the shell design, it went through a very messy process with a lot of iterations until it came out to the final design. For my laser cut parts, these final designs gets sent to my laser cutter so they can cut the shape out of metal or wood. From my paper products, I send these finished art files to the print shop that I work with and they print my art prints and cards. For the enamel pens, I send these finished digital files to the enamel pen manufacturer I work with. For my jewelry that is completely handmade and doesn't use any manufacturing, I will usually sketch out some ideas and then go straight to working with materials and testing things out with my hands. 7. Producing Products: Producing the product, printed products, for art prints, cards, and anything else stationary related. This is the easiest way to get your products made in my opinion, some may even want to get a printer and print right at home themselves. Other options would be working with a print shop, which is what I do. You can find local printers in your own town or find them online, just Google terms such as fine art printer or greeting card manufacturer. Pay attention to the popular sizes here, it will affect how successful your product is. For example, 8 by 10 prints are a popular print size, and an A2 card is usually the standard for greeting cards. Handmade products. You may already have skills in a certain field, but if not, there's plenty of opportunities to learn out there. There's formal training such as art school, but you could also take classes at your local arts center. When I first started out, I took classes at my local arts center in my area, every season. I took graphic design classes, jewelry classes, drawing classes, a fabric design classes, and I learned so much every time. Some local stores in your area may also offer workshops for you to take. Also, there's so much information online nowadays, some great sites for learning skills are skill share, creative bug, creative live, and then there are courses that artists may offer individually through their own websites. Then there's tons of free information out there in YouTube videos, blogs, websites, you just have to search and really dig sometimes. Lastly, let's not forget about good old-fashioned books, a stellar resources. Personally, I love to learn new things and have done all of these things myself when learning how to make my own products. I love learning things on my own and figuring it all out, it's part of the process for me. Hiring a craftsperson, this may be a good option if you're interested in designing a particular type of craft product, but you do not want to learn the skill to make it yourself. Sometimes this is the best route when you don't have the equipment to make the products, or you want to take the opportunity to have your products made from a professional in the field. Some examples are using screen printers or seamstresses. Just be aware that this option will usually require you to order a larger quantity, as these craft people need to make it worth their time and one-off projects are just not usually worth it for them. Manufacturing, this is working with a factory to produce your goods. This is also an option that will require you to produce larger quantities, and there are pins, for example, will usually require you to at least order a 100 pieces at a time. Some other examples would be mugs, tote bags, t-shirts. It does take some time to find the right company to work with, I'd recommend a lot of Google searching. But it's also best to work with a company that is recommended. Some good ways to find recommendations are in Facebook groups. There are Facebook groups out there for other small business owners and designers. They are filled with members that provide a lot of good information such as the resources and manufacturers they used to produce their products. A lot of designers will recommend their manufacturers or mentioned where they got their product made, just pay attention. You can always ask, but just remember some have spent a lot of time finding and building those relationships, and they may not want to give the information away readily. One tip to note here is trying to get a sample first if possible. The last thing you want is to order a bulk quantity and have them not be right. If it's not possible to get a sample first, make sure you trust and feel confident about the company you're working with. Some ways to feel confident are either getting a recommendation from someone like I just mentioned, or if you can see examples of the work they've done in the past. Mix of both, these are handmade products that are made by outsourcing a company to do some parts of the product, and then you do some parts of the process in-house, which just means under your watch in the place where you work. As an example, I made all my jewelry by hand at first, then moved on to outsourcing the laser cutting of my metal parts. When they come back to me, they are unfinished and myself and my production assistants do all the finishing in-house. Print on-demand companies. With some of the companies that I mentioned in the manufacturing sections such as mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, you can also use print on-demand companies. These products are when they have a blank product and they can digitally print your design on the product. The benefit of these companies is that it can even go as far as to fulfill the order and ship the product right to your customer. Which is nice because not only will it save you time from having to ship the product yourself, but you also don't have to order in bulk quantities which can have high upfront costs. Also, practically speaking can require a large amount of storage room that you may not have. The downside with this type of arrangement is that the costs are higher than if you ordered in bulk and shipped yourself. Also, you sometimes don't have control of how it's shipped and you don't have the opportunity to brand the products, as if you want to offer products but you want to be really hands off. I should also mention some companies such as Society6 or Redbubble, for example, where you just set up an account on their site and they take the order from the customer and handle everything, you only provide the design. The downside of these sites is that they offer even less money per product because they are really just giving you royalties for your design. The upside is that they have a larger audience, though you're making less you may have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Some things to think about here and the manufacturer section are, profit margin, this would be part of a whole other class. But it is important to note here that you should be conscientious of your costs in relationship to how you will be pricing the item. The second thing is stock, I think it's always better to have lower quantities of the product you're making at first in order to test the market. You don't want to be stuck with something that won't sell. If I can, I will keep lower quantities of a new product at first, and then when it's proven that it will sell, I'm happy to order larger quantities. Sometimes that means the cost of an item will be more at a lower quantity. But when I order a larger quantity, I know that I will usually get a better bulk cost, and this applies to both manufacture products or bulk pricing from materials when I make handmade products. 8. Next Steps: Your product is made. You're not done yet, of course, here are your next steps. There is product photography, branding, packaging for your products, selling products, whether it'd be online, in real life or wholesale to other retail shops. Lastly, promoting your products. These are all things I'd love to possibly cover in future classes. Please let me know what you're really needing help with. Leave a message in the class forum for this class. If it's simple enough, I can even help you there or I can make a note of it to cover in a future class. I just want to say here though, that getting the product made is the toughest part. Don't let all these next steps hold you back. Take a photo of your item and offer for sale. I would even recommend [inaudible] as the easiest point of entry. Is a community with already built-in audience. 9. Final Thoughts + Project: Final thoughts and class assignment. Get started and make the thing. Avoid paralysis by analysis. You don't want to get stuck here in the research planning and details phase. You need to act on your ideas as soon as you're ready, or they may never happen. Remember, your product doesn't have to be perfect. You have to start somewhere. It's a moving target, and you can always refine it as you go. Just get it out there. Get some feedback, learn, and refine as you go. It can really be as simple as that. For your class project, I want you to start and share wherever you are. Here are some things you might share in the class project. Inspiration, or what you'd like to make; this could be a screenshot of a Pinterest board or reference photos. One or more product illustrations with your designs and illustrations; this could be anything from loose sketches to digital mock-ups. Finally, if you're ready, I'd love to see the prototypes or the actual product. I'm so excited to see what you guys want to make or are making. Please let me know how I can help in any way.