10 Ways to Make Better Patterns | Liz Kohler Brown | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      What You'll Learn in This Class


    • 2.

      Class Workbook & Resources


    • 3.

      Repeat Blocks


    • 4.

      Creating Assets


    • 5.

      Materials & Sizes


    • 6.

      Focus & Mindset


    • 7.

      Themes & Layouts


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About This Class

In this class you'll learn how to take your patterns to the next level with actionable tips to improve your pattern making process, inspiration, and mindset.

Many repeat pattern designers get stuck in the phase of making the same basic scatter repeats over and over, and struggle to get "outside the box" to take their patterns to a more professional level.

In this class I'll share my pattern improvement tips with you, so you can start looking at your own patterns and discover ways to improve.

Here is the Class Guide

See you in class!


Meet Your Teacher

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Liz Kohler Brown

artist | designer | teacher | author



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Level: Intermediate

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1. What You'll Learn in This Class: Hi everyone. I'm Liz Kohler Brown. I'm an artist designer and teacher. In this class, I want to show you 10 ways to make better patterns. We've all been there in the beginner stages of making patterns where every single pattern just ends up being a basic scattered repeat. There are so many ways to take your patterns to the next level and I want to share 10 of my favorite easy ways that you can immediately implement into your pattern-making process, so you can start making better patterns today. Some of these methods are more mindset based, whereas others are process-based. I'm going to take you through some of the details of each method. You can start thinking about how you can apply each one to your pattern making process. I have been making a full-time income just from my patterns for the last five years. I can tell you that after making thousands of patterns, I have made many mistakes and learn many tricks for making better patterns. I want to share all of those with you in this class so you can start making better patterns too. All I recommend that you have with you to watch this class is a notebook and something to write with because you're probably going to be getting a lot of great pattern ideas as you watch the class and you're going to want to write those down. Grab your notebook and a pen and something to drink and let's get started. 2. Class Workbook & Resources: Before we dive into all the methods for creating better patterns, I want to tell you all about the workbook that goes along with this class. In the workbook, you'll find examples of assets that you can create for your patterns. An example of what I did with the 150 assets that I created, and also some examples of different pattern types that you can start integrating into your work. You can pick up the workbook using the link just below this video in the "About" section on Skillshare. I also want to mention that I have several other classes that will help you get started with building repeats in Affinity Designer. If you want to check out those classes in the Affinity Designer Quickstart guide, those will take you through more of the physical process, whereas this is going to take you through the concepts of creating better patterns. Let's dive in so you can have some actionable tips for how you can start making better patterns. 3. Repeat Blocks: My number one tip is the easiest thing that you can start implementing right now, and that is using a half drop or half brick layout. A problem that I often see is that when someone uses a basic repeat pattern, it creates obvious repeat blocks which have an unprofessional feel. You all probably know these well from your own patterns or other people's patterns, where you can see exactly where the repeat repeats. You can just see the elements easily as you look across the pattern. That has a very unprofessional feel, and even for someone who knows nothing about design, it has somewhat of an awkward feel. It is so much easier to hide the repeat seam when you use half drop or half brick pattern blocks rather than basic repeats. It's literally just changing how you do your math when you create your pattern. But it has such a big impact on the overall layout of your pattern, rather than seeing those obvious elements over and over, it slides down the repeat page, so you really have to look deeply to be able to see where something repeats. I want to show you a few examples of some of my patterns that are half drop versus basic, and have you guess which ones are basic and which ones are half drop. What do you think this one is? This is a basic repeat. You can see these pieces repeat over and over. How about this one? This is a half drop repeat. You can see there's so much more fluidity and movement in these half drop patterns. Here are a couple more, what do you think about this one? This is a half drop. How about this one? This is a basic and you can see how the elements repeat. I have made a big shift in my repeat creation process lately where I don't use basic repeats anymore, so I invite you to join me and abandon the basic repeat world because the half drop half brick world is so much more fluid and has so much more movement to it. 4. Creating Assets: Next is don't breeze over the assets phase. Beginner patterns usually only have a few assets or motifs making for a simple and static pattern. I know that when you want to build a repeat pattern, it's easy to get very excited and say, I want to jump right in and build my repeat right now. But it would be so much better to spend several weeks creating a huge library of assets so that when you get into building your patterns, you have a gorgeous set of beautiful pattern elements that work well together. All you have to worry about is putting the puzzle pieces together. I recommend you spend 80-90 percent of your pattern creation time building your asset library. I know that is going to sound crazy to some people who have never taken a lot of time to build assets, but I promise you that once you go through this process one time and build a huge library of assets, your life is going to be changed when it comes to making patterns. Here are some of my older patterns where I only made a few assets to go along with the pattern, and here are some of my newer patterns where I'm creating a large number of assets. You can see how much more interesting variation and diversity there is in my patterns. My next tip is create filler elements. I think when it comes to beginner patterns, this is one of the most overlooked elements of pattern-making. The problem is that many patterns lack basic filler elements that help fill dead spaces and give the pattern more movement. In the assets phase, create a large number of simple filler elements that work with your pattern theme, like berries, leaves, and seeds. This is honestly one of my favorite parts of the asset creation stage because you can literally just sit down with a podcast or an audiobook and just make marks. Just paint and draw and procreate, and make fine little shapes and marks over and over to create your filler elements. These are so important for filling in little spaces that need some help, but you don't want them to necessarily take away from the hero elements of your pattern. Take this tip and get inspired to create some assets that are just simple shapes, which can literally just be some circles, squares, triangles, seedlings, whatever you want them to be, that works for your pattern theme. 5. Materials & Sizes: The next tip is combining the traditional and the digital. Many beginner patterns are not varied and they don't beg the viewer to keep looking to see more interesting details. The solution is that in the assets phase, play with a wide range of methods and materials to create a variety of styles. As you can see in the class workbook for my recent collection, I created about 150 assets. I started with some linework in Procreate. Just some simple black and white linework and then I added in some hand-painted elements. I literally just took some basic sketchbook paper and some black ink and painted all of these little pieces that go along with the theme of my collection. The theme of my collection was deep forest and I just created all these simple little pieces. They don't have to be super complex. These are like little deer footprints. These are little animal footprints and bird marks on the ground, little flowers. It doesn't have to be anything super complex to add a lot of variation to your patterns. The next tip is to make your elements a variety of sizes. Many beginner pattern makers put all their pattern elements in the same scale, leaving little room for variation. Try creating some patterns with a wide variety of scales, like some tiny berries paired with some big birds or leaves, to give your pattern more movement and variation. This highlights again why it's so important to spend a lot of time in that assets phase. Because when you have a variety of assets, it's really easy to just grab some and put them in at a different scale so that every single element in your pattern isn't the same scale. Whereas if you don't spend that time creating all the different assets that you'll need and a variety of filler elements as well, you won't have those little tiny elements that are so helpful for filling up space. Of course, we don't just want to fill up space randomly though it's important for these assets to be somehow connected to the theme of your collection. In some cases, it might be little berries, it might be little seedlings, whatever it is that works with your theme that will be a great filler at a smaller size. 6. Focus & Mindset: My next tip for making better patterns is to stick with one style for a while and go deep. Many beginner pattern designers skip around from one style to the next, never fully exploring one single style. I suggest you choose one style you like and create a few hundred patterns in that same style. You'll be able to create much higher-quality patterns when you focus on one style. I know for beginner pattern makers, it is tempting to just jump around and try everything. I do think there's a place for that in the very beginning, it's important to experiment and try all of the styles that you might possibly like. But eventually when you get to the place where you feel like you have an idea of what you like, that is the time to start going deep. Maybe you choose one or two styles of line work that you're going to do for a year. Maybe it's more like the color palette and basic layout. Whatever it is, choose something that set some constraints on your pattern style and then go deep into that style. My next tip is to forget the myth of everything has been done. I know you all have heard this before, not just out there in the world, but in your own mind many times. Many beginners worry that starting new patterns is pointless because everything has already been done. But remember that companies and buyers are always looking for new patterns and the number of products in the world that need patterns outweigh the number of people making great patterns. Whenever you have that thought in your head that says, why should I make a new pattern, what's the point, I want you to make a list of all of the products out in the world that need patterns, including the shirt I'm wearing, I have some pattern wallpaper, cell phone cases, I've had cases, notebooks, we could go on and on, and think about how every individual in the world needs a lot of different products in their life, and many of those people choose patterned products. The number of products inevitably outweighs the number of pattern makers, so don't worry about the fact that there are a lot of people out there making patterns. There is no one out there making patterns in your style, and that is why you need to make patterns because you have a unique take on all of these themes that are already out there. But you have a style, you have a color palette that is unique to you and other people want to see it. My next tip is, build assets whenever you have creative block. Often beginner creatives feel creative blocks, so they avoid starting new patterns. When you don't know what kind of pattern to create, it's time to just create assets. This allows you to create anything you want and experiment with various styles without worrying about creating a final pattern. No matter where you are in your creative journey, you have experience some creative block. Some feeling of, I don't know what to make, or everything's been made, or nothing I make looks good, these are thoughts that we all have, and this is when it's time to just play. Maybe you just want to draw a dragonfly, and then you want to draw a coffee cup, and then you want to draw a rabbit. It just doesn't matter, just start building assets. If you're anything like me, once you start that drawing process and you get your hands moving, it's so much easier to dig into making patterns because once you get the juices flowing, they really start flowing. But if you're sitting there staring at a blank page, it's never going to jump out at you and inspire you. That's just not how it works. For me, the inspiration comes from movement and moving my hands and working. Join me if you're having some creative block and just make some assets that have nothing to do with each other. Don't worry about a theme, just start building. 7. Themes & Layouts: My next tip is to come up with a themes list that you have, either in a notebook, a Google Doc, or whatever storage system works for you. The problem is that many beginner pattern makers can feel paralyzed by indecision about what kind of pattern to make next. Before you start building your next pattern, create a themes list that you can pull from when you're feeling creative block. Next time you don't know what to create, you'll be so happy you have a themes list to lean on. I actually use the storage system called Notion, which is a free program where you can organize information in all kinds of different ways. That is where I keep all of my ideas. Anytime I see a pattern I love, a concept I love, or I just think of an interesting title for a collection, I put that down because on the times that you need the inspiration, it's not just going to come to you, especially if you sit down at your desk, and you've got your pen in your hand, that is when inspiration just disappears somehow. But if you had this list and all you have to do is open the list and choose something on it and start creating, it's so much easier to be creative, and it takes the pressure off. In a way, it's like having a boss telling you what to do, which sometimes we all need. When you're creative, if you work for yourself, you don't have a boss and no one will ever tell you what to do or have a deadline, and that can be a little overwhelming. So give yourself both a deadline and a theme, and you will find that you have so much more inspiration when you need it. My last tip for you is to explore all of the pattern types. There are so many pattern types out there that don't get enough attention. Most people go to the basic scatter pattern, which I know you've all tried, but there are so many others out there to explore. Often beginners arrange their patterns in one way that they learned first, usually the basic scatter method. I invite you to try using your assets to create patterns in all the layouts you can come up with rather than sticking with the first layout that comes to mind, this will force you to stretch your skills and create more complex patterns. [MUSIC] If you've picked up the workbook, you know there are some ideas in there for making interesting pattern layouts. So I invite you to start trying some of those in your patterns so that you aren't as always creating the same scatter repeats that we all start out with. I hope you enjoyed these tips and that you are inspired to start taking your patterns to the next level. Please share what you make in the project section here on Skillshare or tag me, @LizKohlerBrown on Instagram and Facebook. Remember I have a lot more classes that will help you get familiar with how to build patterns on your iPad, including how to work with vectors from drawing to finish vector, how to create basic pattern, how to build collections, and how to design repeat patterns for print on-demand and fill your print on-demand shops. Thanks so much for watching this class, and I'll see you again next time. Bye.