Ipad Art: Make a Technical Repeat Pattern with Any Painting App | Nic Squirrell | Skillshare

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Ipad Art: Make a Technical Repeat Pattern with Any Painting App

teacher avatar Nic Squirrell, Artist and illustrator

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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.

      Ipad Art: Make a Technical Repeat with any painting app


    • 2.

      Raster painting apps & image sizes


    • 3.

      Making the artwork


    • 4.

      Streamlining the workspace


    • 5.

      Prepare the art - Removing the background


    • 6.

      Putting the art into repeat


    • 7.

      Using your repeat pattern and final thoughts


    • 8.

      Bonus: Tiling your pattern on your iPad (no Photoshop needed)


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About This Class

Join me as I show you how to take art you paint in your favourite iPad app and use it to make a technical seamless repeat pattern in the Paintstorm Studio app.

You will be using the iPad from start to finish, and combining apps to get to the end result.

I will walk you through my process from creating the initial artwork (I will be using Procreate for this, but you can use any painting app), resizing your image, removing any background, putting it into technical seamless repeat (you won't even need maths for this bit!) through to exporting the finished pattern tiles.

I will show you some things you can do with your pattern too.

Nice reviews really help me and are always welcome!

Do feel free to share your work on social media with the hashtag #nicsquirrellskillshare. I do share some of them in my Instagram Stories.

Follow me here on Skillshare to be kept up to date with my new classes and discussions.

Links to apps mentioned:


Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Paper 53

Tayasui Sketches

Paintstorm Studio

Paintstorm Studio Lite

Photo Investigator

Load Resize Image


NicSquirrell's website

Nic's Skillshare Classes


Quasi Motion Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Meet Your Teacher

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Nic Squirrell

Artist and illustrator

Top Teacher


I am an artist and designer of fun things living in Kent, England.

I studied Creative Visual Art and 3D Design at the University of Greenwich and loved every minute of it.

My illustrations are on many products from prints to suitcases and everything in between.

I love drawing and painting on my iPad as well as using traditional media, particularly watercolour.

If anything stays still long enough, I will draw on it.

Quirky animals, dreamy landscapes and watercolor florals are my speciality.

Follow me below to see what else I'm up to!


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@NicSquirrell on Instagram

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Ipad Art: Make a Technical Repeat with any painting app: Hello, I'm Nick, I'm an artist and surface patterned designer. For me it's important to be able to work anywhere, so my favorite art material is my iPad. No single app does everything and I find that by using a combination of apps, I can do most things on my iPad that I would normally have to use my computer for. In this class, I'm going to show you how to take Archie painting your favorite iPad app, and use it to make a technical seamless repeat pattern. We'll be using the iPad from start to finish. I'm using the large iPad Pro, but this will work on any model of iPad. I'll take you through my process, from creating the initial artwork to exporting the finished patterned tiles. If that sounds good, let's get started. 2. Raster painting apps & image sizes: Raster painting apps are pixel based. There are so many available on the iPad all with different features. Some of my favorites are Procreate, Adobe Sketch, Paper 53, Sketches and Paintstorm. I've put links to all the apps I mentioned in this class in the Your project section. Some of these apps are quite complex and some are simple. The great thing about this method of pattern creation is that you can use your favorite painting app to create the initial artwork. Many apps don't give you a choice of canvas size. But if you're stars, make it as big as you can at 300ppi. It doesn't have to be square, you can't always choose. So now's a good time for a bit of Maths, 12 inches by 12 inches is a good size for pattern tile, 300ppi is the usual quality required for printing. PPI means pixels per inch, 300ppi means there are 300 pixels in every inch. So 12 inches will have 12 lots of 300 pixels, which is 3,600 pixels. If you're not sure what size your app outputs at, you can make a quick sample image, save it to your camera roll, and download a free app called Photo Investigator by Daniel Anderson. There's a link in the project section. So opening up, go to your picture, I'm going to check this one, see what size it is. It gives you a lot of information about it here. Don't worry about the DPI if it says 72 there, it doesn't matter. We're only concerned with the pixel size. This one just happens to be the perfect size, 5,000 by 5,000, that's exactly what I want. But you can go quite a bit smaller and still be fine. As we've already discussed, 3,600 pixels is 12 inches at 300 dpi, so that's plenty big enough. In the next video, we're going to start painting our pattern. 3. Making the artwork: I'm going to make my initial artwork in Procreate, and I'm going to make it really big using a 7,000 by 7,000 pixel canvas. I have lots of choice as to what I'll do with it later. I might want to use it as it is, as a print before putting it into repeat. I'll have to reduce the size later to put into repeat on the iPad. But if you do the same, I'll show you how to do that. If you have a smaller iPad or are using a different app, you might have a smaller canvas to work on. Process is the same no matter what painting app you're using. If you'd like to know more about how I use Procreate, I have a class called iPad Art, Create a Monster in Procreate, which goes into detail about how I use this app. This demo, I'm going to base my pattern on butterflies. I've chosen butterflies because there's so much variety in shape, size, and color, they're non-directional, and so that makes them really good for patterns. They're easy to paint in any app. You can make them as simple or as fancy as you like. You can look online for reference if you like, but don't copy. Or you can just invent your own butterflies. Realistic or not, that's up to you. Just have fun. The more different motifs you have, the more interesting your final pattern will be. It's good idea to limit the colors you use to maybe seven or so in order to get to the harmonious overall look. Vary the size, color, and orientation of your butterflies. I start by placing a few larger elements. Then I adopt some medium-size butterflies in between them, then I fill in the gap with smaller pieces. Try to avoid having things lining up, especially diagonally. Once the art is in repeat, this can be really distracting. Some apps won't let you move things around. But if something isn't in quite the right place, it doesn't matter too much, we can move things around later. Keep the background plain white or even better, transparent, if you have the option. You'll be able to add a color later if you want to. When you're ready, export your finished artwork to the camera roll as a transparent PNG file if possible, or also as a JPG depending on the app you're using. If you've used transparent brushes, for example, a watercolor effect, save it as a JPEG with a white background. Because if you save it as a transparent file and put a color behind it, it'll change the image color too. As the pixels are see-through, you'll see the background through the artwork. If you've made your artwork larger than 5,000 by 5,000 pixels, you'll need to resize it for the next step. I use the free image size app by VS Media, link in the project section, which does exactly what it says. So I'm going to open the resize app and to choose picture I want to resize. You can see it's 7,000 by 7,000 at the moment. Tap on that and change it to what you want to switch. I'm going for 5,000. Then export that to the camera roll. For the next video, you'll need to download the Paintstorm Studio app. There's a free version in which you can only save the finished piece as a watermarked JPEG file, or the paid version, which lets you export as PSD, JPEG, PNG or PMP. I've put a link to both in the project section. Obviously, you can't make finished artwork on the lite version because of the watermark, but at least you can try it before you buy. 4. Streamlining the workspace: Paintstorm is my favorite app for putting patterns into repeat, because it's fairly simple. It's easy to move the pattern elements around, and you can see how York tile looks in repeats as you go along, which is a huge plus. If you use the Paintstorm app for designing your entire pattern from scratch, but I want to show you how you can combine it with any painting app to give you more options. Open a Paintstorm app. If you're familiar with Photoshop, you'll see that the layout is similar, and has little pop-up menus that get bigger when you tap on them and shrink when you tap elsewhere on the screen. Press on the three dots on the top left to bring up the top menu bar. We can set up the interface to make life easier for pattern creation, and then save it as a workspace for next time. First close down any unneeded panels by tapping the X at the top left of each panel. I'm going to get rid of the color wheel, mix the brushes, the brush options, I'll leave the layers, bush options, brushes, and the panels toggle. You can get them back later using the view menu at the top. There are two ways to easily access your most used tools. I find the first way to be the easiest. We can make a custom palette filled with all the tools we use most for pattern-making and save it for future use. Go to view custom 1. If you tap the tool sign at the top right of the panel, you'll see it turns orange, and there's also a faint orange line around the edge of the box. This means you can now add tools to your palette. Do this by dragging them from your tool palette or drop-down menu. I'm going to add the following; the lasso tool, the move tool, copy, cut, paste, free transform, merge layer down, flip horizontal, flip vertical, undo, redo, clear, which is deselect, save, because I find the app particularly the free version to be a little buggy sometimes, so I prefer to manually save as I go along rather than just rely on the auto save, seamless mode. You can move the items around in palette. When you're ready, click on the tool symbol again and it turns gray and you're done. The other way is a little more fiddly, but I'll show you as you may prefer it. It's easier if you're not using a stylus because the buttons are larger. There are some options you can only get by doing this, including the shift, control, and alt keys. But there are other options like flip horizontal and vertical, which you can get as a hotkey, so I use mainly the custom palette and a few hotkeys. I like the undo and redo to be easily a hand to. Close your custom palette by crossing it down, go to file, define hotkeys, and just uncheck everything except the hide panels because you can't. You may pull the following options; lasso tool, collapse two layers which is merged down, disable selection which is deselect, copy, paste, undo, redo, free transform, and seamless mode. Tap outside the panel to close it. You can move the hotkeys by dragging with two fingers, one of which must be on the hotkey. You can resize the hotkeys in the same way by spreading or narrowing the distance between your fingers. I like my hotkeys laid out like this to be out of the way of the file menu at the top. When you're happy with your arrangements, go to view, workspace 1, It will already be highlighted, but try workspace 2, and then 1 again, you'll see it has saved it. You can use the hide panels hotkey in the lower left to hide all the clutter if you want a better look at your screen. Tap again and it all comes back. Exit the app to permanently keep the layout then the custom palettes by going to file, exit. Now, we're all set up and you won't need to do that again, it's time to bring in and prepare your artwork. 5. Prepare the art - Removing the background: In the page storm app, go to File, Open, iCloud or iTunes for camera roll depending on where you saved your original. If you use Dropbox or Box, go to iCloud, then click on locations at top left and choose your cloud provider. Bring in your file and at this point I like to work on a duplicate layer and keep the original like it is. So I'm going to go into my layers panel. I'm going to click this, which is the duplicate layers. In the original layer I'm going to locate, and I'm going to close this little eye symbol so that it's not visible. You might need to come back to that layer later at some point. So make sure you're working off the top layer. Now we're going to remove the white background if your file is not already a transparent PNG file. So use the magic wand to select the white, and you can see the marching ants where the selection is. You might need to change the tolerance slider. If you've got a fairly transparent image, this will make quite a little difference. When you're happy with your selection, tap on the "Cut." You can't really see the difference. This is made because paint stone by default displays against white. But if you have a look in the Layers palette, that layer that you're on, is going to check in background so you can see that it's transparent. I'm just going to show you this again using an image which has got much less well-defined edges. So I'm going to go to the magic wand, click on the "Whites", and as you can see, I'm going to have to play around with the tolerance, particularly around this very see-through fly here. So let's change that. I want to get as much of my image in there as possible. Okay. I think that looks better. I need to cut that now. You can check it by putting another layer in and filling it with a color. Strike it down beneath the layer we're working on. I'm going to use the fill tool and I'm going to fill it with black. You can see that it's actually done a pretty good job of keeping most of it in. This is one or two little bits that would need sorting out. You can be as fussy about this or as unfussy as you like. Obviously fussy is probably better if you want to sell it. You can go in and you can knit not the edges with the eraser tool. I'll leave that up to you. The next video we're going to put our art into repeat. 6. Putting the art into repeat: Before we go any further to save this file, and because it's now layered, I don't want to just save it to the camera roll. I'm going to go File, Save As, I'm going to save it to iCloud, and save it as a layered PSD file. We're going to make yet another layer to work off. You use the duplicate layer again close down the lower layers and just work on the top layer. Now it's time for the fun bit. I'm going to hit seamless mode either on one of your custom menus or in the Edit menu. You can see that it magically puts it into repeat. You can zoom in and out to the two-finger pinch as usual. But make sure upon that second bar, the Show Frame is checked so that you can see where the edges of your repeat are. You might need to go back and do this a few times during the process. You can see the white borders around each tile. It's time to move some elements around so that we can get rid of those. Make sure you're on the correct working layer, and to use mainly the Lasso tool and the Free Transform. Let's just move something around touché, so that you can see if I move this butterfly off the edge on this side, it magically reappears on the other side, and the same thing happens when you move something off the top it reappears at the bottom. Once you've moved something halfway off the tile, won't be able to go back later and move it because effectively if you take it off same side effectively you've only got half of that butterfly left. If you need to make any further adjustments, you'll need to go back to your original layer and copy the object from there. If you want to duplicate an object, use the Lasso tool. Copy, Paste and see it's pasted into a new layer. You can use the Free Transform to scale, rotate, and move it. I don't advise scaling it to much bigger because you do lose quality that way. It's quite easy to get it out of shape too, so you just bare that in mind. Then you tap "Okay" up here when you're done, and if you're happy with it, you can then merge the layer down. At this point the frame annoyingly disappears so you'll have to check that box again. If you're not duplicating an object and all you're doing is moving it or transforming it, you won't need to do this with the layers. Concentrate on rearranging the edges first and then move all the middle bit surround it until it looks right. At this stage, I'm just doing a lot of copying, pasting, transforming, just to get everything looking how it want it to. I quite like having little versions of the big butterflies. Now, I'm just filling in the gaps with lots of little butterflies, so I'm going to have a look. That looks pretty even. I'm really happy with that. Now let's take it out of seamless mode and see what we have. There we have it. Finished pattern tile. It's seamless, and it will repeat perfectly. Now I'm going to save this as a PNG file with the transparent background. If you'd like to join me in the next video, I'll show you some things that you can do with it. 7. Using your repeat pattern and final thoughts: So here we have the original painting, I'm just going to put in a white layer behind it so that you can see what it looks like. Then here we have the repeat that we made in paint store. I've opened it in photoshop to show you how I'm going to use it. Going to the repeat, I need to edit, define pattern. Then I'm going to make a new file. This one I'm going to make really big 10,500 by 10,500 at 300 dpi and then I could just fill it with pattern using the fill tool, you can choose pattern up here. But I'm going to say a bit more control over it by going layer, new fill layer. I'm going to fill it with pattern. Okay, it defaults to the last one you used. Then you have the choice of changing the scale, and again, I want to scale up because that's just going to ruin the quality but scaling down. See you can use it as you wish. I'll stick with a 100 percent for this. Click Okay, let's open up a layer in below. I'm going to fill that one to sweep the foreground color, which is white, just so that we can see the pattern better. It is on a dark ground as well. Now that you've put it into a p, you have so many more options. Here are just a few examples of items I've made on Society6 and Redbubble using my repeat pattern. Your project for this class is to make a pattern in your own style and color palette based on butterflies or anything else if you'd rather, and put it into repeat. Post both images in the project section, I can't wait to see what you come up with. Now you have a seamless technical repeat pattern tile, ready to go. If you have any questions, please post in the discussion section and I will do my best to answer. I hope you had as much fun in this class as I did making it. If you enjoyed this class, please leave a positive recommendation so that others can find my classes too. Thank you for joining me and I'll see you soon. 8. Bonus: Tiling your pattern on your iPad (no Photoshop needed): If you don't have Photoshop and you want to make a larger documents than our original tile, or if you want to scale the pattern down just so you can do it on your iPad. If you're going to the photos where you saved your pattern tile, I'm going to copy the tile. Sometimes it shows on a black background if it's in fact a C3 background. I'm just going to copy that. Then I'm going to go into the Graphic app, which is actually a vector based app, but it's going to be perfect for what you want to do. I'm going to add a new file by pressing the "Plus" and choose a blank background, and we give it a title. I'm going to make this one 7,000 pixels by 7,000 pixels, just to demonstrate. I'm going to call it Butterfly Tango 7000. I like to use the pixel size in my file name, just to remind me what's going on. Press "Done", I'm going to the image. It's actually not 7,000 pixels right now. Up here, you can press the cog. You can change the artboard size, so I'm going to make that 7,000 by 7,000. Zoom out by pinching. Then I'm going to press the "Paperclip" here and Paste. It's pasting in my pattern tile. This one happens to be 5,000 by 5,000. I can have a look at that by going into the ruler. It's got the size that's 5,000 by 5,000. Then I'm going to select that by tapping it, Copy. I need four tiles in order to tile it properly over the surface. I'm going to paste in place, do that three times. I've got now a total of four tiles. This highlighted one of the tiles, you can either just drag it into place. You've got some little guidelines there to show you it's in the right place. Or if you want to be really accurate, you can go up here to this little ruler. You can see that's actually perfectly in place. It's 5,000 pixels across from the first one, which is what we wanted. Go back, tap on your original again, which is now stuck at three, and this one we're going to move down by 5,000. Again, go back to the original. We're going to move that one 5,000 down and 5,000 across. Now you got your pattern on a larger background than the originally had on its seamlessly tiny. I'm going to drag over all of them, so you put all four tiles there. Let's say you can either just move them around so that you've got them in position that you like. Or if you want to scale them, you can press this little icon here and you can choose how you want to scale them. Let's say this is already selected 90 percent and let's say, let's choose 80 percent, horizontally and vertically scale. Let's moved it down. You can also scale by pressing the tool up here and just dragging the sides, scale up with then. You can also change the background color while you're in here of your artboard. We're going to the cog, hit the "Background Color". You can make your own or you can choose from what you've already gotten your pallet. When you're ready, you can export, of course, you can choose whatever size background you like to this. If you go back, Save, and then this icon up here lets you export. I'm going to save it to Dropbox. Highlight the item I wanted to save or share. I have a variety of choices here. You can save it as a native graphic file, which you can only using graphic. You can save it as a PDF, which is always handy. You can save it as an SVG as bit pointless because this isn't actually a vector file, this is a pixel-based file. You can save it as a Photoshop file with layers if you have any. I don't have any right now. You can save it as a PNG, which will mean you can, so keep it transparent. You can save it as a JPEG. If you export it as a PNG or JPEG, and you leave the image resolution at 72 dpi, it actually keeps the pixel size the same. If you were to export it at 300 dpi, it would end up much bigger than the original. I'm just going to leave it as it is. Just make sure if you want to export it as a transparent ping that you uncheck include background.