Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand-Drawn Wallpaper | Julia Rothman | Skillshare

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Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand-Drawn Wallpaper

teacher avatar Julia Rothman, 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.

      Teaser: Pattern Making in 60 Seconds


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Project: Hand Draw Your Own Wallpaper


    • 4.

      Getting Inspired


    • 5.

      Illustrating Your Objects


    • 6.

      Cutting & Assembling Your Repeat Tile


    • 7.

      Xeroxing & Wallpapering Your Pattern


    • 8.

      Wrapping Up


    • 9.

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About This Class

Illustrate and design your own hand-drawn repeat pattern wallpaper. In this half-hour class, illustrator Julia Rothman takes you through her process of illustrating her favorite household objects, then turning her drawing into a repeat pattern for wallpaper – all with some simple cutting, pasting, and xeroxing.

Julia's simple, step-by step process for making and installing hand-drawn wallpaper makes this class perfect for every designer, illustrator, or crafter looking for a fun project. This class takes the process off the computer so you can understand how pattern design works, get some insider tips on illustration, and add a personal touch to your home.

While Julia walks through the process of making wallpaper, you could also use your pattern in countless other ways: for printed fabric, a background pattern, or just a simple hand-drawn illustrated pattern. The possibilities are endless and the reward is a home filled with personality.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Julia Rothman



Julia Rothman has created illustrations and pattern designs for newspapers, magazines, wallpaper, dishware, bedding, books, billboards and subway posters. Some of her clients (in no particular order) include Chronicle Books, Target, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Urban Outfitters, The Metropolitan Transit Authority, The Land of Nod, Design*Sponge and Victoria's Secret. She has authored and illustrated many books including a personal memoir/guidebook to her hometown, Hello NY, and her most recent Nature Anatomy which is compendium of curious facts and illustrations about our natural world. She lives and works from her studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Julia works from her studio in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Des... See full profile

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1. Teaser: Pattern Making in 60 Seconds: 2. Introduction: Hi. I'm Julia Rothman. I'm an illustrator and pattern designer. My studio is in Brooklyn, New York in my home. This is Rudy, my dog. Welcome. I always love to draw. When I was very, very young, my mom got me a sketchbook. I used to draw things that I saw. Things like the Aladdin, DVD box, or my Garfield sheets. Then, I started going to art classes, but I also went to dance classes. I just did a lot of the arts. When I got into art school, it was just natural to keep drawing and do it for a living. I have a line of wallpaper. I have a line of stationery. I did a lot of service designs for Crate and Barrel. Sometimes I do things for anthropology. I wrote and illustrated four books and I'm working on more books now, and more wallpaper, and more of everything. Every day is fun. Every day is amazing. I'm doing what I love. I sit there and I draw all day. Then, I please people and they're happy, and then I'm happy. Then I get to see my art in people's homes, on bedding, and kids walls, and it's really, really satisfying. I really wanted to teach this class to share what I've learned and pass on what I've learned from other people. This is like a very simple technique and anybody can learn and anybody can make a pattern and make something they really love. So, it felt like the right thing to teach. I taught a class at RISD last year, like very close to all my students. We are still friends and we're still helping each other out. They tell me what's cool and I help them with jobs or their work. Just being around young people and fresh minds and looking at their work and trying to help them, is really a good feeling for me as well. So, I want to keep doing that. I'm Julia Rothman, and this is illustrative patterns. 3. Project: Hand Draw Your Own Wallpaper: For this project, you're going to create your own wallpaper of illustrated objects of your choice: just your favorite things around your house, or fun things you own, or all your shoes, or whatever you want. First, we're going to find some things we want to put in our design. I'm an illustrator, so I always like to make patterns that have lots of drawings in them. I like patterns that fill the space a lot. I'm going to pick about 20 objects to draw and I'm going to draw them on a piece of paper. Then I'm going to cut the paper in a certain way and tape it back together so that I have a repeat tile on one sheet of paper. Then we're going to Xerox it a million times and then line it all up to make a wallpaper. Anybody can do this. You don't need to know illustrating. You don't need to know Photoshop. This is like a piece of paper, a pen, an X-Acto, a ruler and that's it, and some glue and you will have wallpaper, a repeating wallpaper. Everybody will make something nice. I've done this many times in workshops, at different art schools, and other places, and everybody makes something cool. I'm always just shocked because I'm just teaching people how to do my job and they're all going to do it and take all my jobs away, but that's okay. Yeah, you'll make something good. Once you learn this, you'll be able to take this understanding of making a pattern and apply it to any program you need to use in the computer. So if you want to color in the computer you're like, "Oh, now I get why a pattern repeats and how to make it fit." So, people just go in and go directly into the computer but this just gives you the foundation for an understanding of making a repeat pattern. You don't think about how often patterns are used and how you can use them. You open a book and the end pages could be a pattern, you have wrapping paper, or you have wallpaper, or maybe it's part of a design. I mean, learning to make a pattern can cross every field. Learning the foundation of it is really important so that you understand how to do it. So, that's what we're gonna do today. 4. Getting Inspired: So, whenever I am starting a new project, I have to brainstorm or I have to find inspiration somewhere, and I have amassed a huge library of books and a lot of them are about patterns or surfaces design. So, I pulled some off the shelf to show you some of my go tools. This is like the best book in the whole world and the book I use the most. I'm sure you've seen it if you're ever around any art bookstore, it's everywhere. But it's just like a history of design and I mean it's like almost breaking, because I use it so much for ideas. These Dover type books, where it's like royalty-free designs, always draw from them, all the time. Just filled with objects and things, I often just like look at a drawing of something and redraw it. Flowers, I mean it's nice to look at pictures of flowers too, but sometimes the shapes of things like how the leaves are falling or like the clump is made, is inspirational. Then like it's always good to have, oh just like lots of these books, different cultures like maybe I'll make something inspired by Soviet designs today, and I just like flip through these kinds of books all the time. These come with CDs, so you can actually take these files and manipulate them, but you can't actually use it in your work, is just for fun. So, if you want to make a wrapping paper or something for yourself for your own project, you could take their designs. Then like Japanese artists, this is a mirror Meco person. Books about wrapping paper, just wrapping paper, books about just wallpaper. I don't know if the stack is going to block me. Keep going here is my favorite artist. I look at her work a lot and lots of little intricate things and I just think it's so beautiful. This inspired like my one of the wallpapers I made, that's coming out. This Memphis, this is like what every hipster cool kid is inspired by right now, but like the patterns you see, I don't know if you can see it in here. Like this kind of stuff is used so much now, they're all from the style of design. So, keeping up with trends is important. So, knowing like, ''Oh this is what's cool now'', like where did it come from? What is it about? Why is it cool now? Is kind of important although I haven't really looked at this book that much but I should. If you know my work I draw like patterns of typewriters or patterns of shoes those are the things I'm most known for, is lots of illustrated objects. So, I thought we'd do that today, so I went around my apartment and picked some random things to draw. So, I've drawn a whisk probably 100 times, the most beautiful scissors, my old camera I never use but very fun to draw, a teapot, very dirty. We'll draw my glasses that I should be wearing, a beer glass, I just pulled things that were all different shapes and sizes, maybe we'll cut the orange so that we get something prettier. I have hot press, eight by 10 paper, hot press doesn't have bumps on it it's very smooth. So, it's easier to draw and it doesn't matter what size paper you use. I picked it because we're going to xerox later and my xerox machine only takes 8.5 by 11, you don't want any of the edges to cut off, so I've got eight by 10 paper but you can do this with a square piece of paper or a rectangle piece paper it doesn't matter. I'm just using a uni-ball pen and it might run out because this run out really fast. Well, that's mean to uni-ball, but I use them a lot and I'm going to put my glasses on even though we're going to draw them. 5. Illustrating Your Objects: I guess I'm going to start with the tea pot. So, when you're drawing your tile, you can't touch the edge, nothing can go off the paper. So, it can come really really close but it can't ever touch. So, when I draw stuff, I try not to look at the paper as much as the object like a blind contour drawing and that's just been my style for a long time. I just do the outline, all the lines that I can see. I've always drawn like this. I'm trying now to experiment a little more because I feel like the starting point is a little boring or I get worried about being out of style or not keeping up with something or not pushing myself. So, the small changes to my style that I'm doing are; using a brush pen which makes the line not this one style size line. So, when I start drawing, I start at the bottom because I want it to look like a space. So, if I put the first thing in the bottom, then I can draw things so they look like they're behind other things, if you start at the top, things are going to look piled in a weird way. So, now if I draw this cup, it looks like it's sitting on a surface behind this teapot, and I'm really just going to fill this paper because I think with this technique and I think you should do that too when you're doing this project, is fill the entire thing. Don't just do a few things here and there, because you won't fully understand the process if you do it that way. So, a lot of people make patterns and they make really good ones, but how do you get a job making them? Now, the answer is you put your work out there as much as you can, because the art directors or the buyers for these big companies, you can't just look up their contact the way you could look up in a masthead in art director for a magazine which is what illustrators do. So, when I was trying to get illustration jobs when I just graduated, I would sit in Barnes and Noble and open up every magazine, and go to the masthead and write down the assistant art director and the art directors name, and mail them a postcard with my work on one side. But now, you do more of email blasts or I guess you do a postcard still. I just draw a lot of pictures and put them on Instagram mostly, and a lot of art directors follow me on there and then hire me just from Instagram, but also I've developed a client, you do a good job and your client keeps coming back to you. But how do you start? Is a bit harder, I just think that you used to try to get on design blogs and get your work featured. You still can do that, I think you just get it seen as much as humanly possible. 6. Cutting & Assembling Your Repeat Tile: I'm going to cut it up in half, one way. It doesn't matter which way you start, but I'm going to do with the long way. I'm going to do it on the back. I'm just going to mark the four. Trying to do a clean cut. Okay. So, here's my drawing. I'm going to flip it like this, and I'm going to tape it on the back. Because I'm using a little bit of a thicker paper, it's easier to line up and make tight. If it's a thin paper, you can use computer paper and do this. Okay. That's step one or step four, I don't know. You can do it again, but this time I'm going to slice it this way and flip it. So, now, I'm measuring five, right? Because it was 8 by 10. So, now, all parts of my drawing are on the four corners and there's this big white space in here left. I'm going to tape my thing back together, seamlessly. Now, you can draw. You have to fill in the rest here, but you can't touch the edges. It's hard to draw over your line, but you just have to do your best, over the bump of the taped part. Okay. We're going to say that this tile is done. So, now, if we take this and repeat it, it's going to connect. So, see how this teapot is on the other side, and then the top of it is here in the bottom. This is all the pieces of the teapot. So, when we make another sheet of this, it's going to be like and going down. How are we going to do this one differently? We're going to do a half drop per p. Same steps, cut it in half, and then we're going to put it together differently. Okay. So, now, for the half chop, we're going to flip it, but we're going to put it halfway down, it's probably about there. So, we're going to do this on the backside though. Now, I'm going to tape it back together. Clean hands, look at that. Now, we're going to chop this off here and put it up here, so that we have a clean thing there. So, it fits right in there and we tape it in. So, now, this one is going to repeat like this, diagonally down, halfway. So, I'm going to fill in this without touching the edges again. You can fill in all the whitespace, but just don't draw against the edge. So, that's what I want to do now, and then that one will be done and then we'll be ready to Xerox. 7. Xeroxing & Wallpapering Your Pattern: So, now that we have the printouts, we cut all the edges off of them to make sure that they would line up. So, when I Xerox, there was a white little edge. I have to get rid of that, or else everything on a line. So, we trimmed all of the pieces of paper. Now, we're going to put them all together, and line them all up, and make our wallpaper. Let's see how it looks. This is the one that was a straight repeat, and I guess because I only did in black on the top half, and I kind of got lazy, is making like striped pattern. Which is kind of bad for a pattern. I think you don't want to have something stick out like that. You want everything to sort of, your eyes to get lost in a pattern. When I color it. If I colored in Illustrator I can fix that. No problem. So, for the half job, we've cut that in half, and then we've went halfway down. So, when we line this up now, we're going to line it up halfway down the second piece. So, usually a lot of wall papers are like this. They do that because it creates a nice diagonal, instead of having everything like repeat straight across, and up and down, you get a really nice flow. I mean I think this project you really learn a lot about how patterns work, and what exactly is happening. That's why I like it so much. Because even when I'm working on the computer, I forget like oh, it's just about like this flipping onto this side. So, that's all it really is. The top one is the direct repeat, which means each one was put on right next to each other. That's the one where we cut the paper in half. Cut the paper in half and just did like flipping twice the same way. In the bottom half is the half drop repeat, where we cut the paper the long way, and then we lined it up, by putting the top up there so that's why we set it up this way. As you can see with a regular repeat, you start to notice like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, things in a row. Sometimes that's good for a pattern, but for sometimes it's a lot more movement, and more exciting if there's a half dropped because everything goes on a diagonal, which makes it a little more exciting. So, here like these things like I colored black are making like a straight pattern, and it's very noticeable. You can see where things stop and go on and the teapot really stands out and the sharpie really stands out. But here, you're like things mix up more. You see the glasses, but it's less of an annoying thing. This is more like a brick pattern. So, these were two samples of something you could do in your home. You obviously would do it a lot neater than I did it, and with the right kind of we paste, or like a wallpaper glue. You could do the Elmer mixed with water, but you'd have to coat it, almost like a decomposed type of thing, probably with like a gel medium, maybe a flat gel medium. Then, we brought these color pencils in, because we're going to have two some fun coloring them in. As something you can do like over time, if you did do a black and white one. You could take your time, put in the computer, and colored it in there, and then print out, in your computer color version of this. Do a total color wallpaper in this method, but today we just did the black and white. So, we're showing you the option of coloring it too. Yee, these are colored pencils. 8. Wrapping Up: Okay. Bye. Thanks so much for taking my class. Upload your pattern, or just your tile, or your whole wall, or whatever you make, and I can't wait to see it. See you soon. 9. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: