Pattern Design: Creating a Cohesive Pattern Collection | Abby Hersey | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Pattern Design: Creating a Cohesive Pattern Collection

teacher avatar Abby Hersey, I draw things. I make things. I love coffee.

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

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.

      1. Introduction


    • 2.

      2. Elements of a Collection


    • 3.

      3. Moodboard & Reference Imagery


    • 4.

      4. Sketching Motifs


    • 5.

      5. Focal Print


    • 6.

      6. Supporting Print


    • 7.

      7. Blender Print


    • 8.

      8. Spot Graphics


    • 9.

      9. Your Project & Class Conclusion


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

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

Join surface pattern designer Abby Hersey as she takes you through the creation of a cohesive pattern collection. This class isn't an introduction to technical repeat pattern design, so be sure to check out her introductory pattern design classes for Illustrator and Photoshop.

In this class, you will learn how to create a moodboard as well as the different types of patterns that make up a collection. You'll also learn how to create spot graphics within the theme of your collection.

This class is designed for those who want to take their pattern design skills to the next level and add a marketable collection to their portfolio. Students should have a working knowledge of pattern creating in Illustrator or Photoshop. If you're just getting started in pattern design, be sure to check out Abby's introductory pattern design classes for Illustrator and Photoshop.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Abby Hersey

I draw things. I make things. I love coffee.



My love of design began with the over-the-top, unquestionably 1980’s rainbow wallpaper in my childhood bedroom. It inspired in me a love of color, pattern, and shape that’s only grown over the years and has driven me to create engaging and inspiring designs of my own. I passionately believe in the power of illustration and design to transform spaces, simplify communications, and build relationships.

I was formally trained in graphic design, but most of what I use on a daily basis is self-taught, trial and error,  or learned from Skillshare, which is why I am passionate about sharing what I've learned, demystifying design concepts and technical skills through my classes.

When I’m not in the studio, I’m probably outdoo... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

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. 1. Introduction: in the world of pattern design, there are many uses for single standalone patterns, But what will really help you take your work to the next level is to create a cohesive collection of patterns and spot graphics that coordinate together and work well across a variety of markets. When someone is buying fabric, there often look for coordinating pieces. This is also true in the stationary home deck and apparel markets. There are lots of places that having a collection that works together will take your work to the next level in the eyes of the buyer. In this class, I'm going to take you through the creation of a cohesive pattern collection. We will learn how to create a mood board as well as the different types of patterns that make up a collection and how to create spot graphics within the theme of your collection. This class isn't an introduction to technical pattern design, so if you're new to creating a repeat pattern, I would invite you to take one of my pattern design classes for illustrator or photo shop so that you'll be ready to go when we get into the particulars of the different types of patterns in this class. 2. 2. Elements of a Collection: Let's take a look at the different types of patterns you'll find in a collection. The first is a focal pattern. Thes are sometimes referred to as a hero pattern or print, and really, it's the showstopper of your collection. It contains the widest variety of elements and the largest color palette. Often the scale is larger for your focal print than it is for some of the other types, and it really just sets the tone overall for the collection and provides a lot of excitement. Next, we have supporting Prince, also referred to as secondary patterns, and these still have a variety of elements and a range of colors. But the variety of the element are a little bit smaller than they are with the focal print . You'll see that we still have a lot of movement and excitement in this example, but fewer colors. Fewer repeating elements makes it a supporting pattern, as opposed to really the focal pattern of our collection. Last but not least, we have Blender, also known as total prints. Thes are really great compliment to the other two types of patterns, but they're very good as a standalone pattern. You'll see that the scale is somewhat smaller. Be elements are very limited, as is the color palette, and these kind of do what they say they do. They blend together and providing overall impression of color, Um, and help pull colors out of other patterns within the collection without being terribly striking on their own. They're very important, just not very exciting. Well, there isn't a hard and fast formula for how to create a pattern collection. Having a really strong focal print and then building a mix of supporting and blender patterns really helps your collection be useful in a variety of markets and applications. Let's take a look at a few different pattern collections so you can see how the three types of patterns work together. In this collection, you'll see that the focal print is comprised of many different dinosaurs, along with various natural elements. It has a lot of movement and excitement. The color palette is somewhat limited, but it's still a very exciting pattern and stands out from the rest. In this collection, the supporting patterns are made up of much fewer elements, with slightly different color palettes. They still have movement and excitement, and they go well with the focal prints or would be good. A standalone Prince Thies to blender patterns are a little more exciting fun. The first example. We saw the skills on the left have a couple different colors and a lot of movement. But overall, what you're really taking from the pattern is that dark, maroon color, and so it still qualifies as a blender. Same is true for the triangles, with a little more variety and color than we saw in the first example. But overall it gives the impression of tan, and so it qualifies as a blender. This next collection has a lot going on. The focal print is full of different floral elements and has a lot of movement, a lot of color there. It's a very busy pattern. The supporting patterns are somewhat more subdued, both in color and elements. You'll see that one of them contains a stripe, Um, which add some really nice variety to the collection. None of her collection needs a stripe. Like I said, there's no formula for what needs to go into a collection. But sometimes the stripe is really nice, especially when you've got a lot of busy patterns the blender patterns also are very full of elements. They're still subdued. They still given overall impression of ah, color or colors and are much less exciting than the focal print. But they're a little more lively than some of the other examples we've seen. This collection also contains a busy floral for its focal print, with a larger scale than some of the other patterns are set to. The supporting patterns are all more limited in color but still visually exciting and would work while a standalone prince. The blenders are kind of geometric and nature, with the exception of the one on the left. But overall there what you would expect from a blender print in this class will also be talking about spot graphics as part of your collection. Spot graphics aren't a pattern, but rather are elements pulled from a pattern that can work a standalone graphics. Some examples of their use would be in a stationery collection. You have you spot graphics for stickers. You could have one notebook that has, ah, butterfly on the front and another that had a pattern that contained that butterfly on the outside of the notebook, Um, in clothing applications. You could have a pair of patterned leggings and then have a spot graphic that's printed on a shirt that goes with them. They're necessary for a pattern collection, but they really do add something was out adding a whole lot of work, so we'll talk about those as well. 3. 3. Moodboard & Reference Imagery: Hopefully, as a designer, you are constantly collecting inspiration and always thinking about the next thing that you're going to dio uh, for me, I like to collect inspiration on a regular basis. And as I'm working on developing collection, I create a mood board for myself. This mood board is comprised of images that tie into the general feeling, an idea that I'm going for. This isn't to be confused with reference reference. Images are going to be pictures of bugs, beetles, etcetera that I might need to look at so that I'm drawing a correct bug or beetle or butter flyer would have. You and I have collected some of those. I find that Pinterest is a great place to keep all of that stuff organized. It's not always the best place to find the stuff, but you can pin things to a board. You can keep the board secret so nobody knows what you're working on or what you're up to. But back to the mood board. When I create a mood board, I'm capturing, Like I said, the feel that I'm going for in this collection, not the specific elements, and while you'll see that there are some bugs on my mood board. Ah, and butterflies. There are also things that are not related because I'm going for something that is playful and lively. And I found this great image of butterflies. But I also like this floral image with birds. I'm going for colorful, and I'm not sure what those colors will be yet. But I know that I wanted to be bright and bold. If you look at these two images over here, I want clean and simple. My work has a hand drawn feel. It is never going to look like these bugs here, Dio because they're drawn very precisely as a vector. I drop my hand and it won't look like that. But I still want to keep it clean and simple. I don't want it to be to loose like these butterflies over here are I put words on here just to help remind myself I like to print off a copy of my mood board and keep it at my workspace as I'm sketching so that I can remind myself of what I'm going for. As I work through sketching all of the elements 4. 4. Sketching Motifs: No. I'm ready to begin sketching the elements for the patterns in my collection. I have my reference images and mood board handy, and I'm gonna be using an old fashioned mechanical pencil and printer paper. I like to use printer paper because it's cheap and and I don't feel precious about it the way I would with a sketchbook. When you're designing a pattern collection, you need as many elements and motifs as possible, and there's no wrong thing to draw. You want to get everything out on the paper, um, as you're working on your sketches and then decide later what you want to include and what you want to cut. So it's important to not feel constrained by the paper or the sketchbook and try to be real careful. You just want to go for it and then at it later. - I've now sketch several pages of elements and motifs for my patterns, and I'm gonna begin working on digitizing them. I go in depth into my process for digitizing my hand drawn artwork in my skill share class lettering with motives. So if you'd like an in depth look, I suggest you check that video out and then join us as we move onto the computer 5. 5. Focal Print: I have all of my artwork digitized, and I've brought it into an illustrator file. You're welcome to work in photo shop, if you like. Whatever your preferences is fine. This class is more about the composition of patterns within a collection than it is about the technicalities of creating a repeat pattern. If you're a novice to pattern making, I have to pattern design classes for beginners that focused one focuses on Illustrator One focuses on photo shop so you can take a class in the software you're gonna be using and then come back and join us for the composition portion of this lesson. I'd like to begin by working on my focal print. I believe that it set the tone for the rest of the collection, and so that's where I want to focus and then build from there. Looking at my elements, I know that I want the focal print to be the bugs and insects. I may work some leaves in, but I'm going to start by arranging some of the bugs, and I'll begin with the largest or most elaborate elements and then work my way in around them to fill the pattern out because within the focal print, these items draw your focus and will really dictate a lot of the movement of the eye through the pattern. So I want to place these first and then fill in with other elements. I think I'm pretty happy with the layout. For my focal print, you'll see that I've got a nice mix of large and small elements. Ah, lot of writing my color. A lot of movement in the pattern. Sell some white space that helps your I move around. But I feel like it's a pretty exciting print and sets a great tone for the rest of the collection. Based on this, I'll now begin work on my secondary pattern. 6. 6. Supporting Print: I'm also to start working on my secondary pattern. I still have my focal print up here, so I can reference it as I'm working. Um, but I I'm just gonna go ahead and dive in. When I brought my elements into Illustrator, I colored them very basically. And, ah, a lot of these leaves. Being black is kind of distracting to me. I want toe. I want to give him a little pop of color. That's kind of in line with the focal print. Something's gonna go through and do that real quickly. I can always just the colors later, but I think I'll have an easier time of working them in together if I've just got a basic color palette going. - As you can see, I've added a little bit of color to the elements for the secondary pattern. It's a more limited palate than when I used for my focal print, but I think it's still gonna provide some nice variety. You'll notice that one of the colors is a light or white color. I've decided that since my focal point had ah, white background, I'd like this one to have a dark background, so I'm gonna begin by putting a background color here, drawing a rectangle filling him in. And then I'm going to go toe object lock selection so that it doesn't move around while we're laying off the pieces will unlock it later to make sure it's the right color and it's in the right spot. But for now, I just want to kind of back there. Well, I'm laying things out. As with the focal print, I'm going to start with some of the larger elements, but you'll notice that there isn't as much variety in the elements for my secondary pattern . Um, I'm gonna just begin building with some of the didn't bring those things to the front. Okay, I'm gonna begin building with what I consider the larger elements and then fill in from there. But there won't be as much variety as we had on the last pattern. - One thing you'll notice that I'm doing is I'm kind of aligning. We're trying to line natural curves together so these two pieces look like they fit together. The's kind of do this instead of leaves wraps nicely around this. I think this provides good flow in a pattern and helps make it easy for the eye to move from item to item as it's looking at the pattern. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it is one of the things that I try and do as I'm laying out of pattern. - After a few tweaks, I'm really happy with the overall layout for my secondary pattern. As you can see you, we've got a variety of color. Although the pattern miss more limited, there's really good movement. I think the leaves really help move your I threw in a fun way, Um, and we've got more limited elements, but it's still lively. Pattern still feels like it could stand on its own two feet. Um, when we look at the two together, they coordinate very nicely. This one, while being exciting and lively, doesn't detract from our focal print. It just helps support it and provide some nice contrast. So now we're ready to move on and design a blender or total print 7. 7. Blender Print: for my blender pattern. I've pulled out some simple elements from the previous patterns in this collection. I have some dots in a variety of sizes, and I have some leafy, swishy tape things. Both of these would work well for a blender pattern. Uhm, alone or together, I think, because I have so much going on in my previous patterns and there's a lot of movement and a lot of different elements. I want to keep this one pretty simple. So I think I'm going to try and work with the dots first. - So now I have a blender pattern that is very densely packed and I believe will coordinate well with the other patterns in my collection. As you can see, the dots really pull out items from this leafy pattern and also provide a nice contrast to the movement and the white space in the bug pattern. So I'm very happy with my collection overall, and I'm ready to make some spot graphics to go with it. 8. 8. Spot Graphics: Now we're going to create some spot graphics. Spot graphics are essentially standalone pieces that are pulled from your pattern collection. You can see that I pulled a few motifs from my bug pattern and a few leaves from the levy pattern, and I'm going to copy these into a new document. You might be wondering if this means that everything in your pattern qualifies as a spot graphic. In theory, they could, but a spot graphic is going to be a motif or group of motives were singling out for particular uses. Those uses may include a collection of items featuring all of the patterns in a collection , along with a spot graphic two items of apparel that you want to tie together. This is especially useful for the Children's market. These can also be used a standalone graphics by themselves. You don't want every element from your pattern to be a spot graphic, but in theory anyone of them could be. For example, this magnifying glass with the beetle can stand alone. I don't really need to do anything else to make it special. Seem would be true. For this, be this be could easily be a standalone graphic. There's a lot of interest in the leaves and nice color ladybugs. On the other hand, um, I'd want to arrange them in a pleasing way. That made sense. I might also want to includes leaves with them, make a little grouping James some of the colors as well. As you can see. I'm just spending a lot of time messing around with arranging them. How I would like the possibilities really are endless for your spot graphics. But the goal is to have something that could stand alone on apparel or stationary or stickers. Gift wrapped. What have you. And now I've created three spot graphics to go along with my collection. 9. 9. Your Project & Class Conclusion: Now that we've walked through, creating all the elements that make up a pattern collection, it's time for you to share your project with the class. Your assignment for this class is to create a cohesive pattern collection, along with a set of spot graphics. When you share your project, you might also include notes about your process in your inspiration, maybe your mood board and reference images. If you used any, obviously you're finished patterns, and it would be great to hear what you plan to do with your finished collection. If you're interested in learning more about the mock ups that I showed in this class, I have a class called Fake It till you make up that teaches you how to make realistic product mock ups to market your work, and that would be a great next step. If you're planning to shop your collection around. Thanks again for taking this class. I can't wait to see your patterns