Patterns Everywhere: Finding Fresh Embellishing Ideas for Your Projects | Ewa Rosa | Skillshare

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Patterns Everywhere: Finding Fresh Embellishing Ideas for Your Projects

teacher avatar Ewa Rosa, illustellar | Find Bliss in Making Art

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.



    • 2.

      Suggested Tools


    • 3.

      Exercise One: Using Overall Shapes


    • 4.

      Embellishing Floral Illustration


    • 5.

      DIY Project: Adorning Box


    • 6.

      Exercise Two: Extracting Elements


    • 7.

      Embellishing Forest Illustration


    • 8.

      DIY Project: Adorning Plant Pot


    • 9.

      Exercise Three: Utilizing Structures


    • 10.

      Embellishing Ocean Illustration


    • 11.

      DIY Project: Adorning Notebook Cover


    • 12.

      Create Your Patterns Idea Book


    • 13.

      Class Project


    • 14.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Find fresh and unique pattern ideas by tapping into the magnificent world of nature!


In this class, you’ll learn how to spot and extract embellishing motifs from microscope imagery, plant life close-up shots, and even drone photography.


I’ll then show you how to mix and match your sketches and refine them to build a library of unique embellishing ideas reflecting your style and taste.


In a series of fun exercises, I'll demonstrate how you can apply ready patterns to different projects so that you can create your original works of art.


This easy and enjoyable process will be perfect for beginners, as well as more experienced artists feeling stuck in a creative rut and by the end of this class you will develop a collection of fresh pattern ideas you’ll be able to use to:


  • add interest to your illustrations or paintings;
  • embellish your DIY projects;
  • design unique products for sale.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ewa Rosa

illustellar | Find Bliss in Making Art

Top Teacher


Hi there! My name is Ewa Rosa, and I'm an illustrator and embroidery artist in love with all things nature. 



I love combining organic elements with geometry and I draw inspiration from the underwater world, plant life, cosmos, and Japanese patterns.

I’ve always been incorporating tons of details and intricate patterns into my drawings and lately, this practice translated to my embroidery, which consists of hundreds of french knots and other elaborate details.

This repetitive act of embellishing my art with copious dots, circles, lines, and dashes is something that helps me destress and curb my anxiety.



I adore watercolors, and I like to explore the... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome to my third Skillshare class. Today we are going to talk about gathering fresh embellishing ideas for your projects. This course is aimed at all creatives using patterns into your art and so you will find it helpful whether you are an illustrator, a ceramic artist, a DIY lover, or even a surface pattern designer looking for inspiration. Unique embellishments can add interest to every work of art and finding new pattern ideas can be a challenging task. It's hard to avoid being influenced by other artists and create something uniquely ours. Luckily, there is an endless source of fresh inspiration we can all tap into, and I will show you how to take advantage of it. Hi, everyone, my name is Eva and I'm a self-taught artist and founder of Illustration and Design Brand Illustrator. All my work is inspired by nature and I believe everything stems from it. The best way to create something fresh is to get back to the roots and observe the world around us. Throughout this class, I will teach you how to extract patterns from unexpected sources such as microscope imagery, botanical close-up shots, or drawn photography. You will learn how to mix these elements and refine them to create unique embellishments. You will then take your newly developed designs and apply them to a creative project of your choosing. We will be adorning illustrations, decorating parts, and to link on scheduled covers. The whole process is fun and simple, so no experience is needed. I will also show you how to start your own pattern idea book, a treasury of designs that will help you further develop your style, make your creative work easier, and serve you for years to come. By the end of this class, you will have a foolproof, easily repeatable system in place that will allow you to continually develop new embellishment ideas for your creative projects. We have a lot to cover, so let's get started. 2. Suggested Tools: You don't need much to start designing your patterns. Internet access, pen, and piece of paper will do. If you like to explore nature yourself, you will need a phone or a camera to take pictures for future reference, or you can go old school and sketch anything you find interesting in a travel sketchbook or pocket notebook. For creating your mood board, you can use Pinterest or simply download photos you like into a folder. I like to brainstorm pattern ideas on a plain piece of paper first. However, if you prefer to work digitally, you can use an iPad or another tablet for this purpose. What you will need for creating your class project depends entirely on your hobbies and interests. If you decide to embellish a watercolor illustration, you will need, of course, a watercolor paper, paints, and some markers. You can use any medium you desire, like glass or colored pencils. If you're in the mood for some DIY project, you might need ceramic markers to paint a mug or a plant pot. You can also use acrylic markers or Micron pens to embellish a cardboard box or a notebook cover. If you are a digital artist, feel free to create your patterns in Procreate, Photoshop, or Illustrator, and then use them to design something cool, like a tote bag. The only limit here is your imagination. In the next lesson, we will start sketching our first embellishing ideas. 3. Exercise One: Using Overall Shapes: In the first exercise, I will show you how to design floral motifs using overall shapes found in nature, such as mushroom gills or phytoplankton cells. Similar nature creations lend themselves perfectly to our purpose, and we actually don't have to change a whole lot, as long as we'll then use these shapes in different contexts. We will start with extracting circular shape from this coral reef cluster. We are looking for ideas for floral designs, but I want you to think outside the box, so we won't be using actual flowers as an inspiration here. Analyze photos from your mood board and try to find shapes that remind you of flower cups and leaves. Create rough sketches to signalize interesting outlines and textures. Here, I'm sketching this mushroom outline, which looks a bit like a flower cup seen from the side, and I also trace out some of these pretty concentrate colorful lines. On a side note, if you like the colors you see on your reference photo, you can create a mini color palette in your sketchbook and use it later in your projects. The shapes you see here look like some kind of weird palm fronds. In fact, these are the case of a moon mode as seen under the electron microscope and here I'm using a cross-section of a pine needle as an inspiration for a triangular flower cup. Of course, the flowers we are going to draw in the next lesson won`t be realistic, but that's the whole point of this exercise. I want you to start interpreting the world around you in your own way and develop completely unique designs. I'm trying to sketch floral motifs from different angles so I can then easily add interest to my illustrations. Some of the objects remind me of flower cups seen from the side, and others look like flowers seen from above with center and petals surrounding it. These first rough sketches don't have to be elaborate. Simply try to notice some basic characteristics that stand out immediately. The more rough drawings you will prepare on this stage, the more ideas you will have to play with later. Now that you have your rough sketches ready, it's time to have fun and mix-and-match some ideas. The easiest way is to take two sketches and combine their elements to create a third design. Here, I started with the palm frond shape, and then I used gills from mushroom sketch to fill it in. Next, I decided to use this fun-like cup shape and fill it with elements from the neighboring sketch. I took this triangle shape, added a center, and fill it with mushroom gills. Here, I drew the entire mushroom, but I replaced the gills with the wavy lines from the second design. This is a great way to try out different ideas and see which elements fit together. You decide how to connect these details and this makes your designs unique. In the last design, I took this diatom, added a center made of little circles from the first sketch, and then combined it with the element from the single-cell phytoplankton drawing. Now it's time to refine your sketches. You can go back to the rough ones and polish one of them or redraw some of the mixed designs. Feel free to add and subtract different details when you work on your final concept. Here are my refined sketches. In the next lesson, I will show you how to use them to embellish a watercolor floral composition. 4. Embellishing Floral Illustration: I've prepared this floral composition in advance, and I'm going to use black micron pen to fill the watercolor blocks with my refined floral motifs. I don't want this illustration to be too boring. During the process of embellishing it, I'm going to create further variations of each motif by subtracting different elements. For example, here, I will fill the flower cup only with straight lines to differentiate it from the first one. Such subtle modifications can add a lot of interest to your project. Trust your intuition and experiment, even on the stage. If you are afraid, you will ruin your illustration. This is the variations on a piece of paper first. 5. DIY Project: Adorning Box: You can embellish your project with one motif only and still achieve exciting results. The key here is to combine different colors, sizes, or even mediums when applying your design on a surface. I've covered the lid of this cardboard box with white gouache and I'm going to embellish it with circles in several different colors and sizes. To add more interests, I will adorn the free spaces between them with golden dots. For the body, I will stick to a white acrylic marker and repeat the same pattern in a more minimal version. 6. Exercise Two: Extracting Elements: In this exercise, we'll be designing patterns based on interesting elements extracted from our reference photos. This time, we won't be focusing on overall shapes. Instead, we'll be searching for more abstract motives hidden inside of them. I want to show you as many examples as possible. So I will be fishing out only one detail from each photograph. However, you can draw multiple inspirations from one image. I've created a worksheet that will help you to gather the ideas, mix them, and then refine your designs. You will find it under the projects and resources section of this class. This sceemy close-up shot proofs that you can find exciting pattern ideas even in those objects you seemingly know very well. All you have to do, is to open your eyes and look at them from a new perspective. Now that I have my rough sketches ready, I will be experimenting with them like I did in the first exercise. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to merging only two sketches, you can combine elements from several drawings to create your new designs. In the next lesson, I will apply my refined sketches, to a watercolor forest illustration. 7. Embellishing Forest Illustration: I have my refine sketches at hand and I will use them to embellish this forest landscape by filling three crowns with abstract motifs I've extracted from reference photos. When you are creating such composition, be mindful of several things. Choose three or more different motifs to add interest to your project. Intersperse them so they won't repeat next to each other. It's a good practice to fill all the shapes you want with one pattern first and only then start adding the next one. Also, try using simple motifs like dots or dashes next to the intricate ones to give them some breathing room. 8. DIY Project: Adorning Plant Pot: I've chosen one of the motifs I've refined before to embellish this flower pot with a ceramic marker. I decided a minimal modern design. At the same time, I wanted to add some character and coziness to it that's why I'm not trying to draw perfect circles and half ovals. Irregular shapes make this pot look more playful and give it a unique handmade feel. 9. Exercise Three: Utilizing Structures: [MUSIC] In this exercise, I will show you how to design patterns using structures seen in nature, such as cell clusters, fluvial terraces, or even red cabbage layers. They can be an excellent inspiration for patterns you might want to apply on bigger surfaces whether it's some landscape illustration or a notebook cover. You can turn them into ocean waves, mountain tops, or clouds covering the sky. You can build intricate coral reefs or meadow compositions. They can also serve as an abstract background for your projects. My favorite trick is to extract a motif from the reference photo and use it in a completely different context, for example, I often embellish underwater scenes with structures I find in microscope imaginary of bacteria cells and plants cross-sections. Such unexpected combinations helped me to develop my style and allow me to create fresh art. [MUSIC]. 10. Embellishing Ocean Illustration: Marine landscapes are prominent in my art and I'm always looking for new ideas to depict waves and underwater world. Some of the sketches we prepared in the previous lesson are perfect for this purpose. That's why I'm going to embellish this geometric ocean illustration with wavy motifs. I will use two very intricate designs and intersperse them with simple wavy lines to retain balance in the project. If you want to learn how to create such geometry landscapes using watercolors and masking tape, I have a whole class about it, so make sure to check it out. You'll find the link in the project description or you can just visit my Skillshare channel, and find it there. 11. DIY Project: Adorning Notebook Cover: I decided to stick to a notion theme while embellishing this notebook cover. However, this time, instead of waves, I chose upstroke circular structures that reminded me of coral reef clusters and jellyfish. Blue circles I painted beforehand would clash, add interest to the composition, and give it more ocean feel. 12. Create Your Patterns Idea Book: If you want to develop a unique embellishing style and make sure that you won't end up using the same for partners over and over again, consider creating your own patterns idea book. This is a place where you can gather all your refined sketches, and explore further variations by mixing and matching different drawings. Because I'm mostly using white acrylic markers in my illustrations, I like to make my sketches with the same medium, and put the white elements on colorful backgrounds. I also like to test different designs on watercolor washers. That's why I've chosen a sketchbook with thicker watercolor paper. Don't be afraid to customize your idea book to your own needs. You can stick to simple black pen sketches, like the ones we did in our exercises, or you can use paints or color pencils. You can even create small illustrations containing motifs we developed, and keep them handy for a future reference, like I did here. It's also an excellent place to collect ideas for fillers. These small elements can become handy when you want to separate more busy parts of the illustration or just embellish your project with a minimal motif. If you like this idea, start creating your treasury of designs today, and I promise it will serve you for years the come. 13. Class Project: For this class project, I would like you to develop at least three different patterns or motifs inspired by nature and use them to embellish a creative project of your choosing. Feel free to try out only one or all three approaches I've shown you. I've made a PDF cheat sheet for each exercise so you can easily reference it for inspiration. You can download this and other resources under the Projects and Resources section of this class. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you to create a great class project. Step one, make a mood board consisting of nature fossils that speak to you the most. This can be microscopic imagery, close-up shots or drone photography. Whatever you like. Then create your class project by clicking the green button in Projects and Resources section of this class and share the photos you've collected or a link to your Pinterest board. Step two, create several rough sketches of patterns or motifs inspired by your mood board. You can do it on a plain piece of paper or use the worksheet I've prepared especially for this purpose. Step three, refine your sketches and develop a minimum of three different patterns or motifs. Remember, don't be afraid to experiment and mix-and-match to make them unique to your own style and taste. Step four, choose a creative project you want to embellish. This can be one of your old illustrations, or a new one prepared especially for this class. Depending on your hobbies and interests, you can create a piece of embroidery, embellish, a ceramic mug, adorn a plant board, and now the book cover, a cardboard box or even a paper plate. The only limit here is your imagination. You can also scan your refined sketches and prepare a digital repeat pattern for a tote bag or similar product for sale. Just have fun with it and share your finished creation in Projects and Resources section. 14. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope I convinced you that finding new pattern ideas don't have to be daunting. You could actually have fun while playing a nitro detective and investigate the secret life of bacteria cells or swirling clouds on Jupiter. The key point here is to relax and experiment. Remember, no other person experiences world exactly like you, no one has the exact same sensitivity. Mixing and matching so many sources of inspiration and filtering them through your own lenses almost guarantees that you will never run out of original ideas. I can't wait to see what you will create. Don't hesitate to share your projects below. If you are going to publish it on Instagram and you would like to get featured on my Instagram story, follow me there, and tag me in your posts. If you want to stay tuned for my next classes, don't forget to follow me here on Skillshare. So happy creating, and see you next time.