Surface Pattern Design for Licensing in Procreate (or Adobe Photoshop) | Mel Armstrong | Skillshare

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Surface Pattern Design for Licensing in Procreate (or Adobe Photoshop)

teacher avatar Mel Armstrong, Illustrator, Pattern Addict & Teacher

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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.

      Gathering Inspiration


    • 3.

      Tools & Techniques


    • 4.

      Creating Colour Palettes


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Adding Colour


    • 7.

      Creating a Pattern in Procreate


    • 8.

      Creating a Pattern in Photoshop


    • 9.

      Final Words


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About This Class

In this class, I’m going to show how I use Procreate to create surface pattern designs for licensing.  You’ll see my whole process from finding inspiration, creating motifs and finally designing a pattern.  Along the way, you’ll learn bonus tips and tricks that will help you create stunning designs.  

This class is mostly taught in Procreate, but the techniques can be used in Photoshop as well.  I include a bonus video of how to create a simple pattern in Photoshop.  

What you'll learn:

  • Finding inspiration from the world around you
  • Sketching in Procreate
  • Creating colour palettes
  • Colouring in Procreate
  • Pattern design in Procreate
  • Pattern design in Photoshop including the use of smart objects

What you'll need:


** If you purchase one of these brush collections or the dress mockup, I receive a small commission.  I can assure you that I will only recommend brushes and mockups that I use and love!

Music: Firefly

Meet Your Teacher

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Mel Armstrong

Illustrator, Pattern Addict & Teacher

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Hello and greetings!

I'm a dedicated illustrator and surface pattern designer hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. My passion lies in crafting beauty, whether it's through illustration, patterns, sewing, or even assembling IKEA flat packs (yes, really).

Driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I found my way to Skillshare. After discovering this treasure tr... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Mel Armstrong, and I'm a surface pattern designer and illustrator based in Wellington, New Zealand. I have over 10 years experience working as a graphic designer, then surface pattern designer, and illustrator. I started using Procreate in 2018, and it has catapulted my career, and completely changed the way I work. I now spend my days working from my studio overlooking the beautiful Wellington Harbor drawing on my iPad. I license my artwork to companies which sell a variety of products, including children's products such as games, scratch cards, and craft activities, greeting cards, and wrapping paper, and fabric for a variety of clothing businesses. I also work on commissioned projects for children's books. The majority of all this work was created on my iPad using Procreate. The iPad, and in particular Procreate, in my opinion, has transformed the illustration industry. It's allowed me to draw anywhere and speed up must my sketching process by allowing me to cut and paste and rearrange illustrations without the need to start over. This class is perfect for beginners who have a little bit of experience with Procreate and those who already have some experience, or even those who are just a little bit curious about my process for creating patterns. In Procreate you'll learn some fundamentals, some basic features, and some hidden tricks you may not have known about. You'll also learn ways to make your illustrations unique and different, and how to bring out your own unique style so that your design is easily recognizable as yours. Lastly, you'll learn how to turn your motives, drawn in Procreate, into a beautiful pattern that could be licensed on a variety of products. By the end of this class, you'll be able to create a unique surface pattern design using Procreate, and have the tools you'll need to continue your own journey as a surface pattern designer. Grab your iPad Pro, with Procreate 5x installed, and your app pencil, and let's get started. If you don't have an iPad, most of these techniques can be applied in Photoshop. I look forward to seeing you in class. Let's get started. 2. Gathering Inspiration: Photos are a great source of inspiration. I try to use my own photos, but this isn't always possible, so then I turn to the Internet. In this video, I'm going to show you how I gather inspiration from the world around me. There is inspiration all around us. Have a look at this beautiful imagery taken just by going for a walk around my neighborhood. There's inspiration everywhere. For this class, we're going to be creating a floral design, so get outside, take photos, go for a walk, find inspiration in the world around you. Up next, I'm going to show you some tools and techniques that I find useful in Procreate. 3. Tools & Techniques: Before we jump into finalizing our motifs, I'm going to show you a few tools and techniques I use in Procreate. I'm going to start with some of the brushes that I use for my illustrations and pattern designs. The first brush I'm going to show you is the 6B pencil, the 6B pencil I use to do all my sketching with. It just gives you a lovely feel of proper pencil, I guess. Pretty much everything I sketch, I do with this. The second pencil I'm going to show you is the ink bleed. If I increase the size here a bit, you can see that it's got a lovely textured edge to it. I use this brush when I want to create something that has a lovely texture to the edge. I then created a ink bleed customize, this one is a little bit softer so the edge is not as textured as the original one. Let me just increase that. It's just a bit softer. Now, I use that a lot. The Bardot Gouache Dry, I use quite often for highlighting all shadows, this gives it a nice texture as well. The dry ink, I use this one a little bit like the ink bleed and ink bleed soft. Quite often, I'll use this for illustrations where I want just a little bit fine edge but still get that texture. You can see, it has little speckles in it, giving it a lovely texture. The last one I'm going to show you is the Sparse Bristle Detail. I like this one to give texture on top of my flat designs. I can use this for creating fur or just a bit of a rough wood feel. Yes, I use this quite a lot at the moment. It's my go-to. That's a quick summary of the brushes that I use most often. I do have some others that I use, but just for specific types of illustrations. You can download this list from the project and resources section. Next, I'm going to show you some tools that I use for coloring and shading my motifs. The first one I'm going to show you is how I color. Let's just select the dry ink there and just create a little blob here on the page. Now, there's a couple of ways you can color in. You can either click and drag the color in, and holding onto it without letting go, you can change the threshold. We have it right up pull right down. As you see at 0, you can see that line around the edge which is annoying, so try and get it as high as you can. Quite often, you still have to go in there and modify it. Now, if you notice with this, though, it doesn't keep the lovely texture that we started with that brush, it just fills it completely. Let's undo that. Generally, if I had a very textured outline, I would color it in manually, like this. That way, you can say, it creates a lovely texture. If my edge was lovely and smooth, then I would use the drag in method. Now, if you decide to change the color and there's a couple of ways you can do that, if you go to your Layers, click on the layer, and select "Alpha Lock", and then select a new color, go back to that layer, and fill. It fills in the new color and creates, it retains all the lovely texture. Or you can, let me turn the Alpha Lock off, you can go up to one of the adjustment layers here like key, I will click on the "Layer", and then you can change it using the hue. Maybe I'll go to a more purpley color or a more reddish color. Or you can use the saturation as well to adjust any of those, really. Just go back. The next tool I'm going to show you is the lasso tool which is up here. You get a few options here, freehand, rectangle, or ellipse. I only use the free hand in this example, and I use the lasso for a couple of reasons. First one would be maybe to cut a piece out. If you swipe down with three fingers after selecting the area, then you can cut and paste or just cut it. Let's just cut and paste and then you can move it out. You can select multiple. I might want to select multiple spots. Just click when to confirm each selection, and then my three fingers down, and cut. Now, I've cut out circles. Another reason I would use the lasso tool is to highlight an area that I want to maybe shade in or color. Let's just select an area and then choose a color. I'll change my brush and then I can color in, and it will only color in that section. The next tool I'm going to show you is the mask tool. If you go into your layer, and select the layer, and select the mask, then you can draw or erase what you've drawn and it won't affect the original illustration, but it has to be either black or white. Let me change that to black. You can see that it's erasing it. This could be a nice way to give it a rough edge, maybe. But if you don't like what you've done and you want to put it back, just change it back to white, and then when you draw, it'll come back as you had it originally. You can actually just then delete the mask if you don't want it and it will return to its original design. The other tool that I'd like to show you is the clipping mask. If you create another layer on top and then clip it using the clipping mask to the bottom layer, this again will mean that you only draw inside that layer. If you were to turn off the clipping mask, you can see it will go outside. The last one I'm going to show you is blending modes. For that, I want to create another layer and clip it to the original layer. With blending modes, I use maybe three different ones, and I use them often to create shadows and highlights. Let's create a shadow. I'm going to select a bit of a gray color, use my Bardot Gouache Dry. If I click on the end there which stands for normal blending mode, I'm going to change that to say multiply, and then create a bit of a shadow down here. It makes it look a bit more 3D. We can adjust the opacity. Let's move that over a bit for you. Or the other one I like to use for shadows is the Color Burn. Now, depending on the color that you're using, you have to play around with these. Sometimes, I'll use a Linear Burn as well. But more often than not, it's Color Burn or multiply. Then if I wanted to add a highlight, I'll create another layer and use the overlay, and then I will use a light color like white. It will create a bit of a highlight and adjust the opacity as well. That's it for the tools that I use, there are obviously many, many others, but these are the ones that I use pretty much in every design. So I find them really helpful. Up next, I'm going to talk about color palettes. 4. Creating Colour Palettes: I'm often asked how I come up with my color palettes. To be honest, sometimes I just wing it, but mostly I find inspiration from photographs. In this video, I'm going to show you how I create a simple palette based on a mood or feeling I want to portray in my design. When trying to find a color palette, the first thing I decide is what feeling or mood I'm trying to convey in my design. Is it dark and moody or vibrant and fun? Maybe it's neutral and soothing. I've set up a few boards in Pinterest categorized by the feel and mood of the image. For this pattern I've decided to create a neutral calming palette. I'm going to have a look in my neutral calm board and see if anything jumps out at me. Now, I really like these pencils by Katie Leamon. I love the combination of colors here, they're very neutral. When creating a palette, I like to have a dark color, a light color, something that pops, and some mid-range colors. Usually I need about five to six colors. In this, you can see they have a dark color, light color, and a few in the middle, and that gold mustard color pops. I'm going to just drag this. Let me open up my folder here and drag that over into my folder here, and then I'm going to send it to my iPad. I do that using air. Now, I'm just going to import it into my document, create a new palette, and then select some colors. If I hold down my finger, it will come up with a color picker. I'm going to start with the dark color. Then, just make sure we're on our new layer and just create a dot there. I'm going to pick another color and so and so. Now, we have a dark color. We have a light color. We have some mid-tones and we have our pop color. Now, I'm going to create a palette with those, so go back to our palette. If I go to the disc, I select the dark one and put it in there. Just go through all those colors. I have the gold one here, or that one. I'm thinking that one needs to be a little bit darker. So I'm going to hold down that and delete it, and just add another one. Still don't like that. I can tell it doesn't sit nicely next to the yellow mustard. Maybe go back to this again. That works better. This one, I might go a touch lighter. We'll call it neutral forest. There we have our palette. Next up, we're going to start sketching. 5. Sketching: I used to schedule my motors on paper using pencil and eraser. But these days I do most of it in Procreate. In this video, I'm going to show you how I sketch motives of patterns on my iPad. I've got a Canvas open here in Procreate. It's a size 10 by 10 inch. I go into my Canvas information, you can see that. It's 10 by 10 and the color profile, I'm just sticking to RGB. This is just going to be my place-based for sketching. I'm going to bring up my photos. I've got a collection of photos here that I have collected out on walks and also a few from the internet of interesting flowers and leaves that I want to try in my design. I'm going to start with some leaves, maybe this one. I'm just going to minimize that side abit. I'm using a red color to sketch in, but you can sketch in any color you like, and I'm going to use my 6B pencil. I'm just going to create roughly what I see on the left there. But I don't want it as clear this time. In fact, I'm going to make it quite different in the end. If I zoom right in here, you can see these interesting markings on the leaves. I'm going to keep a few of those lousy spots. As you can see, it's very, very rough. Sometimes I will find tune it depending on the style that I'm looking for. I'm going to create another layer and have a look at some more inspiration. Let's try this one. When I'm doing leaves and branches, I like to create it on a curve especially when I'm doing pattern designs, this allows me to bend the leaf around objects and it just gives it a more interesting follow and spacing. That's just straight up and down, it tends to look a bit odd. Let's try some of interesting flowers. I'm going to stop there, and I'm going to transfer all these into a new Canvas. Actually, I will just go ahead and create a copy. If I select it and then duplicate it, and go back in here, I'm just going to select them all by swiping across, and then resize them down a bit. What I'm going to do, I'm just going to play around with all these sketches. I just want to see how they will work together. This will then allow me to either remove some or add some before we commit to any coloring. I just want to make sure that they will fit nicely. As you can see, I'm arranging them around a central flower and then having the leaves poke out from underneath it. By doing this, I can say that I need a couple of extra branches. I'm going to just add in a couple of extra little branches that will just fill in some gaps. I guess what I'm doing is just eyeballing. At the moment, I'm not trying to create a pattern, I'm just trying to see that these will all come together in the end. When I color them and commit to that color, I can then pull them all together and I know that they're going to fit well. That's like a puzzle really, and it's fun. I'm not liking this one here, so I'm just going to remove that. This one here, I like it, but it's too straight up and down so I'm just going to distort it a bit with a warp tool. Now, remember I still got my original in the other Canvas. If I stuff that up, I can go back and get it. I just wanted it to curve. Let's try that. It will look cool popping out from under there. This one, I'm going to resize to a very small flower. I just want to bunch them together, so I'm going to duplicate that a few times, rotate it, make them smaller. I think that's enough. I can visualize now how this pattern will end up. I might actually add just a little leaf that if we have that filling in little gaps like that every now and then, I think that will look good. I will leave that there for now, and we'll move on to the next lesson. Up next, we're going to start coloring. 6. Adding Colour: Now that we've done all the groundwork, let's start coloring our motifs. We've got all our sketches. What I'm going to do is copy over the ones that I added and adjusted to my original sketching document. So let me just select that one, the leaf, and the flower that I bent. If I hold those down and drag them and then go back out to the gallery and then go back into that original one, I can just drop them anywhere like that. You can see them there. Now, I'm going to group all of these, turn them off. I might just turn on the first one, change the blending mode to multiply, and the opacity down. Then on a new layer, I'm going to put that at the bottom, I'm going to start coloring it in. I'm going to use my neutral forest palette that we created, and I'm going to start with this dark green. I'm going to use an ink bleed soft, and I'm going to draw the outline and turn the sketch off for the moment and color this in. It did leave some landmarks around the edge. So I'm just going to retrace them. I'm going to create a new layer and clip it, and I'm going to use an overlay and change my color to white. Add that in the palette so it's always there. We're just adding some detail to the leaf. We're going to drop the opacity on that. I'm going to create another layer on top and use the multiply. Then I'm going to select a grayish color, a dark gray, and then use my sparse bristle detail brush. I recommend experimenting with brushes. Find ones that you like and suit your style of work. This is something that is unique to you and will create a style that people will recognize as your outline. I'm going to do some little dots. I'm going to use a different brush here to add some texture. These lens texture pack is really cool for some edits, speckles, and textures. So I'm just going to add a few of those. Then I'm going to decrease the opacity, then I'm going to do one more layer. This time I'm going to go overlay, and back to my sparse bristle, just add a little bit of highlight on the end of these leaves. I'm going to group that and rename it to leaf. Add another layer, turn this one off, and let's go to our next leaf, which is this one. Turn the opacity down and change it to multiply. Then we've got a new layer here. I'm going to use this color here and then we use the dry ink. We're going to color this in manually because I want the texture from this drawing brush. Also the other one, I'm going to create some detail in a very similar way. So I'm just going to add some of the detail to the leaves. We'll rename that to leaf and create another one. Now I'm going to move on to the flowers. I'm going to color them much the same way as I have with the leaves with a little bit more detail. I'm going to speed this up for you as well. [MUSIC] Now, if you get to a point where you have no more layers left, I will go back out to my gallery, select the canvas and duplicate it, and then go back in, delete the ones that I have already completed, and continue on. So you've still got those in another canvas, but we can just keep going and adding more. [MUSIC] We have finished coloring in of our motifs. I'm now going to duplicate both of those. I'm going to go in to the first one, and I'm going to flatten, make sure they were turned on first. I'm going to flatten each one of those. We can remove this one as we created it. On the next canvas, we can get rid of the sketches too. Then I'm going to go out to this one and flatten each of these. I'm now going to create a new Canvas, and I'm going to make this one 15 by 15 inches. I'm going to copy all of my motifs onto that new Canvas. If we go into here, I select all of those, hold them, drag them onto the gallery. Oops. [inaudible] let's go back out again, and then drop them into the new Canvas. Then let's go back out again and grab all of these ones. Now we have them all together ready to create a pattern. I will show you that in the next lesson. See you there. Next up, we're going to create a simple pattern in Procreate. 7. Creating a Pattern in Procreate: In this video, I'm going to show you a quick method of creating a simple pattern in Procreate. I actually prefer to create my pattern in Photoshop, so I have a video of that coming up next. But this is an easy way to do it in procreate if you don't have Photoshop. Now we've got all our motifs on our Canvas. I'm just going to group in all, and just bring down the sides a little bit. Let's get rid of that. I'm just going to arrange them all in the center of the Canvas. Just merging some of these layers together as I'm slowly running out of lanes. I'm happy with that for the moment. I'm probably not going to have enough layers to duplicate that. I'm going to go out and duplicate the Canvas. Go back in and flatten that. Now I'm going to move this around to create a repeating pattern. First, I'm going to duplicate it, and then I'm going to create a new layer. I'm going to choose a different color, and with this, I'm just going to mark the corners as this is helpful when we move the flowers around. Each corner, I'm going to get them a bit of color. Then let's just uncheck that bottom layer and swipe these surveyor together. Now we're going to move this layers, just make sure that the snapping is on, and the magnetics. We're going to make sure the distance is around 19 or 20 and the velocity is max. Now, slowly move it to your right, and as you can see, an orange line or guide, and when it clicks in, you can let it go. Now, we can delete the guides and then duplicate that original layer again. Let's turn off that one and create those guides again, so create another layer. Color in the corner guides. Select those two layers, and then this time, we're going to take it to the left. Then let's get rid of the corner guides. Then if we turn both those two on, you can see them both together. Now, I'm going to merge these two, merge that one down. Now, I want to fill in the gaps in here. We're not worried about the top or the bottom at the moment. What I'm going to do, I'm going to go back out and grab a few elements from my original, and let's select that one, that one, that one, maybe that one. Then we can grab those. Go back out to the gallery, go back into here, and just drop them in. I think we grabbed more than we wanted. That doesn't matter. I might just close that off and make things smaller, and then arrange them in the middle. I'm going to separate those by using my lasso. I'm happy with that. I am going to merge all those layers now. Now we just have the one layer. I'm going to duplicate that layer just to keep it just in case. Now we're going to make it repeat at the top and the bottom. Let's add the marker. Select both of those and move it up. We need to make sure our snapping is on. Then let's remove the guide, and do the same at the bottom. Select those two, and move them down. Let's remove that one and turn the top one on. Now we just need to fill in this middle section, and once again, I'm going to merge these two, and I'm going to go back out and grab all elements and bring them across. Now I'm going to arrange those. Just make sure you don't go off the edge, off there. Otherwise, you will cut it off. I'm going to merge those layers now. I'm going to add another layer, and just add a few dots to fill in some gaps. I'm happy with that. Let us just merge that down. Now, we have a repeating tile. Before we export it out, we should test that it actually works. Let's duplicate it. I'm just going to rename this as the original, and I'm going to uncheck that original one, and with this one, I'm going to select it, go to my snapping, and turn on magnetics and snapping. Then we are going to re-size it down to the corner or duplicate that, and drag it up. We can merge those two layers, duplicate them, and then drag them carefully across. There, you can see that it's repeating beautifully. I should probably zoom in and check, make sure there's no bits that I've missed. Hopefully, you've done it all right. You can also add a background color, and there, smooth that one down. You've got your pattern, and then you've got your original tile. Now, you can export them out and upload them to Spoonflower or any other print on demand website. Next up, creating your pattern in Photoshop. 8. Creating a Pattern in Photoshop: In this video, I'm going to show you how I transfer my motifs to Photoshop and place them in a final pattern. To transfer my files to Photoshop, I'm just going to select the original file. Click on "Share". I'm going to share them as PSDs, as we're going to take them into Photoshop. Then I'm going to AirDrop to my Mac, and then I'm going to open them up in Photoshop. I'm going to create a new canvas. I'm going to create a 10 by 10 inch at 300 DPI RGB. Let's grab them and pull them over. I know I can get rid of that one, that's on the second file. I'm just going to turn all of these on. Another thing that I'd like to do is turn them all into smart objects. If you right-click on each one, go to Convert to Smart Object, and you want to do that for each item. The reason I do this is that it allows you to keep the quality, you can then re-size them. If you have duplicates, you can say, make a modification to your smart object and it will affect all of them. I just wanted a very productive way of working in Photoshop. I'm going to grab those and drag them onto my new work board, and go to my other file and do the same. I've got them all in Photoshop now, so I can close my original files, save them. Now I'm going to start moving them into a pattern. Now, in Photoshop, I do this a little bit different than in Procreate. If you've watched my Procreate pattern creation, I started with the middle section, the side, then middle, and then I did the top and bottom. In Photoshop, I tend to stick to this top area in the left side and go from there. I might just lower the size of each of these. Now, with those smart objects, it allows me then to resize them back up without losing any quality. I'm just going to speed this up while I arrange these. Now, you might have just seen me then duplicate one. All I do there is hold down the option key and click and drag, and that will create a copy. Now, the beauty of having smart objects is that if I go into one of those, and let's just pretend I'm going to get rid of something, if I go back, if I save that, it will update all of them. So now that we've got that little bit missing. Once I've got most of my top edge and left edge filled, I'm just going to copy the top, down to the bottom, and then left to the right. First, let's do the top. I'm just using my selection tool here to select anything that's along that top area. I'm going to drag them down to the plus sign here to duplicate them, Command-T to transform. Now, I know my canvas is 10 by 10 which is 3,000 by 3,000 pixels, so I need to move this 3,000 pixels down or 10 inches down. You have to use a little bit of maths here. I'm just going to add 3,000 to the y-axis and that will move it down to the right spot. Then just adjust a couple of these while I'm here and then I'll do the left. Copy those. Once again, hit "Transform" and add on 3,000, and now I can continue fixing up and filling the middle section. Now that we've added something that goes over the edge, I need to copy that down to the bottom as well. I think we're almost done here. I'm going to grab all of those elements, group them, and then create another layer, a fill layer. If I go up to Layer, New Fill Layer, Solid Color, and we can choose a nice color for the background. Sometimes I like to pick and then adjust the E, caught like in the dark. I want to add another layer on top and add some dots to fill some of the gaps. I'm going to leave it there. Now I'm going to test it out. I'm going to go up to Edit, Define Pattern. Then I'm going to create a new canvas, and then do a new fill layer pattern. This will pick up that pattern. Let's just try it at 50 percent. There, you can see that is all repeating nicely. 9. Final Words: How did you go? I'm so glad you followed through with me, and you created your own unique design. I'm also super excited to see your pattern, so please upload them to the project's section. If you're posting on social media, please use the hashtag melarmstrongskillshare, so I can say your designs. Thank you so much for following along. Keep being creative and good luck on your journey. See you.