Surface Pattern Design: Refining Patterns & Portfolio Building | Weronika Salach | Skillshare

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Surface Pattern Design: Refining Patterns & Portfolio Building

teacher avatar Weronika Salach, Art with MAGIC

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.

      Welcome to class


    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Composition: Repeat Type


    • 4.

      Composition: Balance


    • 5.

      Composition: Flow


    • 6.

      Color: Your Palette


    • 7.

      Color: Contrast


    • 8.

      Interest: Motifs & Themes


    • 9.

      Interest: Assets


    • 10.

      Portfolio: Your Style


    • 11.

      Portfolio: The Essence


    • 12.

      Final Thoughts +2024 Giveaway


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About This Class

Welcome to "Surface Pattern Design: Refining Patterns & Portfolio Building", a course dedicated to pattern designers of all levels, irrespective of your preferred design software (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Affinity Designer, Procreate, traditional media).

In this class you will learn actionable steps to refine your repeat patterns and to build a strong foundation for your surface pattern design career. I will provide you with:

  • tips for your pattern making process
  • recommendations for your seamless pattern building techniques
  • guidance for your professional portfolio and coaching for pitching to potential clients


This class is for pattern designers of all levels who would like to take their patterns to the next level and prepare their work to be presented to potential clients. If you have a passion for pattern design and a desire to enhance your compositions, experiment with colors, add depth to your creations, and build a standout portfolio, this class is tailored for you.

A strong portfolio is a powerful tool for attracting clients, securing freelance opportunities, or landing a job in the competitive field of pattern design.


All I recommend is a notebook and a cup of tea or coffee :) The course is structured into 4 segments and I recommend you write down actionable steps and goals for each of those segments:

  1. composition
  2. color
  3. interest
  4. portfolio

You will need your favorite design program: Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, or Affinity. This course is not software-specific, however, I am giving a few extra bonus tips for Affinity users in some lessons.


IMPORTANT: Please note this class doesn't teach you how to create technical repeat patterns. If you're interested in learning the technical side of pattern design, check out these other Skillshare classes I teach:

Or visit for more.




Hi! I’m Weronika Salach, an illustrator, surface pattern designer & art teacher. I create vibrant work to fill your world with color, and I teach how to draw in Procreate and Affinity Designer. I'm a Top Teacher on Skillshare where I helped over 30,000 students take their digital illustration skills to the next level.

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Weronika Salach

Art with MAGIC

Top Teacher

Join The PORTFOLIO CLUB (click to view)

Hello! My name is Weronika (or Wera, pronounced with a "V"), I'm an illustrator, surface pattern designer, and online educator based in Berlin, Germany.


Join me on Instagram Join my Portfolio Club on Patreon Watch more Procreate and Affinity tutorials on YouTube Join my Affinity Designer Facebook Group Read my BLOG Head to my Newsletter to get notified about new releases & art challenges


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1. Welcome to class: Hey everybody, My name is Veronica Sala. I'm an illustrator, pattern designer and teacher based in Berlin. And in this course, I wanted to show you nine ways to create better patterns and to work on your pattern design portfolio. We have all been beginners creating the same very basic patterns and not knowing how to monetize our portfolio. So chances are that you either want to improve your passive income, for example, the income from your POD shops or any digital products that you might have. Or you want to elevate your patterns portfolio so that you can present yourself better to potential clients and companies and get those jobs. I'm here to show you my favorite easy ways to refine your techniques and to build a strong foundation for your career. This course is structured in such a way that some of the tips and recommendations that I'm giving are a little bit more technical in nature. So they revolve, for example, around such topics as composition and color choices and the flow of your patterns. Whereas the rest of the recommendations and tips have a little bit more to do with your mindset and your motivation and the purpose of you creating those patterns. This course is for pattern designers of all levels. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or a more experienced designer and you can take it regardless of the software that you're using. Maybe you're creating an affinity or procreate or Adobe, or maybe you're a traditional artist. This course is suitable for everybody. All I recommend is to have you a notebook and something to write so that you can take notes and you can write down some actionable goals that you will be able to implement right away after taking this course. Get a coffee or Tea. Get your notebook and something to write, and let's get started. 2. Getting Started: Hey everybody. Welcome to the course. I'm here to share with you my tips and my recommendations on how to improve your patterns, but also how to improve your pattern design portfolio. So that you can present yourself in the best possible way to potential clients. And you can get new collaborations and new projects. Because I think apart from the joy of creating patterns, this is the goal, right? There are so many ways in which you can take your pattern design to the next level. And I'm really excited to share all my recommendations with you here in this course so that you can implement them right away. This course is not just for beginners, it's actually for people of all levels. It doesn't matter if you're just starting in pattern design or if you have some prior experience. You don't really need any extra tools or resources to take this class. It doesn't really matter if you're designing in procreate or affinity designer or in Illustrator or Photoshop. In discourse, I'm sharing with you my tips in four categories. The first one is composition, then we move on to color and color palettes. Next is interest. And finally, the juicy one is the portfolio. This is how I structured the course. My piece of advice here would be to grab a sheet of paper. Maybe you have a notebook, Maybe you have a digital notebook. I recommend for all those four sections to take from each of those. Something like a nugget of wisdom or a tip that you liked next time you create a pattern To try to implement this piece of advice right away in case you are completely new to pattern design, I recommend my other pattern design courses. I have a few classes that are dedicated to those people who design in a software called affinity designer or for those of you who are interested in transitioning from other software to affinity designer. In each of those courses, I will be also giving some tips on composition and colors and how to manage your pattern design workflow in general. Your task will be to create a new pattern after taking my course. So it's a very easy project then I would like to ask you to create a class project here on skill share. It would also be great if you could tell us in the project section what you liked the most from the course, which tips or which recommendations were the most useful ones. Then there's also a bonus for those of you who are taking this course in 2024. All of the projects that you will upload till December 1, 2024 will participate in a big Skillshare giveaway. Each of the projects will have a chance to win one year of Skillshare premium membership. Even if you already have an annual membership running. This extra one year will be counted to it, so to say, so that it will get extended for free. All you got to do is publish your project, namely create a pattern. It's very easy. Then I would like to ask you to leave a review here on Skillshare, to participate also in this giveaway, and outside of the giveaway, so that I am able to rank better in the search results on the Skillshare website. Then the winner for this year's giveaway will be announced on December 6, 2024 on St. Nicholas Day. If you're using affinity designer in your pattern design, you could also share your work with our Facebook affinity support group. It's a safe space where you can ask questions and you can also share with us your patterns. And you can ask for a critique after taking this course, because I will be giving some advice on portfolio and what to pay attention to. If you feel like you would like to further work on your pattern design portfolio so that you can show it to potential clients. You could consider joining our portfolio club on Patrion, which I started at the beginning of 2024. Okay. But now let's get started with the first segment of our course, the composition. 3. Composition: Repeat Type: Choosing the right repeat type is quite essential, and it will really decide on the final pattern outcome, whether it will look good or not. This is usually the very first thing that we decide on before we even move to the color palette. You want your pattern to flow harmoniously, most of the time. You want to hide your repeat if that is the case, and you would like to hide the repeat very well. You will most frequently go for the half drop repeat, or the brick repeat or the diamond repeat. I know that many beginner pattern designers, they feel a little bit intimidated by those different repeat types. They always start with the standard repeat or with the full drop repeat, but then they have the tendency to stick to it a little bit too long. Now, the standard repeat type can look a little bit too basic. The repeat may be more difficult to hide. However, it can really shine in those designs where it is intended to show beautiful, repetitive geometry or small ditsy blenders. Or when you want to go for checkerboard designs. But I think if you have a more detailed pattern or a hero pattern, I would rather recommend that you go either for the half repeat or the brick repeat or the diamond repeat. I think the diamond repeat and the diamond automated template for affinity designer is the one that I use the most like 90% of the cases. My personal all time favorite, like I said, is the diamond repeat. I use it 90% of the time. This has been my most requested and my most popular online course, Automated Diamond repeat and affinity designer. To sum up, you really want to be quite strategic about choosing your repeat type. I admit choosing which repeat type is right for this particular project. For this particular pattern comes with a little bit of experience. The more you draw, the more of a feeling you have. Which repeat should fit what you have in mind? Then on the other hand, you want to avoid using just the standard repeat type or the full drop repeat type for too long. I think it's great for complete beginners to learn the software to warm up a little bit, but with time I would rather recommend that you get more proficient in using, I think the diamond repeat is of course my favorite. But also I think most of the designers opt in for the have repeat most of the time. Okay, now we are ready to move to the next block about the composition balance. 4. Composition: Balance: My next step for composition and balance is to have a good variety of shapes, forms, and sizes because this will help you to achieve greater balance in your pattern design. I also taught some tips and tricks on composition and those types of advice about forms and shapes in my previous courses, even the ones that do not even refer back to pattern design. For example, there's quite a lot of tips that I'm giving in my botanical illustration in procrete course and in magical Ts also in procreate. In this lesson, I will try to summarize all my recommendations for you also from those previous courses. For starters, make sure that you're including a variety of sizes when building the elements of your pattern. Let's take a look at this more intricate and detailed floral Dits pattern from my most recent class about automated dis patterns for a much better balance, I recommend that you draw some of the elements bigger and some more detailed. And also some other elements should be smaller so that they can act as nice fillers for your pattern as well. The bigger and the more detailed motives should be spread evenly across your entire pattern. And they should also offer some variety for the eye, so those will be usually your hero motives. We will talk about the hierarchy of your motives and one of the next lessons to come, what I would recommend here is to copy one of your heromotives, one of your bigger motives. And then as you make your copy, you can scale it down, Maybe you can rotate it, change its direction, and then you can use it as your big versus medium sized element here. For example, I started with the plant on the left, the one with yellow and light peach, and then I made a copy of it. I think I changed the light peach to orange. I made it smaller, I changed the scale, and then I rotated it so that I had a mirror reflection of my hero plant. The same in this pattern. This pattern is actually quite simple. That was the goal, so that it's quite minimalistic. I took the very same flower you see on the right, in the right circle, The one also with the, I think it's one of my more favorite colors like rosy light, peachy orange tone. Then I made a copy out of it. And like I flipped the colors, the inside is white, the outside is orange. It's basically the same color, but it's just copied rotated. I changed the angle a little bit and I used it also throughout my pattern. The same in this pattern, this little tulip shape. I copied it. I made it smaller, I flipped it, rotated it. I think I played a little bit with the nodes because it's a vector tool, it has a little bit more flexibility to play around with the shapes. Then I also included it somewhere as a filler within this pattern. Next, I would recommend that you include a variety of shapes you can think Geometry, circles, ovals, triangles, and also pointy shapes. Just as an example, have a look here on those slides how those simple geometric shapes can translate into interesting botanical assets. Now let's take again one of my patterns as an example. In this pattern, you can observe that I included more round flowers, more oval, and a little bit flatter flowers. I also included some shapes that are more pointy and triangular in form. As my filler, I had some horizontal lines and some vertical lines. Also some smaller dots and lines as my fillers. I think that this advice is especially more suitable for hero patterns. Because naturally if you're designing blender patterns or even less detailed secondary patterns, I don't think they have to have so much variety. I think they actually, on purpose, limit the amount of motive. So you cannot probably possibly have all this variety of shapes and sizes and forms. But this is really good advice that served me very well when designing my hero patterns. Maybe this will be the tip that you will take out of this first section of the course to include a variety of shapes, forms, and sizes in your next pattern. If you're going to do that, you are good to go and your portfolio will be also great. 5. Composition: Flow: In this lesson, we will be talking about one of my most favorite aspects of pattern design, namely the flow. This technique, this little trick, was actually something that really saved my portfolio because there was a time that I caught myself producing over and over and again the same patterns, with the same shapes. It was usually for D. And then when I was preparing my online portfolio to send it off to clients, I looked at it and I was like, this all looks the same to me, there's very little variety. I started to think more about how my pattern flows. I'll show you a few examples in a minute. Now, if you have taken my other classes on pattern design, you know that I like to start creating my patterns with a good sketch. But in this technique, I encourage you to start your sketch with a general flow of your composition. Namely, by using arrows, like in this example here. Those arrows will just indicate the initial direction of my motives and they will help me to spread them on my pattern tile. The example that you see on the slide, this is my automated diamond repeat. You see in this green color the diamond shape. Within that diamond, I positioned a few arrows. It's going to be a botanical pattern. With those arrows, I indicated more or less the direction in which those flowers or stems and leaves will be flowing. I make sure that at this stage, the entire canvas is very well filled with those shapes and arrows, and that there are not too many empty spaces in between them. Then I sketch out my main shapes. Here, again, I'm using simplified shapes. I'm sure that you have seen it in my other courses too. I'm using circles, triangles, basic shapes. I like to spread them out evenly again. And then to consider a variety of forms and shapes. Just like we discussed this aspect in the previous lesson, I also want to make sure that they're not in the same line that you are forming those very straight lines. Horizontal and vertical lines. You basically have to make sure that you're not creating any strange grids. You might have already noticed that this is the affinity designer interface I am working on my sketch in the pixel persona, you can see in the upper left corner the symbol or the icon for pixels. That's the pixel persona where I can use raster based brushes for my sketch. Then I decided, first of all, to change a little bit the color of my background. Then I slowly start to fill in those basic shapes that I started with. The circles, the triangles with my flowers, with my clusters of flowers, my leaves and my stems. Of course, the sketch with those very basic geometric colors was on a separate layer. I am of course, able to switch it off. Here you can see my rough sketch before I start vectorizing my pattern. Okay, this is what the final pattern looks like. The diamond repeat shape is somehow visible, but not entirely a diamond repeat. Again, referring to the first lesson about choosing a repeat type. I think it's also beautiful and very versatile repeat to choose if you're just too bored of half drop repeat all the time. I've been using this technique over and over again even before I dived deeper into pattern design before creating patterns and before switching to affinity. I was a very passionate user of procreate and I created two courses about botanical illustrations in procreate. Both of those courses, botanical compositions and Procreate and Magical mutts, They actually do present this technique. It's so versatile that you can also use it outside of pattern design. Next, I also have quite a detailed article on my blog, on my website, about using this approach for botanical compositions in general. I also have dedicated Youtube playlists with some free tutorials where I am showing you step by step how I draw a botanical composition and procreate also using this technique where I started out with planning out the flow of my composition and then working on simplified shapes, that will turn into a more detailed illustration in the end. But now let me show you a few more hands on examples on how I map out flow of my patterns with those arrows and simplified shapes. Here is one flow example that you can also find in my Dits workbook. It's like an upward flow. We have the same flower type flowing together in the upwards direction. Even though we don't have a big variety of scale in here, for example. And it's still the same flower, it is drawn differently. I think it's the same flower type that I've drawn three times. Sometimes it's also rotated. It's flipped so that I have a mirror reflection, but all of them flow in the upward direction. This pattern, for example, we have a central round flower that is repeated in the way throughout the pattern. Then we have some leaves that branch out of it in the outward direction. In this way, they serve as a wonderful filler type for our background. Now this pattern here is quite interesting. I'm not sure if you are able to see exactly the flow of this composition. I'm showing it to you here on this next slide. It's a diagonal flow, you don't really see it that often. It can really stand out in your portfolio. In this case, all the botanical forms flow into the upper right corner. In this last example, I think this pattern has an even more interesting flow shape, very unique. It's also moving upwards, just like in the first one, but it's a merger between this upward flow and a diagonal in a way, it's flowing up and then gently towards left and then up again. It's an upward movement with a twist. If you're looking for more inspiration on different types of flow for your pattern, then I will include also in the resources, the previous workbooks from my automated Patterns classes. And then make sure to download them and have a look at the composition library. Maybe next time you can step out of your comfort zone and you can consider a completely new flow type for your new pattern. This lesson was the last lesson in the first category that was about general composition for your patterns. I'm really curious about which of the lessons you like the most and which of the pieces of advice will you implement in your next pattern. Now we are moving to the next block, which is about color and color palettes for your patterns. 6. Color: Your Palette: Now, choosing the right colors, the right color palette for your pattern can sometimes really give you a headache. But usually it's one of the most important things to decide on. It's very essential, well considered color palette can certainly elevate your design, but it can also destroy it. It can set the mood of your pattern. It can make it more playful. It can make it more calm. It can also make it more suitable for some markets. We will see a few examples on the next slide. Let's start with tip number one. Reduce your colors to maximum six colors whenever you produce or create your pattern. What I keep seeing, especially with beginner artists, is that they get lost in too many colors on the color spectrum and they feel a little bit chaotic and all over the place. Really, the tip number one that I can give you starting from today, I told you at the beginning in the getting started lesson, that you can take from each section one piece of advice and you can choose, actually I should say that this one is non negotiable, that this is something that you should try out because it will really be good for your portfolio, I believe, at least to test it out, to create a next pattern with a minimal color palette, it could be maximum six colors, but it could be even fewer. Reducing the number of your colors will usually result in a much cleaner outcome. It will make your pattern easy to understand if it makes sense. Which will work really well for pattern design, for branding and packaging for example. Then working with fewer colors will encourage you to shift your focus more to composition and the arrangement of your pattern motives. Using fewer colors is also what your potential client or might want because it could be more cost effective, especially in print production. Working with limited colors is a good habit to develop from the very beginning. Patterns with fewer colors are often easier to reproduce accurately in print, making sure that the final product matches the original design as close as possible. Tip number two, often overlooked, identify the mood of your color palette. Let me give you a few examples. Your colors could be playful and vibrant. Such combinations are really excellent for the kids market or for a playful clothes line for teenagers. Your colors could also be vintage. They could evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Think about, for instance, the colors of the '60s or the '70s. They could be really fantastic for home decor and for bold fabric. Your color palette could also be mysterious and dark, with darker and more moody tones, grays, purples and browns. It could be more fitting for some esoteric products or for cosmetics, maybe for some products for men. Your color palette could also be romantic. It can include a lot of pastel colors with pinks, creams, and big super fitting for obviously more romantic or let's say feminine products for some romantic occasions. For packaging, wrapping paper, wallpaper, there's actually so many applications that you can think of. You could also choose very fresh colors with mint green, turquoise, vibrant yellows and blues. Such fresh colors, they give you a kick. I think they would go very well with sports apparel and some fitness products. Or again, considering the mood of your colors, you may want to design something much softer and delicate with pastel tones. This soft pastel color palette is really great for baby products and for the nursery. Now, when choosing your color palette, there are also some resources outside of the digital realm that can help you. For example, books. Maybe you have some books that don't even have to do anything with illustration. I remember back in the days, I had a lot of albums that were about bouquets and flower arrangements. And you could just snap a photo from this very artistic album, and then you could import it to procreate or affinity, and use that as your color palette. I wanted to show you one of my most favorite books for research in color palettes. It's called Palette Perfect by Loin. I hope I pronounce your name correctly, Wager. I will include this title of this book in my references in the class description. This book, I found it on the German Amazon is Religious. A treasure of color palettes. It's structured in a funny way, because it is actually structured by the mood. This is what we were discussing previously. In the table of contents, you will see that this book has some examples of natural color palettes. Color palettes connected to some curiosity, dreamy, magical. There's also fresh fresh colors. Solitude. That's a nice mood. Solitude, romantic, mysterious, retro tranquility, playful, delicate. It's much more than I included on my slides. Trendy, nostalgia and lush. There's a whole bunch of even emotions that colors can evoke. Some of them can be more elegant and more sophisticated. When you get a project, you will most probably get a creative brief from your client. And they will describe and tell you the purpose of the design, why they need a pattern or a pattern collection. And they might include some keywords that refer to the mood of your colors. Such resources are really super helpful. The last step that I wanted to give you for this lesson is to look out for signature color palettes. For example, I had a phase when my color palette was a little bit more rustic and earthy. There was a lot of dull pinks and purples and some pastel greens. It was a little bit Beijing then my daughter was born. So it was a completely different mood in my life, right? I rediscovered the power of happy colors. It was quite a natural process for me that my art started to be more bold and vibrant. Gave me a lot of joy because that was also the time of my life where I felt a lot of joy because I had my first baby. Even currently, when you just have a look at my website portfolio or on my Instagram, I have a few favorite colors that I tend to use over and over again. Like there's a special type of blue or teal or peachy orange that I like to use over and over again in my art. Not just in pattern design, but also in my picture book illustrations. To finish off this lesson, I wanted to show you how other artists are using colors in their patterns. I reached out to some of my favorite pattern designers on Instagram. With their permission, I wanted to show you their patterns, their art, and what they have to say about using color and color palettes in their work. Our first artist is Elena. I really love her color palette. In me personally, I instantly think about the mood it evokes those feelings of calm and warm, and very cozy. I think her patterns look especially good on products for children or for babies, and they would be super fitting also in the nursery. I am sure that her patterns can be really popular with those people who like to saw themselves and they look really, really great on bald fabric as well. This is what Elena says about using color in her work. Finding your signature colors can be a bit stressful. Just give yourself time to experiment. My color choices vary with seasons, and that's okay if it's intentional. Typically, my patterns include bright spot colors, warm neutrals, and something cute. Here, you already noticed that she herself is aware that she does have some colors that she really likes coming back to, maybe they became her signature colors. Even then, she continues to say, it's helpful to begin by noting the colors you don't like. For me, I avoid greens, yellows, violets, and pinks. Here's advice from my color theory teacher. Check your outfit to discover your color preference. I have lots of blues and warm neutrals, which I often use in my illustrations and patterns after some color experiments. I have also summarized the tips that Elena wants to give us. First of all, give yourself time to experiment. Like I said, sometimes you really just have to produce one pattern after another to gain more experience then intentionally choose colors depending on the seasons. I also noticed that whenever there's the fall season, I adapt to what I see on Instagram as well. And I start to reach out for more seasonal color palettes with browns and with oranges. Here one of my favorite tips, check your outfits to discover your color preferences. Another great artist is Mary Lou, and I also wanted to present her in this lesson. I really adore her designs. They're super sweet and cute and I need to find out where I can buy them for my own daughter. She was also very kind to gift me some time and to share. Some of her tips on using color in her work. This is what she's saying. Working with color is a big part of my practice. I spend a lot of time building up good color harmonies. I like to work with as large a palette as possible while maintaining a balance and comforting composition. Here you'll notice that she's also saying, again, I spend a lot of time. This is something that you cannot probably develop overnight. It just comes with time. And with your experience drawing and making one pattern after another, I often work on the palettes first, then adjust the colors according to the shapes in each image. I have many favorite colors such as yellow, green, blue, and pink. Again, she's very aware of which of the colors are her favorites. And I bet she has some ready made color palettes saved up and ready to go every time she designed something new. Here's a summary of her tips. Start your project with a color palette that inspires you. Then take some time to build your palettes. And do not rush it. Identify your recurring favorite colors, which as we know, might with time, become your signature colors. Next we have Carly, who is again featured in my chorus. Because I can't stop looking at her designs. They're so beautiful and full of joy. You see, automatically, I didn't even plan it. It's not scripted. I said that her patterns, they evoke in me a sense of joy because they're so bold and happy. I instantly think about the mood. This is what she shared with me when I asked her about using color and color palettes in her work. I love color. Yeah, for me it's the most important part of my work. I have been collecting color palettes or even just images with pleasant color combinations over on pin trust for many years now. I have a big library to draw inspiration from. I like to use dreamy palettes of pinks, blues and purples in lots of vibrant hues. And I will stick to the same palette for quite some time so that my work has a cohesive look. Recently, I have been inspired by the palettes of Georgia O'keefe. Her colors are so magical. Now here is the summary of tips and recommendations from Carly. Collect color palettes and store them, for example, on Pinterest. I'm also a fan of Pinterest, by the way, and I have so many art boards by now, and then I use it quite actively whenever working on a new pattern or a new illustration. Stick to one color palette for a period of time so that you create a body of work that looks cohesive. Finally, seek inspiration looking at famous artists from art history. I really love this last piece of advice. Next we have Meghan who has drawn my attention to her artwork through her use of color. Precisely. I found her on Instagram and she is, in my opinion, extremely good at showcasing her artwork, And I really love her color combinations. So I asked her to participate and to share her pieces of advice on using color and color palettes in her work. So this is what she's saying. The first thing I do when starting a new pattern or illustration is choose the color palette. I love to use limited palettes. Usually three to six colors plus black and white. That pushes me to find creative ways to use the colors, while also giving me a guideline from the start, I end up working faster. And the end result is more interesting. Here's a summary of her recommendations for the use of color. Her first piece of advice is, start by choosing your colors at the beginning of your project. I really have to agree with that, that sometimes I am inspired to create a pattern when I first see a very beautiful color palette, not the other way round. Then very importantly, use a limited color palette of max three to six colors. I really couldn't agree more. Thank you so much to all those talented pattern designers for participating and for sharing your experience. And your tips. Here are their Instagram handles so that you can visit their accounts and give them a follow or just admire their beautiful artworks. How does that look in practice? And how did it look for me when I was choosing my signature color palettes? You will start to notice as you create one pattern after another that you keep coming back to some colors. You can also take notes. Maybe you have some artistic journal where you take notes about your inspirations. Maybe you have a sketch book where you can draw with paints or with colored pencils, but you can also cut out some beautiful color combinations from magazines and keep them in this notebook for safe keeping. So to say, you start to identify at least this one and then second color that you keep using over and over again, they just become part of your repertoire on a daily basis. Next you go further. You include those colors not only in your creative process but also in your branding process. Maybe you include those colors in brand logo. Perhaps you also take them into consideration when building your portfolio website. I always have my brand colors saved up in the software that I'm using. I have them both in procreate for sketching, and also an affinity designer. I have this one color palette that I just called branding. It actually did change like I used to have a more bluish brand identity last year and now it's getting a little bit more peachy. Again, when you develop your signature brand color palette, it doesn't mean that it's set in stone. It can actually also evolve with you as an artist. And you can, of course, keep changing it. Think about one of the other aspects that I mentioned when talking about color. Think about the mood. My signature colors are very happy and very vibrant. It might have something to do with my origin. I originally come from Poland, where the reality is a little bit gray. It's not Spain, it's not Mexico, it's not sunny all the time I lived in those post communist blocks, it was a lot of gray and a lot of brown. I think naturally now I want a little bit more color like, even if the environment is gray and a little bit black, I want more color in life. And this is also part of my artist statement that I can also include on my website that I want to bring more color and happiness onto the client's products to spread a little bit more happiness and a bit more optimism. Your signature colors, your favorite colors, they can become your signature colors. They can evoke a certain mood that is also part of who you are as an artist and it's part of your brand identity. What about you take a sheet of paper or take your journal and write a few thoughts after watching this lesson, do you know what you like? Do you know the mood of your patterns or your illustrations in general? Take a few notes. Just write them on a sheet of paper to gain a little bit more clarity. I hope that this lesson was helpful. 7. Color: Contrast: Color contrast is important, not only for pattern designers, it's important for illustrators, for designers, it goes beyond pattern design. But I needed to include a lesson about it because I have a few tricks that I wanted to show you. It's really essential to have good contrast also in pattern design, because it makes your pattern more readable, it can grab the viewer's attention, it's more visually appealing. In the end, let's have a look at the following example. The circle on the left does stand out much better, whereas the circle on the right really does hurt our eyes in a way and it gets a bit lost. That's because the first circle has a better contrast with the background color and the other one doesn't. While the software color might look better for more secondary details on your patterns, such as more gentle fillers on the background layer, maybe it won't be the best color for our hero motives. Color contrast helps pattern designers establish focal points within their compositions. By using colors with differing intensities, you can guide the viewer's gaze. You can create an emphasis on specific motives or details. For example, in this pattern, I wanted both the background as well as the leaves and stems of the flowers to be really secondary. You can see it very well on the leaves and the stems that they share the color with the background. I basically took the color of the background and I made it brighter. And that was the color that I chose for the stems and for the leaves. Then I used the same technique on the second pattern, where I chose this peachy orange so that the hero flowers stand out more compared with the other elements. My advice would be for you to play around with patterns that have more contrasting colors. You can have a look at the color wheel and experiment. I think for starters, with complimentary colors, for example, red versus green, or yellow versus blue, or one of my most favorite color contrasts, purple and orange. When I say contrast, I just don't mean specific color choices. I also mean that my artwork is really readable. If we were to turn it into gray scale, just grace blacks and whites. Let's have a look at one affinity designer example and later on at procreate in case you're using affinity designer. This is super, super easy because you don't need to create any dedicated layer. The program, the software gives you that option to check your designs in gray scale within I think two clicks. All you got to do is you have to go to the Navigator menu, which you can find in the lower right corner. Then next to the sub menu that says Main View Mode vector, there is a small icon as if with three circles together for color modes. And when you click on it, your design will change automatically to gray scale. In this smaller navigator window in the upper right corner, you will still see the preview of your real colors of the design. You can toggle this gray scale effect on and off as you go simultaneously to the color studio. And then you can simultaneously change colors there. And observe in real time how this color adapts in terms of contrast for procreate users. This step will involve an extra layer, which you have to be mindful of if you run out of layers. But you can always export your pattern and test this out in the new document where you have more layers at your disposal. So you need to add in an extra layer by hitting the plus symbol. And then you have to fill this layer with a midtone gray. I like to find this midtone gray from the color menu, from the classic view. This is where I position my selection. It's more or less in the middle left corner. And then I drop this gray onto the entire canvas. And then I go to the bland mold options. And I scroll down through the drop down menu and I find color, and this is what I select. You will see that in pattern design, color contrast is essential in creating the illusion of depth. This depth in turn, can help your pattern look more. Dynamic contrast between colors enhances the readability and clarity of your pattern. At the very least, after watching this lesson, I highly recommend that you start doing the gray scale test. For me personally, this has been the most useful tool, especially since I started using affinity and I discovered this little option. I think it came actually with one of the more recent updates of 2023. I was really delighted. I swear I use it 100% of the time, both for my parents as well as for my picture book illustration. It has really helped me tremendously. Now with this last useful tip from the color section of the course, we are moving in the next lesson to the interest section. 8. Interest: Motifs & Themes: Beginner Pattern designers often stick to the same themes or the same motives. For example, they have a tendency to draw pretty much the same thing over and over again. Of course, it's also important to know who you are if you specialize, if you have a specialty. If you specialize, and that's how you show yourself as a botanical pattern designer, then of course, it's part of your brand, it's part of your strategy. But chances are that you want to be more versatile, you don't have such a closed specialization. Chances are that you really want to expand and get as many, for example, licensing deals as possible, or as many sales in your POD shops. Especially for the latter ones, it's quite important to branch out and to start creating patterns with a variety of motives and themes. Let's talk about the themes of your patterns. It's very natural, like I said, to start out with floral motives. But then the next natural step would be to try to branch out to more specific categories, even within the same category. For example, you start by drawing flowers, then you branch out it a little bit and you explore fruit and vegetables, for example. Then once you have a few fruits or veggies in your portfolio, you might draw some food patterns that would be great for the kitchen or kitchen products. In this way, you are expanding your reach. So to say, you will be able to apply to a bigger number of potential clients. Next, you can, for example, explore drawing animals, birds, mythical creatures, and then perhaps some whimsical scenes. Of course, let's not forget about a few festive patterns for the holidays like Christmas or Easter, and patterns for special occasions, which are really important in pattern licensing. You would like to expand beyond just keywords such as flower bloom, floral, and botanical. You want a wider variety of keywords that then you would be able to put into your pattern descriptions in your POD shops that will help you to increase your reach and your visibility in their search engines. Here I have a few examples. Those are by my research, some of the best in demand themes in pattern design, we have the beach and nautical themes. Fish, think about crabs and whatever might fit onto swimwear or beach wear. Next is birds and fish. Then you can explore the wide realm of hobbies. Next, very important occasions and holidays. Think Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, and so on. Now, especially for spoonflower, a lot of makers, a lot of creators buy their fabrics because they want to make something for their kids or for a newborn baby. You might want to think about motives for baby boy versus baby girl. Then another very trendy category are patterns for pets like dogs and cats, something the last point that I wanted to included on that list that was super, super trendy a few years ago, but I see it's still very popular out there are the motives of the forest. This is also, it could be a botanical theme. You can tackle some botanical elements from the forest, but also forest animals. Okay, I hope that this list will at least get you started and inspired to create patterns from different themes. Now let's talk about the hierarchy of your pattern motives In general, it is helpful to differentiate between hero, secondary and filler motives for your patterns. I talk about it even more in depth in my automated half drop pattern scores where we are drawing together quite a detailed floral, ditsy pattern which is constructed from those three motive categories, hero elements, secondary elements, and filler elements. This is the pattern that we have drawn in this class from A to Z. That's how I would deconstruct it now so that you can see those motive types better. Your hero motives are the star of your pattern. They are usually the biggest and the most detailed elements. Here, I tried to circle a few of my hero flowers in this pattern. Those have a little bit more detail on them. I also scaled them in such a way so that they are my biggest elements from the pattern on this next slide. You see my secondary motives, you can probably notice that my circles got smaller. I changed the scale of those secondary elements. They are there to support my theme. In this case, it's a botanical ditz, of course, they need to complement this theme further. They add more interest into the pattern, but they don't overshadow my hero motives. At the same time, they already act as my middle sized fillers to fill up this pattern with motives. Finally, the small fillers, in my case, these are the tiny grasses and berries, some stars, or some abstract shapes like wonky lines and oval shapes that could also imitate stones on the ground. As a filler, you could also be using some interesting texture in the background or some shadows. Speaking of the trendy forest theme, here we have another example, a pattern of mine with a few deer in the forest. On the next slide, you will see that the deer are my hero motives, the trees and the bushes. I consider them here secondary even though those smaller flowers and the mushrooms could also be considered secondary. Then I have a whole bunch of fillers. That would be my third category. I have here some tiny flowers and some abstract shapes and lines. I think a pattern looks much better if we do not leave out too many empty spaces. If you don't have an idea what to do, what to draw and how to fill up this space, then just go wild with abstract shapes and draw some circles or some lines or any other abstract wonky shapes, and I think it will do the job very well. Now going back to this pattern, again, this is my hero pattern. Therefore, I have the whole hierarchy of motives present. Like I said, there's the hero motive, secondary motives, and there are my fillers. But you got to bear in mind that your secondary patterns or your blender patterns, they don't necessarily need all of those dimensions. On the contrary, you can take your secondary or filler elements from your hero pattern and you can turn them into a blender or a secondary pattern that will be part of your collection. This is pretty much a quick and dirty method of expanding the number of patterns in your collection. On the next slide, you will see that I used those tiny little flowers that were acting as a filler from my hero pattern. And I turned them into a completely new pattern, which is more of a blender or a secondary pattern. Since there are no other motives present, this filler motive became the hero element for this pattern. Actually, my final advice for this lesson is to get out of your comfort zone. If you are guilty of creating only floral motives, then I really warmly encourage you to branch out a little bit. You can go to such POD shops as Red Bubble or Spoonflower or even Society six and you can check what's trendy right now and you can try to tackle those different motives. Another piece of advice that I can give you is not to go overboard with your hero motives. I usually have maybe one or two, but not more, maybe three. Like if it's a botanical pattern like the one that you saw at the beginning, then I think I had three bigger hero flowers. But I rather do not go beyond because then you start adding secondary motives and your fillers in your pattern can get a little bit too busy and then you're entering danger zone, then it might look a little bit messy even though as always it's a matter of your style and taste is sometimes very subjective. If you feel that you created something that would work for a given end product, then of course, by all means you can also include it in your portfolio. Now we finish this lesson. In the next video, I will talk briefly about using assets in pattern design. 9. Interest: Assets: I dedicate this lesson to all affinity designer users because we will be discussing vector assets and your assets library along this feature, being able to save your design elements as assets was enough to convince me to switch my workflow from procreate all the way to affinity designer. I have a whole class about creating vector assets. And affinity designer, you may want to check it out if you would like a deeper practice on your assets library. For those of you who have never heard of assets before, what are assets? Assets are design elements which you can save to your device and then open and use them in any document, you can reuse your assets. You can save both vector and raster elements as your assets. It doesn't really matter. You can even save up textures as your assets. For example, paper textures. You can import and export assets, and that means you can even sell them later on as digital products. Let's have a look at an example. This pattern is created by reusing some of my old vector assets entirely. The funny thing is I created those baked goods assets for some of my children's picture book illustrations and I decided to recycle them later on quite spontaneously. On this slide, we can see the affinity designer interface, I'm using the ipad version. To the right side, you see parts of my assets library. I have a whole category called Kitchen Cafe and I saved a lot of items in this category. And among other things, all those baked goods, all the rolls and breads and pretzels and baguettes. Once saved, you can just drag them and drop them onto your document and they are ready to be reused. You can rescale them or you can recolor them, whatever you need. So that was the first illustration where I used some of those baguettes and breads. It was a simple flat lay illustration with some Polish ceramics. You can see here a little bit more of my assets Library. I also have like a category for treats with some sandwiches and jams, and pies and doughnuts, cookies, and even ice cream. And here's one of my more recent illustrations of a bakery shop where I could just go wild and use all the breads and all the baked goods that I previously created. You just inserted them again into your document and you place it as you like and you're ready to go. A few more examples from my ipad interface. My secret garden collection. I think I created at least six different patterns using just a variety, a mix of those assets. Here's another example, the same secret garden collection of assets. The secondary flowers that you see in the middle of my assets library, where the hero flowers that I used for this playful pattern for kids. I also like drawing my own hand drawn mock ups clothes for women, for the types of clothes that I would like to wear myself. And also for kids clothes. Then I can save them up as assets as well. And then I just drag them, insert them into the document. I change the pattern that I want to show on the mock up, and it takes me literally, probably 2 minutes or less. Having mock up saved up in this way gives me a very quick opportunity to test out my patterns after I created them. Here's another example of a pretty blouse. And by the way, those color swatches that you see to the left of my mock up, I also have them saved up, like I have a whole color palettes category in my assets library that I also use for saving up color palettes like that, I often mix up assets from different categories. Like those houses are from my older city category. And the parts of the background you see here, the clouds and the birds are from my environment category. I try to keep my categories relatively tighty and I sort my assets by a topic or a theme because they can really grow big over time. Keeping a rich library of assets can really give you an advantage. I've noticed, for example, that compared with my colleagues who draw and procreate, I tend to work a little bit faster because I can reuse some of my elements much, much faster. And also having a rich library, When you scroll through your library looking for inspiration, it can actually spark your creativity and get you creating right away and start working on a new pattern. The process, in the end, for you is much faster than before. I often have days where I don't have any particular pattern idea, but I know that I would my portfolio would profit from a given theme. Then I only sketch elements of that theme. I bring it to affinity and I only build my assets first. It doesn't have to be the other way round. It doesn't have to be like that, that you have a pattern in your mind and you start drawing a pattern right away in your template. Sometimes I just draw assets even all day long because I know I'm going to need it. Then the pattern design process comes in a few days or in a few months. If you would like to start building your library of assets, I recommend that you start with filler elements. Because usually hero motives, you should probably draw them from scratch because you don't want all of your patterns, of course, to look the same. It's not a quick and dirty option to cheat your way to make things faster. It's to make some of the steps of your creative process just a little bit easier and more efficient. And I found that the best thing is to start with creating a lot of nice filler elements. Because this is usually where you get a little bit stuck. Like what to put into your pattern and how to fill in the gaps that you have in your pattern. You can have, for example, a category for I like adding stars and little tiny stars into my patterns. You can spend some time building your lunar category. Some abstract fillers like wonky shapes, circles, and wobbly lines, for example. Or small floral botanical elements that could be great fillers for your patterns. I hope that this lesson inspired you to look into this topic of developing an assets library in case you're an affinity designer user. Now in the next lesson, we move on to the portfolio section of our course and we will talk about your style. 10. Portfolio: Your Style: Now we are moving to the last section of our course about tips and recommendations around your patent design portfolio. And how to present yourself in the best possible way to potential clients. My next tip for you is to stick to one style for a longer time. Oftentimes, beginner pattern designers try out new things and experiment with new techniques, which is completely normal at the beginning. I do recommend sticking to one style, at least for a while and exploring it fully. This will give you a more consistent look and it will help you build your brand. People may actually start to recognize your style and this is, I think, a desirable thing. It might happen that next time you post your new work to Instagram, and people see that even before seeing your name written your account, they will know that it's you. And I believe that it's actually a good thing. I also believe that potential clients who have a look at your website portfolio, they do look for a certain unity. It will help you to build higher quality patterns when working using a familiar technique for a longer period of time. But also for your website portfolio, you will be able to present yourself in a more cohesive way. Everything will be tied more together. In this way, you will give your potential clients a better idea of what you like creating and what they can expect to get from you when they hire you. Sticking to only one style does not mean that you shouldn't be experimenting on the side quite on the contrary, you should still explore and you should have fun. At the same time for your portfolio. When you start presenting yourself and you only start pitching to potential clients and sending out your work, I recommend that you build a more cohesive way of presenting yourself. And you do that by showing a body of work that feels that it belongs together. Think about it in this way. If you see ten thumbnails with patterns on a website, in a website portfolio, you want to ask yourself the question. Was this created by one person? Or is it like a medley of patterns created by different people? You want to give this impression that this is yours. You can actually even make a test, take a test. Once your portfolio, your website portfolio is done, you can ask someone who has never seen it before, maybe from your family or a friend, if they think that it's just one person that created those patterns. I think that's a nice test. One more recommendation that I could give you for structuring your portfolio with regard to your style is that you might categorize it on your website. For example, if this is you, that you're an artist who creates flatter vector patterns, but you also love experimenting and creating with watercolor brushes and procreate. Then you could consider for your website to have those two categories separately, something like flat style patterns or vector patterns on a dedicated landing page. And then separately watercolor patterns, which also could have like a different audience and might be more appropriate for different end products. Now we move on to my favorite lesson from this section. We will be talking about the essence of your portfolio. 11. Portfolio: The Essence: In this lesson, we will talk about the essence of your pattern work I truly believe, and this is probably the number one advice that I would give to pattern designers. I believe that those pattern designers that are most successful ones are the ones that are designing with the end product in mind. They just don't draw for the sake of drawing, they are able to imagine what this pattern will look like on product A, B, or C or X. The easiest way to check whether your pattern has sense, meaning whether it will be applicable, is to test it out on a mock up. For instance, for me personally, my dream target market is bold fabric and apparel, in particular, clothes for women and for kids. Once I started testing out my pattern immediately right after creating it, it was a really big game changer for me, especially for clothes mock ups. It was sometimes very funny because I created a pattern that I really liked. And then I placed it to test it out on a blouse mock up. And then I was completely put off and blind. I thought, okay, this is not working. I have to do something with the colors or with the scale. I have to make it work for the product. It doesn't really matter that you create the most beautiful pattern design that stays somewhere on your laptop or on your ipad. You should design for the real world and for the real products that are waiting out there to have your patterns on them. Oftentimes, my pattern just needs a very small change. For example, I saw on my mock up that the pattern would look more flattering with a darker background. And that was the only change that it took to make it look better. But again, I always have my target market in mind. I have my end product in mind. I designed my pattern, and then I always test it out on a mock up. Now, a few words of encouragement. I know that it seems that the pattern design market is very saturated. But the key to be successful in this industry is to keep creating and to keep it fresh, To keep your portfolio up to date, and to produce a lot of patterns so that you can show them to your clients. If you apply my advice and my tips from the previous lessons about colors and contrast, trying out different motives every now and then, like drawing bikes instead of flowers today or cars for a baby boy bolt fabric. You will do just that. You will always have your end product in mind. You will be more focused and more successful in the end because you will design with a purpose in your mind. Check out those popular markets for patent design. We have, of course, Bolt fabric and apparel. We have home decor textiles, wallpaper designs, stationery and paper goods, phone cases and tech accessories, gift wrap and packaging, kids apparel and products, swimwear and beach wear designs. Pet accessories, very fun kitchenware and tableware. Packaging for food products, we have greeting cards that can also have patterns on them. Interior design and upholstery and baby products. Select a few focus markets for yourself for this year. For each of those focus points, find at least five potential companies where you could pitch your designs. Let's say you're interested in pet accessories. Find at least five companies that you like. Maybe you'll find them on social media. Maybe you do a quick Google search. Start the database or write them down in your notebook. And set up goals for yourself. For example, set up a goal that all those five companies that you researched, you will find your contact persons for those companies and you will write them in e mail. You were pitched to them. This last advice about having a sense of purpose when you're designing, thinking about your market, having your favorite companies that you have researched, and having this end product in mind. I left it as the last, most important lesson from all the sections that you could watch in this course. Because for me, it's like this cherry, cherry on the cake, on top of the cake. For me, this is really the essence. This is the most important advice that I can give you. You can even extend it to your learning. Because right now what you're doing when you're watching this course is you're learning something. Every time you finish a course on skillshare, gumroad, Tame. Think about, okay, so what, but how can I apply it to my portfolio and to my career? How will this help me to develop my portfolio? What I have to show and to offer to potential clients? And always take some actionable steps. Either something for your POD shops if it's more of a passive income that you're trying to build or actively search for the companies that you could apply to. Do not let your patterns to just stay on your ipad or somewhere on your storage. I don't want that for you. I don't want that for myself. I want you to create a sense that you can make a career out of it and you can start creating income out of it as well. Create with a sense of purpose. 12. Final Thoughts +2024 Giveaway: Thank you so much for watching this course till the end. I hope that by the end of this class, you have taken a lot of notes. And you have also written down some action points for each of the sections that I presented in this course. Remember what we had. We had some tips about composition, about color, interest, and then about your portfolio. My favorite one. Ideally, for each of those sections, you have at least one actionable step that you can implement right away. I would like to warmly invite you again to join our patron portfolio club where I can support you further in developing your digital portfolio. The project for discourse is very easy, just create a pattern or even a pattern collection, Take a screenshot and then publish it as a project. Here on skill share. Of course, within the project I would be very happy to read your sites what you liked about the course and which of the tips and recommendations you think were the most important ones for you. All the projects from this course will participate in a Skillshare giveaway where you can win one year of Skillshare premium for free. The deadline for uploading your project is December 1, 2024. You have plenty of time, but don't forget about it. Thank you again for taking my course and I'll see you next time. Happy creating.