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3 Hacks for Creating Interesting Surface Pattern Designs

Dec 12, 2017Pattern Design Practice6 comments

Have you ever created a design that seems to lack a bit of life or feels flat? You know it needs something extra but you’re not quite sure what it is? Or are you short of time to create a design with lots of different complex motifs but you don’t want to create a boring design? Here are 3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs.

3 Hacks for Creating Interesting Surface Pattern Designs

Before we get started looking at those 3 ways to create interest within your designs, let’s begin by having a look at the example below that shows a really simple repeated leaf shape.

As is, this design is really flat, lifeless and boring but by making a few simple changes, it’s easy to bring life and interest to a simple a design like this.

3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs

1. Linework

This first method we are going to look at is adding line work to your motifs. Line is a really simple and effective way of adding interest to your surface pattern designs. It can be used to express shape, texture, contour, and tone. The beauty of using line is that there are endless ways you can use it within your surface pattern designs. Some ways include hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling.

You can find out more about using line within your surface pattern designs here.

In the example below, you can see that by adding some simple line work detail to the design, the leaves have become more interesting and the design has more depth.

3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs

2. Shading

Another way of adding interest within your surface pattern designs is to add shading to your design elements. This will give your designs depth and an appearance of being 3D. In the example below this was created in 2 ways. Firstly by adding areas of a darker colour to highlight different parts of the leaf and secondly by adding a gradient colour.

3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs

3. Layering

Layering is a great way to make a simple design seem more complex. By using the same design elements and layering them you can create interest and depth within your designs. Some things you can try include altering the size of the motifs, change the direction of the motifs and using solid areas versus line work. 

In the example below, by simply adding an outline of the leaf with line work and randomly placing it over the top of the original leaf shapes, the design appears to be more complex. There are actually only 2 different leaf motifs within the design. 

3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs

Next time you’re short on time or you need to add an extra bit of interest to your designs don’t forget these 3 hacks for creating interesting surface pattern designs.

Do you have any questions? Comments? Let’s chat below

6 Comments

  1. Estelle DeRidder

    Thank you so very much for your posts, Rachelle – – – – I am not moving very fast with the new endeavour of mine, I know. My regular illustration work is just keeping me too busy at the moment. However: I plan on starting to work on pattern design from your tutorials soon, and will be in touch when I have something to share. Have a great Christmas Season, and everything of the best for 2018. Promise to see you again soon. E

    Reply
    • Pattern and Design

      Hi Estelle,
      You’re welcome! I look forward to seeing your beautiful work.
      Have a beautiful holiday season

      Reply
  2. Kelcie

    I love what you did with layering. I never thought to differentiate my line work for its base and I love the results of yours. I am going to have to try this technique.

    Reply
    • Pattern and Design

      Thank you! It’s a great way to quickly add some depth to your design

      Reply
  3. barbara

    Very simple and to the point. I like it! I am looking to design a knitting pattern using colour and possibly changing the texture with different stitches. Not sure this will work. I also want to do organic shapes.
    I see your examples as beautiful needlework, and possibly knitting patterns (Eastern Europeans seem to do this with flowers etc).
    Just to say I enjoyed reading your site. It brought back memeories of learning this at university.

    Reply
    • Pattern and Design

      I’m so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it!

      Reply

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Learn some tips that will help you create more interesting, creative and beautiful pattern designs for your textile design or surface pattern design business.#patterndesign #designtips #designresources
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