Fabric From Concept to Print

Some of the fabric I talked about before, like Fall Leaves and Victory are now available for sale.  I wanted to share how I draw most of my fabric designs for Spoonflower.  This is the drawing became the fabric called "Bao", which is one of my favorite designs that I've done so far.

First I start off with a pencil drawing that I make on cardstock.  I like using cardstock for this - the size works well for my sketching and for later scanning, and the weight of it feels good under my mechanical pencil.  If you're interested, I buy it in bulk from Cards and Pockets online and I draw with a Pentel Graphicgear 1000 with HB lead.  I use pencil first to see if I like what I've done, then go over it in ink.  Sometimes it's just the outline and other times I fill in the design.  It just depends on what I'm working with.  I think it's easier to fill in, because linework usually means that it's a busier pattern.  My linework is done with Copic black liner markers, usually in .5 thickness.

After I ink the whole thing, I scan it.  It's scanned in at 300dpi and I take a look at it in Photoshop.  There's no real up or down to the pattern at this point, I often rotate and change while I'm working on it, and then see what I like best when I am done.  Photoshop is a bit of a process for me - I have no real guide to tell you about.  I go around erasing the background, making layers and copying in the inked lines.  Most of the time, I work in black and white with a pattern like this one, for the sake of simplicity.  If I were going to put particular colors down I would do it in this step.

This is the most time consuming step.  I am remaking what I drew and refining at the same time.  This can take anywhere from days to months, depending on how intricate the design is and how busy I am.  When I made it, Bao was one of the most challenging pieces I'd done, and it took me a good amount of time to finish it up.

After creating the digital piece, I uploaded it to Spoonflower.  This is a remarkably easy process, once you have an account with them you can do uploads.  I chose a mirrored repeat for my piece, and I liked the way the shapes joined and the stars blossomed between them.

Before you can sell any pieces, you have to order test swatches, to make sure that it prints the way you intend.  For the most part, I am happy with the digitally printed versions of my fabric, though there have been some exceptions.  Luckily, Bao was not a bad print, and it came out like this when I got the printed sample.

It's worth noting that you have to order each colorway separately.  I made Bao in a good number of color combinations, and each had to get its own swatch.  The upside is that switching colors is also made easy on the Spoonflower site, there's a tool that reduces your artwork to a set number of colors (two in this case) and then you can choose new colors.

I hope you've enjoyed this look into my work!


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