Design Surface Patterns from Scratch Blog Tour: A peek at what I learned

This is the very first post I write from my new home in Kansas! I'm so glad it's for the Design Surface Patterns from Scratch Blog Tour. As many people before me in this blog tour, I was incredibly inspired by Bonnie Christine's class over on Creative Live. If you didn't get a chance to watch the class live, you can still purchase it here, I did, I had to keep this one! Also, don't forget to check out the latest post on this blog tour by Andi Sigsby at Beets + Okra and all the others before her, if you didn't, you can check out all the posts here. Andi did a pretty awesome video tutorial on making patterned washi tape, which I adore!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Bonnie's class. I use Illustrator daily and I learned so many new things from this course. One of my biggest discoveries was the blob brush. I've always wanted this tool to exist in illustrator and I had NO CLUE that it already did.

The moment I saw Bonnie use the blob brush in class, I literally jumped in my seat.

I love to illustrate and this is the perfect tool to do that and have your doodles automatically be vector images. It's an incredibly powerful tool and one that I used when I was working on my collection, which I'm so excited to tell you about.

My entire life and inspiration for this collection were my two little boys, John Patrick and Liam.

I called it Just Brothers, because every time I see them together, that's what comes to mind, they're just brothers, just playing, just enjoying being with each other. It's amazing to see their bond grow and I felt so inspired by them that I created my collection around them.


So I set out to sketch all the things that remind me of them. I thought of the things John Patrick likes to do, like "breaking Log Jams" which, in the common tongue means, breaking twigs. I was reminded of their favorite toys and animals, the slippers they wear, their glasses, all the things that make them my boys. Here are a few of my sketches and what they look like after I traced over them in illustrator.


Having this small library of motifs really got me excited. It was nice to have a body of illustrations to pull from right away, one of the many interesting things I took away from the class. It's a very different way of working than what I normally do and it's fantastic.

I used the blob brush when tracing this little zebra. I usually start out with a sketch in my notebook and work on it till it matches whatever else I've been working with, in this case, the rest of the animals seen above. It took me a while to get this zebra to match the rest of the animals. As you can see, he went through several iterations before finally arriving at his current state, which I really love. One of the new techniques I applied from Bonnie's class for this particular part of my work was the MINUS FRONT tool. I don't usually work with shapes when I illustrate because I typically work with lines and the pen tool, but this little guy needed to have the white be a knock out and so MINUS FRONT worked beautifully to achieve this. He's essentially transparent and can sit on any color and have it show through, a nice effect for the pattern I was trying to design.

One of the most difficult parts of designing this pattern collection came after I had actually finished all the designs. 

Who knew COLOR would be THE hardest part and not design itself!

There were so many options to choose from, even with a limited palette. The Recolor Artwork panel is one that I use often to replace color in my work but I never used it the way Bonnie did in class. I'd also never really set out to make myself a color palette from a photo. I love to work with color and when I set out to design something I usually have an idea of the colors I'd like to use but it was sort of freeing to grab a photo of the boys and just pick colors to work with. It gave me an instant palette that not only harmonized but was bright and cheerful, like them, just like I wanted, without having to think about it too much.

I went through a lot of different color ways to arrive at the final patterns, but there were definitely some worth keeping and going back to and exploring. Color is so powerful and what I realized was that as long as the design is strong, color can only compliment it. This helped me rework some of my patterns as well, so that they worked well in different colors.


Although it took me the better part of 3 days to finally arrive at the colors I decided to stay with for each pattern, it was an extremely entertaining process. It drove me a little crazy at times because I am a bit of a perfectionist and I wanted these to look just right.

Here's a look at my final collection.

Are you wondering about the names? Well, here's a little bit about each one:

LIAMY - John Patrick's nickname for Liam when he first saw him.

SHAKWEE - A made up word we use for bath time in our house.

LOG JAMS - That's John Patrick's "breaking log jams", of course.

NEENANA - That's what we call going to sleep and my husband named this one because it reminds him of a blanket.

TANKERING - This one I named after John Patrick's love of looking over his toys and figuring out how they work, he tinkers with them and since he's obsessed with tanks at the moment, TANKERING seemed to fit quite nicely.

JACKIEDOODLE - These were my own doodles but John Patrick likes to come into my office and draw all the time. I also happen to call him Jackiedoodle and it was perfect for this pattern.

Pound for pound, this class was unbelievable. The wealth of information and the inspiration I received have made it a gem for me. I continue to be inspired by it and by everyone in it and on this blog tour. I can't wait to put these patterns to use. Plans of blankets and pillows fill my head, but since I am a paper gal after all, I'm thinking a lot of these would look pretty cute as wall prints or wrapping paper. 

That's it for me but please be sure to check out the next post by Casey over on Sunlit Life.

Also, since Bonnie is so awesome, she's also offering a FREE MONTH to the Roost Tribe, so you might wanna head on over and grab that as well, who doesn't love beautiful freebies by Bonnie Christine?!

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Oct 30, 2014

Thank you so much Bonnie! It was such a fantastic class and such a fun project. I definitely want to do more of this and I’d like to do something with this collection!

Oct 23, 2014

i just love your sweet boy’s collection so much!


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