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Working on :: new patterns

Initial drawing for a pattern design

Wow I’ve been busy – which explains why it’s taken so long between posts on this blog. I’m sure my blog was starting to feel neglected. Work and Uni have both been particularly demanding but I have had one win. I convinced my subject lecturer to let me create a surface pattern design collection for an upcoming assignment. How cool is that?

So remember a really long time ago, I said I wanted to create a pattern collection inspired by trampolines? No? That’s OK it was a while ago. Well here is the beginning sketches for this collection. My aim was to create patterns that would appeal to boys aged between 8 and 13. Since I have boys in that age range I know how hard it is to find nice patterns for bedding and my quilt making that didn’t contain a superhero or a Disney character. Both my boys do trampolining for sport and it really lent itself to a lot of movement and texture.

3 patterns from the Bounce collection

This is what I have so far, with 3 more in the works. The top print was done during The Sellable Sketch class I did with Michelle Fifis over at Pattern Observer. Michelle is an amazing fountain of knowledge and really helped me find a pattern making method that works for me. I’m still trying to figure out a scale for each print that works well across the collection as my main print is a large 33cm (W) x 64cm (H) repeat. It’s been a wonderful learning curve. I’ll let you know when it’s all done.

So what have you been working on lately?

April 17, 2014 \ design \ 2 comments

Working on :: trend research

Evernote screenshot

For those that know me well, you will understandably be surprised to hear I’ve been engaged lately in trend research. I have never been a dedicated follower of fashion and I oscillate between one of two camps; 1 – that the item I love and cannot live without is also so far out of my budget to be rational or 2 – it simply does not exist. This is why I’ve spent most of my life either making it myself or doing without. This is the girl that made everything for her own wedding!

Having said all that though – I’ve been having a ball with trend research. I’ve been taking a class called the The Sellable Sketch with the gorgeous Michelle (my latest girl crush) over at Pattern Observer. I won’t go into too much detail as I have another post in the works to tell you about it – suffice to say Michelle had us doing trend research. I am not one to shy away from research, after all it is a very large part of my day job. The course came with a 3 month subscription to Stylesight a trend and forecasting website that is an amazing resource for colour, graphic and textiles trends for apparel and furnishings. They publish Megatrends for seasons in the area you might be interested in – I was researching youth for a fabric collection aimed at boys 8 – 14. If you are ever in need of a little shot of inspiration and direction, this is the place to go. To keep all my ideas in one place I could not have done it without Evernote – my most favourite go to app. Have you used it?

Color Collective samples

The other site that I came to love in the process was the Color Collective. There are quite a few sites out there that create inspiring colour palettes but I just loved her wonderful mix of gorgeous imagery of food, prints and current trends. For me I sometimes struggle to find the perfect colour palette for my patterns and these provide a really good jumping off point.

There was one person in the class who didn’t like this process and thought it was a giant waste of time. I would really love to know what you think. Have you ever done trend research? Do you think it’s important for designers to be aware of forecasting?

March 14, 2014 \ design \ 5 comments

Working with :: style tiles

Lifestyle Fitness Training website style tile

I was introduced to Style Tiles a few months ago by a colleague. As it says on their website, they’re good when ‘a moodboard is too vague and a comp is too literal’. He was proposing their use as a way to cut down the time it takes to produce full designs, when sometimes in a design we just want to know things like; link colours and behaviour, body font style and colour, heading levels or submit button styling. This introduction coincided with a redesign project for a client and I decided to use a style tile for this project.

Since it was a redesign, my client was happy with this approach and not only because it saved her money. It saved me time because I didn’t mock up every template in her site design. I know I relied on her (quite a lot) to use her imagination and I had to explain how I would use some elements but I would say she didn’t at all struggle with the concept. She supplied the adjectives after I posed the question, if your business were a person how would you describe them? I put them in different fonts just to give them some personality and having them there was a great way to stay focused.

Lifestyle Fitness Training screen shot

This is the final site – Lifestyle Fitness Training - a personal training business here in Canberra.

My Eloise theme style tile

So based on my first experience with style tiles I thought I would employ this method for a new theme design. This is the style tile for my latest theme called Eloise that is for sale on my Etsy store and my Web shop. I think they work really well in this situation because there is no-one else that has to interpret the design. I normally do full page designs before cutting them up (coding) into a working theme, but this allowed me to create the look and feel and key visual elements without getting too entrenched in minor details. I kept the adjectives and imagined Eloise was a friend and these were ways I would describe her. Knowing her personality helped me refine the design. As is normal for me I often start a design with an image and use it to craft a palette and it all just flows from there.

A screen shot of my Eloise WordPress theme

And this is the final theme. I’m a little hooked on the process to be honest. Like many creatives, I have a lot of ideas buzzing around my head and this method just lets me get things out quickly.

Have you every used style tiles before?

January 23, 2014 \ design \ 2 comments

It’s a triangle thing

Triangle design with flower from Crimson Pear

I have gone completely mad for geometrics of late, and to be more specific triangles. I’m sure this isn’t the first time I have expressed this obsession here but I really can’t get them out of my head. Is there a word for that?

41-triangle-cp

So in celebration, or just to fuel the geometric fire a little more I did this design for my Crimson Pear Society6 store. Actually, you know how necessity is the mother of invention? Well, what I really needed was a new case for my new iPhone 5 so I decided it would be really cool to have a case of my own design, good idea right? So this was an afternoon of work and I’ve ordered my case and this design is available for sale in a whole range of products. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What I love about geometrics is they are so orderly, which fits with the way I tend to work. With my design though, it is anything but orderly and things don’t quite line up, my flower is very irregular (that’s me drawing on my tablet) and you know what, I kind of liked working that way.

What about you? Do you love geometrics or is it just me?

The triangle goodness featured at top are:

  1. Triangles necklace from Birdsnest
  2. Blue is Bleu Triangle Quilt
  3. Neon Triangles Geometric Silk and Linen Pillow – 18 Inches from Kissen Studio Etsy Store
  4. Spotlight Painted Glass Tabletop post from Nine Red blog

October 8, 2013 \ design \ 1 comment

Thinking about :: flat design

Flat design from Designmodo

Part of the free flat UI set from Designmodo

Flat design is a trend that has become increasingly prevalent in web design since Apple announced their changes to the soon to be released IOS 7. In case you’ve not heard of it, flat design is just as it sounds; design that is simple with no use of gradients or drop shadows or the skeuomorphic features that came with previous versions of IOS. Even that trend had many designers using gloss, bevels, stitching (Apple calendar anyone), coffee stains, ripped paper… you get the idea.

I’m enjoying the flat designs that are now appearing in web design. There are also an incredible number of free and paid resources to get you inspired and assist with your own designs like the free Flat UI kit from Designmodo.

Flat UI Colours

Flat UI Colors from Designmodo

This Flat UI Color picker also comes courtesy of Designmodo. It gives you a great idea of the colours that are being used in many flat designs and it also lets you to view and quickly copy any of the colours in Hex, RGB and RGBA. I’m really loving the Sun Flower. Do you have a favourite?

Where I really love flat design though is when it’s combined with retro colours.

84 retro flat design social media icons

My retro coloured flat design icons

So I thought I would try my hand at designing some social media icons that were flat designs. These are now for sale on my web shop and on my Etsy store. I took a little inspiration from the Designmodo UI colour picker but I really wanted colours that were a little more subtle with a retro feel. I do like how they turned out and I’m thinking I might like to try my hand at a flat design WordPress theme. What do think of this trend?

August 27, 2013 \ design \ 1 comment

Pattern in progress :: rain

Rain cloud motif

I’ve been doing lots of doodling on my iPad and experimenting with transferring those doodles into Illustrator. Once in Illustrator I use the Image Trace and Expand to turn it into a vector. This seems to work well and I’m sure over time I will work out how to reduce the number of anchor points as I have to work at a large zoom level to adjust my shapes, which is often. If you do this often and have any tips to share I would love your help.

I do love drawing on the iPad with a stylus and as much as love my Wacom tablet, I find it is quite an unnatural way to work because you can’t follow your hand as you draw. Does that even make sense?

So I took my little rain cloud and started thinking about how I could turn it into a pattern. I haven’t got it repeating yet but this is what I’ve done so far. What do you think?

19-rain2

It was raining yesterday (it’s been a while) and you already know my weather obsession so I thought rain clouds might be fun. When I’ve got a final pattern I’ll definitely share it with you.

May 14, 2013 \ design \ 1 comment

Working on :: a treasure hunt

Mixed media art piece

The instruction from our lecturer was this – ‘Find/glean/imagine/gather/scavenge/ locate/borrow/steal/ download these images as you wish from ANY source’. The images had to number 30 and we were given a list 50 things/objects to choose from e.g. a dog. Then we had to assemble it into a book made from 6 large sheets of glasseine paper and make use of the transparent nature of the paper to create a whole image on each page, keeping in mind that what appears on other pages can also affect the whole. What you’re looking at above is my front cover done with collage, charcoal, pen and ink, sharpie and aquarelles.

Mixed media work page 2

For those that know me well, you’ll know that I’m organised and a little bit structured in my approach to most things, there’s a word for people like me. I’m not super fond of random except out of my iPod and so placing and changing seemingly unrelated items was quite a terrifying prospect that I dealt with by undertaking a serious amount of procrastination.

Mixed media work page 3

But once I started… oh my! This is such a wonderfully liberating thing to do and was designed to teach us the gestalt principle – that we approach the whole before seeing the details. So our task was to try and create some balance and unity for the unrelated. We were also encouraged to use different media and out of everything the pen and ink and my trusty Pilot G7 became my favoured tools.

Mixed media page 4

My final work is by no means a thing of greatness but I suspect the idea was more about the process than the product and I’m glad I got over my procrastination to lesson learned.

Your turn, have you ever had to do something you thought would be a waste of time and turned into a wonderful experience? I would love to know.

March 19, 2013 \ design \ 10 comments

Simplified WordPress Theme from Crimson Pear

Screen shots showing Simplifed responsive theme

Clearly I’m very bad at self-promotion because I haven’t shared this with you yet. This is my latest WordPress theme called ‘Simplified’ and is available for sale on the Crimson Pear web shop and on my Crimson Pear Etsy store. It’s a little change in direction from my previous themes, and it seems to reflect both current trend and my own thoughts about what a blog design should be doing for the content of a blog. I have increasingly felt that a design should take the back seat, so to speak, to your content and your words and imagery should be more prominent. I’ve tried to find a connection between the designs that I find really pleasing and the commonality seems to be simple and elegant, so this is what I was hoping to achieve.

This theme represents a deviation of another more nerdy kind. This is the first time I have created a mobile-first design. This means the design was created firstly for the mobile platform e.g. iPhone and then incrementally changed to accommodate tablets and desktops. I thought this would be an onerous and frustrating way to work but I wanted to try it out. Let me tell you this has been a great way to approach blog design and it made me really concentrate on the essence of the design and get rid of the superfluous.

Finally I have to say the whole process was not without it’s frustrations. I used Bones HTML 5 starter theme as my base, which is has beautiful code and great documentation. My first hurdle was to add Custom Headers to allow people who bought this theme the ability to add or remove their own header images. Adding was a breeze but in doing so I killed the menus and that was a few days of troubleshooting to work out why – nothing ever goes smoothly. The second hurdle of sorts was the learning curve to understand and use LESS, a way of writing CSS that is then compiled. It’s my innate stubbornness that would not give up and I’m so pleased I persisted. Once the ‘ah ha’ moment arrived there was no turning back.

I have since sold this theme to two blogging friends, who both have very popular blogs, and this makes me feel that I’ve succeeded in my quest to provide a great platform for great content.

March 1, 2013 \ design \ 2 comments

From the archives :: chandelier pattern

Pattern inspired by chandeliers

I designed this pattern, Chandelier, about 18 months ago when I was going through a thing for chandeliers (I still love them). This is one of the first patterns I made using ColourLovers Seamless Studio and to be honest it was put together without much thought since I was more focused on the technology than the outcome. So it makes me smile that several times a month this pattern gets put to good use by other ColourLovers. It’s been used about 110 times and in the last few weeks it’s once again getting an airing and I thought it would be fun to share some of those with you. It always amazes me the variety that is possible in a pattern that only allows 3 colours (and #2 only used black and white). I’m loving the grey, black, white, pink and the wonderful pop of blue. Which is your favourite?

6 different patterns based on my Chandelier pattern

You can view all these patterns on ColourLovers:

  1. forgotten imperial by ivi46
  2. Chandelier by Bubbles04162
  3. vra by sweetlake
  4. pink pattern by englishclare
  5. Chickadee Creations by Chickadee
  6. Grand Ocean by JessicaLuLuLee9217

February 14, 2013 \ design \ 4 comments

Kuro Premium WordPress theme from Crimson Pear

Screen shot of my latest WordPress theme

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with you yet! This is my latest premium WordPress theme from Crimson Pear. It’s called Kuro (means black in Japanese) and the original inspiration came from a ribbon I had seen and wanted to incorporate into a design somehow. I scoured so many image sources for the perfect ribbon and nothing really worked so I ended up creating it myself. I also incorporated those cute birds from a Graphics Fairy image, learned how to create a semi realistic watercolour effect in Photoshop and did lots of layering.

It really goes against my nature to avoid colour in my work and you’ll see an ever so subtle use of green. I do love the simplicity of the post layout and it’s really designed to be secondary to the visuals and content – the way it should be.

You can preview it over on the Crimson Pear demo site (without the social media icons displaying). It’s available for purchase on the Crimson Pear Etsy store.

I may design another colour inspired theme but for the moment I’m working on a series of mobile-first fully responsive WordPress themes. I’ll share the first one with you soon.

P.S. The butterfly image is my own with a small edit in Photoshop.

January 11, 2013 \ design \ 1 comment

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