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Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Lesson 5 of 31

Color & Function Tools

Bonnie Christine

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Bonnie Christine

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Lesson Info

5. Color & Function Tools

Lesson Info

Color & Function Tools

Next on our tools list that I want to introduce to you are some function tools. Before I get there, let's go ahead and talk about color. So you probably on your workspace at home you don't have, these are the colors I've used in this document, which is why they're here, but I can select these and delete them so we just have a blank space to work with. You probably have primary colors listed in your workspace. Not necessarily beautiful things to work with, but like crayon colors and so I want to talk about how to create custom color palettes, how to save them, how to access them later and so we'll jump right into that. Let's see. Okay, so the way I did that. I'm gonna hide options. Up here I just had this bar. I want to click on my fly-out menu right here to the right and hit Show Options. That brings up my stroke and fill on the right-hand side too. So it's here and it's here and then you can have access to your hues and making things different over here. So I'm just gonna jump right i...

n to making a custom color palette and one of my favorite ways to do this is to work off photographs. So these are two photographs that I have taken. And I love the colors in them and one really neat thing about nature is that nature tends to always have the perfect color palette. It has the perfect hues. It also usually has the perfect opposite hues and balances for a project. So I use photographs I've taken in nature and of flowers, of vegetables and things like that all the time to create color palettes. So to grab colors off of these two photographs, the first thing I want to do is grab my rectangle tool. I'm just gonna come down here and draw some squares. I'm gonna make them black and I'm just going to... I'm gonna draw a bunch of them and the way I'm gonna do that, I'm gonna introduce you to one more thing, is if you have this square selected and I want to make another one. So rather than draw another one, I'm just gonna drag and drop it over here and it's kind of all over the place right now, but if I hold the Shift key down it keeps it in line. If I hold the Option key down it will duplicate it and you'll know that because two arrows come up when I hold Shift and Option down. So there are two arrows there. I'll let up on Option, you only see one arrow. If you hold Option, you see two arrows and it will duplicate that square. Now, this is the most fun thing ever is that if you want to make a lot of those all you have to do is duplicate it, which is Command + D. That will not do that. Option, is it Option? Option + D, no. It's not working. This is my favorite feature in Illustrator. So we'll remedy this and tell you how to remedy it at home too. Let me just make sure that it won't work. Okay, so we'll remedy that very quickly and I'll tell you how and show you more after the break. But so for now let's just draw, we'll draw and duplicate like this, okay. So I'm guessing that, I might do it in just a second, I'm guessing that that Command + D obviously has another keyboard shortcut in this program that is set up. Okay, I'm gonna introduce you to the eyedropper tool. Keyboard shortcut for that is I. So what that does is allow you to basically steal the appearance of anything else that you have in your artboard. So if I have this black square selected, I'm gonna hit the eyedropper tool, which is located over here on the left and you'll see the eyedropper tool come up and if I click on something it will change it to the color of whatever I'm working on, okay. So I am gonna play around with what color I might want to start with, like that one. And then I just want kind of a nice array of yellows. So maybe that one. Maybe one more. I think we have the yellows covered. So I'll move to green. That's pretty. And so the way I select this next, like if I just click here then I've changed that to black. So I'm gonna undo that and what you have to do is hold the Command key down like I told you before to get back to your last arrow tool to select the next square, come right back up here and grab another green. And I'll move on to this pretty pink flower. I'll do that pink and maybe a deep really bright pink and an orange. And I think... I'm just gonna select a few of these and bring them down holding the Shift key and duplicate them by holding the Option key so that I can get a couple of other colors here. I think I want like a light orange like that. And it's always nice to work with like a white, a white or like an off-white. That's kind of gray, but I'll hit that one. It's always nice to just have a really neutral base color in your color palette. Not, it doesn't tend to be what you go for though a lot of times. A deep green and then maybe one more, like medium or really light pink here. Okay, so there I have... Like 11 colors or something. So they're just on my artboard, but if I want to get them over into my swatches panel all I need to do is select those color, select the colors and then come over here to select New Color Group. You can name it if you want. You don't have to, but I will say CreativeLive and hit OK and now we have all these colors in our color swatches. And it put them in order? And it put them in order. Do you mind repeating that one more time, how to get it from there to there? Yeah, easy peasy. I'll just undo that. So you select all the colors. Come over to the bottom of your swatches panel and select New Color Group and name it if you want, you don't have to, and hit OK and it has put it over here for you. Thank you. So now with this artwork over here, I can change the colors of this to something that we're gonna be working with. Got it? It's your new favorite thing, right? I love that. Thank you. I'm gonna do that all at home tonight. It's totally my new favorite thing too. There are people that have websites that have that, that have a beautiful photo with, you guys have probably seen then, and just that piece of art, just that photograph with the color matching is gorgeous because they pick out these cohesive colors, things that match, things that are opposites-- And you don't know how they did it. This is how they did it and I'm gonna do it for you right now. I'm gonna, like a lot of times you'll see like that kind of shape and so I'm just gonna scale that over to where it meets up. So if you were wanting to do this for say a blog post, just come in, I'm just gonna do this really quickly, but you just grab these. Mm where am I going? Another orange, sure. And you have a perfectly cohesive color palette and I'll tell you how to save that image perfect for the web, pop on your blog and you look like a pro. Just like that. Just like that, yeah. So most of my color stories that I work with have originated from photographs that I've taken. When you take the picture do you use your iPhone or do you use a real camera? I use both. I'm a huge advocate of the iPhone. Do it. You got it with you anyways. Unless you're really needing to edit this guy majorly in Photoshop, then just use your iPhone and tomorrow we're gonna have a session on how to optimally photograph flowers to use in Illustrator and I'm just gonna use my iPhone to show you how to do it. So if you have a nice camera, then by all means use it, but know that you don't have to do that. You don't have to invest in that. Bonnie, a question came up and I know a lot of people out there are taking their own photos, but somebody wanted to know if you do find a photo that you really like on the Internet and you do use it for color palettes, how do you go about sourcing credit for that photo. So we're gonna get into this a little later. I am a huge advocate of creating your own sources, so photograph your own stuff. Photograph your own stuff. You can steal colors from my photographs. You can, I don't mind, but every photographer won't feel that way. So if you want to, if you just cannot get over this color palette that you see, then email the photographer, tell them what you're doing and ask them if it's okay. Even better yet, do this and ask them if you lose their photograph, is it okay if you just use the color palette that you got from it. They will most likely be so flattered and in love with the project that you're doing. But the best thing is always get permission, permission, permission. So you have permission to use any of my photographs. If you're sure they're mine, use them. But if they're somebody else, then make sure you get permission to use it. But we're gonna talk a lot about how to source your own inspiration. So it's really easy to get stuck on the web and want to use everything that's there at your fingertips, but it nourishes your soul to get up from the computer and go outside and visit the things that you want to see and illustrate from and photograph them yourself and then you have nothing to worry about and it feels so good to sit down and feel like nobody can call me out on anything 'cause I did this all from step one to, you know. So and it's fun, it's fun. It's what makes you get up from behind the computer. But like I said, sometimes you can't get over a store of color. So just talk to the photographer. Great. Yeah. I'm gonna go back in to using these function tools a little bit and just show you some like labels we can make out of them. Just to show you like how you use these pathfinder tools, how you build shapes, how you take things away from shapes and why this is important to your work. So what if I just come in and make some. I already made kinda that banner, yeah, with like the pointy-edge banner. But say I want to make like more of a tab and I want these to be rounded. So I'm gonna grab the ellipse tool and zoom way in and pretty good, you kinda have to eyeball making this. No, you don't, your smart guides help you make like a circle that has the exact dimension of the rectangle that you just draw because it's snapping to that right there. So if I just bring this over, it snaps there too. Okay, then I've rounded that. I can do the same thing over here by I'm holding my Shift key to keep it in line, my Option key to drop a duplicate. Okay. That doesn't really look like it, but that's three shapes and you know that. But I just want it to be one shape. So I'm gonna select all three of those and using my pathfinder tool, hit Unite. It's one shape now and if I want it to look kind of like... Kind of like a label sort of, I'm gonna put some holes over here. So you can start like layering this. You could use this as scrapbooking or in your design work. So grab the ellipse tool. Again and I'm just gonna draw like a little circle. I'm gonna change its color so we can see it. Change it to green. And it's gonna snap to the center of my object there. So I'm gonna do that and over here gonna drop another one by using Shift and Option. Then if you select both of these and hit minus front, it's gonna delete that from here and you usually do one at a time and when I did that it brought it to the front. So when you want to change the arrangements of what you have on your artboard, you can work a couple of different ways, but one of the easiest ways is just to right-click and go to Arrange, Send Backwards or Send to Back. So there's my other green dot that I lost. So you have to have the object on top that you want to subtract from the one on bottom. So if I select both of those, it'll take that away. Then I took away my photograph, but then if you had this layered on top of a photograph you can see the photograph peak through and maybe put a label on it or something like that. But you've just kind of built that shape. Let's talk about the rotate tool. So I have quickly sketched a little butterfly out for you here. This is nothing special, but you can quickly jot one out for yourself too if you want. And we're gonna be working with sketches tomorrow, but I just mainly wanted to illustrate the reflect tool for you. So a lot of times when you're working in design you want things, sometimes you don't want them to be symmetrical, sometimes you do want them to be symmetrical. So I just did a butterfly line and I wanted both sides of the butterfly to be symmetrical. So I only drew half. In my sketchbook I have lots of half butterflies 'cause you only have to illustrate half. So I'm just gonna jump right in here and start drawing this guy and I'm gonna use the blob brush tool. So Shift + B to grab the blob brush tool, left bracket tool to decrease the size here and this is gonna be maybe a little rough because I'm gonna use my mouse. But I'm gonna try to not make it so rough and tomorrow we'll be using the Wacom tablet and you can see that you can use both. Just one makes it a little easier than the other. Whoops. I want him to be orange and I'm gonna click off of him to grab this yellow color. And I'm gonna start drawing this big shape here. Okay. So I could start doing this to color this in. I could even, oops, sorry. I could even increase the size to start doing this in, but one really quick way to just get that a solid shape is to use a shape builder tool and it's kinda similar to the unite tool, but it works a little differently. It's over here. Shape Builder Tool, keyboard shortcut is Shift + M and if I select that I can just draw straight through the shape and it makes it one shape. So you can do that with lots of different shapes. Lots of different shapes. I haven't seen that, wow. You haven't seen that? Yeah and I do believe this is something that's relatively new. I'm not sure how far it goes back in the CS, but if you don't have it just use your blob brush tool to fill it in, but if you do have it then all you have to do is drag through it to create one shape. Yes? Another shortcut is that since it's a big line like that, you click with the white arrow on the inner line and delete it. That is a great tip. You know, I never do that. But you can do it, so this is two lines instead of the pen tool is one line with anchor points. But this shape I showed you earlier, like you can come in and just move this one. But if you have your direct selection tool, white arrow tool and you come in and just select the inside line and delete it totally, then it'll create one. Yeah, that was a midnight epiphany last week on a crazy moment. So like I said there are like a 100 ways to do the same thing over and over again in Illustrator. Great, thank you so much for adding that. And I'm gonna grab this one and Shift + B to get my... My blob brush tool. I mean, it's funny to have to talk about blob brush tools in a professional manner. It's kinda like talking like Twitter. Always makes me feel silly, but it's so essential. Okay. I'll use your method and just get that line and did it bleed it? So the way that the white arrow tool works is that it'll delete the first point that you clicked on first and if you hit Delete again it'll delete everything. So I'm just gonna like come in here and make some other elements. Like, I don't know, butterflies have like little eyeball looking like things, don't they? Grab green. I kind of I drew some stuff here so that I would have some inspiration to go by. So if I move him over so I can kind of remember what I did or you can do a lot of different things, change your opacity, which I'll show you tomorrow, to see what's underneath it. Could you change layers? You could change layers, you can lock, yeah. There's so many ways to do it. But I'll just kinda look at it right here and we'll get into all those different ways to work. I don't want to... Obsess too much over what this guy looks like, but he should be pretty. Maybe it's a she. I'm just increasing and decreasing the width of my blob brush tool by using the left and right bracket tools. And maybe like just something right here and maybe we're done with that one. How did you get the little irregular blob? The irregular blob, I just blobbed. You just drag-- Click on this tool. Instead of so if you just drop one. Let me change that color. If you just drop one dot, it's a perfect circle, but if you hold down and just kinda do a blob it's not a perfect circle. Yeah. That's great. Yeah, I'm telling you, man, the blob brush tool and me, we're best friends. So I'm gonna select all that and group it together by hitting Command + G and I'll bring it back over here. Gonna snug him into the body and I'm gonna select the body and right-click and bring him to the front so that he's on top and I think that's fine. Doo doo doo. You could also use the pen tool for this. Whatever. The pen tool will give you a little crisper lines. Okay and then I'm gonna snug this guy in under here too, the bottom half and quickly add some detail to his lines. So that turned green because I still have it selected. So I just have to come in, click off of it to deselect it. I don't want black, I want green. So I'll add like little... That's still green. Change it to the dark green and add some little things here. And... Maybe like one more shape. We're gonna keep working with this guy a little bit, so right now this doesn't matter too much. Command + 0 to get me back out and I'm just gonna move my sketch over so I'm just looking at this butterfly. So now I can select everything on this side that I want to reflect on the opposite side and the keyboard shortcut for reflect is O and you can remember that because O is perfectly reflected in every direction. Okay, so I hit O. If you're not a keyboard shortcut kind of person, reflect is over here on your toolbar. So the same thing with that marquee happens with the reflect tool. Right now it's dropped it in what it considers to be the middle of my illustration. So if I start reflecting this, it's gonna be reflected around the middle. I want to reflect it around this body. So all you have to do is click to change the position of what it gets reflected around. Then you can start kind of, I always start on the right side and kind of do an arc over and just arc over this guy to the other side. If you hit the Shift key, it's gonna drop it exactly where it is on the other one. If you want freedom to drop it at any point, like I actually think that I do because that is a little snugger because my body's not exactly lined up. I think I want to drop it like here, okay. Which brings me to my next point, you have to copy it. So you hit Shift to keep it aligned. Don't hit Shift if you want to have freedom to do it. But then you have to hit the Option key to duplicate this reflection. Okay, so now I've hit the Option key and if I drop it it's duplicated. It is on top, so I'm gonna bring it, I'm gonna bring the middle on top to where it's on top of everything and maybe move it over a little bit. But now we have a perfectly reflected wing set on both sides and I'm not gonna finicky with this too much, but I might increase the scale wide a little bit so that it covers up all those white gaps. And I don't know how pretty he is, but we'll work on his color and keep working with him, but he's reflected. Are there any questions about any of that? We had a question come up from Davie Laurian in the chat room. Earlier when you were kind of taking a few of the things and putting them together. The question is about the difference between grouping and uniting. Are those similar things or is there a distinction there? Yeah, so grouping, I think I'll just best show you by example. So these are grouped together, but if I ungroup them. Boop, it's all ungrouped. You can move everything independent from one another. But I tend to work in groups. I layer my illustrations so that I work in groups. So I'm gonna draw a marquee to select all that and then if you just hold the Shift key you can click off what you don't want selected and hit Command + G to group that. Now if I had hit Unite, it's gonna unite all those shapes to one shape. Okay, so I lost all of those little bits. So that's the different. The unite pathfinder tool builds shapes. The group keeps them together, makes them stick together. Well we have a couple more questions that came in throughout this segment. Again, some of these things you may be touching on in future segments, so just let us know. But this one comes from Aragon and they want to know about how do I import a photo to use as a color guide? We are doing that all tomorrow in segment two. So tune in. We are gonna be taking photographs, gonna be uploading them. I'm gonna be using Dropbox. You can use anything you want and I'll be showing you how to import them, link or not link them and then I'll also be telling you how to get them out of Illustrator and save them as JPGs or PNGs for all your desires. All right, perfect. So tune in for that. That's gonna be coming up. Now this other question ties back to earlier you showed off some birds that were on the screen that people really loved and this question is well how did you make those birds so that all the little seeds or drop lines they line up so nicely along the edges without looking rough or cut off? Maybe we could just revisit exactly what you did there. I will and so I was a little hesitant to put that in there because I didn't want anybody to get overwhelmed because we are gonna be making art all day tomorrow. You will totally understand how I did all this stuff, but I needed to use it as an example. But I don't actually usually work this way, but it just so happens to be that I painted these birds using watercolor. I'm not a watercolor artist. I like never paint, but I happened to do that for these. So I literally painted little things and scanned it in and used Live Trace, which we'll be going over tomorrow. But the other way that you can do this is these are not perfect, but if I have the pen tool I can drop a first point, come up here around here somewhere and draw like this kind of a line and then it's already set up to come down here. I know if you don't know that though you're gonna get a feel for this and it won't be an issue at all and there I just created a droplet. So it's a little light, I know. Change it that color. Then you can just rotate this guy and just start building out this shape or whatever. So also something that's really handy when you do something like this is to draw your outline shape first and then go in and start filling in shapes and then delete your outline so that you have a guideline to go by. If you want, you can scale these. So I need to say this. I told you earlier when you use the scale tool to always drag from a diagonal to keep it proportional, but there are times where you don't want to keep it proportional. Say I only want to make this longer, then I would go straight out and if I only want to make it taller then I would go straight up. So it just depends on your application, but if you want it proportional you use a diagonal, which is easiest, but if you just wanted to make minor adjustments like that, then I can just draw one droplet and kind of make it look several different ways just by using the scale and rotate tools. Is there a way you can chunk out a section of it? Using the erase tool you can come in and just boop. Delete little bits. There are a couple, there are tons of ways to get these to look irregular and we are gonna be chopping through all those tools in the next segment just so you know. We can use the smudge tool, we can use the distort tool. We have lots of different ways to do that. Let's draw some other shapes. Using the shape tool, I'd like to show you the polygon tool. So if you just start drawing, this is gonna draw a polygon and if you drop it it's gonna be filled with whatever color you were last using. To change that, you can take the fill away and just click on Stroke to add a stroke to it. The other thing is that if you start drawing a polygon and you want, this is not the only kind of polygon that exists. So if you want more or less edges, you can just use your up and down arrow keys to add those. So up adds a bunch of edges and down adds I think you can get all the way to a triangle using the polygon tool and then when you're drawing this you can hit the Shift key to constrain the direction. So if you need one straight, like this one's not straight, but this one is. Same happens for the star tool. If you want more points to your star, then you can just hit the up key and create some really fun things like this. More and more in this course, I believe, I'm gonna hide my edges at times. So Command + H hides all these little blue points and let's you see just your work. But then you kind of lose what you're working on, but it's important to be able to zoom in and see what you're doing. So we'll go back to draw more. If I decrease the edges, I think it can get down to triangle. Yeah. Did that answer your question about the stroke and the fill? Mm hmm, thank you. Okay. And then you can just start layering these to build all kinds of different shapes using the pathfinder tools. Whatever you are in need of, this is great for logo work. If you need a unique kind of shape, say... I had to do this recently, like basically like a big teardrop. I'll show you this too. So it's kinda hard to make an exact replica over here using the pen tool. So we'll use the rotate tool. So if I hold this. I'm sorry, we'll use the reflect tool and you grab your reflect tool by hitting O, then you can choose to reflect over either point, but somewhere in the middle and start dragging and dropping this guy. We lost it a little bit. But if I hold the Option key, it'll duplicate it and it'll be exact on both sides. Now, these are two different shapes. I'm gonna do that again in case you couldn't see it at home. I'm gonna drop my reflect point at one of the anchor points that's in the center and then just bring it over here and by holding the Shift key and the Option key keeps it exact and duplicates it. So this is still two shapes and if you want it, there's so many ways to do this, but if you want it to be one shape you can select both and use the pathfinder tool. The other thing you can do is come in and with your direct selection tool highlight both of these points right here and hit Command + J, which is join. So the keyboard shortcut for join is Command + J and what that does is join two points together. It won't join any more than that. It just has to be two that come to a point. So like when you're drawing a heart, this is great to use at both of the intersections of the heart. Then I needed to have this kind of weird shape where there was a circle cut out of the bottom here. And I'll make that like an oval. And I'm just gonna select those two and say minus front and this gave me a really nice symmetrical kind of teardrop with a circle out of the front and that would have been a little more time consuming to do with the pen tool and so using the pathfinder and minus front tools make that really easy.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Did you know that you can turn your sketches, drawings, and doodles into patterns? Join Bonnie Christine for an introduction to creating patterns to use in your very own fabric prints, stationery designs, website backgrounds, cell phone covers, and much, much more.

This course will take you through the process of working with Adobe Illustrator to create digital versions of your artwork. You’ll learn tips and tricks for working in Illustrator and how you can use the software to create repeating patterns of your very own drawings. Bonnie will guide you step-by-step through the process of transforming sketches and tracings into vector art which can be used for an endless array of printable and online projects from customized stationery to computer wallpaper. You’ll also learn how to assemble your collection of designs into a portfolio you can use to impress potential collectors and buyers.

This course will lay a solid foundation for those new to Illustrator and open up exciting new possibilities for people already familiar with the program. If you are ready to bring your drawings to life in new ways this class is for you.


Adobe Illustrator CS6

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Desktop and Smartphone Backgrounds

Grow Your Blog eBook

Jouney to Becoming a Surface Pattern Designer

Design Printables

Color Palettes and Pattern Mockups

Keynote Session 1

Keynote Session 2

Keynote Session 3

Math Made Easy with Rotate Tool

Industry Resources and Supplies

Keyboard Shortcuts

My Creative Story


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Emily Leggett

I am so glad I took the time to sit through all 3 days of this course. I have been to hour long classes that I can't wait to get out of and this one I sat in for 3 days and I am wishing it wasn't over. I take a lot of continuing education classes and am always trying to learn new things and I have to say this is by far the absolute most informative, educational, inspiring, and motivating classes I have ever taken. Bonnie Christine was an amazing teacher. She took the time to take us through all aspects of the process and even beyond showing us so many things that can be done with everything she taught us in this class. I think she did a great job with the class, was easy to follow and is someone I would love to learn from again. Great job on everything. I would recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn about surface pattern design and Illustrator. Great job to everyone involved in putting this course together!

a Creativelive Student

Awesome awesome awesome course! Thank you Bonnie! Thank you Creative Live! I have learned so much... so much great information packed together in one class. I am so glad I bought the course so I can rewatch it any time I need to.

a Creativelive Student

I'm about halfway through my first viewing of the course and I have to say, its been electrifying! There is so much quality information here, its an excellent starting point, and I do think I can start working towards a career in design now. It also makes me want to find more information and courses in the art and design area. Bonnie is such a joyful, honest and enthusiastic instructor and really, it feels like she';s hosting an amazing party for her friends. Thank you Bonnie for doing this course and thank you CreativeLive for pricing it so affordably