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Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Lesson 15 of 31

Hand Tracing Over Photographs

Bonnie Christine

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Bonnie Christine

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Lesson Info

15. Hand Tracing Over Photographs

Lesson Info

Hand Tracing Over Photographs

The next thing I wanna do is go into tracing on top of these flowers and I have also taken a couple of other photos before I came here. So, let me look at those and see what we wanna work with. I took these earlier this week here in California and so these would not work well for using live trace on because all of that background jumble is not gonna be great, but it is gonna be great to trace from. So, I think I'll start with this one. And I'm gonna do the same technique that you do with a sketch, so what I wanna do is lock this. I haven't built in layers to this illustrator document, it would not be a big deal to add a whole layer but it's just as easy to come down to the fly out menu, find what you have selected and just lock the single element. So, now I've locked this image and I can't mess with it and I'm gonna trace right on top of it. The other thing I like to do is use the blob brush tool. So, I'm gonna grab my Wacom tablet, and just come in and start illustrating right on top ...

of these petals. And I'm not gonna color it in. Let's see, I'll increase my size a little bit. I'm not gonna color it in, I'm just going to trace the outline here. I think that's a little too big so I'm going to reduce that to maybe about that size. And green is actually a fine color to be working with this. I just want something that is a high enough contrast to where I can see what I'm working on. And you can just feel free to include as many of these details as you wanna include. Like, there's a little dip right there where it's kind of folded over. Or not include as many details as you want. If you wanna skip over, simplify the petals, but I think all these little bits out here are what make the natural, I kinda eyeballed that and I got it, make the natural flower such a beautiful thing to work with. And it also-- And you're closing each shape. I'm closing each shape and because it stays highlighted, these are automatically joining right there. So, it just turns into one big shape. Working like this is one way I nourish my creativity. That's kind of our theme for this class. So, when you are feeling like you can't sketch or you have no ideas, then running out and taking a photograph of some things and working directly from the photograph kind of you can put your brain on cruise control a little bit and still make beautiful stuff and by the time you're finished with this you'll be ready to start sketching again. At least that's what has happened in my experience, because you're still working with something really pretty, I need to close my layers panel, edit, undo that, you're still working with something you created, sort of, you at least created the picture of it and you just didn't have to put so much effort into the sketch. So, I'm a huge advocate of sketching but if you're not feelin' it, try to grab a photograph and work off of that. The other thing that this does is it really kind of gives you an ease of how your sketches don't have to be perfect. If I sat down to draw this rose, I would probably be making all of the edges perfect and that's just not necessary because nature is not perfect. All these little riggidy edges and the little curls, the leaves are not always perfect. So, if that's your style do it, but if it's not your style then feel free to experiment with just being less perfect because that's how nature is. I missed one right here, so I'm gonna do that. And this is gonna color up really, really nicely. I think that I want to add just a couple of these leaves, and what I'm gonna do here, you can see rose leaves usually have little pointy edges on it, so rather than do this kind of thing, that doesn't leave me a great inside angle right there so I'm gonna undo that, I'm gonna try to pay attention to the inside shape. So, I'm gonna kinda be tracing from the outside. So that way I know I'm gonna get rid of this green line for this document so I tried to pay attention to this inside shape right there. The other thing is I'm not gonna do all these leaves. This one's kind of unique so I might do it. And then I'm gonna throw a stem on here, which I don't know if that leaf's gonna make it, but we'll see what it looks like. Then I'm just gonna throw a stem in here, you can't really see it, but I'm gonna guess that it comes right down here and then continues down something like this. And if this doesn't look really good when we have finished illustrating it then we can just erase it and try again. So, I am done with my photograph, I can come over to my layers panel, unlock it, I can either delete it or just turn it off by the eyeball. And this trace is what we have left with. I'll leave it there and just leave the eyeball off. Collapse that. I love to work in this way because that's a beautiful rose. I'm gonna color it using the live paint bucket tool, so it is highlighted, I have my edges hid so we can see what we're doing but I have that selected and I'm kinda come over to the live paint bucket tool. I will try to stick with this color palette that we've created from these other guys, so I'm gonna use this green for the stem and also maybe that guy. And I'll do the leave that way too. And I believe this was a leaf over it. It kinda looks like a pedal but, this looks like a leaf to me too. So, to color these pedals, you know, you can work however you want. A lot of times I color it all one color and if you wanna try to add dimension to it then you usually try to add deeper hues to the middle and lighter hues to the outside. So, I'll start with this really light pink and just start kinda adding these more delicate pedals out here and then I may grab this kind of deeper color and kind of go, I like to go in a circle. We'll see if this looks okay. Maybe this one too. And that one. And then this is like a lip where it was folded over, so I wanna make it either darker or lighter. And I think I wanna make it darker so we'll do this color for the inside. Next I wanna get rid of this green background, so you have a couple of options. You can make it one of the colors that you're already using if you want this kind of a look on the inside, and that kind of outlines everything. Or if, in my case, I just wanna get rid of it, so I'm gonna come in and do this with the no fill selected. And live paint bucket has just separated these for me. It is one shape and actually, if I went ahead and, I'm almost done so I'm just gonna finish doin' this, but if you went ahead and expanded this you could probably just grab the screen and delete it all at once. We'll keep workin' this way. You're selecting and clicking on delete? I am filling it with no fill, I'm not deleting it, but do you see right above my paint bucket the three squares? The one that's selected is the no fill box. So, if I had wanted to color it I would've clicked on a color over here, but because I wanted no fill, I selected the no fill box. Does it look like I got them all? So, next I can select all this, I'll bring my edges back and in order to get rid of the no fill and no stroke, I'll expand it by going to object and expand. And that leaves me with that, which I think looks really nice. You can play with recoloring it. Scroll way over here so you can see it. Recolor our work tool is at the top, so we only have four colors which is great and we can scroll through some options here and you probably when you're dealing with flowers or an element like that, that's kind of pretty, you will probably wanna do this more manually so that you have control over that deep inside color so that it's cohesive. We're going to end with that. Okay, so one of the patterns that I wanna make tomorrow is kind of a fun take on an organized desk or maybe like an unorganized desk. But I took some photographs of things that were on my desk at home and I'm gonna bring them in and start to illustrate some elements off that. So, they are right up here. I have my Pantone book, a pencil, my sketchbook, and a couple of other things. I have this butterfly and a vase of flowers. So, they're huge and I'll just hit S for my scale tool and start bringing those down a little bit. I think we're done with these photos for now but I don't wanna get rid of them yet so I'll just put them right there. Okay, so, to illustrate off of these, I'm gonna start with this pencil, I think the best way to do it is going to be to draw right on top of them rather than use live trace, 'cause I want this to be pretty tonal, pretty flat, I'm not really concerned with adding a lot of dimension. I'm just gonna start drawing right on top of it and believe I just wanna use the blob brush tool for that. And I'm gonna lock it. Go over here and lock this. So, shift B to get my blob brush tool and debating on whether the pen tool would be better because this has some straight lines in it, but I'm gonna see what this looks like. That's the glory of using a Wacom tablet is that you can get pretty straight line. It's harder to do with your mouse. So that's just kind of that. What I wanna do is add this in a different color, so if I start coloring right now it's gonna kinda join those together but I don't want, I want this to be a solid image, so I'm gonna click off of this, grab a different color, say this brown, and just come in here and add this. And I'm just gonna draw on top of that. And in the end we're gonna have this layered object and you're not gonna know that this is drawn behind. I'll increase the diameter a little bit to color this in. And then I can add just a dark brown little blip, oops, click off of that before I change colors. Kind of a dark brown pencil edge right here on top. And we're gonna use the trim tool to make that exact. So, I'm gonna hide my pencil image now, make this one shape by using the shape builder tool, and I'm gonna bring it to the front, so right click, arrange, bring to the front. And then we have some work to do on that but I'll use the smooth tool to kind of smooth out my blob brush strokes. And then to make this perfect, I'm gonna make a copy of this bottom shape by hitting command C and command F, copies it in front, right click and bring it to the top. I'll grab this little brown blip and make a clipping mask of it by hitting command seven. That accomplishes the task but I wanna reduce it, simplify it just a little more by going into pathfinder and selecting trim. That gives me just this little end that perfectly fits on the background. It's not the perfect, might clean that up just a little bit with the eraser tool 'cause you can kinda see my blob brush edge and I think that looks a little better. So, this pencil is kind of whimsical, it's not a perfect replica, but that's the look that I'm going for for this pattern collection. Kind of fun and whimsical. And I just grab the eraser tool to clean that up a little bit. So, this illustration is made in layers, so I wanna make sure that I group that together. Group that. And I'm just gonna put it off to the side. I do wanna show you another trick. I'm gonna bring this flower back that we're working with. So, I deleted the edges and I'm glad that I did that, I wanted to do it, but another trick is to add kind of an outline around the entire shape, and I use this all the time. If you're working on something with fabric, sometimes you have to be careful with the bleed with certain fabric, won't get into this with too much detail but sometimes you need to outline everything with a solid color and if you find that you have to do that in your industry, this is a easy way to do it. So, I have this selected, I'm gonna copy and paste an exact replica behind it. So, to do that it's command C and command B. And so you can't tell but I have two copies now. I need to do that again. So, the one behind is what is selected because that's what I just copied behind, so that's the one that's selected. I'm gonna change all of the colors to a solid color, so I'll grab this teal, and so you can't see it but it's back there. I'm gonna hide my edges so you can see what I'm doing. You're gonna find this tool under effect, so if you go up to effect and path and offset path, then we can play with adding a background to this. If you hit preview, you'll see just what we're gonna get. And I think that teal wasn't the best color choice but it will still let us see what we're doing. Depending on your illustration, if you have a bunch of jagged edges, you might wanna do miter, if you want it to be more smoothed you need to come down and select round. So, that just rounds off all those edges. Did you see that? So, 10 is pretty big, I think I want more like two, or maybe like four. And when you're happy with that you can select okay. You are not quite done yet because if I bring back my edges you can see two things. One this is all still separate images and two is that this is an effect. So, this is an effect on the bottom image, it's not expanded so this is like an effect on this pedal, but the way I see it, the selection should be out here, but it's not because it's an effect. That's a little hard to explain but just know that after we're done doing the opposite path we wanna expand the image and when we do that, object, expand appearance, that line hops out to the outer edge. The last issue is that it's still all these separate shapes and we want to unite all those, so pathfinder unite will give us one solid shape to use back there. This is another great time to use the simplify tool. This has too many anchor points, we don't need all those. The first thing I'm gonna do is change that background color, maybe something dark so we really see what we're doing. I think this has too many anchor points, so if we wanna simplify that we go to object, path, simplify and already that has reduced them by half and I can't really tell a difference, it's too many, so I think we can take it down even to there. See with 90%. Even that looks fine, but I think 93% still looks really good and we've taken our anchor points from 308 to 94. So, I'll select okay. Now, if you wanna do that again, it will be a little easier this time, we can just copy this, I have the dark purple background selected, I can just copy that and send it to the back, so I have two copies now. I'll change its color to maybe this light blue. You can't tell I did that but it's back there and I did, and we can just come right back up to effect, path, and offset path, hit preview to see what you're doing and this time I'll add either something smaller or bigger. Like maybe six and hit okay. And I think that looks really nice, the only thing we have to do this time is hit expand. So, object, expand, that way we have both of those. This does some really cool things, you can do it with great big objects like a whole bouquet, if I change the background to this color you can see it just adds a little bit of dimension and back here you have kind of the silhouette now. So, you can also use this trick for if you're wanting that silhouetted look. It's a easy way to get it. So, I'll layer those back on top of each other. It's something I use all the time in my illustration work. I wanna just work on maybe a couple more of these illustrations. How about this paint brush? And I think this is just gonna be really playful and artful and I am gonna illustrate those, so I'll lock that into place. I think I'm gonna use the pen tool for some of this, especially like this squirt tube right here. I'm gonna use the pen tool on it because it seems to be pretty symmetrical. So, I'm gonna start by doing the lid here and so again, this is gonna go into the patter collection that we're gonna make tomorrow and it's gonna be an organized desk print. So, if you're at home, I'm gonna change colors and keep going with the pen tool, if you're at home and you had a hard time coming up with some inspiration or a pattern collection idea, why don't you just start taking a look around, the things you have on your desk right now and just start taking pictures of it, even if it's maybe a pair of scissors or a notebook and just start playing with how you can illustrate those. This is also a great example of why you don't have to be a brilliant sketcher or drawer, you can work off photographs. So, I just need to layer these a little bit. I'm gonna bring the lid to the top. Arrange and bring to top, and I think the rest of that looks fine. So, I will also use the pen tool to do these brushes. And maybe the blob brush tool to the brush bristles itself. But by doing this you can just kind of see how these tools interweave together, so I switch from the blob brush tool to the pen tool. Sometimes I use the pencil tool if I have a Wacom that I'm using, but right now I'm just using my mouse. I like to use my mouse with the pen tool 'cause I think it gives a little more control. So, I'll close that shape and then for these bristles up here I think let's play with the blob brush tool. I'm gonna grab a really neutral color. I hit shift B for the blob brush tool, take it down in size a little bit and just start trying to do this as naturally as possible, just kind of create some bristles out here. And then I can send this to the back so my edge doesn't have to matter right there. I'll make it one big shape by using the shape builder tool and I'm gonna send it back. I've been right clicking and saying send it back or send forward, another shortcut to do that is using command left or right bracket. So, if I just hit command left bracket, it will play with the order one by one of an image. So, when you're not working with too many things that tends to work really well. And then I might play with adding some color like I've been using this brush. If I wanna play with adding like a pink, I've been painting a little bit maybe, I can just kind of go over it like this. I think I'm gonna reduce my size here. Just kind of do this kind of thing and then I'll use trim tool to make it exact. I'll make this one shape by the shape builder tool, think I need to bring it down a little bit, and then I'll grab this bristles, make a copy of it, bring the copy to the front, and then I'll make a clipping mask of this pink by hitting command seven. Before I trim, I can see that this doesn't look quite natural right there, so what I can do is double click to go into isolation mode and double click again to bring back my original piece right there and with it highlighted I can just kinda fill this in a little bit to where I think it'll look better. So, that's the glory of the clipping mask, it's still editable, all of it is still available to you. And I think that looks better. So, at this point I know that I am done with all that extra stuff that's hiding back there and I can use the trim tool to make that it's own shape so now I can move it over here, it's its own shape. And I think I just need to smooth that out a little bit. So, if I group this together and maybe group this together, group that together, and bring it over here, I think we're gonna have kind of a nice set of a little tube of paint and paint brush. You can also always go in here and start playing with the colors using the recolor artwork tool. So, maybe you were painting with all different kinds of colors. Is that fun? I'll stay there. I'm gonna illustrate this little notebook that I have. I'm done with this, so I'm gonna delete it. How about I do the washi tape? Are you guys familiar with washi tape? Mmhmm. Are you obsessed like me? Do you use it a lot? I do use it a lot. I use it to mark pages in my book and I use it to mark colors in my Pantone color and I use it for all kinds of things. If you don't know what washi tape is, it's Japanese patterned masking tape but I always have some on my desk so I thought we would illustrate some. So are you gonna make washi tape? I dunno, I would like to if anybody can make that happen out there. (laughing) So, this is fun. I can use some of the geometric tools in Illustrator, so I'm just gonna grab the ellipse tool and start drawing this circle. I tried to shoot this directly from the top so that I would be able to use this and I think I did a pretty good job. I'll take that no stroke and give it a black fill. So, to draw another ellipse inside, the easiest way to do that, instead of drawing a whole new one is just to take this one and replicate it. So, I'm gonna use the scale tool and just start bringing this down using the shift to keep it proportional. And to make a duplicate of it, all I have to do is hold the option key and then I can do it one more time to make this inside ring like that. And then we will color that in just a second. In fact, after we start making patterns I could even throw a pattern in there. I'm gonna do this one now and I think I can still use the ellipse tool, the keyboard shortcut for that is L. So, I have this bottom edge pretty good, so I'm gonna drop that and then scale it from this bottom edge. So, I'm gonna hit S for scale and then drop my marquee right her because I don't want that edge to change I wanna bring this edge up here. And I think that is pretty close. Oh, yeah, okay. And then I do think I'll probably need to draw these in here because they're not exactly proportional. So, I'm gonna do the same thing, S to scale and drop my marquee down here and then bring this up here a little bit. So, that's not totally exact but it's gonna be perfect for our application. Then I get to draw one more. And then in order to do these kind of skew marks, I'm gonna use the pen tool. So, P for the pen tool and I will add an anchor point here and start, let's see, I'm gonna start just away from it. Edit, undo that. I'm gonna start just away from it, I'm gonna come back and scoot that anchor point on top just so I'm not messing with the existing line as it is. And I can go ahead and go all the way over here. And then to go back and scoot this in, I'll zoom way in and grab my direct selection tool and just grab this one anchor point and scoot in in to where it touches right there. I'll do the same thing for this one down here. So, I'll start just away from it and come straight down and start drawing here. And bring this line all the way around. Next I need to click on the last anchor point to give me a fresh starting point because I'm changing direction a little bit and then I can bring it all the way up right there. I'm gonna come over here and take this back up there. If I had started right on this line, it starts to change the angles of the line that already existed, so it's just easiest to start a little away from it and then take it back. And that doesn't look quite right, does it? Maybe take it out there. Okay. So, the next thing we can do is color this up. I'll bring these over here and this circle is gonna be like, no stroke, and this kind of a light brown. This circle has no stroke and is gonna be the table behind. So, really what I wanna do, I could make it white, but tomorrow when we're working with background colors, that's not gonna work. So, I could either make it the background color or I can basically punch a hole through this, which is what I'm gonna do. So, I select both of those and over here through my pathfinder I can minus front. Then I can change this one to pink maybe with no stroke. And I need to do the same thing, so I'm gonna take this larger. What do I wanna do? I'm gonna take this larger one, make a copy of it, and then make it one big shape by using the shape builder tool. And then punch a hole through the pink one, that way we have that.

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