Muster aus farbigen Zeichnungen

Patterns from colored drawings

Would you like to design your own pattern for printing on print on demand items, but you don’t know how?
I’ve got a tip for you.
Use the drawings you already have.

You probably know that patterns are designed in different ways. Some designers work primarily digitally and create their patterns on the computer, others prefer to draw by hand and digitize the drawings later. I like to do both, although my hand-drawn patterns have been predominant lately.

I usually draw my designs with black inkpens on white paper and color them only after digitizing them on the computer.

But it also works in another way.

Use the drawings you already have

You can simply use your colored drawings and watercolors and use them completely or in parts as a motif for your own pattern.

This drop pattern was created while trying out my new watercolors. I tried out how the colors behaved and how they worked together and created the drop in the lower third on the left.

From this colored drawing is also another pattern, even if there may be no connection at first glance. It is called “Patterns of the Earth – Earth Textures” and looks like stylized agate slices.
Can you tell which parts from the watercolor were used here?

Muster der Erde – Earth Textures

So, did you find the pieces?
The large dark motif, for example, come from the large shell-like light blue motif in the upper left, and the oval center pieces of the repeat were created from the blue violet oval in the lower center. The reason why these motifs are much less recognizable than the drop is due to the way they were digitized. However, it would go beyond the scope of this blog post to explain the differences, I’ll may be come back to that in another post. I just want to show you that you can sometimes create a lot of motifs and patterns from a single image. My watercolor playaround here is also far from exhausted.

But how do you make patterns from colored drawings?


First, I scanned the drawing. In this case, a simple scanner from a multifunction device is enough, because the resolution does not have to be so extremely detailed. The motif will be vectorized afterwards anyway. If you don’t have a scanner at hand, you can also photograph the motif. However, you should take care to photograph directly from above to get as little distortion as possible. You should also avoid shadows.

Cut out

In the case of the drop pattern, I completely cut out the light blue drop in my image editing program and played around with it a bit to see how it could be put together into a pattern – see the first image above.
Theoretically, you could also finish compositing your pattern in the image editor, preserving the fine shades of the watercolor (but then it would have to be scanned in high-resolution). In my case, however, I wanted to make a vector-based pattern.

The advantage of a vector-based pattern is that the motifs can be scaled and transformed without losing quality, whereas a pixel graphic becomes blurred the more it is enlarged compared to the original scan or photo. The advantage of a pixel-based graphic is that fine shading is preserved, which makes the motifs and patterns look natural.


After I knew that I would like the pattern, I vectorized the drop in my vector graphics program, that means, the pixels from the scan were color-matched to individual areas within paths.
There are several ways to do this, in the case of the drop the 6 colors option was used. This means that all colors and shades in the motif were reduced to 6 colors.


Then I mirrored the drop, resized it and made many more drops out of it and rearranged them until a pattern emerged that I liked.
For fabric printing however, the pattern still needs to be set in a repeat, i.e. made repeatable.
But if you want to use your pattern “only” for printing on a limited area, such as cell phone cases for print on demand, it is also enough if you create it to fit this size.


The original drop pattern, which I then set as a repeat for the fabric print, is kept in the same colors in which I had painted it with the watercolors.

Later I recolored the drop pattern – which is now called “Raindrops on my Window” – for the Spoonflower Challenge “from my window”.

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