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Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Paisley Project: Designing Fabric with Pencil & Paper

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
How one paisley became a whole pageful of paisleys...
Back in February, I sat in on a couple of Creativelive classes having to do with surface design. Ever since I uploaded my first creations to Spoonflower over a year ago, my interest in exploring new ways to design fabric has soared.

BUT... the best way might still be an old way. And its greatest advantage is that it's simple. All you need is pencil and paper. And a marker. And an eraser.

And an idea.

Original Sunshine Floral drawing by eSheep Designs
I didn't even bother to draw
on good paper the first time!
I've used this technique before; I actually designed my very first fabric pattern (Sunshine Floral) from a scratch drawing that I doodled on the back of a newspaper ad.

This time, I was a bit more prepared and set out to draw on clean, white paper that had nothing on the back. It wasn't a full size sheet, however, which was fine since I was a bit apprehensive about having to fill up a whole piece of paper.

Back in the day when my mother made her own clothes, she was quite fond of paisley fabrics. I wasn't so enamoured with them myself at the time, but for some (nostalgic?) reason, when I decided to do this pencil and paper design project, my thoughts immediately went to the paisley. And with the help of this Craftsy blog post, it was super easy to execute.

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The picture at the top of this post shows my progression from one to several to lots of paisleys. And all I did was draw them with my pencil. Afterwards, I went over the lines with a fine tip marker. The final step was to run an eraser over everything to remove any extraneous pencil marks. (Or elements that you don't want. Did you notice I got rid of something?) The finished picture that I ultimately scanned is shown here.

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
The humble beginnings of a fabric design...

After loading the scanned image into Paint Shop Pro, I still had some work to do to make the lines as dark and even as possible, but I won't go into those particulars here.

Once the digitized image was ready to go, I was determined to stop and learn how to use the offset technique in PSP to create a seamless repeating tile. I knew how to do the "cut in half and then in half again and tape together" routine using the actual physical drawing, but why go that route when these drawing programs can do it in two seconds without any worries about evenness.

The thing is, I had procrastinated for a long time in finding out how to do this (since I could not find any help on the web about it). So I set aside a whole morning to take on the task.

It ended up taking me about five minutes! (Don't you wish all procrastinations end up like that??)

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As a result of my recent explorations into other features of PSP, I knew where the offset setting was located; I just hadn't played with it. So I loaded up a simple test image, plugged in what seemed like the logical settings, popped the result up into Spoonflower and was rewarded with instant success.

The first picture here is how my original drawing looks after being vertically and horizontally offset by half. You can see that the left and right edges will wrap around to form one complete seamless pattern, as will the top and bottom edges.

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs

After the drawing is split apart like this, the next step is to add other elements into the blank area in the middle. Once that's done, you have a seamless tile that can be coloured in. (Woo hoo — this is the fun part!) I gave my drawing a grey background to start.

From there, the possibilities are virtually endless!

Some grey accents are added... and then I put some pink into the mix to get the second variation.

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs

Finally, the colour replacer tool provided some further magic. The last tile above is ready for Spoonflower. This is what the fabric looks like:

The Paisley Project Paisley Doodle Fabric by eSheep Designs
My Paisley Doodle fabric in Turquoise...

Is it cool? Would you buy it?? How about any of these other variations in the same collection?

Paisley Spoonflower fabric designs by eSheep Designs
Sample swatches of my paisley designs...

For anyone who might be interested in the technical details of how I used Paint Shop Pro to do this, I've added a new PSP themed page to the blog to capture the nitty-gritties. (I thought that would be the fairest way to share the info with some, without being excessively boring to everyone else!)

In about a month's time, I'll be back with another fabric themed post, centered around a new doodling hobby of mine.


  1. Brings back memories of the late 60s - men's tight paisley body shirts and women's paisley shirt dresses. I loved them!!! Hubby uses Paint Shop Pro, but as PSP isn't available on a Mac, I use Photoshop Elements. So much still to learn. Thanks for sharing the process!

  2. Paisley is one of my favorite designs! I love your fabrics. I don't anything about PSP.

  3. I like the blue/yellow best! However, am really drawn to the single color addition with the grey pink...ahem....if it erent pink, it would infact be my first choice...perhaps a bright green (yeah, big surprise there huh? Though actually, a dill muted mint would really be better than neon in this case). I like paisley just fine. Certainly much better than all those flower prints available out there.


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