In Block Printing/Design

Drawing & Digitizing: Deer

So to continue on with my previous post about some sketches I did while learning all about white-tail deer, I decided to share more of the process of how I like to digitize drawings and make repeats for Spoonflower. Because why not share, right? Besides, I want the practice and the proof of work from start to finish. I just started getting serious about pattern design and learning Illustrator about six months ago, so hopefully I’ll be able to look back at this post in a year and laugh at how far I’ve come. Ha!


If you’re really interested in the step-by-step details of what it takes to do this kind of design work, there are two classes that will teach you everything you need to know: Bonnie’s intensive workshop on CreativeLive, and Elizabeth’s class on Skill Share – just thought I’d mention that.

William set me up with a make-shift desktop work area since my laptop probably caused 85% of my tendinitis issues. I’m finally starting to feel some improvement in my wrists since making this switch. Duh me, I know. Anyone who has a real office space will facepalm when I admit I used to do 8 hours of work, at a laptop, usually in bed, usually with a cat and a dog under or over each arm… I know. Not the smartest thing. But anyways…


So I took a picture of my sketchbook page and traced over it with my iPad to make my drawings into a vector image. Then I just started playing around with each little motif in Illustrator to create the elements for my pattern. Having little bits and pieces of pattern strung about all over my Artboard is one of my favorite things. It’s like a mix between a digital interactive coloring book and a jigsaw puzzle. So fun!


After several hours of messing with the pattern placement I finally came to a tile layout I was happy with. Like Elizabeth Olwen teaches in her class, I really tried to pay attention to pattern flow and movement. It was also important to me to make sure the pattern was non-directional. Since Spoonflower fabric is a bit pricey, I wanted to make the most of what you pay for.


Then I made some quick line drawings of things that might look good with my deer pattern on it: a dress, a phone case, wrapping paper, etc. I just uploaded the pattern to Spoonflower last night and bought some fabric AND some satin gift wrap! As soon as I get my order, I’ll be able to make this little deer print available to everyone. I’m thinking of calling it Deerly Beloved. …or maybe Jane Doe. Naturally it needs a cutesy name with some kind of deer pun. You better believe I’ll be sharing a deer-y dress and matching wrapped present as soon as I possibly can (hopefully in time for my birthday on the 19th)!

Oh, I should probably also mention, I launched a Holiday Pop-Up Shop! I’m trying to clear out some of my stash, as well as some craft fair items I made ages ago (back when I was still living in Vermont. Sheesh!). I’ll be adding more stuff to the shop this week, but once the items are gone they will not be re-made! Except for the stickers. I’d like to keep making those 🙂

Thanks for reading! Don’t worry, I’ll be back to actual sewing soon…



  • Gorgeous. Your pattern is making me want to set aside some more time for my surface pattern design work!

  • I’ve been wondering how people do these, thanks for demystifying! Can’t wait to see your newly made items, that’s a gorgeous print.

  • I don’t know if you tried this already but, you could potentially skip the tracing by using the live trace/paint function on your existing artwork in Illustrator, and it will automatically vectorize it in black and white. They also make scanner apps for the iPhone/iPad, so that could also be used to remove some distortion before you even start the process. Hope that helps!

  • They look gorgeous and I love ‘Deerly Beloved’ absolutely perfect 🙂

  • I like “Deerly Beloved”. I like non-directional fabrics. It makes things so much easier.

  • Veronica

    WOW!!!! Your talent is amazing. Brilliant pattern, love that it is non directional. Thanks for sharing.

  • So sweet of you to make sure the print is non-directional!!! It is adorable!!!


  • You are so massively talented, dear Rochelle. I’m smitten with your sweet, adorable deer and all the more impressed with your artistic abilities (I like to joke that I’m such a bad drawer my stick people don’t even look like stick people ;D).

    ♥ Jessica

  • Love the print, and OH MY GOD I so wish you hadn’t mentioned your pop-up shop! Just bought myself a knitting bag and some fabric 🙂 Can’t wait to transfer my current project into a prettier bag!

  • Omg. Want stickers, want deer fabric!!!
    I mean, it would be amazing if you were to sell stickers and the deer fabric. I would like them 🙂

  • Deerly Beloved!! I pink puffy heart this name!! As always, your fabric designs are lovely!

  • Mina Holliday

    Please make that fabric available! I have a special person the *needs* a skirt from your lovely design

  • This looks awesome!!

  • dani e

    you are such a strong person! you have a creative will and you let it find a way! love your blog love, your style, and really, really love this print! cheers!

  • mommylap

    I vote Jane Doe! I love your rendering of the dress in this fabric design, and I really appreciate your efforts to make it non-directional. One thing that makes me sniffle is when I use a precious fabric full of whimsy and all of the whimsy is only upside-down from my wearing perspective…

  • This is great! From your previous post, you inspired me to have a crack at learning it myself! So far I’ve made one pattern, but it needs fixing up. Looks like you’re getting skilled, that’s awesome! Well done 🙂

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I really love watching your progress, Rochelle. And I know that you’re going crazy without sewing and knitting, so it’s cool that you are able to channel your artistic abilities into designing fabric!

  • I like this unique look into your creative process. I also really appreciate that you take the time to try and make your pattern non-directional because Spoonflower is so pricey. Lovely print!