Block Printing/Design

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch Blog Hop

October 1, 2014

Back in August I stumbled upon a fantastic website called CreativeLive. If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend checking it out and taking a class. Long story short, I found a class called Design Surface Patterns From Scratch with Bonnie Christine. Some of you may recognize Bonnie’s name from her gorgeous fabrics designed for Art Gallery Fabrics. Taking her class was so incredibly inspiring and I can’t put into words how invaluable it was for me. After buying many books and other expensive online courses, Bonnie’s class is the one tool that truly started to answer my questions and point me on the right path to designing surface patterns.

I have the pleasure of participating in her official Design Surface Patterns From Scratch Blog Tour and it’s my turn today to share some things I’ve made since taking the class.


I had been reluctant (down right scared, actually) to learn Adobe Illustrator because I’ve had a working knowledge of Photoshop since the 8th grade. I know my way around Photoshop, I know how to find things and make things so why would I need to learn another program? Well let me tell you. My jaw dropped about every seven seconds as I saw Bonnie create patterns with Illustrator! It gives you so many tools that Photoshop just cant compete with and I’m in awe every day as I try to get a little better at using it.


The Pen Tool was a feature that reeeaaallllyyyy used to freak me out. I realize many of you are unfamiliar with Illustrator, but the pen tool allows you to create vector images (images that can be endlessly re-sized without getting blurry) by connecting anchor points and paths.

It took me several tries to get the hang of it, but before long I created this little stem and leaf pattern inspired by a hay field near my house. Through Bonnie’s class I also learned how to make a custom color palette and create seamless repeating patterns as well.

Here’s my full repeating motif made with the Pen Tool:

The next tool I really enjoyed learning (it’s one of Bonnie’s favorite tools too!) is the Blob Brush Tool. This tool is similar to the Pen Tool except it works only by free hand motion, a bit like using a real paintbrush. I used it to trace over the pattern found on top of a small wooden treasure box that belonged to my great grandmother. In the screen shot below you can see an image of the top of the box, my original tracing made with the Blob Brush tool (and a bit of the pen tool) and the final motif that I made into a repeating pattern.


I really love being able to change the colors of things and move elements around on a whim, unlike in Photoshop where you have to make changes and commit to them. You can only undo things by a certain amount of steps, but in Illustrator every part of your image stays “live” and editable. It’s fantastic! Here’s the final repeating pattern inspired by my great grandmother’s jewelry box, created with the Blob Brush and the Pen Tool.


This is only a small fraction of the things I’ve been working on and I’m eager to add these new prints to my Spoonflower shop soon!

If you have an interest in surface pattern design, I can’t recommend Bonnie’s class highly enough! She’s a fantastic teacher and shows you every step of her creative process, including her own fabric portfolio that landed her a job with Art Gallery Fabrics. It was so inspiring to see.

Make sure to check out the next stop on the blog tour tomorrow – JoDitt Danley Williams | (as well as yesterday’s stop – Amanda Creek | and check out ALL the amazing tour stops listed on Bonnie’s blog post, here!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek at what I’ve made 🙂


p.s. – Bonnie is offering a FREE MONTH membership to her awesome Roost Tribe! If you’re interested in everything from joining a creative community, getting tips for building your blog, recipes, tutorials, and free desktop backgrounds, definitely don’t pass this up. Click here for your free month!