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My favourite pattern design tools

Design and Shine podcast episode. My favourite pattern design tools. Picture of painting with watercolour brush pens

I often get asked about the sort of tools that I use within my business. So I’ve wanted to come in and just share with you some of my favorites and ones that I use regularly within my business and which ones are my favorites.


I wanted to start off with my computer setup and I will say that you, by no means need all of these tools that I use. I do have quite a comprehensive tech setup in terms of computers and other tools that I use within my business. If you are getting, just getting started, you don’t need all of these tools by any means. So you just want to find out the way that you like to work, and then you can pick and choose and actually build on that as you go as well, which is what I’ve done over time. So, first of all, starting with my computer, I use an iMac and I absolutely love it. I love the big screen and I use that to put my designs together.

I don’t necessarily create my design elements straight into the computer. I do sometimes and other times I don’t, but I do absolutely love putting them together using the iMac because of the big screen. And I use my iMac father things as well, like when I’m putting together all sorts of other things. I like if I was building pages on my website, I like to generally do that on my iMac as well. Just the, having the big screen, being able to see everything really clearly. I really loved that. And in terms of a tech setup, that’s my solid base. And from there I’ve added other tech elements to it. For example, I also have a Mac book air, and the reason that I got a Mac book air and not a more powerful computer is that my designing is done all on my iMac.

I use my MacBook air mainly for business tasks that I don’t really need a big screen fro and so that I’m not always stuck at my desk, but also so that if I go away somewhere for a week or two, I can still work and get things done. I’ve got external hard drives  where I back up all of my documents and I use a combination of hard drives and cloud services. I can still use Photoshop and Illustrator on my iMac, but generally, I wouldn’t design on there, even if I’m away. 

Hard drives

As I mentioned, I do use portable hard drives and I absolutely cannot recommend enough having multiple backups f your files. I have a constant backup of my computer with a hard drive that is permanently connected to my computer and will constantly back up using time machine. But then I also have other hard drives where I save documents and save copies of artwork. What I do find is that I do regularly have to remove files off my computer because my computer gets quite full. So storing them on hard drives is a way that I like to do it. You could also use a cloud storage service if you wanted to as well and I do use Google drive also for storing some of my documents. 

Clean my mac

The next tool that I really like to use and that is a software called clean my Mac. I use that to keep everything running smoothly. It will remove any unwanted files and things like that. So I, you, I run that every now and then on my computer to make sure my computer is running to its optimum.

Drawing tablets

The next thing I wanted to talk about is Wacom drawing tablets. There are a few different options that you can use, and I’ve used a couple of different ones over time. I have used both the Wacom Cintiq and Intuos Pro.

The Wacom Cintiq allows you to draw onto the screen, just like you’re drawing onto paper to create your elements or create your designs. I really love using it and it’s a great tool. One of the things though, that can be a little bit tricky with it is having it set up so that it’s ergonomic. Because you’re drawing onto the screen, it will mean that you’ll be looking down when you’re drawing which can result in sore shoulders or neck. Having it placed down on your desktop, means you can end up hunching over. To counteract that issue,  I have putmy Cintiqu on an Ergotron arm. It’s quite a heavy-duty arm for the lightness of the Cinitq that I have but it means that you can place it at different angles and positions when you’re drawing which I love.

I have the Wacom Cintiq 16 which is one of the smaller ones but I think the size works well for in terms of desk space versus size.

The Wacom Intuos Pro is another great option that is cheaper than the Cintiq.  It operates slightly differently though. You draw on the tablet which is placed on your desk and you look at your computer screen to move your pen around the tablet in comparison to the Cintiq where you draw straight onto your screen like paper.

I think both options are great.

I also have an iPad Pro which I love. Mine is quite old now but still going strong. If you are looking at getting an iPad or any computer equipment I would always recommend getting the best that you can get for the budget that you have. You will never regret having more but may regret having less. So if your budget would allow you to get one that has more storage, then,I would recommend that.

In terms of apps on my iPad, the ones that I tend to use most these days are either Procreate, which I absolutely love or the Illustrator app.


I also really enjoy creating my elements by hand. So for any of those elements, I really need to be able to bring them into my computer, which I do via a scanner. The scanner that I’m using at the moment is an Epson and it’s the perfection V600. I’m really happy with the quality of the artwork that it scans.


And the last major piece of digital equipment that I have in my studio is an Epson printer, which is an A2 size printer.

I bought it so that I could do prints of my work and it prints really beautifully. I really love it. It’s the Epson Sure Colour 906. It’s not something that I would personally be printing any documents on. The cartridges are quite expensive, but if you are wanting to do some prints, it is actually a really great quality printer and I’m really happy with the quality of prints that it produces.

They are the main technical tools that I use regularly within my business to create surface pattern designs.

Other useful tools

Here are a couple of other things that can be really handy to have, depending on the way you create your work and what you’re doing.

I  have a ring light, which is fantastic if I’m needing to do any videos.  I’ve also got a couple of other really fantastic lights, which will help me brighten up my room and make it feel like it’s daylight. So if you’re needing to do some videos to show your working progress and things like that then it’s great having a really good light to do that with.

I also have a stand that my phone can attach to which I can place above me while I’m creating my artwork  If you are doing hand created artwork and you want to show some process shots, which is always fantastic to do on social media and as a way of really being able to connect with your audience as well it is a really handy tool.

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