Surface Pattern Design Tech Tools - Pattern and Design

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Surface Pattern Design Tech Tools



Are you confused about what tech to use within your pattern design business? A lot of people ask me what tools use I use so I’m going to give you a brief rundown of my favourite surface pattern design tech tools that I use within my studio. Before I start, I do want to point out that the tools I’m about to share are not absolutely necessary to be able to create designs successfully, but these are the tools that I use and love within my business.


The most important tool would be my iMac, which I love because I love to have a big screen to work with. And one of the questions that I think people ask a lot is, do I need a PC or a Mac to create my designs and which is better? It actually doesn’t matter which one you get because these days Photoshop and illustrator will work just as well on both a Mac and PC. In fact, I’ve always used a Mac at home and I’ve worked in jobs where I’ve had to use a PC. The main difference between using the two for Photoshop and Illustrator is the keyboard shortcuts that need to use, but both of them will run the programs equally as well. What’s more important is getting a computer that’s powerful enough to run the programs. So I would always recommend, buying the best computer that you can get with the budget that you have.

Wacom Cintiq

Another favourite tool of mine is my Wacom Cintiq which I also really love. I also have a Wacom Intuous Pro, that’s the tablet where you draw down on the tablet screen and it appears on your screen so you need to be looking at your screen while you’re drawing on the tablet. I now have the Cintiq which allows you to draw straight on the screen just like drawing on paper. I prefer my Cintiq but I know some designers actually don’t and they still opt for working on their Intuous Pro so it really is just personal preference.

I have a big arm that comes off my desk which my Cintiq is attached so I’m able to rotate my Cintiq, move it up and down etc. It’s really fantastic. The reason that I got the swivel arm is that it helps me have a more ergonomic way of working. Without it, I felt like I was hunching over the tablet which I felt was really uncomfortable.

iPad Pro

I also have an iPad Pro which I also love and it’s great for designing on the go. I personally prefer to create all of my pattern repeats in Photoshop or Illustrator. Generally, I create them in Photoshop if I’m using my iPad pro because they will import straight into Photoshop. You can import them into illustrator. But personally, if I’m using illustrator, I like to create my designs in illustrator, as I’m not a huge fan of the image trace function. I know some people create their pattern repeats from start to finish on the iPad but for me that never really works just because I work with too many layers and I don’t like flattening my image to repeat it.

Canon Lide Scanner

I also have my Canon Lide scanner which I use if I’m doing hand created artwork.

They are the main tech tools that I use to create my designs. If you’re starting out I know that it’s a lot of tech to get your head around and it’s very expensive to buy. A lot of people ask whether they should start with an iPad or computer and personally I would always recommend starting with a computer over an iPad, because if you want to use all of the features of Photoshop and illustrator, then you definitely want to be using a computer.

Surface Pattern Design Tech Tools

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  1. Anahid says:

    Fantastic info, finally someone answered my main question regarding what tech I need to have.
    Thank you so much, most appreciated👍👏

  2. Giulia says:

    Than you for your tips!

  3. Cecilia says:

    Hello Rachelle, I am busy finding out which 27inch imac is wise to purchase.
    I see that you can opt for ssd storage(am not sure if that’s necessary?)
    Because of that I am also puzzling how to store everything( os system, illustrator, files) Can I ask you how you organize this?
    Do you store everything on the computer and do your backup on external harddrives or cloud? Are there important things to be considered?
    Thanks for giving me advice, I would appreciate it! Greetings, Cecilia.

    • Pattern and Design says:

      Hi Cecilia,
      I store everything on my computer but I also have a couple of external drives too. I have one that’s permanently connected and runs regular backups which is really important

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