What is a surface pattern designer? | Showit Blog





What is a surface pattern designer?

I wanted to come in today and answer a question that I have been asked recently and that is ‘what is a surface pattern designer?’

People often get confused with the differences between a surface pattern designer, an artist and a graphic designer?

Role of a surface pattern designer

Essentially a surface pattern designer is someone who creates designs that are usually in a seamless and technical pattern repeat. Those repeat pattern designs can then be applied to products or fabric.

The great thing is that any surface can potentially have a pattern design applied to it so your role as a surface pattern designer can really vary widely. You could be developing designs to go on anything from the interior fabric of car upholstery to rolls of fabric found at your local fabric store. No matter the product, the role of a surface pattern designer is to come up with and develop designs that consider the end product and design accordingly. The process will be the same although the specifications can vary according to the end-use. Each product, client or manufacturer may have slightly different specifications that need to be adhered to e.g. the number of colours that can be used or the scale of the design

Create technical pattern repeats

In short, the biggest difference between a graphic designer and a surface pattern designer is that a surface pattern designer’s job is to create patterns that are in technical repeat. That means they need to ensure that when a design is created that is it is repeated seamlessly. A great example of this is a roll of fabric store at your local fabric store. If you were to unroll the fabric, the pattern would be continuously repeated and you wouldn’t be able to see where the repeat started or finished unless you were to study the design elements and search the design.

Although creating seamless repeats is an important role of a pattern designer, designs don’t always have to be created in technical repeat. Clients will also sometimes require designs as placement prints. An example of this would be a t-shirt print where you may require each t-shirt to have the design printed in the same location on each item.  These designs are therefore not created as seamless patterns..

Other important skills of a surface pattern designer include the ability to draw and develop design ideas, a good eye for colour and developing colour palettes, creating inspirational mood boards and developing cohesive design collections. When they are creating designs they need to be able to create designs that consider balance, harmony, texture and scale well as these are really important skills that will help create successful pattern designs and collections.

If you are an artist or a graphic designer, you can easily learn these skills to turn your art or turn your graphic design skills into creating pattern repeats. For artists it can be a really great way of using your art or elements of your art in new ways and giving your self another revenue source for selling your work.


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  1. Pearl Goddard says:

    Thankyou that was soo helpful. Ive just made a square design by hand not [digital yet]out of my fish and reef sketches Iv been drawing over the past few weeks. Ive designed it for a scarf or a cushion cover. I did one similar in Tafe four years ago, so decided to create designs by hand with the sketches [there not coloured] Im drawing now in preparation for when I get NBN on at home in a few weeks. Will then try to put them up and print them digitally and colour them. I might even surprise myself. Id like to put it up to get your opinion and critic if that would be okay? These sketches have been done from free photos that I got off
    unsplashed and pexel. Ive not copied the pics in the photos, but used them to get an idea of what something looks like. Then tried to
    draw something by myself that looks of that shape but putting my own differences to it but making sure it looks like that thing. Will than colour it in different colours I like, but know that thing would be of those colours. I dont have knowledge of copyright law, but have just googled it to try to gain insight so I dont do anything illegal. I would appreciate your advice as to whether Im doing my sketching and designing legally, and if not could you give me some advice as to what I should do. Id really appreciate it if you are able. Sorry re the long note but Ive been to worried about putting things up Facebook if Im doing something illegal. Thankyou soo much again for what the difference is in designing and all your hel and patience with me re queries. I soo do want to become a surface pattern designer. ♥️Pearl

  2. Thank you so much Rachelle to divide with us your knowledgement!!!!!
    Fanny Kriegel

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