Most people who like fashion drawing and illustration get intimidated when talking about fashion prints because they think this can only be done on computer in Photoshop or using some fancy software. Designing fabrics prints is actually very simple and straightforward and of course it can be done by hand as well.
Basics of Repeat Design
Fabric patterns are built on a foundational rectangle (square or other) and this is what makes designing a repeat easy. The concept of a basic repeat is to lay some motifs over the top and one side of the rectangle and make sure that the parts that fall outside the rectangle enter back into it on the opposite side for the perfect alignment.
Learning to create basic units of repetition is important for configuring motifs so they work well in repetition and you end up with a design that flows pleasantly when you take a look at the entire cloth.
Step-by-Step Repeat Design by Hand
The simplest technique for drawing repeats by hand involves cutting up and reassembling a drawing in various configurations.
1. Square Repeat
Cut a rectangle or a square of vellum paper to a desired repeat size. I used 10cm*10cm square. Draw motifs in the middle, keeping away from all 4 sides of the square and label the 4 quadrants lightly with a colored pencil.
Mark the halfway points on each side of the paper and cut through the center horizontally.
Move the top piece to the bottom and tape the pieces together from the back side. This should leave a new blank middle area to fill in with more design elements. Stay away from the left and right sides of the paper.
Mark the halfway point of the top and the bottom of the paper and cut through the design vertically. Move the left side to the right and tape the sections back together. Fill in the middle over the vertical seam.
If you still have a little area along the top and the bottom edges blank, detach horizontally through cut lines, reassemble and tape quadrants together and complete the last middle portion of the drawing.
You now have a finished pattern repeat and the last thing left to do is to tape the quadrants back to the original 1-2-3-4 configuration. The next step is to hand proof the design or scan it for digital manipulation.
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