For this last project, I wanted to return to surface design and use what I learned in the last surface design project to create another collection of patterns. I asked some of my friends to send me pictures of their pets to help me create this pattern. Most of what I got back were cat pictures, so I decided to feature cat in this collection. I wanted to use these reference pictures to be able to give the pattern some more personality and some unique poses, while still making the cats generic enough to appeal to cat-lovers in general, and not only represent my friends’ specific pets.

I started my process by drawing from the reference images and making more and more iterations, trying to simplify the cats, until I ended up on a style like the one below. Everyone in the class responded well to this style while giving feedback, so I decided to continue with this style for the rest of the cats. Originally, I was going to include supporting elements like small animals or toys, but after I had drawn about 8 cats, I decided that the cats themselves would be enough. If I had fewer cats, the supporting elements would probably have helped, but at this point I thought they might have distracted from the main focus of the cats. Their style is also much simpler than the cats so I wasn’t sure if that would have ended up looking cohesive or not.

I then turned to my computer to draw the elements digitally. I drew some of them freehand again, but others I traced by placing the page of my sketchbook over my tablet. My original vision was to color the cats in realistic colors, possibly with black linework, however I found a crayon brush I really liked so I used that, and then I thought the cats would look cute in pink.

At first, I also included versions of the patterns that showed this original plan of the cats in more realistic colors. However, others in the class brought up that these patterns seemed a bit too saturated or not as grounded. In the end, I decided to leave them out of the final collection. I felt that without them, the collection looked more cohesive and the lower contrast patterns of the pink and white cats lent themselves a bit better to the overall cute and soft aesthetic. If I had left them in the collection, I think they would have seemed a bit distracting and out of place given the rest of the patterns.

Here is the final collection, featuring one main pattern with two background colors, as well as two simple supporting patterns.

I then created a few mock ups to show my patterns in context, though I had a hard time finding files to make my mock ups. Initially, I wanted to show my pattern on other products like pajama pants, shoes like Converse or Vans, socks, back packs, bedding, etc. I spent hours searching but didn’t have much luck finding any that were free or didn’t require me to sign up for a subscription. However, I do really like how they look on these products. Everyone that I’ve shown these to seems to really love the wrapping paper especially. My friend who gave me the photos of her cats to make these patterns says she would also love a phone case with the pink cats.

I’m really happy with how these patterns turned out. I like the crayon texture a lot but I’m not sure how well it comes across when the pattern is at a smaller scale, so I might have to experiment a bit more with the scale at which the pattern is presented. My goal for this project was to practice Illustrator some more, and I think I was definitely able to streamline my process a lot, considering all the trouble I had with the first surface design assignment. I feel much more comfortable and confident using Illustrator now, which means a lot because I had pretty much never used it before this class. While the first pattern I made came out of hours of frustration and technical difficulty, I had a lot fun while making this project (though, admittedly, a bit of frustration when trying to find mock ups). I think I gained a lot of experience in Photoshop, Illustrator, and making patterns in general, that will definitely come in handy in the future.

Link to class portfolio page: