In our last assignment, you made a bunch of small illustrations to test out new materials and concepts. The work you made demonstrated your existing drawing skills, your willingness to try new things, and your responsiveness to feedback. I hope you’re proud of your illustrations. Now we’ll focus on maintaining a similar level of production towards a single concept as we create a cohesive series of repeating pattern. You’ll create original imagery, arrange it to produce a repeating unit, and use that pattern unit to create believable mock-ups. Please work with the software with which you are most comfortable; there are two videos demonstrating creating patterns with Illustrator or Photoshop.

A note about vocabulary: Surface design is a broad term that includes any number of methods for manipulating fabric to create imagery. A repeating pattern like you’re creating is an example of surface design, but not all surface design is repeating patterns. For example, batik and shibori are two dyeing methods that can produce both repeating and non-repeating surface designs.


  • to practice good file management as it relates to visual creative work
  • to build and share a digital mood board as a graphic representation of your thinking
  • to produce a cohesive set of repeating patterns including at a minimum a primary pattern (your hero) and a support pattern
  • to present those patterns professionally, visually and in writing, in an appropriate context

What You’ll Create:

  • A digital mood board indicating the direction in which you’re headed, 8.5” x 11”
  • Two digital swatches showing the unit of your pattern, minimum 5” x 5” at 150 ppi, turned in to me via the google drive linked here on slack as a jpeg, png, or PDF
  • A final post about the project posted to our class site discussing your process and describing the final patterns and their intended audience, categorized as “final work
  • Thoughtful feedback for your peers on their work, in-process and final


2/16, R – In Class: Discussing Gouache Intro. work // Homework: Look at the work of visiting artist Natalie Briscoe on her website and instagram. //
Write and post: Explain where you keep inspiring images and how you keep them organized. Show examples! Please share any websites or habits you find helpful when trying to find reference images and inspiration. //
Find and post: a repeating pattern from your daily life and tell us where you encounter it and what you like about it. //
Watch both: Introduction to Designing Repeat Patterns in Illustrator and Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand-Drawn Wallpaper . A reminder that if you prefer to work analog, Julia Rothman’s video demonstrates how to create repeating paper with pen, paper, X-acto knife, and tape.

2/21, T – In Class: Artist talk with Natalie Briscoe (via zoom). //
Read: How to Keep Your Design Files Neat and Tidy //
Create and post: A mood board related to your pattern, minimum 11″ x 8.5″, citing images or explaining themes as necessary (use your best judgement). You can use the template Elizabeth Owen supplies but are encouraged to create your own. //
Post: Written description of your mood board and who you imagine to be the intended audience of your pattern.
2/23, R In class: Getting started building elements for your pattern //
Homework: Post: Work-in-process images of your pattern components and/or motifs, if available. Ask your peers for the specific feedback you’d like on your work-in-process. //
Post 3-5 questions you have about what your work so far. Give: Feedback to your classmates on their work-in-progress.

2/28, TWrite and post: some advertising copy describing your pattern posted to its intended audience. Tell us who that audience is. //
Post to slack: one of your patterns, ideally the “hero” pattern. Read both: How to Use a Mockup Template in 3 Easy Steps and Creating Product Mockups – Making the Mockup.
3/2, RPost to class site: blog post on your work. It should include a thoughtful write-up of the work, all swatches, and the final patterns in context (i.e. on a mockup). Process images are optional but encouraged. //
Fill out Self-Guided Rubric and email to katie(dot)ries(at)snc.edu //
Look at your peers’ final work and post thoughtful feedback, either on slack or on our class site.

3/7, T – In class: CRITIQUE //
Email: Completed Self-Guided Rubric to Professor Ries. //
Upload: swatch files to drive folder linked on slack channel.

Potentially useful sites for mockup blanks:

Square Pillow Mockup
Classic PSD Notebook Mockup Vol 2
Apron MockUp PSD