SUPER HERO?

I cannot tell you have frustrated I had become at not being able to create a HERO design up to my usual high standards; nearly all previous attempts had failed in one area or another. However, after two 1-2-1 tutorials with Matt Leighfield (A Programme/Digital Genius), I finally got to grips with the technicalities that would allow me to amalgamate my ideas, concept and designs into the beginnings of a collection.

I had been having a difficult time fathoming out how to cut out elements such as motifs and juxtapose them into a new document but can now undertake the task with ease!!

The process is really simple now that I know how:

Select the LASSO Tool > ‘Draw’ round the specific element required (making sure that the marching ants are on the move) > Drag chosen image (once opened in Photoshop) tab down a few cms > Select MOVE TOOL > Select the area within the marching ants and hold down mouse and drag into/onto the prepared document > To remove the unwanted background surrounding the chosen motif I utilised the MAGIC ERASER TOOL.

My HERO design was extremely complex to create, not only did I colour all the individual motifs by hand but I also scanned them all at 720dpi, ‘cleaned’ them all digitally which could take up to an hour or two each, and then had to measure each to create enough room and aesthetic to look mathematically accurate.

These are some of the elements I combined to create my HERO:

After 5 hours on Photoshop, I was able to create this!!! I am so incredibly proud of my design.

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The background colour is #a0bfbd and the Cyanotype motifs were changed to a Hue of -25 and -70, which changed the colour from a dark blue to a rich teal and green. I may toy around the idea of putting an embossment or shadow/glow around the motifs but will ultimately decide if it adds or detracts from the design.

I wanted my HERO design to describe the story of MY CHILDHOOD GARDEN; to describe the wonderful lines, shapes, patterns, and colours of the most abundant flowers I could remember as a child.

Again, I made sure to include:

Top 3 Colours chosen to describe FEMININITY = YELLOW, PINK & PURPLE

Top 3 Colours to describe MASCULINITY = BLUE, BLACK & GREEN

I also made sure that I kept the design SIMPLISTIC and using RICH, yet SUBDUED Colours. One of the key focuses of the Busy Bloom trend was evidence of lush blooming floral corollas, which I believe I have nailed. I believe that I have poured my visual identity all over this design, whilst staying true to the core values of the brief.

FIELD: LIGHT – COLLABORATION REFLECTION

I have always considered myself an independent designer, a lone wolf of sorts, so when I discovered that as part of my ongoing creative practice I was required to be part of a group made up of both Textile and Product Designers, I had immediate reservations.

My initial thought was ‘Please don’t land me with the duds’. I met my group and soon realised that we possessed a range of skills unique to each and every one of us, so began by asking how each member felt about working on specific elements within the collaboration. I think my age and life experience made me the perfect candidate for the Project Manager, something which the rest of the group were happy to delegate.

One of the most positive aspects of this collaboration for me personally was the chance to learn more of the technical and mathematical process of Product Design and how it could be married to my discipline of Textile Design. I will admit that at first I didn’t particularly find the group chemistry strong, and the difficulty to make decisions caused friction at times. However, as time went on we quickly fell into the specific roles needed to successfully carry out our challenging concept and idea.

I have always understood that to get something done properly there is little time to procrastinate but rather put together a plan of action that is both concurrently  manageable and challenging.

As the concept developed and ideas were shared, I found at times the communication from the Product Design lacked the necessary vision for us to work as a cohesive unit, leading to some heated emails and verbal exchanges, but nevertheless we eventually agreed on the common denominator to work as a team to create something which would be both technically and aesthetically impressive.

What did I learn about myself? I felt comfortable as a natural leader within the group; that’s not to mean I dictated the orders but rather found out the individual strengths of each team member and interwove them altogether to create a creative and highly efficient way of working.

The group did not become friends but gained a mutual respect for each other, which I believe is important if I am ever to collaborate with another designer/discipline in the foreseeable future.

If I was to reflect on the brief as a whole I would have to say that it wasn’t particularly organised or structured as efficiently as it could have been. The Textile Tutors were rarely to be seen and any support that was asked for was nearly always given by the Product Design tutors. Luckily I am always ready/happy to work independently but felt a true element of wandering through the wilderness within this project. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy elements of the brief; the ability to self explore and learn new skills and ways of thinking really enriched my creative practice and thought process. The range of materials used and how each was fused together to create a finished product gave me greater respect for how time consuming but ultimately rewarding a collaborative effort can be.

I loved our final design; the beautifully abstract Textile Pattern created by Saima and I really contrasted masterfully against the sleek and classic triangular shape of the Light. I grew not only as an individual, but as a creative practitioner too. Each project has allowed me to refine my individual style, I now feel confident to showcase my focused and strengthened visual identity in any project I undertake.

BRIEF RECAP & CUSTOMER PROFILE

It’s so easy to verge off from the initial brief, especially when the creative juices flow. However, throughout this brief, I have made sure to stop and take stock of what has been produced and make sure that the brief has been adhered to; for me, this has been an invaluable method to grow as a creative, designer, and a professional. Throughout the brief, I have always understood my client (John Lewis) and customer request, which got me thinking of one of the first sessions I had as a group with Sian and Helen.

We threw ‘buzz words’ around to delve into the world of the customer, and tried to create a profile:

CLIENT: JOHN LEWIS – ‘Create a coordinating collection of 6 patterns to be digitally printed for the female 25-40 age range for Spring/Summer ‘19

CHOSEN TREND: BUSY BLOOMS 

KEY FOCUS: FULL-BLOOM, COLOUR, FORM, TEXTURE, BOLD ALL-OVER DESIGN, MIXED TEXTURES, LUSH LARGE COROLLAS

DEMOGRAPHIC: 25-40 YEAR-OLD FEMALE

BUZZ WORDS (For My Collection): QUALITY, SOPHISTICATED, REFINED LIFESTYLE,  DESIGN-FOCUSED, COMMERCIALLY AWARE, PROFESSIONAL, HOUSE PROUD, CONTEMPORARY, CLASSIC, RICH YET SUBDUED, FRESH, CHIC

By revisiting the ideas and concepts at the early stages of the design process I am now able to create a few customer profiles:

CUSTOMER 1

GENDER: Female

AGE: 26

OCCUPATION: Retail Manager

DRIVES: No Car/ Employment within walking distance

LEVEL OF EDUCATION: College

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single

LIVES: Trendy Loft apartment within the city centre. A bustling area within the city. Great High Street. Plenty of Department Stores.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION: No children. One Cat.

HOBBIES/INTERESTS: Drawing. Design Focused Magazine Subscription. Travel. Animals.

SHOPPING PREFERENCE: Oliver Bonas. Gap. Mango. Tesco

BUDGET: £50-£100

INDIVIDUAL STYLE: Trendy, Well groomed, Fashion Forward

 

CUSTOMER 2

GENDER: Female

AGE: 33

OCCUPATION: ASSOCIATE EDITOR

DRIVES: Mini Cooper S

LEVEL OF EDUCATION: Undergraduate/Degree

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Engaged

LIVES: City suburb. A mix of independent and outlet village shops.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION: Fiance. No children. 2 Dogs.

HOBBIES/INTERESTS: Fashion. Travel. History. Design. Food

SHOPPING PREFERENCE: Vivienne Westwood. Zara. John Lewis. Sainsbury’s

BUDGET: £150-£300

INDIVIDUAL STYLE: Sophisticated. Fashion-Forward. Classic. Fresh.

 

CUSTOMER 3

GENDER: Female

AGE: 40

OCCUPATION: HEADMISTRESS

DRIVES: Audi A5

LEVEL OF EDUCATION: Postgraduate/Degree

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married

LIVES: Country. An affluent area outside the city but close enough to commute. Plenty of Arts and Craft and independent stores. Beautifully landscaped gardens.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION: Husband. Two children. 2 Dogs. 1 Cat

HOBBIES/INTERESTS: Travel. Reading. Food & Wine. Socialising at Dinner Parties.

SHOPPING PREFERENCE: Monsoon. Harvey Nichols. Dolce & Gabanna. Waitrose

BUDGET: £350-£500

INDIVIDUAL STYLE: Professional, Simple, Classic, Timeless

Looking back to look forward is my life mantra; it helps me amalgamate ideas, concepts and thoughts into one cohesive principle. The 3 customer profiles above have given me an even greater understanding of who my customer base would be, which will allow me to fine-tune my designs and collection even further. Not only that, I am able to use this market research to build a range of future collections for specific budgets etc.

 

 

 

 

DIGITAL STITCH MOTIFS

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the basics of Digital Stitch and look forward to what the future holds for my designs and how they can be translated through this incredible digital process.

Learning to scan, upload and manipulate an image to create a digital blueprint has been an eyeopener. I didn’t quite realise the mathematics behind trying to create a like for like image of the image to be digitally stitched. The point-mapping of the uploaded image can dictate the grain, thickness, quality, and structure of the stitch.

The 3 Day Workshop allowed me to get to grips with the basics; one of my simple linear Rose observational studies was uploaded to a memory stick ready to be translated digitally. The digital software used was Digitizer MBX, specifically using the Easy Design programme. Once my image had been uploaded into the Easy Design programme I shrank the image to fit within the digital ‘hoop’ (red outline) and began by choosing a Triple Line Stitch. Painstakingly, I had to fix points around the whole image; a left click of the mouse for a straight line and a right click to create curves between each point (especially useful for the organic structure of the Rose). Pressing Enter after mapping a certain area allowed me to see how the stitch would eventually look.

Throughout the mapping process, I removed the background image to give an oversight of what areas to improve on or remove. Once the point mapping was complete I was ready to save my design, which initially was a .jan file. Secondly, I then had to eject my USB from my computer and insert it into the digital sewing machine, using a Janome MC200e, making sure the USB is inserted into the port before turning on the power. Next, I made sure to select the USB symbol on the interactive screen and then selecting a folder called EMB and then another named EMBF. The machine was then switched off, USB ejected and reinserted into my computer and the .jan file opened. The design was then saved as a.jef file. I was now ready to place the USB back into the Janome and begin my first foray into Digital Stitch.

Before attempting any stitch work I was given a sample of fabric and some adhesive backing paper which was ironed to bond. Once fabric and the backing paper had cooled I  fixed them between a digital embroidery hoop, and thread the thread (chosen colour) through the machine.

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This design was taken from my linear Rose drawing. I utilised, on Maggie’s recommendation, a Triple Line Stitch. Maggie did warn me prior not to map the points too close together otherwise the stitch would become too tightly bound, which unfortunately is what happened with my first sample. The Rose took 21 minutes to create. I really love the sample but learnt that to create a far more fluid and even stitch I would have to become super aware of how frequently I map the lines.

On my second attempt, I decided to use a Single Line Stitch. Maggie informed me that the line would be a lot thinner but hopefully should resolve the issue of being too tightly bound (no unsightly white thread this time from the bobbin). I even decided to change the colour to a wondrous Teal, a colour in which I readily use within my collection.

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Wow!!! The Single Line Stitch looks fantastic, and the colour is incredible too. There was something so mesmeric about watching a machine copy something that I had created by my own hand. This sample only took 8minutes to create.

As I had around 20minutes left I decided to create a couple of extra samples choosing specifically a multi-tonal blue thread, which Maggie explained to me would offer a varied and dimensional effect, no two ever being the same.

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The end result was beautiful, reminding me of liquid ink. I have always loved the interplay between Blue and White but the subtle impact of thread and design together allows me to think of the incredible possibilities that could be created from such a simple process, idea, and concept.

 

COLLECTION PROGRESS

I won’t lie, this project has been extremely tough for me. It has opened up a new avenue in which I thought I would never feel comfortable to work in, but as the time has gone on I realise how incredibly valuable digital technology is to me as a Textile Designer. That’s not to say that at times I have felt like throwing my Mac through the window, but fortunately coffee has seen me through.

There have been elements of my collection that I knew I wanted to use but was either scared to or unsure of how to incorporate. I decided to just ignore the thoughts of failure, putting my procrastination to one side, and just have fun with my explorative studies.

I wanted to find out what worked and what didn’t work within my collection. Initially, some of the drawings, paintings, and motifs that looked the most obvious to include, at times would be the designs that would not offer an organic and fluid pattern. Take for example the little oil painting on canvas of Peonies I created; organic, rich and kinetic, but when trying to create a reflected pattern an obvious problem presented itself.

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If this pattern was to be repeated in a reflected layout the overall aesthetic of the pattern would form unsightly blocks of the flowers travelling horizontally and vertically. However, when forming this pattern I inadvertently created some incredible motifs which could be extracted via the PEN TOOL or POLYAGONAL TOOL and juxtaposed with other elements from a different design.

Next, I began working to resolve how I would incorporate my beautiful Cyanotype motifs into my collection. Looking back through my notes, and with the help of Charlie, I began to manipulate the image by removing the scanned background and creating a new coloured one. I then shrunk the original motif design via the FREE TRANSFORM TOOL and began creating both a standard and half-drop repeat pattern.

 

Although the colour is not which will be chosen from my collection I wanted a good initial contrast between the motif layer and that of the background. I am over the moon with this pattern, and will definitely be focusing it somewhere within my collection. My next step was to explore with scale and colour.

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I chose one of the cyanotype motifs specifically as I was drawn to the shape and style. The first sample I created using a green background with the blue motif, paying particular detail to a soft colour palette and manipulating the motif opacity down to 20%. I flipped the colour palette, although not exactly, to a blue background with a green motif layer, again reducing the opacity to 55% and manipulating the motif via the Hue/Saturation slider bar. The results are beautiful, and I would be proud to include them as part of my collection.

My next step to bringing all the design elements together will be to tackle ongoing issues I have in finalising my HERO Design. However, I now feel confident to undertake this task after the wonderful Intensive Digital Workshop run by Charlie and Matt on Thursday 24th May.

 

IS DIGITAL​ TECHNOLOGY MY KRYPTONITE?

Although I have really tried my best to learn the core structure of Photoshop, I have hit a brick wall. The anxiety at not having created any Collection Moodboards is creating a type of fog that I am finding nigh on impossible to break through. Seeing all of my classmates produce board after board of progressive collections has almost made me retreat inside myself; feelings of failure and inadequacy are now commonplace throughout my day. Is Digital Technology my Kryptonite?

I have decided to go back to some of the SKILLSHARE tutorials and try to learn from the ground up again. The first tutorial I am undertaking is ‘DIGITIZE YOUR WATERCOLOURS: Getting Started With Photoshop’ by Anne Butera.

Anne recommends the DPI to be set to 720, not 300. By scanning at a higher resolution the image can be scaled up without losing any of its integrity.

I also discovered the benefit of using the MARQUEE TOOL to crop the chosen scanned image. Previously I have had issues removing more than one type of background when manipulating the image in Photoshop but can now see the advantage of cropping down the design.

The LASSO Tool is also an invaluable tool in a Designers’ arsenal; its a great way to ‘cut out’ individual areas of a design/image.

The MAGIC WAND Tool is also a fantastic way to remove unwanted areas and keep specific elements of design. The ERASER TOOL can then be employed to remove all the small little discrepancies that the MAGIC WAND Tool had failed to remove. A fantastic way to make sure that there are no discrepancies left is to create a NEW FILL LAYER with SOLID COLOUR, ideally choosing Black. This new layer needs to go behind the design/motif to expose any marks etc that have been left. I then used the ERASER TOOL in Black to remove these elements. The NEW FILL LAYER can then be deleted!!!

Firstly I worked my way through Anne’s ‘How to Create A Repeat Pattern’, which simplified the process of creating a ‘perfect’ repeat tile. This tile could then be duplicated to create a perfect repeat. Yes, my repeat is rather simple, but I now understand the core ingredients of this wondrous technique.

 

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I then followed Annes’s instructions to scan other designs/motifs through the scanner @ 720dpi, used the MOVE TOOL to arrange in my desired location, and the FREE TRANSFORM TOOL to alter and set the scale.

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This was the result of incorporating some of my favourite elements from different designs and amalgamating them together. I am so proud of this design!!! I absolutely love the contrast of the B+W against the subtle yellow, orange, gold and green. Does it need a colour in the background? I did try to add a colour background, but unfortunately, there are gaps in the lines of the larger rose, meaning the background fill leaks into the rose. Going forward, I will endeavour to use the pen/brush tool to link up these open lines.

Thanks to the additional tutorial by Anne I was able to spend the day both learning and practising on Photoshop simultaneously. I won’t lie, the time it takes to properly edit and manipulate the images to my standard took hours!!! However, through trial and error, I was able to edit all my designs/motifs and create one document layered with each individual element.

ChosenDesignMotifs_May18

This was my first attempt at a preliminary idea for my HERY Design, albeit not quite finished, and I will admit I am rather proud of it. I will add many other motifs and design elements to this idea but first wanted to see if I actually could create a digital design.

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Next, I applied a little colour, which I think has brought the design to life!! This design has been completed on an A3 Print Document in Photoshop and will allow a perfect repeat as a tile. The results of my Market Research Survey have played a massive role in my design process, staying true to what my demographic wanted. The colours are specific to what my client base wants and the DESIGN and COLOUR have been purposefully chosen to create a SIMPLISTIC and GENDER NEUTRAL design.

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A half-drop pattern was added to the design, and I absolutely love it. I also have made a note of the colour of the background, specifically the numerical value. Making a note of the colour is extremely important, not only will it allow me to remember the specific colour, but will also allow me to create a colour bank for future projects. Watch this space to find out how the design progresses………

 

TIMOROUS BEASTIES INFLUENCE

If I were to choose my current favourite design company it would have to be TIMOROUS BEASTIES. How did I find out about this company? It was actually my Damask bedspread that led me to TB. I have always been fascinated by the symmetrical and repeat patterns of Damask wallpaper/fabric, so a quick search on the internet for Damask and Textile Design came up with the goldmine that is this innovative and forward-thinking design company.

Why do I love this company so much? Here are a few reasons why……

(Clockwise) Beasties, T. (2017) Damsel Damask, Omni Splat, Butterfly Blurr & Grand Blotch Damask. Available at: http://www.timorousbeasties.com/shop/wallcoverings/ (Accessed: 14 May 2018)

The contemporary use of design and colour is spectacular!!! Whilst undertaking this current project at Uni, I have begun to comprehend the subtle complexities of creating a repeat pattern for the Interiors market; something I am 100% sure I would want my own designs to be available for.

‘Our Product is highly crafted and designed. It’s always quality first’ Timorous Beasties

The sheer attention to detail resonates so strongly with my own core values as a designer. I think that having OCD has actually been both a help and hindrance within my creative practice; a help in being meticulous about what I include as part of my creative output, and hindrance due to my procrastinating and always trying to make sure everything is perfect.

The designs of Timorous Beasties have allowed me to accept that I am not perfect and that these imperfections can be utilised as a strength within my designs.

Having struggled with the repeat element and to incorporate all of my ideas I decided to undertake a back-to-to basics approach in creating ideas within my sketchbook, which will ultimately be transferred to Photoshop and manipulated digitally.

I am really proud of my ideas and will spend the next couple of days really honing the concept.

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A natural progression from a more traditional style of a hand-drawn collage bouquet to that of a reflected contemporary design, influenced by Timorous Beasties.

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Utilising my strengths, specifically observational studies fused with collage, painting and drawing, I began to expand my idea of using specific elements to amalgamate into a cohesive and fully rounded design. Yes, there are still areas I need to work into and complete, but I now have a strong concept of what my final collection will look like.

WATCH THIS SPACE…….