Essential Guide to Create a Surface Pattern Design

Created by Mayya Mikhaleva

Surface pattern design is a form of art created and designed to be applied to the surface of a particular product. Products usually vary from homeware products, clothing, wallpaper, packaging, prints, and many more. It has grown rapidly because more people have realized how huge a pattern design could impact a certain product.

How to Become a Great Surface Pattern Designer

To become a surface pattern designer, it is important to be both creative and experimental. A pattern designer's job is not limited to create a pattern design for textiles or prints. They have to think about how a certain pattern could suit a particular product and create an outstanding selling point. Here are several tips that could guide you to become a great surface pattern designer:

1.Take Inspirations from Your Surrounding

One of the most common mistakes people make when creating a pattern design is that they jump in without gathering enough references or inspirations for the surface pattern. Designers often feel intimidated by the "blank page," which makes them unable to expand their idea freely.

Paying attention to your surroundings might help to gather ideas before jumping into designing. Observe the nature around you and find something unique or beautiful that might inspire your design.

A pattern of leaves, a beautiful color combination of the brick, the ray of sunshine, those things could help to be your inspiration. Many successful designers take inspiration from nature to apply them to their designs.

Created by Ira Grishanova

2.Make Your Inspiration Board

It is very recommended to gather as many ideas and inspirations and make an inspiration board. It might not only be in the form of a "board". Designers could also use anything available to attach multiple ideas. Collecting photographs, color samples, or any object that inspires you could make the designing process easier.

This inspiration will later be used as a guide in designing to fit the previously imagined theme. If you don't want to complicate yourself, there are tons of apps that offer instant inspiration for boards. Pinterest is one of them. You can search up any inspirations desired and directly put them in a "board" in just one app.

3. Sketch or Map Your Ideas

Surface pattern design is usually done in digital software, whether it's for the designing or sketching process. However, what many designers don't realize is that trying to formulate ideas with pencil and paper is much faster than using digital applications.

Designers can waste hours working on a rough design if they only use digital applications without a pencil. Doesn't matter about your drawing skills. Exploring designs with pencil and paper will put in much more flexibility in the design process.

If you are not familiar with sketching your design ideas, making a mind map might be the best alternative. Creating a mind map will help designers develop ideas according to the inspiration and references that have previously been made.

After drawing or making a concept map, make sure you already know where the design or concept is going. If you are already sure of at least the rough idea, you could consider moving over to your preferred design software.

4.Choose the Right Color Palette

The color you choose in your surface pattern design determines the emotions, the theme, and the vibe of your design. If you want your pattern to feel more bold and fun, choose bright pops of color. Or, if you aim for a more moody or elegant pattern, the darker and deeper color might be the best choice.

Trying to work with less color will simplify and create a more elegant vibe for your design. Every brand and product has its characteristics and requirement that could showcase its best color to start from.

If you are struggling to find a suitable and unique color palette, you could take inspiration from pictures or photographs that you find anywhere on the internet. Use the eyedrop tool to scan the color, then apply it to your design.

Or another alternative that you could try is to use a color palette generator website. There are tons of websites that provide you with this service. Each website has its specialty. Find the most suitable website for you and make it your best tool for designing.

Created by Marka Network

5.Focus on the Theme and Decision that You Have Made

Most designers, especially beginners, are easier to get distracted when finding new inspiration that looks more appealing than the design idea that was previously planned. Don't worry; it is commonly happening. Our minds are constantly trying to find the best ideas and inspiration even though we previously made a sketch or design mind map. That might be good for some cases, but in general, those kinds of thoughts could prevent you from actually working and making a design. There will be a lot of design ideas that distract you, but you have to believe in the sketch or ideas that you have made.

Try to focus and shut the distraction when you are already sure about the sketch that you have made. This way, the design process will be much quicker and more effective rather than keep adding ideas and new themes to your design.

Created by Firas Said

6. Upcycle Your Previous Works

Sometimes it can take a long time to find a new design. Instead of spending a lot of time looking for new designs, try to "reuse" old ideas or designs that have already been created.

Remodel the design to fit with the design trend that is currenlty popular. For example, vintage patterns and psychedelic patterns are currently selling in the market trend. You can combine your previous work and those trends to create a brand new design that people will like.

But make sure your new design is unique, fresh, and original. Clients or your audience certainly won't like similar and boring designs. But don't limit your design just based on the trend. Observe and take examples from the trend, and still try to break through and make your own statement.

Created by Xuân Lam

7. Keep the Pattern Design Simple

The constant pressure to create outstanding and go crazy with your design could make the designer stressed out before creating the design. Surface pattern design doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it is better to just go with a simple design.

Simplicity has become a new trend in these past years as minimalism design has grown its popularity. Start on simple ideas and work along the way with them. If you feel that your pattern design is too simple, then add new elements to it.

However, it is important to also consider the scale of the products where pattern design will be applied. If the product is on a large scale like wallpaper, colorful patterns might be the answer to create a persona in the room. But if the product is considered small, such as a smartphone case or book cover, choosing simple patterns will be better.

Created by Sunda Studio

8. Altering the Repeat Technique

Surface pattern design is mainly focused on creating a pattern by repeating elements in a continuous manner all over the surface. The way an element repeated in the design could change the whole look of the particular product.

The proportions or the size of the elements is one of many important factors that designers commonly underestimate. If your design does not feel quite right, changing the repeat type might be the quickest solution instead of changing the pattern design elements.

There are many repeat techniques that designers could use in their designs. From the full drop pattern, brick pattern, tossed pattern, and more, the possibility for your designs is endless.

The repetitive styling of a pattern could also change the way people see your design. For instance, full drop patterns might be suitable for formal pattern design like textile patterns. When on the other hand, a tossed pattern could make your design seem fun.

Created by Claire Hartley

9. Put Personality and Statement in Your Design

Every designer has their own uniqueness that makes them stand out more than other designers. It is very important to find the right style to make you stand out as a pattern artist. That way, people will easily recognize your design.

For instance, you like to add a natural touch to your design. Make it your specialization and your branding. The clearer your design style is, the easier it will be for you to attract suitable clients with the same interest as you.

How to Handle Client for a Surface Pattern Design Project
The surface pattern design also relies so much on the client's interest. Clients will determine what kind of theme and purpose will be applied to their product. This makes it very important to be able to find a client that suitable for your specialty.

Before jumping into the design process, make sure you know what your client aims for. What kind of theme do they want to use? What is the purpose or meaning of the design that they want? This question needs to be asked to your client first before jumping into the designs.

Created by Kladi Printmysoul

Tips to Handle Client

It is not always easy to deal with a graphic design client, especially within a surface pattern design project. Most of them do not even know what they aim for the design. While some of the clients will allow you to explore your ideas, it could sometimes lead to a designer's disaster. Here are some of the tips for a designer to handle and deal with clients:

1. Don't Accept the Job Before the Instructions are Clear

Like was previously said, make sure you always know what the desired design of your client is. Know what your client wants you to work on and how much they want to be included in the designing process later.

Even if they allow you to use your own ideas without any of their interference, give them several options of samples and let them choose. That way, you could prevent unnecessary revision that wastes your time.

Created by Sofia Froeder

2.Prepare for Unexpected Changes in the Future

There are many factors that could change the circumstances of the project. As a designer, you have to prepare for it. You have to consider including certain terms in your contract with your client to prevent things that will be unfair to you.

For example, you could implement certain terms if the client may request extra changes or edits. You could stretch the timeline and adjust for the extra costs. Be very careful as most clients do not realize how much work it took for a simple change.

It is normal for a client to make a small revision and changes, but you need to draw the line on major changes that were never agreed upon in the discussion. By providing them detailed policy and stating additional fees for changes, you can prevent a certain situation from happening.

3.Educate the Client about the Design Process

Many clients might set unrealistic deadlines for the project. It is your right to communicate with them and negotiate the deadline. Most of the clients develop a misconception about how designing works. Especially within the surface pattern design industry, some misconceptions make them think it is easy to create a pattern just because it is only repeating elements when the fact is not.

Take your time to explain to them how complex your designing process is. Every designer has capability in terms of the deadline of a project. This discussion is important to prevent future friction with your client.

4.Communicate Well with Your Client

When designing a project, one of the most important things is to have good and clear communication with your client. Communicate every confusion or expectation that both sides hold.

Do not be afraid to explain your condition and needs in the project to your client. This way, both client and you could make the designing process more effective, and the project will take less time to be cleared.

5.Don't Take Things Personally

Do not be quickly offended by the criticism or something that your client says about you. Let them explain their view about your design and take it as constructive for your next project.

As a designer, sometimes we feel a little too sensitive about the work that we made. However, as a good designer, you need to mind that through logical criticism. If a client told you how they are unhappy with the outcome, remember that they are trying to communicate to you about the issue, and you need to solve it.


Those are several tips that could guide you to become a greater pattern designer. All of the tips above are the essential tips that you could consider taking for deeper knowledge about the creative industry. We hope these tips could help you to create a greater surface pattern design for your future projects. You can share your thoughts or ask questions regarding pattern design in the section below. Cheers!

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