I wanted to start documenting my observations and discoveries from illustrating and design. I’ve encountered quite a few obstacles when creating something with the development intention being for textiles, and so I’ve had to adapt my methods in some ways for this. And then, sometimes my influences just change, methods evolve, and I learn different techniques and ways to make what I do more efficient. In fact, my overarching goal as a designer is to constantly be changing and bettering not only my end results, but also how I do things. I suppose that’s not really a goal, since (I hope) there’s not a real, tangible end to it, but it’s a core value that I believe in striving for constantly in my work. I love experimenting with different mediums and learning whatever I can to help my processes (hello Procreate!), and this blog is as much for me to look back and reflect on what I’ve done, learned, and how I can do better.
So, with that intro to What In The Heck This Blog Is For out of the way, let’s talk details!
I find that one of the more challenging parts of my current job designing textiles is that I can’t be too detailed. Little touches and nuances are what I believe make illustrations and designs come alive. However, in a textile setting, tiny details aren’t always practical. This can be because of the higher cost of embroidery (yay budgets! /s), quality control for alignment, screens in production not having a small enough mesh size, photography for marketing being unable to show closeups due to layout constraints, or any other number of things. To combat this issue, I’ve employed two methods:
Start with a detailed illustration and boil it down. This method works best when I’m doing something starting with Adobe Draw. Because the illustrations are already vectors, it’s much easier to move them around and delete them. I like to put as much detail in an illustration as I can, because I can look at the big picture, and start taking away all the really little things while achieving the aesthetic I’m going for in the long run. It’s a little extra work, but I find that it goes a long way. I also save my work in different versions along the way, so if there’s ever anything I want to use my super detailed elements for later on, they’re already done!
Draw with fatter lines. Now, I don’t mean I’m illustrating with a 10 pt stroke around everything, or that I’m painting and drawing everything with a flat brush and sharpie. I just make everything a teeeeeny bit thicker. This forces me to leave out those extra three lines I would have otherwise tried to squeeze in a leaf, or stops me from adding in those extra five flowers that would have come out too blobby when printed or embroidered. This is a technique that I really like because it’s a built in constraint that I don’t have to think about, and I use it most when drawing plants.
This was a design created for a printed towel. I managed to get away with a lot of little line and dot details on the plants because it was simply a matter of background showing through the details rather than another color being printed in those lines and dots. This made the production quality stay crisp and clean with no alignment issues. The added distressed detail also helped add to the overall aesthetic, and was a built-in safeguard for any color fall-out.
For an embellished version of one of the cacti, I had to remove some of the details from the original print for the embroidery and appliqué to look good post-production. To cut down on embroidery stitches, I removed some of the spikes and modified the flower to have blocks of color instead of skinny lines. The distressing was also removed.
Anyway, there are several reasons why I’ll boil down details or purposely design with a thicker hand. I used to be sad about saying goodbye to itty bitty details, but in the end, it saves so much time when going through samples to see what I need to fix, etc.