Weekly musings #5

Happy Sunday, pattern lovers! Summer has returned to the UK which has meant I’ve not been as productive as I would have liked. The latest Spoonflower challenge was ‘moths’ and I really wanted to enter but didn’t get my entry finished in time. I have read that it is important to ensure that you regularly (weekly, at least) put designs on sites for sale, in order to increase your exposure. However, it’s also important to not compromise on the quality of the work produced. I’m looking into time-saving tricks and figuring out which steps of Adobe Illustrator can be scripted, in order to speed up the design process. Do you use any time-saving scripts for your design work?

I have been getting outside for walks this week and sketching and painting. The moth design (name as yet undecided) incorporates pen and pencil drawings from my sketchbook.

Tip of the week

To get these sketches into Adobe Illustrator, I do the following:

  1. Use your home printer to scan the image
    • An alternative is to take a good quality photo, ideally in natural daylight
    • The examples above are all photos, not scans
  2. Save the image to a folder on your computer
    • When it’s a photo from my phone, I usually send it via BlueTooth to my laptop (Windows) where it’s stored in “BlueTooth Folder”
  3. Open Adobe Illustrator and start a new document
    • Go to File | New… or press CTRL+N (Windows) or CMD+N (Mac)
  4. In the “New Document” select any ‘Preset’ and change the settings to get a 1200-by-1200px document at 300dpi
    • Settings in Adobe Illustrator for a new document at 1200-by-1200 pixels with 300 ppi
  5. Click “Create”
  6. Place the image (your scan or photograph) on the artboard
    • Go to File | Place … or CTRL+SHIFT+P (Windows) or SHIFT+CMD+P (Mac)
    • Find the image and double-click it (or select the “Open” button)
      • The mouse cursor will show the image
    • Click and drag a rectangle on the artboard – the photo will appear when you release the mouse button
  7. Scale the picture by pressing “S” and dragging the edges or corners (“anchors”) until it fits

Now you have an image on your artboard to you can manually trace, trace with the “Image Trace” function, or use as the basis of a colour palette.


In place of a podcast, I have a mini-series to recommend to you. Covering 5 decades of the lives of choreographer Bob Fosse and his wife and creative collaborator Broadway star, Gwen Verdon, Fosse/Verdon is an 8-part drama series. The costume designer, Michelle Toth, paid meticulous attention to the historical detail in the costumes which was a challenge, in account of the length of time the programme covers. Their daughter Nicole Fosse was an executive producer on the series, giving access to Verdon’s wardrobe as well as to memories of life with her parents. An in-depth interview with Toth can be read here, where she talks about the particular difficulties involved, including sourcing 1970s leotards!


Which leads me nicely onto the pattern theme of week 5: Dance.

Clockwise from left:

A traditional ballerina design from Olga Berlet on Redbubble.

This single motif is unusual from Danceink also on Redbubble.

This is such a fun design, by Tangerine-Tane on Society6 and incorporates this week’s theme and my first post.

Dancing on a thread by Illustrative Images is almost an abstract design and I like the movement in this.

And last but not least, we have Hula Dancers by Tasiania on Spoonflower.


I have been doing a painting-a-day challenge for the last couple of weeks and found a great YouTube tutorial from Heartmade for vectorising watercolour paintings. This is perfect if you want to have a break from digital design and get out your watercolour paints but still be able to transform that design from paper to vector.

All the best for your week ahead!

1 thought on “Weekly musings #5”

  1. Pingback: Weekly musings #6 – Calamity Katie Designs

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