Does mastering the art of seamless repeats feel like the pinnacle of your surface design journey? We’ve got a not-so-secret truth to tell you—they’re easier than you might think! Spoonflower designer Anda Corrie is demystifying seamless repeats using the budget-friendly (just $9.99!) design tool, Procreate®, and her trusty iPad. With her helpful tutorial, you’ll be able to design fabric, wallpaper and even your own custom bedding in no time.
Anda: Ever since I discovered the drawing app Procreate, I have been designing fabric almost entirely digitally. In fact, I have been designing fabric from my couch, and can have it completely uploaded to Spoonflower and in the mail without getting up at all ever (except to refill my coffee).
But, like most everyone creating fabric on their iPads while sitting on their sofas, at first I struggled to create repeating patterns without errors. Procreate had no easy tool for offsetting a design like I was used to. Nearly a year in I was still using a very precise method I like to call “eyeballing it” — but as you can probably guess, all my finished fabric had pixel lines and I was wasting a ton of time. And proofs.
Three years later and Procreate still doesn’t have an offset feature. However, a recent update included a new feature called “snapping” which makes the process a lot easier to manage. The method below will walk you through the steps allowing you to create seamless repeating designs, while cozily ensconced in a throw blanket the entire time. Enjoy!
How To Create A Seamless Repeat Design
1. Create a New Canvas
I almost always work in an 8 x 8″ square at 300 dpi when designing on the iPad. I like this size because 8 x 8″ is the size of a Spoonflower swatch, but at 300 dpi I have more options for adjusting the scale of my design.
2. Draw Within the Canvas
To keep things simple, don’t let any of your work run off the sides—keep everything within the canvas borders. Once your canvas is full of lovely drawings, choose a large brush and slide the brush’s opacity down to around 50%.
3. Mark the Corners
Draw dots in every corner of your canvas, being very careful to not touch or overlap any of the elements in your drawing. Next, open the Layers panel, swipe left on your layer, and select Duplicate (note for artists working with multiple layers: first, combine your layers into a group, then select and duplicate the group).
4. Position the Layers
With one layer selected, click the Transform tool at the top left. At the bottom left, turn on Snapping and Magnetics. Then move the selected art up and off the canvas until you see yellow guides appear vertically, horizontally, and along both sides. Half your image will disappear off the canvas. Deselect only once you can see all the guidelines. All of them!
5. Test the Snapping
Now select the second layer, click Transform, and move it the opposite way (in this case, down), until you see the yellow and blue guides, then deselect. The dots you’ve added in the corners will now be meeting neatly on opposite sides of the canvas. Double-check that it worked by zooming in to take a closer look at those dots. They should be touching cleanly—if you see a dark line or a white line where the dots meet, your image hasn’t snapped correctly. Undo with a two-finger tap and try again. You may also want to check all four sides of your canvas for white edges where the image may have not snapped to the side properly as well.
6. Merge Your Layers
Merge your two layers together. If you are working with two groups of many layers, you will have to drag them out of the groups and merge them one by one. Draw in the empty spaces and avoid the edges of the canvas.
7. Continue Positioning
Now, repeat steps 3-6, but this time drag the layers to the left or right. Remember to check that everything snapped correctly by looking for overlapping areas in your dots and for white edges on the canvas. Draw as much as you like in these empty spaces.
8. Test Your Repeat
As I work, I frequently check the repeat by exporting it to an app that lets me quickly tile 4 or 8 squares together. I use Layout from Instagram for this. Click Share in the tool panel and select JPG and save locally to your Images folder. Leave your canvas open in Procreate and open Layout, then tile away! You can then go back to your Procreate window and make adjustments if something isn’t working.
9. Upload the Finished Design
Once you are happy with your design, go ahead and just upload it to Spoonflower from your device! Choose Photo Library from the drop down and find the tile in your photos. Once uploaded, you can adjust the size, give it a title, and order a swatch all from your couch!
All done! See how easy? Here are some more hand-drawn digital designs I’ve made using this method.
Drawing apps are a fun and inexpensive way to get super addicted to surface design. I love seeing others’ work on Instagram, so comment @andacorrie if you design something using this technique!
Anda Lewis Corrie is an American illustrator, designer and artist living in Germany with her little family. She likes sharing ideas, seasonal cocktails, and drawing smiles on everything.