Using Layers to Bring Your Patterns to Life

Buyers are looking for the unique, the special, the spectacular. They want depth, dimension, and details. As designers, when we close our eyes and imagine our piece-de-resistance, we too envision work that is smart, rich, and has depth and dimension.

But all too often, our final design falls short of our vision, which is an extremely frustrating experience for any designer. No matter what you do, the final product just never looks as good as what you imagined. Before long you start doubting your work, trying too hard to make something happen, and eventually you end up losing interest in the entire project or you just push it aside, hoping that you’ll get back to it in the future. It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right guidance you can learn how to bring your vision to life quickly and easily.

One of my favorite methods for adding dimension to my work is to layer various motifs and patterns within my design. By combining and layering patterns this way I increase the visual interest and can make the patterns more appealing to the eye.

By copying your existing motifs and layering them below or on top of your main motifs, you can begin creating more dynamic, appealing patterns with little additional effort. Simple techniques like this one will enable you to begin bringing your vision to life quickly and easily.

Now it’s your turn!

In our FREE 5-Day Design Shake Up I’m sharing the exercises and practices I use to stay creative. Even when life is hectic and busy with work, children, errands and all the rest, the creative habits and techniques I’m sharing keep me inspired and creative. I know they will do the same for you! Get started here.




14 Comments on “Using Layers to Bring Your Patterns to Life

  1. This tutorial has some great tips, but what do you recommend as the quickest and easiest way to turn the improved, multi-layer print into repeat?

  2. Thank you, Michelle for the tutorial! I’ve got some designs I’m going to give a facelift to based on your tips.

  3. I second Caroline’s question. How do you then turn it into a repeat??

  4. I use my normal repeat process, but keep the layers so that I can go in and make adjustments to each layer in the repeat.

  5. Great little tutorial, will definitely give this ago. :) xxx

  6. Thanks Michelle for the tutorial – it’s easy to get bogged down when working in design isolation so I love watching these – they help me to focus when I’m a bit stuck.

  7. Hi Michelle!
    Thanks for the great tutorial :) what is your “normal” repeat process when using multi-layer?

  8. fantastic tutorial for textile design Michelle, thank you. Love how easy it is to work with the motifs when files are layered in AI. Thanks for the great tips :)

  9. Hi Marta! In Illustrator I use the transform tool. I cover this process in our Ultimate Guide to Repeats course in the Textile Design Lab!

  10. I frequently use layering when I am creating my fashion prints. The way you change the scale of the layers is a handy tip! thank you. I also like the hand-made hand-painted look of your elements.

  11. Thank you , great tips – your so ight the pattern often falls short ofthe one in your head!

  12. Thanks! I love starting my design process by painting or drawing which gives the motifs a hand crafted look.

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.