Designing Repeat Patterns by Hand & Digitally


Digital Art Workshop | Winter 20-21 (2021-5796)

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Ages: 13+
Saturday, 12:00 – 3:00 pm
April 24, 2021 (1 day)
Location: Drake House – Ackerman Art Room

Instructor: Katherine Fultz

Learn how to create repeating patterns for fabric, stationery, clothing, and more! We’ll start off by identifying different styles of repeating patterns and learning to see how the puzzle pieces fit together in the whole of a design. Then we’ll try our hand at making our own repeats– by hand! You’ll learn how to transfer your repeating sketch onto a lino block, carve the block, and print your pattern as a tile on a tea towel. Then, we’ll explore how to use digital tools on the iPad to take your pattern to the next level. We’ll finish up by uploading our finished digital repeat tiles to print-on-demand websites, where you have the option of ordering a finished product with your custom design.

You’ll leave this workshop with both a tea towel hand- printed with your pattern, and a digital repeat tile to use in future projects. Some familiarity with drawing on the iPad is helpful, but not required. Students who have completed my Introduction to Digital Art workshop will be able to add more complex details to their digital repeat tiles.



— identify repeat tiles in existing textiles and other surface designs

— identify different styles of repeat tile (brick, half-drop) and pattern construction

— create a hand-drawn repeating pattern tile that connects on all four sides

— transfer the sketched pattern onto a lino block, carve and print the lino block in repeat on fabric

— digitally trace the sketched pattern on the iPad, use snapping tools in Procreate to complete a finished digital repeat tile

— adjust the resolution of the digital tile, export it into an appropriate file format, and upload it to Spoonflower (or RedBubble, or Society6) for printing



Students will leave class with two finished projects: a hand-printed tea towel, and a digital pattern file that they can upload to print-on demand sites to create a variety of products. We will complete three activities to build the patterns we’ll use on these two projects. First, we will learn how to create a simple repeating pattern using pencil and paper, and different techniques to match the 2 or 4 sides of the tile. Then, we will take our hand-drawn patterns and transfer them to lino blocks, which we will carve and print in repeat on tea towels. Finally, we will photograph our hand-drawn patterns with the iPads and trace them in the Procreate app. We will learn how to use the built-in tools in Procreate to make a digital pattern tile to upload to print-on-demand sites or use in other digital applications.



  • 20-minute lecture presentation on where repeat patterns are found, different styles of repeats, and different techniques for combining elements in a repeating design. Students will practice finding the repeating pattern in pre-made designs, including on fabric and in tiles.
  • Students will make 2 hand-drawn patterns with pencil and paper. The first will repeat only on top and bottom (a vertical stripe), the second will be a simple geometric pattern that repeats on all four sides. We’ll finish up the hand-drawn repeats by tracing them onto a clean sheet of paper so that cut lines are not visible.
  • Students will transfer their final patterns onto lino blocks, and carve the blocks. We’ll go over techniques for safe and effective carving, including short, shallow cuts away from the body! We’ll talk about positive and negative space, and how to picture the final product as you’re carving.
  • We’ll print the blocks on tea towels! We’ll go over how to create mono-color and multi-color prints, how to apply pressure to get even prints, and how to register the blocks for repeat, nearly-seamless prints.
  • Students will photograph their initial hand-drawn sketches with the iPads, and import them into Procreate. We will discuss the different built-in tools Procreate has to create and proof your repeat tile. Students will have the opportunity to digitally add color and texture to their initial sketches, creating a polished digital repeat tile.
  • Students will export their tiles as PNG files and upload to Spoonflower or another print-on-demand site of their choice.


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