Download a copy of this assignment here.


Our last assignment had us working on lots of unrelated small pieces. Now we’ll focus on maintaining a similar level of production towards a single product: the repeating pattern. You’ll create original imagery, arrange and color it to produce a repeating unit, and then repeat and apply that unit to create believable mock-ups. Please work with the software with which you are most comfortable: there are two videos demonstrating creating patterns with Illustrator or Photoshop.

A note about vocabulary: Surface design is a broad term that includes any number of methods for manipulating fabric to create imagery. A repeating pattern like you’re creating is an example of surface design, but not all surface design is repeating patterns. For example, batik and shibori are two dyeing methods that can produce non-repeating surface designs.


  • to produce a cohesive set of at least two distinct-but-related repeating patterns
  • to present those patterns professionally with mock ups in an appropriate context
  • to practice good file management as it relates to creative work
  • to build and share a digital mood board as a visual representation of your thinking

What You’ll Create:

  • A digital mood board indicating the direction in which you’re headed, 8.5” x 11”
  • Two digital swatches showing the unit of your pattern, minimum 5” x 5” at 300 ppi, turned in to me as jpegs or tiffs
  • A mock-up image of your patterns overlaid on products that make sense for your intended audience
  • A final post about the project posted to our class site discussing your process and describing the final patterns and their intended audience, categorized as “final work


2/19, T – Write and post: Explain where you keep inspiring images and how you keep them organized. Show examples! Please share any websites or habits you find helpful when trying to find reference images and inspiration. Find and post: a repeating pattern from your daily life and tell us where you encounter it and what you like about it. Watch both: Introduction to Designing Repeat Patterns in Illustrator and Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand-Drawn Wallpaper
2/21, R – Post: Written description of your mood board and who you imagine to be the intended audience of your pattern. Create and post: Mood board from your research, minimum 11″ x 8.5″, citing images or explaining themes as necessary (use your best judgement). You can use the one Elizabeth Owen supplies or create your own. Read: How to Keep Your Design Files Neat and Tidy

2/26, R – Read up on: Lauren Minco Lowen’s work and come up with at least 3 thoughtful questions to ask her. Share: What kind of feedback you’d like from your classmates on your in-progress work. Post to slack: work-in-progress drawings of singular elements for your pattern, any motifs you’ve assembled, etc. (Optional: share your work-in-progress on our class site under that category.)
2/28, R – Give: Feedback to your classmates on their work-in-progress. In the studio: work, work, work.

3/5, T – Write and post: some advertising copy (i.e. text) describing your pattern posted to its intended audience. Tell us who that audience is. Post: an update with one of your patterns, ideally the “hero.” Read both: How to Use a Mockup Template in 3 Easy Steps and Creating Product Mockups – Making the Mockup.
3/7, R – Work, work, work. Seek help as you need it, from me and your classmates.

3/12, T – Post to class site: both swatches as well as final patterns in context (i.e. on a mockup) with text explanation. Email: Completed Self-Guided Rubric to Professor Ries.
3/14, R – Meeting in the Drawing Studio

Potentially useful sites for mockup blanks:

Square Pillow Mockup
Classic PSD Notebook Mockup Vol 2
Apron MockUp PSD