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Developing a New Collection Part 3 – Vectorising artwork and creating patterns

If you’ve been following me in this journey, you will know I have been struggling with how to combine my art (painting) work and my design work (pattern making), because at the moment they are worlds apart. Which might be ok in the world of art and design, but I’m learning as I go and bear with me while I work out if this is what I want to do.

So as an experiment in process and thinking, I thought I would have a go at using the same theme to develop both the artwork and the patterns. In doing this I want to achieve two main things. Firstly, I want to develop a more consistent style so that each of these “artistic endeavours” can be recognised as my unique work. My style if you like. Secondly, I am interested in not having to double think the process. Using the same theme or ideas as the source of inspiration for both the paintings and the patterns in this way should (in theory) give me a good grounding to start, develop and work through using a consistent approach.

Last week and the week before I was exploring and working through the first ideas for this which have been inspired by what I found in my garden – a lovely fresh branch of limes and lime leaves. In Part 1 I created a watercolour painting of the limes. And in Part 2 I used this painting as the source of inspiration for a palette of colours, descriptive words, and a series of thumbnail sketches.

This week, has been pretty busy for me as I used the painting and then the thumbnails to design a collection of patterns.

I started with the actual lime watercolour painting and scanned this into Adobe Illustrator, where I vectorised the image, cleaned it up and fixed up some of the shading. I had to limit the colours so that I could leave some room for light colours, complimentary colours and the dark colours for my pattern collection. I was aiming for the pattern collection to have between 18-20 colours maximum. Sounds like a lot of colours anyway, but is actually a much smaller number than would naturally be there using the full scan. When you vectorise watercolour artwork , the natural colour graduation effect that the paint and paper combination produce, results in a huge number of colours – where each gradation of the colour from dark to light results in a huge number of colours and a very large file. This is a bit heavy on memory and slows down the digital rendering. Limiting the colours when I scan the artwork into the computer will take out some of that graduation of colour, but makes it easier to use.

On the far left is the scan during the vectorisation process. You can see the process picks up each individual variation in the colour. so these light blue area are the original background. I took these away in the digital image which you can see below.

In the middle is the original artwork and the digital art print is shown on the right. I am happy with the result and I don’t think I lost too much in the digitisation.

I used this new digital artwork to then make a few patterns which you can see below as patterns 5, 6, 7 with 3, 8 and 16 as variations on the theme.

And when I started using the thumbnail sketches as ideas to expand on the lime theme, well, I ended up with about 16 or more ideas. Here is a selection off 20 patterns together.

Now, I need to work on the paintings - hopefully my thinking works out and I can paint a few good paintings from these ideas. I have found my colours and am currently working on the sketch studies. But have to admit that I have been a bit hesitant about painting this theme as I don’t want it to be too representational. Anyway, I’ll give it a go, and if it’s awful, I will just paint over it and try again. So wish me luck.

Follow along with me as I paint the paintings now. I will post some progress shots.

Until next time, stay safe and well.

Narelle xx

This blog is by Narelle Callen, of The Callen Collective. You can find more artwork at

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