woman making a pattern design at her studio

The process of creating a surface pattern

How long does it take to design a graphic pattern design? Some projects are created in one day, while others require two weeks of a hard work. So what are the criteria that determine the time-consuming work on designs prepared for various types of printed surfaces?


Depending on the graphic technique used, the design time can vary greatly. This does not only apply to the division into hand painting and vector graphics, or those created on a tablet, but also to the whole spectrum of subtle differences in the graphic or painting method itself, which, depending on the creative process of the designer, requires other level of commitment input. Loosely laid paint spots are not the same as painting precisely defined elements, made of many layers, which may, among other things, require drying, each of the, separately in order to be able to proceed to the next stage of work. Scale also plays a huge role. The larger the print design and the elements on it, the greater the attention to detail of the project should be. It is not only about the quality of the scan of the original illustration, but about enlarging it, e.g. to the scale of a big-format wall sticker or wallpaper, that the painting would still be interesting and full of details waiting to be discovered by the final recipient.

desk with paint and drawings
The process of creating surface pattern design in the Mona Tomassi Studio.

Number of elements

A pattern consisting of three simple elements repeated multiple times, not only requires less time to prepare the illustration, but also the process of arranging the pattern itself in the graphic programs will be much faster. So if you are looking for a unique hand-painted story to decorate your products, please note that this process may take several days. Patterns with a lot of light between elements with symbolically marked distinguishing features are created much faster than projects whose components are painted with great attention to every detail, and the final effect is to create a coherent, dense and meaningful story, as in the case of educational patterns for kids.

Preparations and corrections

You cannot forget about the time needed to adapt the finished pattern to the requirements of the final product on which the project will be printed. Details of the scale, arrangement of elements and color, the so-called final touches, depend not only on the imagination of the designer, but also on the technical requirements of the product and the customer's marketing vision, i.e. the brand that sells textiles, paper or ceramics. The more information is established at the beginning of the cooperation, the more efficiently this final stage will be. The same applies to the very introduction to the project, i.e. gathering inspiration, searching for the perfect graphic style and color palette. A well-prepared brief containing the basic guidelines for the designer can greatly speed up this stage of work. It is worth considering: what theme of the pattern and colors suit my brand, will they complement the current assortment, will it set a new aesthetic direction for the brand, or maybe when researching the market you decide to experiment and want to surprise your regular customers? These determinants should give a clear design direction, and the rest of the details will be taken care of by the designer.

designer painting on paper with watercolours

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