Pattern + text design for tote bag or t-shirts




Hi, I'm JudithzzYuko, a graphic designer and professional illustrator for almost ten years. In the world of design I feel a predilection for typographic compositions and vectors, but as for illustration I prefer more realistic art, if you want to take a look at what I do you can do it on Instagram:



With this tutorial we will learn how to design a pattern or pattern with the implementation of a text to use in tote bags, t-shirts or any other object we want.

You should keep in mind that I am using the English version of the software and that both the captures and the names are those of this version.


1. Choice of subject

If we work under order, we will already have a theme that will be established by our client, in case it is our choice, either as our own project or to practice we must choose the theme that we want to use in our design.

If we don't know what to do about our design, we can always use resources like an “art prompt generator” that gives us options and inspires us to find the appropriate theme.

In our case we have decided to create tote bags inspired by dinosaurs.

We will use both images of the dinosarurs themselves, their different and main known species, as well as of the flora or other elements that we can relate to this theme.


2. Choice of style and phrase + Moodboard

It is always important to know what we want to convey through our design. If we want a more serious design, we must use a more realistic illustration, perhaps even inspired by biology books or antique prints. With less saturated colors, more precise and fine lines and with much detail.

If on the contrary we want something more relaxed or perhaps focused on a more childish audience, we will use a style much closer to cartoons, with thicker lines, pastel colors and drawings where we will abstract the main characteristics of the characters to illustrate and exaggerate proper way them.


If we do not know exactly what style to follow it is always necessary to do a previous search to get an idea about it.

When we have several images that we like, the right thing is to create a Moodboard.

A Moodboard is the collection of images that inspire and suggest us when designing our project. Whether in style, color palettes or design structure.

We will help Pinterest and create a board where we will be adding all those images that may be useful.



Finally, and after our search we have decided to make a more “kawaii” style.

The phrase or word that accompanies our pattern has to be consistent, not only with the theme, but also with the style we have chosen.

In our case, having chosen a nicer style, we will also choose a text that suits these characteristics. For this we will use an onomatopoeia, in this case "RAWR", which is related to this type of animal in a comic environment.


3. Structure and sketches

To know how we should build our pattern, the first thing we should know is how we want our overall design to be.

In this specific case we will focus on the design of a tote bag or cloth bag, so we will base our main design on it although later it can be used and modified, if necessary, to be used on other supports.


The size of a cloth bag may vary, but so that this does not affect us too much, we will use standard measures of 36cm by 36 cm, when using square measurements then it will be easier for us to modify our design if we want to move it to a different size.

If you already have a specific bag you can directly use the measures of it.

The total space of the bag is not usually printable so we will work with a margin of one centimeter, but if you have already found a place where your design is printed you should inform yourself about the printable surface before starting to design. If it is a project that you only intend to present digitally, we will ignore that and simply use that centimeter of margin mentioned above.

With the size already decided, we can start with our sketches. We will start with the structure we want our design to have, remembering that it must have at least two elements, the pattern and the text, we will add a color pill after the text that may have some form related to the pattern or simply a geometric figure.


We will choose the first sketch, since the text and the pattern have a very similar importance and there is no decompensation.


Now that we know approximately how our design will be, we can start by sketching the pattern.

We will use five or six dinosaurs that are easily recognizable and we will add other elements such as plants, eggs or footprints to fill the pattern and that there are not too empty spaces.


It does not matter if it is not perfect, once we start making the final version of the pattern we can polish the details that do not convince us at all.

To make the sketch a specific measure is not necessary, the only thing to keep in mind is that the design we make will be repeated throughout the available space of our bag and therefore the ideal is to use square measurements.


When we have both the pattern sketch and the complete design, we can look for a color palette.



4. Color palette

Thanks to our Moodboard it will be much easier to choose colors for this design. It will depend a lot on the style we have chosen and our personal preferences.

Having made some quite childish illustrations we could use a variety of pastel colors, however the drawing style we have chosen is line, so our pattern will only have two colors; the black, which we will use for most of the elements, and the pastel pink, which we will simply use for small details.

Both the text and the color pill that will take behind will have variants of these colors since we will bet on a simple design.



When we have our design almost finished we can modify if we want the color palette or add some new color, but to start and have a clear reference of what we want to do we will use these colors.



5. Pattern creation / stamping

Now that we have all the necessary elements to create our design, we will proceed to the final creation of the pattern.


We will create a new document, using Command + N of 35cm x 35cm as indicated above. We must ensure that the measurements are in centimeters. We will use a resolution of 300dpi in case we want to print our project in a bag, if we are sure that we will only use this pattern in a digital environment we can use a resolution of 150dpi or even 72dpi, although personally I prefer not to lose 150dpi until the file attached in jpg is not saved as a copy.



As we said before, if your intention is to print the tote bag it will be necessary to change the color mode from RGB to CMYK, you can do it before saving the document for printing but keep in mind that the colors will change.

To make this change you must go to [View] - [Color profile] - [Preview settings].


When the window appears we will select the basic CMYK profile from the drop-down list.



Having already the canvas on which we are going to draw, we will paste in a new layer our sketch, lowering the opacity to 50%, and we will begin to draw the drawings, improving and modifying the parts that we want in a new layer by means of the panel icon [ Layer] or through the [Layer] menu - [New Raster Layer].



We will use an oil brush since our design requires clear lines, without too many modulations or discontinuity.

To choose this brush we will go to the left panel [Brush] and choose from the [Thick Paint] tab the brush that suits us, in this case [Oil paint].



If we want to play with the properties of the brush and try different variants we can modify them in the lower panel [Tool Property], if not, the default properties will be more than adequate.



Once we have plotted our pattern in a new layer, we will have something like that.



We have left several blank spaces since in the next step we will fix that by creating the complete pattern.


So that it does not seem that the pattern is a simple copy / paste, we will make the panels that compose it to relate to each other, that is, creating drawings that go from one edge to another, both on the sides and up and down.

We will do that as follows.



We will enlarge the image until above and below our drawing is cut by the edges.



Once we expand the drawing as in the previous image until part of it is outside the canvas, we will have something similar to the following image.



When we have our drawing so we will select the entire canvas using Command + A, then we will cut with Command + X and paste with Command + V, which will create a new layer with the selection of the interior of the canvas and a layer, the previous one, in the Everything that is outside the canvas remains. With [Move Layer] in the panels on the left or the “K” key, selecting the first layer in which there seems to be nothing, we will use the arrow keys until the parts that were left out are visible again.



First we will duplicate the layer we will use it to select the part of the drawing that has been lost in the upper part, lowering it until it is visible, then we will drag it with the cursor by pressing the Shift key so that it remains in the same position and we will align it with the bottom edge.

We will follow the same procedure with the illustration that has been on the right outside the canvas using the original layer, moving it in this case to the left.



Once we have the complete illustration again we will attach the three canvases by selecting the top layer and using Command + E twice. To ensure that there is no error when creating the final pattern, we will select the canvas again using Command + A, we will cut again and paste, eliminating the layer that has now become empty. This way we will avoid that if something has been left out of the canvas, it is part of the pattern and spoils the continuity of the image.


The final image should be something similar to the following.



Now that we have our illustration, we will create the complete pattern.


To do this, with our layer selected, we will open the layers menu as shown in the image below and click on [Convert Layer].



A window will appear in which we must display the menu where it says [Raster Layer] and select [Image Material Layer].



Once we do this, we will see how an icon appears on the right side of our layer.



Then we will go to the left panel and selecting [Operation] - [Object] we can see, in the lower panel, the [Tiling] option. We will select it and choose the repetition mode that suits our pattern, in this case in [Tiling] we will choose [Repeat] and in [Tiling Direction] we will choose [Vertical and Horizontal].



When selected, the anchor points will appear and we can resize the pattern size at our whim.



6. Text creation or typography choice

For now we will leave the pattern like this and we will choose the typeface we want to use in our design.


As we have a very specific theme and style it will be easier for us to find the type of font we want to use. For this style of drawing and with the intention that we want to give it a typography with serif would not work, you could use a dry stick with rounded edges and a more organic look, but it would be appropriate to use a typography that emulates handwriting or directly do We text ourselves.


For our design we will be the ones who make the text and for this, just as we did with the first Moodboard to find inspiration and create our pattern, we will look for examples of typographies and calligraphy that we like. As we want something simple and more modern, we are not going to get complicated by emulating the letter, we will choose some typefaces that use capital letters and are much more agile visually and we will make our version of them.



To do this we will go to the panel on our left and select the brush tool, where we will choose a brush with some texture, such as a watercolor one, so that the text has more personality but in a subtle way.


To differentiate the text and that stands out more we will use the pink color that we have chosen to give a little detail in our pattern in the cheekbones of our dinosaurs.

We will try not to follow a completely straight line when writing the letters, as this will give you a more fun and carefree air.



To give more weight to the typography and to have even more distinction between, not only the pattern, but also the color object that we are going to put behind it, we will make a kind of shading. We will simply duplicate the image by dragging it to the new layer icon and pressing Command while clicking on the new layer we will select our text.



Making sure that the selected color in the foreground is the right one, in our case a darker version of the pink used in the text, and having the text selected, we will press alt + delete and thus fill our selection easily.


We will put this layer below that of the clearest text and move it a few millimeters to the side and up to our liking so that it looks like the image below.



When we have the text we will go to work on the element that we will put behind it. If we do not want to complicate ourselves, we can simply use a geometric form, if our pattern and typefaces are very structured, or a more organic form, in the opposite case.


What we can also do is look for a simple way but that is related to the theme of our design, in our case it is quite simple since the dinosaur footprints are an easily recognizable figure and at the same time simple enough so that they do not hinder the Reading our text. You always have to keep that in mind, since what we put behind our typography should not hinder the reading.


We will create a new layer that we will put behind the text and hide the rest of the layers to work more comfortably. We will look for some image of our Moodboard in which dinosaur footprints appear, and with the same brush that we have used previously and the fourth of the colors of our color palette, we will make the drawing of the footprints obtaining the following result.



7. Tote bag design

When we have the four main elements plus the pattern we will see, as shown in the following image, that the design as a whole looks too loaded and needs to breathe a little.



For this, what we will do will be to separate the pattern at the bottom of the footprints and the text in the foreground. In order to do this and modify the pattern, we must first change the layer type again. If we do not want to take a risk, we can duplicate the layer before making these modifications and work on the duplicated layer.


With our selected layer we will open the layer panel and select, as we did previously, [Convert Layer].



This time we will go from [Image material layer] to [Raster Layer]. This will allow us to erase and draw on the pattern but we can no longer modify the pattern as such, that is, the anchor points will not appear as before and when we shrink the image, no more pattern will appear as before. That is why we must, as I said before, either duplicate the layer or be very sure that the size of our pattern is correct.



From now on we can modify this layer of the pattern, so we will eliminate the parts that bother us around the other elements.

With the selected pattern layer, we will select the objects of the other layers as follows. We will use Command + Click on one of the other layers to select the first element and Command + Shift + Click to add the rest of the elements of the other layers. When we have the text and fingerprints selected, we will go to the [Select] menu and open the [Expand Selected Area] option.



The following window will appear where we will indicate the number of millimeters we want to expand our selection, in our case with 5 it will be more than enough.



Making sure we are in the correct layer, we will erase the interior of the selection and we will have something similar to the following image. It can be seen that around the text and the prints there is a blank space that separates both elements.



However, there are elements that have been cut and it seems that we have created a white border around. Since this is not our intention we will clean the area around the central element by removing or deleting all the elements of the pattern that are not complete until it is similar to the following image.



The space that we have now left does not make much sense and aesthetically gives a feeling of imbalance, so by selecting elements of the pattern and pasting them in the blanks, we will be filling with components whose size and shape is indicated, always taking into account that we must leave a space between the central element and the pattern to breathe.



We can continue to modify the final pattern as we want until we are satisfied with the final result. Once we have finished we will have our design ready to export and print or to use in our social networks.



8. Export for printing

First of all, to be able to export for printing, we must consult the place where we will send our files to print to always ensure that we are going to export them with the correct format and color profile. As a general rule we will always use 300dpi and CMYK profile, unless otherwise indicated.


For this project we will not use cut marks so we will simply save the file in Clip Studio format before exporting it and then we will open the [File] tab in the menu, [Export (Single Layer)] and choose the [.tif (TIFF) format )]. This is normally the type of format that we will be asked for in print, but you also have other options that we will use later.



If we want to print our pattern at home for any other purpose we can export it in .jpg and with a resolution of 150dpi.



9. Mockup + Digital version for rrss

If we do not want to print our tote bag or what we want is to create an image to hang on our social networks of how it could be without having to print the final product, what we will do is use a Mockup, a blank photographic base of the product we want do where we can place our design and simulate how it would be in the real object.


To do this, as I said before, we will need an image of the object, you can make it yourself or use one that you find on the internet.


In this case we will use a very simple one so that the important thing of the image is our design.



As we did in the previous step, we will export our design but this time we will do it in .jpeg and lower the resolution to 72dpi, since our intention is to use it in social networks.


To do this we will go to the [Edit] - [Change Image Resolution] menu.



The following window will appear in which we will have to lower the resolution from 300dpi to 72dpi, not only so that it does not weigh the image too much when uploading it, but because a higher resolution is not necessary on the screen.



Once we have our two files, product photography and design already in .jpeg (or .png if we want the transparent background) we will create a file with both, putting our design on the top layer.

If we want to modify the design of the pattern in some way so that it fits better with the image we can use [Edit] - [Transform] - [Free Transform] or Command + T or for something more intricate that requires some more detail we will use [Edit] - [Transform] - [Mesh Transformation] in the same menu.



When we have our design positioned in the way we like it, we will change the layer mode from [Normal] to [Overlay] so that it blends better with the lower image, we can play with the opacity of the layer to help the effect Be more realistic.

This would be our final image and there would only be a couple of things to do before we could share it on our social networks.



If we want to share the final image in our social networks, apart from making sure that the size is correct for the different platforms, we must change the color profile from CMYK to RGB. To do this we will return to the [View] - [Color profile] - [Preview settings] menu and there we will change from [CMYK] to [RGB Display] as we indicated in step 5 but vice versa.


The only thing left is to save the file in .jpg either by exporting as we have done before or simply by attaching the layers and saving normally.


This design can be done both in cloth bags, t-shirts or even cups if you wish, the limit is set by you.




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