Digital Repeat Pattern

Due: Tues., November 24

Patterns can be found on cloth dating back many thousands of years. Patterns have been made through weaving, painting, dyeing, stamping, screen printing, and, most recently, using digital printers. Looking at historical prints we can see a great deal about how and what a culture valued and communicated. Patterns have been abstract as well as pictorial. Patterns have traveled the globe as peoples have interacted, influencing each other. Patterns can communicate a wide range of meanings, often read differently by people from within or outside of a particular culture.

For this project you will create a repeat pattern for digital printing on fabric or wallpaper. You will be introduced to the main concepts of designing a repeat block both using paper and using digital software Adobe Illustrator. Your repeat pattern must include:

  • creating a swatch, or block, in illustrator
  • an element of the block that is not enclosed
  • creating an illustrator file of the repeat that shows how it looks with multiple repeats
  • at least 2 color-ways that change the effect of the repeat
  • an idea of what the print might be for (wallpaper, garments, etc.)

You have a choice of three prompts. Choose one today before you leave class:

  1. Interrupting historical patterns: For this prompt, you will choose a historical repeat pattern and then alter it so it tells an alternative story. Some potential ideas: Use a historical print to tell a part of history that is not represented in the cloth; create an entire pattern of mischievous motifs that we glance at and never notice; reuse the elements of the older pattern to create a new pattern.
  2. Camoflage: Create a unique camoflage pattern that will hide you in a particular environment that camoflage has never been made for.
  3. Drawing from your environment: Create a repeat pattern made up of drawn items from your environment.

Repeat Pattern Slideshows & Videos

This is a play list of three videos demonstrating how to use Illustrator for Image Tracing a drawing (<4 minute video), Adding Color (<5 minute video), and Creating a Repeat Pattern (<10 minute video)

How to Submit:

Create a blog post on this WordPress site to document your Digital Repeat Pattern project.

  1. Categorize your post with this WordPress category: Digital Repeat Pattern
  2. Write a brief paragraph outlining your explorations: intended effects, surprises, discoveries, challenges, successes.
  3. Embed clear, quality images of your repeat pattern in the blog post. Include an image of the repeat block (swatch) as well as the block in multiple repeats.


Points for this project will be divided amongst the following criteria:

EXPERIMENTATION/ RISK-TAKING/ INVENTIVENESS: The maker’s willingness to take risks (in composition, formal choices, materials, ideas, and content) is evident. Also important is the maker’s openness to new ideas, chance occurrences, and feedback throughout the creative process.

EXECUTION: Decisions about materials used and the manner in which the work is constructed, fabricated, and composed are deliberate. The maker’s choices indicate an awareness of how formal issues, materials and processes contribute to the interpretation or experience of the work.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation well represents the works. It is clear, focused, and without extra elements that distract from experiencing the work. It includes both written reflection and photographic or video elements. Photographs are large enough for us to easily view the works.