iPad apps for surface pattern design

You have the iPad. Now which apps should you use?

iPad apps for surface pattern design


Last week we took a close look at the iPad Pro, and used feedback from seven lovely designers to discuss the pros and cons of using one for your design work.

Today, Sarah Haffner and I highlight our designers’ favorite iPad apps and offer links to great resources for those of you who want to do your own research on this topic. Guys, we’ve included links to 19 articles in this post…it’s like we are serving up a super-sized blog post this week. Enjoy!




Designers recommendation: Adobe Draw

Adobe Draw is a favorite among illustrators. A big reason is because of the way it interacts with Adobe Illustrator and the ease with which you can transfer files over to your laptop. It has a clean interface and it’s pretty simple to get going with this app…great for newbie designers who want to jump right in.

Useful Articles:

Adobe Illustrator Draw Review by Matt Lawrence – This is the best review we could find of Adobe Draw. It gives a good overview of the pros and cons of the app.

Review Adobe Draw by Stayf Draws (Youtube video) – If you want a lot of detail, and specifics on exactly how the app works, check-out this video.

iPad Vector App Roundup by Brad Colbow (Youtube video) – I like this guy and how he presents his reviews. He is not a fan of Adobe Draw as you’ll hear in this video, but does offer some alternatives you may want to check-out. Continue reading “iPad apps for surface pattern design”

Should You Buy an iPad Pro?

Advice from Seven Designers. What they like. What they don’t like.

Should You Buy an iPad Pro?


Is it worth saving up money for an iPad Pro? Is it a game changing tool that will elevate your design work…or just a nice toy to have around to play with?

Today, Sarah Haffner (my partner in crime for this post) and I are excited to share with you what we learned after talking to seven surface designers who use the iPad Pro for their illustration and design work.

And next week? We’ll continue this iPad discussion by talking apps.

Enjoy…we hope you find this info helpful!



Drawing Motifs. There was a pretty clear split between designers who prefer to start their designs by marking on paper and designers who prefer to just jump right by doodling on the iPad. A lot of it seems to has to do with personal preference, habits and the designers unique approach to creating patterns.

“There is just a special kind of hand/eye/paper thing that happens that I don’t see on the iPad”. (Alana)

“My process actually differs quite a bit based on the type of artwork that I want to end up with.  Regardless, I always start with sketching either in my sketchbook or, if the type of pattern I’m creating demands it, in one of my iPad Pro apps.” (Jen) Continue reading “Should You Buy an iPad Pro?”

Rework Old Patterns and Expand your Portfolio

Pull out those old patterns. It’s time to play.

Rework Old Patterns and Expand your Portfolio


Hi Guys! You know what is so much fun? (Well, for pattern nerds like us, wink wink)

Going back to finished patterns, ones that have been labeled done, and messing around with them. You know, adding a layer, recoloring…just pushing them a bit further or in a different direction.

I’ve really been into this lately, for three reasons:

  1. I know a lot more about how to build patterns after a few years of playing around and experimenting. I can now go back and improve upon some of my early pattern attempts!
  2. I’ve finally tackled Photoshop, which allows me to design in a different way from Illustrator.
  3. I feel confident taking risks and making mistakes now because I know I can clean them up (most of the time!).

Reworking old patterns is also a great way to expand your portfolio! Why start from scratch when you’ve got great material close at hand.


Here are a couple of my remix experiments: Continue reading “Rework Old Patterns and Expand your Portfolio”

Building a Simple Pattern using Math

You can make a repeat pattern…and it’s not as hard as you think!

Building a Simple Pattern using Math


I LOVE to jump into the pattern making process…manipulating layers, adding shading, doing all that stuff.

But maybe you are a newbie designer who just wants to make your first basic pattern. Or you are an illustrator who has a kick ass illustration that just needs to be put into a simple, no fuss, repeat to make it shine.

If so, follow me! Today I’m going to show you how to create a simple pattern in Adobe Illustrator using basic math. And I mean basic…don’t worry. You got this.

Step 1. Create or upload a motif to Illustrator and resize it to something simple that you can remember.  Resize by selecting the motif and clicking on ‘transform’ in the top bar menu. When the dialog box opens-up enter a new, nice round number for the width and height.  In this example I’ve resized my motif to 200 x 200 px. Continue reading “Building a Simple Pattern using Math”

The Power of Illustrator’s Recolor Artwork Tool

Behold the power of the recolor artwork tool. It’s pretty cool. Seriously.

The Power of Illustrator's Recolor Artwork Tool


Are you familiar with the recolor artwork tool in Illustrator? I love it, and use it every single time I build a pattern.

It’s a great tool when you want to develop a new color way, or just confirm that there isn’t a better color palette than the one you’re already using. (Which happens to me a lot, I’m not always so good with colors!)

Today, I want to show you the power of the recolor artwork tool. BEHOLD!

Here is a pattern I made. I used the rotate tool to create symmetrical motifs and then layered them. Continue reading “The Power of Illustrator’s Recolor Artwork Tool”