Inside a Surface Designer's Workflow

drawing how-tos freelance life Jul 03, 2024

Ever wondered about the entire workflow of a surface designer? Join Senior Designer Charise as she guides you through the process from initial concept to the final print design. Discover the meticulous steps that turn an idea into a stunning, repeatable pattern.

Decide Your Direction

You can take inspiration from anywhere, but we always work from our in-studio trend boards which are developed by our creative director. This is a signature style of the Longina Phillips Design Studio. 

Find Your Picture Reference

Both of these flower images make good picture references because they're in focus and large enough to print at A4 size. It's much easier to work from a large reference than a tiny one. 

Create Your Motifs

We always draw our motifs at the same scale as the intended print size. This means our lines won't look too thin if we reduce the size or look too messy if we increase the size.

Scan Your Motifs

If you don't have a scanner, a modern iPhone or similar should do the trick. Just make sure that it's well lit with no shadows and your camera is parallel to the paper, not angled.

Design Your Print

Once in Photoshop, we start with our repeat tile canvas set up as a 64 cm square which is the standard screen printing size all the world over. We remove any messy unwanted pixels and edit the color as necessary.

We arrange our motifs, always considering the negative space and how the end design will look repeated out. And we work by duplicating any motifs that cross over the horizontal edges and the vertical ones. 

Again, considering the repeated layout. And how it will look in a final product. For a more in-depth look at this process, sign up to our Beginner Course for Surface Designers or click the image below. Happy designing!


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