Monday, 2 November 2015

Color + Pattern, by Khristian A Howell. Review.



50 Playful exercises for exploring pattern design

By Khristian A Howell

Rockport 2015

Flexibound (reinforced paperback), £ 16 UK/$25 US/ $28 CAN

ISBN 978 1 63159 041 2


Star rating: *****


Since I have just posted about The Spoonflower Handbook, I thought I’d continue to spotlight surface pattern design by featuring this delightful new book by Khristian A. Howell. 


Designing an original print can add so very much to your papercrafts. An original surface design is a bonus, stand-alone project in its own right – plus, you are adding a re-usable pattern resource to your archive. But how do you go about pattern design when faced with a blank sheet of paper (or empty computer screen)? Khristian A Howell, a textile artist who works for the Nordstrom department store chain based in Seattle, has devised a series of 50 graded exercises to nurture and  build your pattern-designing skills. The exercises assist you to source design inspiration, then continue on to provide basic technical know-how.


The author’s enthusiasm and appreciation for her craft permeate the book. She says in the intro,“The amazing thing about great pattern design is that pattern and product are often one and the same ... they are inseparable.”  So you should always think about how the application of pattern can improve your project!  How to work the magic? Follow the exercises, study the beautifully-reproduced designs, and listen to words of wisdom from guest designers that are dotted throughout the book. The Meet-the-Designer feature includes a look-in on Rachael Taylor, the dynamic and influential  founder of MOYO Magazine (for surface pattern designers) and the popular online course, The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design. Learn what makes the pros tick -  and gain insights about their studio practices.


Subjects dealt with in the exercises include Adding Texture to Motifs, Converting Hand-Drawn to Digital, and repeats (including Photoshop repeats). You can take from the book as much as you want to up your pattern designing skills. 


Color + Pattern is lighter on nitty-gritty techie points than some pattern design titles I’ve seen, but as an inspirational intro to a fascinating and rewarding design skill, it is hard to beat. Visually stunning,  user-friendly, this book is a welcome addition to your craft bookshelf (highly giftable, too).