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How to Create A Textile Print: Setting The Ground Work (Part 2)

Hey there, pattern-passionate pals! We're back with part 2 of our super exciting How to Create A Textile Print series. In case you missed it, we shared some awesome tips on sourcing inspiration for your prints in part 1, which you can catch up on right here.

Now, get ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of creating the perfect base or ground for your textile prints and patterns!

Creating a Textile Pattern From the Ground Up:

The ground of your print is the base layer, also known as the background, upon which your beautiful motifs shine. It's the canvas for your masterpiece, and how you use your ground will significantly impact your design's overall look and feel. There are two main types of grounds to consider: tight or open 🌟

Features and Benefits of a Tight Ground Design in Textile Design

An example of a pink floral vine print with a tight ground

Tight Ground: A tight ground in your print means the motifs are placed closely together, creating a dense pattern with less background or negative space showing through. This creates a visually rich design, often creating a sense of depth and texture. Tighter grounds are great for making a bold statement or creating a strong visual impact. The close arrangement of motifs can also emphasize the overall pattern, making it the primary focus of the design. One thing to remember when working on tighter grounds: be careful how you create your repeat--you want it to flow into the print, not be clear-cut boxes where your eye jumps to.

The effect of a tight ground on your overall design:

  • Enhances visual richness and depth

  • Creates a bold, more all-over appearance

  • Emphasizes the overall pattern structure

  • Works well with smaller + medium-sized prints with repetitive motifs

Features and Benefits of an Open Ground in Repeating Patterns

An example of a yellow floral  print with an open ground

Open Ground: An open ground, on the other hand, has more space between the motifs, giving the design a lighter, airier feel. This type of ground creates a lighter, more airy feeling in the pattern and can make the individual motifs stand out more. Open grounds are often used in designs to evoke a sense of movement or delicacy. The larger areas of negative space can also help balance intricate or bold motifs, preventing the design from becoming too overwhelming. On the flip side, an open print can also have a dramatic effect if the ground color is bold and the movement of the print catches your eye.

An example of a blue floral print with an ultra open ground

The effect of an open ground on your overall design:

  • Highlights individual motifs and color

  • Creates a sense of movement and flow

  • Provides a lighter, more delicate appearance

  • Best for medium to large-scale prints

  • Balances intricate or bold motifs with negative space

Features and Benefits of a Flat Ground in Textile Design

Beyond having tight or open ground, consider whether your background is textured or flat. This can also significantly impact your print, especially if it's a more open-ground print with more of the base exposed.

An example of an orange, pink, and yellow floral print with a flat ground

Flat Ground: Clean and breezy, this is also easy for your factory and mill partners. Usually done to minimize the number of screens or to create a crisp or bold appearance. A flat, non-textured ground in pattern design provides a simple, uncluttered backdrop for motifs to stand out. It can also make the design feel more modern, minimalistic, and refined. Retro prints from the 60s and 70s often have flat grounds with bold lines that help pop us back to that era.

Flat grounds work best when:

  • Balancing bold or detailed motifs: When working with intricate or bold motifs, utilizing flat grounds can provide a valuable counterbalance, preventing the design from feeling too busy or overwhelming.

  • Emphasizing shape + clean lines: For patterns focused on geometric shapes, bold angles, or negative spaces, a flat ground can enhance the overall aesthetic by emphasizing the simplicity and structure of the design.

  • Highlighting the motifs or layout: A flat ground allows the motifs and the layout to take center stage, ensuring that the viewer's attention is drawn to the most critical elements in the design.

  • Creating a sense of simplicity + elegance: A flat ground can evoke a feeling of sophistication and understated beauty, particularly when paired with carefully chosen motifs and colors.

Features and Benefits of a Textured Ground in Textile Design

An example of a leopard print with a textured ground

Textured Ground: On the other side of flat, comes texture! Incorporating texture adds depth and dimension to the overall appearance. Adding textural dimension to your art creates a tactile quality that draws the viewer in, making the design more engaging and inviting. With multi-dimensional ground, the entire base layer has a subtle effect that gives the appearance of something more exciting than flat fabric. A slight texture to a print adds extra interest to the overall look that can be just enough to make it pop!

Additionally, textures can:

  • Evoke a specific mood or aesthetic: Different textures convey edginess, elegance, warmth, or depth depending on the context, texture type, and color palette.

  • Enhance the visual interest of the design: Textures add complexity and richness to a pattern when used appropriately, making it more visually appealing and preventing it from feeling flat or dull.

  • Create a sense of cohesion: The strategic use of texture can tie together different elements within a pattern, creating a harmonious and balanced design that feels like it belongs together.

  • Emphasize or soften motifs: The use of texture can draw attention to specific elements within the design or soften the edges of bold motifs, making the pattern feel more approachable and less harsh.

An example of a floral print with a textured ground and motifs

Remember, the ground aesthetic you choose can significantly affect the overall vibe of your pattern, so play around and find the perfect balance for your vision! We’ll be talking more about color as it relates to patterns next week, so stay tuned for the full four-part series where we outline how to create a custom print.

P.S. You can decide to add texture once your design is 90% done–it doesn't need to be something 100% figured out at stage #1 of the design process. A beautiful part of surface pattern design is that it's easy to add texture to flat designs once you're in the final stages. In fact, it can sometimes be the finishing touch to make your print picture perfect.

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