Dandelion Dreams


Sometimes I just need to take a break and share some of my design process. Maybe these little meanderings will help another surface designer find a new work flow, but it’s also very useful to me to keep a log of “how I’ve done things.” So when I try and replicate a technique, I have a reference guide. Because my brain …
This pattern is destined for my “Dandelions and Daydreams” collection.

You can see I made the move from “retro” to “vintage” vibe with this design. It has romantic cottage charm, yet is not entirely conventional. While I’m a big fan of traditional cabbage roses, I feel dandelions are truly unsung heroes – both as a design theme, and as a green growing thing.

Did you know dandelion has many amazing health benefits that often go overlooked? One of the biggest benefits is its ability to detoxify the liver. It’s also known to improve digestion and relieve constipation. And believe it or not, dandelion is actually a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants, which can boost your immune system and help protect against chronic diseases. Plus, if you suffer from inflammation, dandelion may be able to help – studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling and pain. So next time you see a field of dandelions, don’t just think of them as weeds – they could be a valuable addition to your diet!

I’m sure you’re not here for my skills as an amateur herbalist, so l will get back on topic. Also, this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I’m just here for the pretty things. And kittens and puppies. Okay, I really am going to get back on topic.

For this collection, I started with the color palette first. The pink and yellow was actually inspired by an upcoming Spoonflower contest that dictated the hues. Tonally, the colors are very similar, and very soft. I chose complementary and contrasting colors to bring more depth to the design, but I kept with muted tones.

I KNEW I wanted to create a dandelion. As you’ve figured out, I’m a big fan, so I fixed myself a cup of dandelion coffee and settled down with some inspiration photos and my sketch pad.

The Sketch
Tracing the Sketch
The Final "Dandelion Dreams" in Pink

I’ve historically done most of my “sketching” on my iPad, but I’ve recently found that I prefer the tactile action of pencil to paper. I can work more quickly and intuitively and my drawings are ultimately more organic and natural.

I started with the diamond shape that you see here, as I had a vision for how I wanted the design to repeat. Keeping the drawing roughly within the boundaries of the diamond made fitting the layout together much easier.

My next step was to snap a pic of the sketch with my phone and upload to my iPad. It’s easier than scanning and precision was not important for this application. I imported the art into Affinity Designer and reduced the opacity to make it easier to work on top of.

I used a pixel brush to trace the dandelion and to create the hatching lines. I could have used a vector brush and been done with it, but I love the look of linocut and wanted a similar appearance. I understand my own tendencies. I would have made everything super precise with a vector tool and that was not what I wanted.

When I was happy with the tracing, I removed the pencil sketch from the background and exported the file as a JPG. I then reopened it on my laptop in Adobe Illustrator and used the image trace tool to create a vectorized image from the tracing. It provided the lovely casual look I wanted and I refrained from “cleaning it up.” I could now change the color and scale of the dandelion outline at will. I choose a sepia color, as I wanted a neutral with warmth.

I filled in additional colors by roughly outlining the shapes of the leaves and flowers. I purposely left spaces between the fill color and outline, as I like that “not quite registered” look.

My final step was to create the repeat. This looks like a half-drop, but its actually a basic repeat. It was very easy to lay out, so I’m sure you will see me using the “starter diamond” again.

I oversimplified a few steps, but I’d love to hear what you think! Find me on all the usual social channels and start a conversation!