Surface Pattern Designers:

Are you creating Canvases in Procreate

that are big enough?

One of the most common questions I get asked is…

“What size canvas should I create my pattern when using Procreate?”

To be honest, there is no simple answer other than making sure it’s as big as possible.  Procreate is raster based, which means you cannot rescale your art upwards.  This would result in pixelation

However, Procreate limits the number of layers you can have in one document, so if you were to start too big, you would run out of layers super fast.  

To work out the best size canvas, first, you need to determine the end product.  

When designing a pattern for a client, you will typically receive size and colour mode specifications.  If not, ask them!  You need to know the size of the final repeat pattern, the dpi and the colour mode (e.g. CYMK or RGB).

If you’re designing for a Print-on-Demand website/shop, check the largest possible size and use that as a starting point.  Also, check the colour mode and dpi requirements

If this is a personal project or you’re adding to your portfolio, I’d typically create a pattern that is 10×10 inch or 3000×3000 pixels, 300 dpi and RGB.  If displaying on your website, ensure you create a low res (e.g. 72 dpi RGB) file that isn’t your exact repeat file. 

Now that you know the final print size or repeat size, you can create a canvas for that size, or even better, go slightly bigger.  

Another thing I like to do is create each motif at the size of the final repeat.  So I often end up with multiple canvases for one repeat pattern.  This is how a typical pattern design will look for me…

  • One canvas for my motif sketches – this can be any size
  • One canvas (or more if you run out of layers) for your coloured motifs.  I make each motif as large as possible.  So if the final repeat is going to be 3000px x 3000px, I make each motif around 3000px high or wide.
  • One canvas (or more if you run out of layers) for my final repeat pattern.  I copy flattened motifs from my motif canvas and place them in my repeat pattern canvas, or I airdrop them to Photoshop and convert them to smart objects, then compose my pattern.

Some commons canvas sizes I use for my final repeat patterns in Procreate (& Photoshop):

  • Spoonflower* Fabric: 12” x 12” at 300 DPI 
  • Spoonflower* Wallpaper: 12” x 12” or 24” x 24” at 300 DPI
  • Spoonflower* Challenge:  Most of the time 21” x 18” (fat quarter) at 300 DPI.   This is to help it stand out in the crowd of other challenge entries.  I also always include a smaller scale version. 
  • Personal projects: 10” x 10” at 300 DPI

*Spoonflower will change the DPI down to 150 dpi

Does all that make sense?  Do you have any other burning questions for me? 

Feel free to leave a question in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them in a later blog post.

Happy pattern-making!!

Mel x

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