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Pattern Play with Jeanetta: How to Create a Pattern in the style of William Morris

PatternPlay_WillMorris_Pattern_finalHi! Jeanetta here. Last week in Pattern Play we introduced you 19th century British artisan and manufacturer, William Morris and his amazing work. See the post here. This week I’ve interpreted his design style into a modern, jungalicious pattern borrowing inspiration from his intricate pattern layouts, colors and subject matter and now I’m going to show you how to make a repeating pattern in the style of William Morris too! Let’s get started!

Tracing paper pad
– Pencil
– Ruler
– Graph paper (optional)
Gouache paint
– Paint brushes & water
– Light box (optional)
– Scanner
– Photoshop

Making the tile for the pattern:
1. Draw a rectangle. Using your ruler and pencil, draw a rectangular shape separated into two equal parts on tracing paper. I find separating the rectangle into two boxes creates a more intricate design especially when you draw from the center line.
Tip: Place tracing paper over graph paper to keep your lines straight and motifs symmetrical.

2. Begin sketching your design in the first square. Start on the left side and draw curves and shapes. Create a fluid design that moves from left to right. Draw on all corners.

3. Now draw in the bottom square creating movement that carries from one square to the next. Vary the shapes and layout and develop the lines into motifs. I drew leaves, flowers and scrolls inspired by William Morris. Continue to sketch in details and finalize the drawing.
Tip: I found as I worked I erased parts and redrew them to make the sketch flow better. Keep working out the sketch until it is to your liking.




4. Time to paint.  I placed a piece of watercolor paper on top of the drawing to see the sketch and painted it in using gouache. Tip: I recommend using a light box to see the drawing under the painting clearly while you paint.

5. Scan the art. Place the dry painting onto your scanner bed and scan at a high resolution (at least 300 DPI).

6. Bring the painting into Photoshop, cut from background, clean up any mistakes or marks and brighten the colors.


7. Crop the art to the edges, duplicate and move to the right edge. Transform and flip the duplicated tile 180 degrees.


8. Make the pattern. Grouping the first and duplicate art layers, duplicate them both, move to the bottom edge and rotate vertically to build out your pattern. By rotating and reflecting the tiles you will see the pattern fit together. When tiled, check here for any issues and if it needs more art added in the negative areas. I painted some small details in Photoshop.


9. Tip: I realized the overall pattern looks better at 90 degrees. Try turning the tiles 90 degrees to see it in a different orientation.
Duplicate the tiles over and over, building the pattern out.


10. Try adding different background colors to change the look and voilá! – my William Morris inspired pattern design!


Check back next week to see a fun surprise we whipped up for you with this pattern!

Artwork ©2015 Jeanetta Gonzales
Photography by Danae Horst

{Project by Jeanetta Gonzales for The Jungalow.}
For more Jeanetta, visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Alternative Text Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

21 responses to “Pattern Play with Jeanetta: How to Create a Pattern in the style of William Morris”

  1. Staci says:

    This is so beautiful! I had no idea that patterns were made like this.

  2. Dariana says:

    Love this Jeanetta!! I’m gonna try this next time I’m making a pattern! Love the final result! Thanks for sharing

  3. michelle says:

    Gorgeous design and great tutorial! Thanks for showing us how it’s done, Jeanetta!

  4. Melissa says:

    I love that you drew the pattern first by hand and then painted beofre Photoshop.
    It’s nice to see Surface Pattern Design done the old fashioned way!

  5. Zgadzam sie z przedmowca…
    Zainspirowal mnie post do wpisu, ktory zobaczycie niebawem na https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr6FiZ2_71M.

  6. […] As promised, here is the concluding post and big reveal from last week’s Pattern Play  tutorial on “How to create a pattern in the style of William Morris”. I applied the pattern to […]

  7. […] with you. Today you will see how I applied the William Morris-inspired design that I created last week to a product and even included downloadables for you! Hop over to the post here to download the […]

  8. […] I really enjoyed this post by Justina Blakeney. I kind of always wondered how you created a […]

  9. Amazing design and I love how clear and simple to follow your tutorial was.

  10. priya says:

    lovely! Thanks

  11. This is stunning! Well done and so simply explained. Super inspired to create new wallpaper right now!

  12. Sue says:

    This makes you realise just how talented Morris was. No photoshop in his day, it was all his own work. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing your talent.

  13. […] 5. And time for some art! I am a great admirer of William Morris‘ pattern work (and political activities), as for me it brings together just the right dosage of ornamental and ordered. For brainy activities, here you have his writing archive. And for the artsy part: (a) William Morris and wallpaper design at Victoria and Albert Museum; (b) Morris’ 1981 Some Hints on Pattern-Designing; and (c) solid Pinterest-y advice on How to Create a Pattern in the style of William Morris. […]

  14. Charlotte Daw says:

    Wow! What an amazing resource, thank you! You should definitely make skillshare classes.

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