Thursday, October 18, 2012

Process: Spoonflower and Gimp

Recently I saw a pattern on Pinterest I liked, and I clicked through to the source - a fabric swatch on Spoonflower. I've known about Spoonflower since its beta phase a few years ago but never had the impetus to do something about it. Suddenly I felt like I TOO MUST DO THAT! First I played around with creating an image in EQ6, which I use occasionally to do quick mock-ups of quilt designs to test color layouts. I'm certainly not familiar with EQ6, not enough to really use all of its capabilities. But I managed to come up with a few things and uploaded them to Spoonflower. Of course, these things are nothing like what's in my head. My head is full of bold, bright colors and noisy, geometric patterns, birds, triangles, spirals, stacks of squares, etc. But first things first. I need to learn how to use the technology before I can put what's in my brain "onto paper." I created this design in EQ6 and repeated it in blocks, like a quilt. Then I exported it as this image:

Then I uploaded that image to Spoonflower and it tiled the image into this repeat, which could be printed out onto fabric or wallpaper:
Back in EQ6, I took the original 'daisy' motif and put a circle around it and then colored the squares different colors, then exported this image:
Here is the image tiled in Spoonflower:

Then I thought, how can I add some of my artwork to the situation? I was googling around and reading about people using Photoshop and other programs to take an image and remove the background, making the image transparent and floating it on top of another image or background. That sounded pretty good to me - to be able to do that without having to trace around the edges! I saw reference to the free image editing software Gimp and downloaded it. I did a quick sketch of a flower and some dots using markers and scanned it:

The image of the flower, uploaded directly to Spoonflower and tiled to form a stagger pattern, still shows the artifacts on the white background from the scanned image. (The resolution of the tiled image, below, isn't very good because I captured it by pinning it to my Pinterest board and then saving the image, since downloading it from Spoonflower didn't reproduce the tiled image. There may be a better way, but this is what I know, for now...)

Then I took the flower image and the dot image, opened them in Gimp, created the transparencies, messed about with the layers for awhile, rotating them and such, then added the blue paint, then exported the image. Here is a sample from Spoonflower of the Gimped image I uploaded. This image is one I pinned via Pinterest and downloaded so the resolution is fairly low.
This is the original exported Gimp file - you can see the resolution is much better than what I pulled from Pinterest. 

This was a lot of fun, and terribly engrossing. I'm looking forward to playing around with it some more and increasing my knowledge and hopefully I will get to the point where I'm capable of executing some of these ideas that are floating around in my head.