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December 07 2011


Greeting Card Pattern Mashup Inspiration

The time of year has arrived when even the most digitized among us turns to paper, envelopes, and stamps to send out cheerful holiday greetings to friends and family across the globe. Nothing can surpass the excitement that is felt when the mailbox is opened and, tucked among the bills and credit card applications, is a personal holiday card with your name (spelled correctly!) adorning the label.

Today's article is presented by the online printing services company offering greeting cards perfect for the holiday season.


What is it about receiving a card in the mail that makes it so special? Is it the touch and feel of paper in your hands? Is it the bright colors, texture, or patterns? Here is chance to explore some amazing holiday greeting cards, some of which are masterpieces in their own right, and maybe get some ideas on how to incorporate color into your holiday hellos.

source | source

Words within a shape or using words as a pattern can make a simple and adorable greeting. Do you have any word patterns you've done that you'd like to share? I definitely want to try this with Seamless Studio. This would work for any occasion.

source | source

Letterpress (left) in combinations with words as a shape turned out gorgeous. The little houses pattern (right) remind me of some style of Danish design.  It's fairly unique and would be fun to create. Anyone up for a Seamless Studio (or Seamless Lite) challenge to make something similar to this?

source (top) | pattern 1, pattern 2, pattern 3 (see templates at end)

In the top version, the artist traced some shapes out lightly with a pencil, drew some simple pattern work of lines and circles in stripe-fashion (with a permanent pen) within the bounds of the shape and then erased the shape lines. I decided to replicate the method digitally in Photoshop using some COLOURlovers patterns. You could use any graphics editing software that would allow you to create a mask.

I created simple shapes (basically copying the ones from the original piece) and then applied the layer Clipping Masking option. Remember to always respect the license of other member creations on COLOURlovers.

source (card) | pattern stars, pattern snowflakes 

This wonderful design from TWO PEAS IN A BUCKET member, pescaragirl, would be fun to use as an idea for a card from your own patterns. Using a simple, subtle pattern like snowflakes or stars (shown to right) and torn, layered paper in the foreground you could easily whip up some of these.

sourcesource | sourcesource 

Patterns in general are excellent to use within greeting card design in so many fathomable ways. What patterns would you use?

source | source | source | source | source 

Here are some fantastic examples of layering many different types of patterns and simple shapes.


And if all else fails, go with just color!

Holiday greeting cards are a fantastic way to connect with old friends, and show your loved ones how much you care. When you go to choose your holiday greeting this year, know that you will not only make someone smile, but you have the chance to give them a decoration to adorn their mantle piece, shelf or even their Christmas tree for years to come. Choose a card that is uniquely you or pick out a small masterpiece that is sure to brighten a cold winter’s day.

header credits: greeting card

November 22 2011


November 17 2011


A Look Inside Mobile Design Patterns

Mobile Design Pattern Gallery

Patterns for mobile application design

Design patterns for mobile are emerging as the platform matures. Theresa Neil’s new book Mobile Design Pattern Gallery provides solutions to common design challenges. Read a sample chapter on Invitations and learn how to immediately engage your customers with your application.

We recently had a new mobile project starting and all of our experienced mobile designers were booked. Since we primarily design enterprise apps and productivity tools, not everyone in our group was well versed in mobile application design. So I made a quick tutorial with lots and lots of screenshots. Gradually a set of patterns, at a higher level than OS specific design guidelines, emerged.

These 70 patterns, illustrated with hundreds of examples from iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Symbian, Windows and webOS applications, will be released this month from O’Reilly Media as the “Mobile Design Pattern Gallery”. Here is one of my favorite chapters, Invitations. Constructive feedback and additional mobile app examples are most welcome.

*Although these patterns are based on best practices in mobile application design, they may also be inspiring for mobile web design.


Do you remember the first time you used Photoshop? I remember opening the application and seeing a blank canvas and a vast array of powerful tools.

Alt Desc

Phototshop 5.5

Well, I assumed the tools were powerful, but didn’t know for sure. In fact, I didn’t know how to get started at all. But I had quite a bit of money invested in the software and needed to learn it for work. So I bought a “Teach Yourself Photoshop in 24 Hours” book and started learning.

Fast forward a decade or so. There are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications, readily available in the marketplace. In any one category there are dozens of apps for the same purpose. Many of them are free, making it just as practical to download and try another app as it is to struggle for 5 minutes with an unintuitive interface.

Consider the initial experience with Layar Reality Browser, augmented reality software.

Layar Reality Browser

Layar Reality Browser (early version)

What would help me get from this gray screen to augmented reality? An invitation. Invitations are helpful tips that are displayed the first time a user opens an application or arrives at a new place. They suggest actions and guide the user to the intended functionality. A simple invitation can turn an otherwise discouraging first time experience into a satisfying one.

Mobile invitation patterns include:

Dialog Tip
Tip Tour
Tour Video Demo
Demo Transparency
Transparency Embedded
Embedded Persistent
Persistent Discoverable


A simple dialog with instructions is the most common type of invitation in mobile apps, probably because it is the easiest to program. It is also most likely to be dismissed and ignored.

Keep dialog content short, and make sure there is an alternate way to access instructions from within the application.


Dialogs on TargetWeight and ActionMethod


A tip can be implemented anywhere in the application, making it more contextually relevant than a dialog. And tips can be used on any screen, not just the home screen. In the eBay app, a tip is used to draw attention to the “save a search” feature, which could otherwise be overlooked since it is where the page title is normally displayed. The Android OS displays a tip reminiscent of Window’s Clippy, the helpful paperclip, to explain how to customize the home screen.


Tips on eBay and Andoid OS

ShoppingList progressively reveals more tips throughout the application.

Place tips in proximity to the feature they refer to, keep the content short, and remove the tip once interaction begins (ie. when the screen is touched).


Tips on Shopping List


A tour provides the ultimate invitation by offering a screen-by-screen, feature-by-feature exploration of the application. The Nike GPS tour is an excellent example of this pattern. The tour is optimized for mobile with concise copy, vivid graphics, simple navigation and a clearly marked exit. The Tour is offered on the home screen, and once launched you can tap through each of the seven tips. Nike and WeightBot use “page indicators” and a count (2 of 7) to clearly mark the current step in the tour.

A tour should highlight key features of the application, preferably from a (user) goal perspective. Keep it short and visually engaging.


Nike’s Tour Invitation


WeightBot’s Tour Invitation

Video Demo

A video demo may be the best form of invitation for applications that rely on specific actions/interactions since it demonstrates the application in action. Roambi uses a custom demo to showcase its wide selection of data visualizations and the use of certain gestures for optimal navigation and exploration. Google Goggles has a demo in their tour that can be opened and viewed in YouTube.

Demos should showcase key features or show how to use the application from a standard workflow perspective. Common video features (stop, pause, volume controls…) should be provided.


Roambi’s Demo


Google Goggles’ Demo


While the rest of these patterns exist on the web, the transparency is unique to touchscreen devices (so far). Typically seen on home screens, a transparency is a see-through layer with a usage diagram positioned over the actual screen content. Pulse and Phoster both use this invitation pattern to quickly and visually explain how to navigate content in the apps.

Transparencies should be used judiciously, and are not meant to compensate for poor screen designs. Remove the transparency once interaction begins (ie. when the screen is touched).


Transparencies on Pulse and Phoster


Unlike the other invitations, embedded invitations don’t precede the screen they refer to. Embedded invitations are built into the screen design. They remain in the interface until they are overwritten with content. Many note taking apps, like Mini Diary and PageOnce, use embedded invitations to immediately engage the user to add content.

Multiple embedded invitations can exist in a single screen. Clearly differentiate the invitation from other content with images or other visual cues (ie. don’t use the same color and size text for the invitation as is used for regular content).


Embedded Invitations in Android’s Mini Diary and PageOnce


Persistent invitations are built into the screen and remain visible. This example from Jamie Oliver Recipes suggest switching to landscape mode to uncover an additional feature. Wether this is your first time on this screen, or 10th time, the prompt is still displayed. Spring Pad uses an embedded, persistent invitation to show that more notes can be added by tapping on the ‘+’.

Keep it short. Clearly differentiate the invitation from other content with images or other visual cues (ie. don’t use the same color and size text for the invitation as is used for regular content).


Persistent prompts in Jamie Oliver’s Recipes and Springpad


A discoverable invitation may seem like an oxymoron, but it is an effective way to encourage specific interactions without cluttering the screen. These invitations are meant to be discovered when performing a common gesture, like flicking or swiping.

Use discoverable invitations sparingly. The most common instance of this pattern is used for prompting refresh and loading more results.


Discoverable Invitations in eBay and TweetBot

Mobile Design Pattern Gallery Book and Site

Invitations are just one of the types of patterns in the Mobile Design Pattern Gallery. Get the upcoming O’Reilly book, “Mobile Design Pattern Gallery”, to learn more about mobile patterns for:

  • Navigation
  • Forms
  • Tables
  • Search, Sort & Filter
  • Tools
  • Charts
  • Feedback & Affordance
  • Help

and a bonus chapter on Anti-Patterns.

Also check out the Mobile Design Pattern Gallery:

More Pattern Resources

Patterns for Android:

Patterns for iOS:
Mobile Patterns,

General Mobile UI Patterns:

Advertise here with BSA

November 10 2011


Redesigning The Country Selector



The country selector. It’s there when you create an account for a new Web service, check out of an e-commerce store or sign up for a conference. The normal design? A drop-down list with all of the available countries.

Typical country selector

However, when conducting a large session of user testing on check-out usability (which we wrote about here on Smashing Magazine back in April 2011), we consistently found usability issues with the massive country selector drop-downs. Jakob Nielsen reported similar issues as far back as 2000 and 2007 when testing drop-downs with a large number of options, such as state and country lists.

So, this past summer we set out to redesign the country selector. This article focuses on the four design iterations we went through before arriving at the solution (free jQuery plugin included).

First, let’s take a closer look at the usability problems of traditional drop-down country selectors.

The Usability Issues

Drop-downs cause usability issues when used for country and state selectors for several reasons. Here are six:

  1. Lack of overview
    Seeing more than 20 uncategorized options can be bewildering, and country drop-downs often offer hundreds of options (according to ISO 3166, there are 249 countries).
  2. Unclear sorting
    When shown a massive list, the first thing users do is figure out the sorting logic. But because country drop-downs often include the three to five most popular options at the top, the sorting logic is unclear at first glance.
  3. Scrolling Issues
    Multiple problems are related to scrolling large drop-downs. If your mouse cursor is outside of the drop-down, you will most likely scroll down the entire page, hiding the drop-down options from the screen. In other browsers, however, the drop-down will actually scroll as long as it has focus, likely leaving you with erroneous data.
  4. Inconsistent UI
    The UI of drop-downs differs from browser to browser and OS to OS. The drop-down will not only look different, but will also work differently. For example, on a Mac, Safari forces you to hover on two arrows to scroll up and down, whereas Firefox provides a traditional scrollbar. Now grab your smartphone, and suddenly the UI has dramatically changed again.
  5. Lack of context
    Mobile devices have very limited screen real estate, which means you have less page context when scrolling, and actually finding the option you’re looking for takes longer.
  6. Breaking the flow
    Nearly all users — even those who otherwise tab through forms — will use the mouse when interacting with a drop-down, thus slowing their progress.

It All Adds Up

These usability issues are all minor interruptions that don’t occur every single time someone interacts with a drop-down country selector. But they all add up, and together with other minor usability issues on your website, they will degrade the overall user experience — ultimately leading to abandonments.

With this in mind, we set out to redesign the standard drop-down country selector. Below are the four design iterations we went through.

Iteration 1: Typing Vs. Scrolling

The easiest way to get rid of the hundreds of options and the issues related to scrolling is to simply replace the drop-down with a text field — letting the user type their country. This works only if the user knows what to type, because there would be no recognition effect (this would never work for shipping options because the user would have to guess the names of the options). But a country selector is a good candidate for a text field because it is fair to assume that every user knows the country they reside in.

Okay, so we’ve got a text field. While good for usability, it’s bad for the courier who has to deliver a product. The drop-down offered a limited number of options, whereas the text field offers infinite (the user can type whatever they want). In order to restrict the input to values (i.e. countries) that our back-end system can handle, the text field needs to auto-complete and accept a restricted set of options. This will enable us to 100% accurately map the text-field input to the countries that our back-end system (and courier) recognize.

Google Auto-complete
Today, most Web users are familiar with auto-complete functionality. Google has used it for its search field since 2008 (and as an experimental feature since 2004).

Iteration 2: Typos And Sequencing

By replacing the drop-down with an auto-complete text field, we’ve introduced a new problem. While the user can be expected to know the name of their own country, they can’t be expected to know what our back end calls it. If the user lives in the US and makes an omission, such as “nited states,” or decides to type only part of the name, such as “America” (instead of “United States of America”), then no correct results would appear:

Apple Email Subscription
Apple’s country auto-complete field requires you to spell the name 100% correctly and in the right sequence.

This is because a typical auto-complete field will be looking for values that are not only spelled correctly, but typed in the right sequence.

Numerous Web services — and especially e-commerce stores — are geographically restricted, and international users are well aware of this. Even big websites such as Amazon, Hulu and Spotify have serious geographical limitations on some or all of their services. While someone from the US will probably expect their country to be supported, an international user who cannot find their country might abandon your website before detecting their typo.

In short, the country selector has to account for omissions and sequencing. We achieve this by simply enabling loose partial matching:

Iteration 3: When The Netherlands Isn’t Called “The Netherlands”

We’ve now taken care of typos and sequencing, but there’s yet another problem. Some country names have multiple widely accepted spellings; for example, the Netherlands is sometimes referred to as Holland. Geographically, they are the same, but the average person would say that they vacationed in “Holland,” whereas the Dutch themselves would typically spell it “Nederland.”

When we require the user to type a country name, we must consider all common spellings. This includes synonyms, local spellings, common abbreviations and country codes. A typical auto-complete (and drop-down as well) would fail when charged with all of these spellings, such as mapping USA to United States, or Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera and Svizra to Switzerland, or DE to Germany.

From a usability point of view, this is unacceptable because these are common spellings, and people will often type them into auto-complete fields.

In our redesigned country selector, we’ve added the possibility to map multiple words to a given value:

Iteration 4: When “United States” Is More Common Than “United Arab Emirates”

Typing “United” into the auto-complete country selector on Apple’s website gives you the following list:

This list is simply sorted alphabetically. But because we don’t have to scroll through a long list anymore, there’s little reason to sort the list alphabetically. A more natural sorting order would be by popularity. Apple might want to prioritize United States, followed by United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates. Whereas a British newspaper may want to put United Kingdom first.

To accommodate for this, all values (countries) could be given a weight. By default, all would be equal, and then each website could then apply their own weighting for their most popular countries:

Solution: The Redesigned Country Selector

The solution is a redesigned country selector that addresses the issues of drop-down country selectors. It handles typos, various spelling sequences, synonyms and prioritized options.

The technically correct term for this would be something like an “auto-complete text field with loose partial matching, synonyms and weighted results.” That’s a bit long, so I’ve simply dubbed it the “Redesigned Country Selector” — you can try the demo here.

For those of you who own or work on a website with a country selector, I’ve decided to open-source the code. It is a simple jQuery plugin for the progressive enhancement of drop-down menus (i.e. your current country drop-down), turning them into advanced auto-complete fields in modern browsers. It comes with instructions and an FAQ.


© Christian Holst for Smashing Magazine, 2011.

October 24 2011


October 18 2011


Ultimate Round Up of Free and Fresh Photoshop Patterns


In today’s session, we are bringing a collection of some amazing and useful Photoshop resources that will help you in creating your own dulcet patterns in your designs. With Photoshop, designers can save themselves plenty of time and wind up with improved results by taking advantage of readily available freebies. Which is what brings us here today.

This is a round up of dozens of fresh and free Photoshop patterns. The resources featured here are all offered in downloadable PAT format that can be used in Photoshop. Here is the complete list. Enjoy!

Important: All patterns are free. Please read the license agreements carefully before using the patterns for commercial use, they can change from time to time.

The Patterns

Decorative Patterns
This is a set of 8 decorative patterns, included both the PAT file and the seamless JPG files.


Colour Pattern Pack
A pack of 8 jpegs and a PAT file for Photoshop containing beautiful colourful patterns.


Coffee Patterns
This set contains coffee patterns (vector .PSD and .PAT). A great addition to your collection of free vector patterns!


Animal Patterns
This set contains some awesome animal skin, fur and feathers patterns.


Clocks Pattern
This set contains clocks pattern (vector) made in Photoshop. This stylish clock photoshop pattern is available in PSD (vector shapes) and PAT file formats.


Besida’s Patterns 01
This set contains 24 beautiful patterns by Besida.


10 Seamless Plaid Patterns
The patterns are available in both Illustrator and Photoshop format and can be imported as a .PAT file in Photoshop or as an .AI file in Illustrator.


Colorful Rainbow Marble Patterns
It contains four colorful seamless patterns. Made in Photoshop CS5.


A Free Google Plus Photoshop And Illustrator Pattern
This is a simple great striped Photoshop and Illustrator pattern based on the Google Plus colours.


Hand Drawn Summer Petal Photoshop And Illustrator Pattern
A great hand drawn petal pattern available to be used within commercial and non commercial design projects. The pattern is free and available in two different colours which are black and white.


Colourful Abstract Geometric Photoshop And Illustrator Pattern
This colourful geometric pattern includes 6 different colour variations to be used in commercial and non commercial design projects.


3D Cube Patterns
A set of 8 high resolution Photoshop 3D cube based patterns. Feel free to use these as you want in personal and commercial projects.


Geometry Seamless Patterns
This set contains some seamless patterns absolutely for free. They can be a great addition to your beautiful designs and because they are all vector-shape layers, you can scale them as you’d like, and easily change their color.


100 Photoshop Zigzag Patterns
The download includes a PAT file with 100 zigzag pixel patterns with transparent background, vertical and horizontal.


Colorful Wooden Patterns
24 colorful wooden patterns, free for personal or commercial use.


WE LIKE STRIPED: 30 striped patterns
This set contains 30 free striped patterns. PAT file + gif images.


Photoshop Pattern for Packaging Designs: Abstract Circles
This set contains Photoshop patterns with abstract circles (.PAT file and photoshop vector pattern – circles shape layer in Photoshop). This free photoshop pattern is perfect for packaging designs – gift box & wrapping paper designs, book covers, tablecloth designs and much more.


Batik Overlay
This set contains 10 beautiful Batik Overlay patterns.


Photoshop Fabric Patterns: “My Favourite Socks” ))
This Photoshop fabric patterns set contains 7 knit fabric patterns in PAT file format. Download and use in your projects.


A Free Sunshine Cloud Photoshop And Illustrator Pattern
This is a great summer pattern. The set includes hand drawn sun and cloud vector elements combined together to create a great pattern.


Wooden Patterns
2 wooden patterns, free for personal or commercial use.


16 Abstract Pattern
This set contains 16 abstract patterns.


Black & White & Tiled All Over Patterns
This set contains simple black and white seamless tiles.


Deluxive Snow Flakes Tile Patterns
Set of 10 + bonus tile patterns for Photoshop and other applications. Image files included.


Photoshop: 14 High Resolution Geometric Pattern
Here is a set of 14 geometric patterns for Photoshop in high resolution. Modules with geometric shapes such as circles, triangles, squares, hexagons and the like.


Sea and Ocean Fish Vector Pattern
This set contains sea & ocean fish vector pattern (photoshop psd and pat files). This pattern will be a great addition to your collection of free Photoshop vector patterns.


Water Colour Pattern
The pattern is available in 2 different colours.


Starry Sky Photoshop Vector Pattern (PAT, PSD)
This set contains sky vector pattern for Photoshop with white stars and a transparent background, a valuable resource in your design tool box.


Free Dotted Photoshop Patterns
Nice pack of 29 dotted Photoshop patterns free to use.


22 Hexagon Photoshop Patterns (PAT)
Seamless hexagon photoshop patterns (or honeycomb patterns) with transparent background. There are 22 patterns in all in this PAT set, 11 white and 11 black ones. Enjoy!


15 Seamless Pixel Patterns
This set includes 15 seamless pixel patterns for creating visually subtle effects for your design backgrounds.


10 Tileable Photoshop Patterns
This set includes 10 tileable patterns for Photoshop. These patterns can help you enhance your design visuals. And of course they are quick and handy!


Summer Sunflower
This is a great sunflower pattern to be used in commercial and non commercial design projects.


A Great Simple Abstract Pattern
A great simple abstract Photoshop and Illustrator pattern. The pattern comes in two different colours to give you a few more options.


Simple Decorative Photoshop And Illustrator Pattern
A simple but decorative pattern. The pattern is available for Photoshop and Illustrator and in two different colours.


14 Abstract Patterns
This set contains 14 basic abstract patterns.


Abstract Squared Curved Photoshop And Vector Pattern
A cool abstract squared curved pattern which reminds one of a mosaic effect. This pattern is available in five different colours and alongside a Photoshop pattern file which can imported directly into Photoshop.


Beige Grunge Free Patterns
A set of 10 Photoshop seamless beige grunge patterns that you can be use for adding texture to your projects.


32 Photoshop Patterns: Subtle Pixels
This set contains 32 super subtle, Photoshop pixel patterns.


A Glossy Diamond
A glossy diamond Photoshop and Illustrator pattern. The pattern is also available in 2 different colours.


Tileable and Repeatable Pixel Perfect Patterns
A set of seamless and repeatable PSD pixel patterns. More than 60 patterns ready to use with a simple .PAT file. Just change the background color and you will have unlimited possibilities.


15 Abstract Patterns
A beautiful pack of 15 amazing abstract patterns.


Blue Stripes 1 Pattern Set
30 various stripe patterns with bluish gradients for Adobe Photoshop. Some stripes are horizontal, some are vertical, and some are at angles.


Gold Free Pattern
A wonderful set of six Photoshop patterns for your golden artworks, cards or websites. There is one Photoshop .pat file and six individual and seamless .jpg files. The patterns are made on PS CS5.



October 10 2011


How To Create Repeating Texture & Pattern Images

Repeating background images are safest method of styling up your website background other than a plain old CSS background color. Websites are viewed in all types and sizes of browser these days, so a repeating background ensures the whole of the user’s screen will be filled with your design, unlike a static image that can often end up being cropped off or lost in a sea of flat colour. Let’s take a look at how seamless or repeating textures and patterns can be created in Photoshop.

Creating seamless textures

Anyone who’s followed any of my tutorials or seen my work before will know how much I love using textures in my design work. Textures really help add a tactile feel to an otherwise flat and digital design. Open up a texture file and crop it in Photoshop to exclude any marks that would stand out when repeated.

Go to Filter > Other > Offset then enter a figure in the Horizontal and Vertical fields that’s half the dimensions of your image. My texture file is 800x800px, so I enter 400px in the fields.

The offset filter will show obvious lines where the file is repeated, but these can be blended in using the Healing Brush. Hold ALT while selecting a sample area, then draw over the lines with a soft brush. Photoshop will disguise the hard lines to blend the four corners together.

Give the new file a test in a new document by duplicating and butting up the copies against each other. You should be left with a seamless file that doesn’t leave any obvious gaps.

Creating repeating patterns

Repeating pattern files are also a popular choice for website backgrounds. Patterns come in all shapes and designs, from vintage wallpaper to simple stripes like these. Whatever pattern you’re creating the same simple steps apply.

Zoom in and pick a focal point on the design, in this case it’s a point in the design where the pink line changes to yellow. Drag out a marquee until you reach the same point elsewhere on the design.

Crop the image to size then make duplicates to check whether the file tessellates and creates a seamless pattern.

Creating pixel patterns

Pixel patterns have been popular in web design since the early days of Photoshop designed table layouts. They really help add subtle detail to your website background or page elements. Create a new document at 3x3px.

Zoom as far into the document as possible, then use the Pencil tool to fill three pixels to create a diagonal line.

When this pattern file is applied to an element at normal zoom it creates an intricate diagonal line pattern. Check out my pack of free pixel patterns, containing similar diagonal lines amongst other pattern swatches.

October 06 2011


Not Your Parent’s Mobile Phone: UX Design Guidelines For Smartphones



In your pocket right now is the most powerful “remote control” (as Drew Diskin put it) that has ever existed. It is no ordinary remote control. It can harness everything that all of the previous mass media (television, radio, Internet, etc.) can do. People aren’t using them just for simple entertainment or for phone calls. They have become the hub of our personal lives.

Smartphones are what younger generations know as just phones. The iPad (aka the tablet) is giving your grandma’s PC a run for its money. You certainly are holding some amazing futuristic technology in your hands. It will be even better tomorrow, though, so why does it matter to us or to users? Moore’s Law tells us, in effect, that these things will continue to become capable of more than anything our minds can think up.

Two smartphone users

(Image: Denis Dervisevic)

It’s no longer just about the evolving power and capabilities of these devices. It’s about us and how we, too, are changing. The user’s expectation of a great experience is the new standard. It falls to us as UX professionals to apply our skills to make this happen on the vast array of devices out there. It’s not always easy, though. The mobile realm has some unique constraints and offers some interesting opportunities. While covering all of the nuances of mobile UX in one article would be impossible, we’ll cover some fundamentals and concepts that should move you in the right direction with your projects.

Mobile Constraints

The mobile realm has many constraints. Here are several of them, along with thoughts on what to keep in mind as you come upon them.

Form Factor

The most obvious constraint going from desktop to mobile is screen size. Mobile screens are smaller. A lot smaller. You need to seriously consider this when designing and developing your application. Antony Ribot makes a good point in his presentation, “Mobile UX: The Intricacies of Designing For Mobile Devices,” when he says, “Mobile is not about making things smaller.” It’s much more than that. We need to consolidate what’s on the screen. Boil the application down to the most critical functions and content, and then lay them out strategically in the available screen space. For example, action buttons should go in the lower third of the screen, where they are most easily tappable.

Input Methods

Another obvious constraint is the absence of or difference in certain input mechanisms, and the addition of others. First, there’s no mouse. No mouse means no hover states. It also means that there must be some other means of clicking and navigating content. In most cases, this other means is the user’s finger. This difference in input method can be quite exciting because it opens the door to new possibilities with various gestures. Many standards are forming around these new gesture capabilities: pinch to zoom, swipe to scroll, etc. Take the time to include support for these gestures in your application. In addition, think of new gestures that you could add to enhance interactivity.

Discovering new gestures can be a powerful experience for users. It adds a sense of excitement, mystery and achievement — “Hey, I just figured out something new!” Take care, though, not to change the function of standard gestures unless you have a very good reason to do so, or else you will cause unnecessary confusion and frustration in users.

Gesture Card

(Touch Gesture Cards (PDF): Luke Wroblewski)

One other caveat: consider the type of application you’re developing before getting too fancy with gestures. If it will be highly utilitarian in nature, then keeping things simple and straightforward would be best. If the application is for a specific task, then users will want to complete it as quickly and easily as possible. They don’t have the time or desire to discover new interactions.

Technical Constraints

While the capabilities of these devices improve with each new release it, keep in mind their limitations. Things like battery life and processing power are important to consider. Draining the battery or bringing the device to its knees with memory leaks or processor-intensive operations is a surefire way to destroy the user experience. This is why testing on the device early and often is imperative. Simulators cannot be trusted.

Data Transfer and Pricing

This will not be an issue for users who have unlimited data plans or who work on Wi-Fi networks. Unfortunately, unlimited plans are becoming increasingly rare. So, be sensitive to the amount of data you are transferring to and from your application. Keep the sizes of assets to a minimum, while maintaining quality. Don’t transfer data unnecessarily. For example, implement delta updates whenever possible (i.e. update only the data that has changed since the last transfer).

Food Sense - Responsive Web Design

(Images: and Food Sense)

Much has been said recently about Responsive Web Design. This approach does create some challenges with minimizing data transfer. Jason Grigsby has a very good write-up on the specifics. To summarize, CSS media queries — part of the magic sauce of responsive design — do almost nothing to lessen the overhead of data transfer to mobile devices. Resizing or hiding unwanted images still requires the full images to be downloaded to the browser. In addition, resources such as JavaScript libraries might be downloaded to mobile devices without even being enabled for users.

Good General Practices

What follows are some good general principles to keep in mind when designing and developing mobile applications.

Mobile First

Luke Wroblewski has a great post on the “Mobile First” methodology. In a nutshell, focusing on mobile first puts your mind in the right place. It forces you to focus on and prioritize the most important features and content in your application. It also extends your abilities by offering new tools and services that are not available in a traditional desktop environment. By approaching your project with the mobile-first mentality, you will start off on the right foot.

Behaviors and Archetypes

Build on the behaviors and archetypes that your users are already accustomed to. This will go a long way to reducing the learning curve of your application. If your application responds predictably to a user’s interaction, then the user will immediately become more comfortable.

This applies to more than general behaviors and archetypes. You will want to use design patterns that are specific to your target devices. This means building multiple interfaces for various devices and platforms, which is extra work; but it will pay off in the long run because users will appreciate that your application behaves in the manner they’ve come to expect from their device. For example, iOS design patterns dictate that tabbed navigation be located at the bottom of the screen, whereas Android devices have it along the top.

As with most good UX principles, if done properly, the user won’t even notice, while their increased comfort level will encourage them to continue exploring the application. Which brings us to our next practice.

Encourage Exploration

The more that users feel comfortable with and enjoy your application, the more likely they will explore it. You may want to lead them down certain paths or provide a few cues or coach marks on how certain things work, but still allow your users to “discover.” I’m not suggesting that you make the application complicated or ambiguous; rather, for example, if there are multiple ways to perform an action, one more obvious and traditional and the other a quick and easy gesture, then the user might come to prefer the second option once they discover it. Such solutions improve the overall experience if they prove to be quicker and more efficient than traditional interactions.

Provide Immediate Feedback

We’ve all witnessed our less computer-savvy peers clicking violently and repeatedly on a button trying to force it to do whatever they so desperately want to achieve. Touchscreens only add to this anxiety because they don’t provide that tactile response that we’ve been conditioned to expect from tapping on a keyboard or clicking with a mouse. Providing some indication that the application has registered the user’s interaction is critical, whether it’s a small bounce at the end of a scrollable region or a subtle color change at the tap of a button. This not only compensates for the lack of tactile response, but assures users that something is happening even if the screen isn’t updating immediately due to slow network traffic or some processor-intensive operation.


Person using a tablet at home

(Image: S. Diddy)

Another glaring difference between mobile and desktop applications is context. With a desktop application, you can be relatively certain that it is being used in a particular environment. With mobile, all bets are off. This gives us some exciting opportunities: location-based services, on-the-spot social networking, the opportunities are vast.

It also raises some unique problems. Do your research to determine the context in which the majority of people will be using your application.

If you’re targeting on-the-go users, then you’ll want to build the application for speed: bold, obvious, stripped-down selectors and a streamlined workflow. If your application is more akin to a breakfast-table browser, then content will probably be more important to the user, but they may have only one hand free to navigate, while the other cradles their morning coffee. These are just two examples; the point is that your mobile application could be used in any number of contexts, and you will need to take the time to figure out how to provide the best experience to the user in their context.

One other thing to consider is the device(s) that you are targeting. Research suggests that a majority of tablet owners use their device mostly at home. Only 21% take their device with them on the go, compared to 59% of smartphone users who consult their device while out and about.

Ideate in the Wild

Crowd of people

(Image: Niall Kennedy)

I’m borrowing this one directly from Rachel Hinman because she is spot on. The best way to determine context and to conduct research is to immerse yourself in the environments in which your application will be used.

Hang out where your target audience hangs out. If possible, do the things they do, go where they go. This will serve a couple purposes. First, it could give you ideas for great applications to build. Maybe you’ll observe common pain points and come up with a solution to alleviate them. Or, if you already have an idea for an application, you could gain valuable insight into how the application might be (or is being) used in the wild. We’d be surprised quite often by the difference between how we intend for our application to be used and how it is actually being used. This information can help us iterate our ideas and continually improve the application.


The way mobile devices are being used is changing all the time, and users are increasingly expecting exceptional experiences from the applications they use. While the mobile world has many constraints, its many more opportunities make building mobile applications a worthwhile venture. Keep in mind the constraints, and focus on mobile first when beginning your project.

Remember that innovative features and cutting-edge design aren’t as valuable to users as we may think. Users are concerned with getting the information they need through a sometimes limited connection, or perhaps getting accustomed to typing on a screen without any tactile feedback. Not everyone has an iPad… yet.

Talk to real people, follow common archetypes, and keep the context of your target users in mind. These guidelines should help you create a great experience in your mobile application.

Additional Resources

Design patterns:

Design guidelines:

Mobile statistics:

Article sources:


© Tim R. Todish for Smashing Magazine, 2011.

September 22 2011


Seamless Lite New Features: Custom Shapes & Shape Galleries (How-To)

COLOURlovers spend countless hours creating amazing Patten Templates using Seamless Lite. Today, we are happy to announce some amazing new feature updates to the in-site seamless pattern design process.


Along with the new features, Seamless Lite has been given some big love and a smoother, speedier designing experience should be noticeable.

"Save as Shape" Tool

You can now save individual elements using the newly installed “Save as Shape” tool. This will allow you to keep those wonderfully complicated design elements you have been creating for a single Pattern Template. Only NOW, you can re-use those awesome pieces in any number of Pattern Template variation by using, “My Shapes” located in your Shapes Library on Seamless Lite (when you are logged in).


 How To Use "Save as Shape"

In Seamless Lite, create a shape from multiple shapes using the preexisting shapes in the Shape Library. Select all layers that make up this custom shape. No need to group these either, when you save the shape as a single element it will automatically group it and give it the name you give your shape upon saving,

Select your shape layers and click, Save as Shape" in the layer tools area. 

Preview your shape element, give it a title, description if you want, tags and then Save Shape.

That simple! At this point, shapes cannot be shared with one another (unless you do that privately - it's your choice).

Shape Galleries: A Place to Show Off  Your Abilities!

A new gallery for all of your custom shapes, will be added to your profile page the moment you create and save your first shape with the "Save as Shape" tool.


Gallery element for your Shapes (above)

Gallery view of your shapes allows the same filter-view options as other creations on the site.

Each shape has its own information page just like the other creations on Everyone has the ability to LOVE, FAVE and SHARE this shape made by you! Additionally, you have the ability to download the .SVG file, located under the, made "with Seamless Lite" link and DELETE or EDIT the shape profile under the OPTIONS drop-down.

Shapes will also stream on to the homepage of as they are being created. So let's see what you got?!

September 08 2011


August 26 2011


August 24 2011


August 19 2011


Printing with Patterns: Three Key Points + $75 Giveaway from Next Day Flyers

Using patterns in print design can really punch up a project. It's nothing new, but I'd like to point out a few different variations you might see as key benefits.

Single Use Design Pieces

Simplify a project by using patterns. In this design, the abstract pattern with the perfect color palette, truly resembles a feel for the arts. It doesn't restrict the design to a certain type of art where the festival might cover anything from painting, sculpting, fiber arts and more. Using an artistically geared pattern keeps that visual open.

Print Magazine's, Color in Design Awards (2011) / Poster Design by Dave Whitley

Coordinating Design Pieces

Using patterns in coordinating print projects can easily lend a hand in matching sets of items such as wedding invitations which usually contain a main element, the invitation - plus response cards, enclosure cards, save the date cards and thank you cards. Not to mention possibly following through with the design on wedding day programs, seat placement cards, etc.

autumn textile by

Reusable & Customizable Design Pieces

When working with products you want buyers to customize, simple two-color patterns make it easy to do so. This makes it a snap for you to go in and adjust the pattern palette before shipping a digital file or physical product off to a client.

Tea Invitation by FLIPAWOO (customizable pattern invitations)

No matter what type of print project you have, these are a few benefits to using patterns to speed up your design or business process, not to mention a great way to add a ton of interest in your work.

Using COLOURlovers Patterns in your designs...

Here at COLOURlovers you can download an .SVG file of your pattern designs as long as you were the original Pattern Template creator. Additionally, if you have Seamless Studio, you can export designs as: .SVG, .JPG or .PNG to be able to use in other graphics software for design.

The Giveaway - How to Earn Your $75

This is a random giveaway picked from those who leave a comment. You have two choices:

Link to and place an image of a project you have designed with patterns. This can be from a yesterday or today, real or fake and must be a complete looking project. Does it fall under one of the three examples above?


Link to and place an image of a print piece or pieces (such as a wedding invitation set) you adore and think is a prime example of one of the above three examples.

In addition, I'd love to know why you like using patterns in your design or why you like seeing patterns in design.

Entries will be collected through Sunday, August 28th, 2011 (by midnight PST). 

Next Day Flyers, the postcard printing specialists will be providing gift a credit of $75 to the randomly selected winner!

<div align="center" style="width:140px;border:1px solid #ccc; background: #; color: #0081C1;font-weight:bold;font-size:12px;"> <a style="text-decoration: none; color:#0081C1;" href="">My Countdown </a></div> <p>


header credit:

August 15 2011


Plywerk - Naturally Display Your Artwork

Introducing...PLYWERK, an eco-conscious photo mounting and art panel company based in Portland Oregon. They work with professional artists, photographers, interior designers, point and shoot photographers, parents, and everyone in between!

Art pieces are a made up of your print adhered to a Plywerk Panel to create a beautifully natural piece of wall art. Gorgeous bamboo or maple are offered for the wood options.

Plywerk Anatomy 101

Bamboo & Maple Plywerk Panels

COLOURlovers has recently become a Pro Partner of PLYWERK. Why is this super notable to mention? Because you're going to get the best, most amazing deals ever when you create an account (which is free). These deals are customized to COLOURlovers Members Only under the Prodeal membership (which is also free). Pretty sweet huh?

COLOURlovers Creations On Your Wall...

You can mount anything photography, graphic design pieces, etc. I'd personally like to see some fantastic patterns from the community mounted on these!




FIRST: Create A New Account on

NEXT: Sign Up For A New Account.

Make sure you check the box under, "Prodeal Signup?" which will unlock the Pro Partners selectors where you'll be able to enter your COLOURlovers information.

Want to see COLOURlovers work on a Plywerk piece?

I'd love to see your COLOURlovers + Plywerk piece. Plywerk offers a layered PSD file for you to mask your creation. If you want to play around with it, the file link is located on the Prodeal page here (bottom - left).

Let's see what ya got!

August 06 2011


Copyrights: Are they always Black and White?

Hello COLOURlovers!

Copyrights are well known topics that continually float around the community. So I've snagged someone in the business of creating and selling vector artwork to explain in laymen's terms the crazy in's and out's of copyright (with digital art). I'd like to introduce to the blog authorship, Ray Dombroski, founder of The Vector Lab ( and a COLOURlover himself.

Enjoy the post ~ Molly Bermea / Blog Editor



Intellectual Property and Copyrights

Whenever an artist creates a new original work in the United States as well as in many other countries, it is automatically covered under copyright protection.  With the use of licensing, that artist can grant certain additional rights to others. A license can be written to give someone else the right to resell the art or create derivative works (remix or change the art), for example. These licenses are important when it comes to using stock art or clip art for your own designs.

Stock Art: Know Your Source

In a COLOURloving world where we are trying to keep our karma points high, it’s important to pay attention to what our fellow artists’ intentions were when they created the stock art we are using. The number one rule is to know your source. Whether you purchased the art from a reputable website, copied it off a friend’s CD, or scanned in some 18th century ornaments from the pages of a clip art book, it’s wise to read their usage license. If you don’t know who the artist is or the company that owns the copyright to the art, it’s best to move on and find another source.

How to Decipher a License

Most stock art websites have mind-numbing license contracts that cover permitted uses and restricted uses of their licensed art. In addition, most have lengthy standard and extended licenses. Thankfully some stock art websites are nice enough to offer a quick reference guide for their permitted/restricted uses and standard/extended license options. As an example,'s quick reference guide is located here.  Each company has a different contract, but below I’ve called out the most common provisions.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses - Standard License

  • - Small Print Runs
  • - Advertising and promotional products
  • - Books, Magazines, Newspapers
  • - Internet Banners, Video
  • - Promotional Prints and Posters not intended for resale
  • - Individual (or one-seat) license. Not to be installed on multiple computers.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses – Extended License

  • - Large print runs
  • - Use of the licensed material in products for sale
  • - Multi-seat license

Typical Stock Art Prohibited Uses (For Either Standard or Extended License)

  • - Use the licensed material as part of a trade mark or logo.
  • - Post the licensed material in any format that enables it to be downloaded or distributed.
  • - Distribute, resell, lend, or gift the licensed material.

The Big Question

So can I sell my patterns if they contain stock art covered under this sort of license? What if I purchase an extended license that covers items for resale or electronic items for resale? What if I take multiple vector files such as a floral pack of flowers and swirls and recolor them and create my own combination?

If the re-sold pattern is a vector file (such as an SVG, EPS, AI, PDF) then the answer to these questions is generally a “no.” This is because the two prohibited uses (posting & distributing the vector file) mentioned above would be violated. The reason for this is that the vector line work in these kinds of files stays intact and the stock art can easily be extracted and re-used for a different purpose by the new purchaser.

But the answer can be "yes," if the re-sold pattern is a pixel image or another flattened format such as a JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, or TIF. If you are reselling the pattern you may be required to purchase an extended license that covers “items for resale” or “electronic items for resale.” Also check to see if the licensing contract has a pixel or DPI resolution limit on the items you are reselling.

Creative Commons

Some artists and designers offer their art under what is known as a Creative Commons License. Wikipedia has a really good breakdown of how this licensing system works – From that website I have called out the main points that are relevant to this article:

Original Licenses:

  • - Attribution: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they attribute the work to the author or licensor.
  • - Noncommercial: Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
  • - No Derivative Works: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
  • - Share-alike: Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.

Selling Patterns made with Creative Commons Art

Back to our previous questions about reselling vector patterns that contain Creative Commons art, you are allowed to do so if the license is Attribution alone or Attribution + ShareAlike. If you are not reselling the pattern, but just giving it away, then you can also do this if it’s Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike.

All Creative Commons Licenses require attribution of the original creator. So be sure to include the following:

  • - Include any copyright notices (if applicable)
  • - Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID
  • - Cite the work's title or name (if applicable)
  • - Cite the specific CC license the work is under
  • - Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation

For us COLOURlovers, the world of intellectual property is not always completely black and white. But I hope it brings some understanding and discussion to the subject. Let's get out there and create!

Get Some FREE SVG Pattern Elements

Ray was kind enough to give the community some artwork to make their own patterns in different variations. Use them together, mix 'em up with the COLOURlovers shapes or your own custom shapes! Since Seamless Studio came out, he opened up a section of his site literally to help COLOURlovers who may not have access to vector software. This is the Pattern Elements Section.

These coupons are available until Aug 31, 2011:

Coupon: CL-TVL-PE (Free - Pattern Elements #01)

Coupon: CL-TVL-20 (20% off orders on

There is also an additional FREE SVG Pattern Download that has been available in the Pattern Elements section of

Direct SVG Files: You Don't Need a Vector Program!

These vector pieces are not only super cool to grab up this month (for FREE), but they come as SVG's! This means that you don't have to have any vector editing software to use them. Simply download them and import the SVG files straight in to Seamless Studio. How cool is that?!

Imported SVG shapes will go straight to your My Shapes  in the collections library in Seamless Studio.

The Vector Lab's, Pattern Elements are automatically offered at no complicated extra charge a, FULL EXTENDED LICENSE - which allows you to re-sell your patterns you create with them.

Now go create!!

Demonstration / How-To Video:

Creating Seamless Vector Patterns from TheVectorLab on Vimeo.

August 05 2011


Lover Feature: Designer, Shawna Crouch aka "sec9586"

Some of you may already know our own sec9586, some of you may have just heard of her as the designer of the Betabrand plaid pattern, "Betabrand2" in our contest, "Color a Plaid Shirt Contest by Betabrand + COLOURlovers". Either way, we're featuring her today so you can get to know her even better!

Shawna Crouch, aka "sec9586", is the owner / operator of CrouchDesign. She attended Murray State University, where she graduated with a BS in Studio Art/Graphic Design in 2009, and specializes primarily in print design. Along with her designing day job, she runs a small shop on Zazzle as CrouchDesign, where she offers freelance design services. She also has an Etsy shop,  AquaNetNightmare, set to reopen September 1st, 2011 which will offer jewelry, cards, invitations, stationary and drawings.

Shawna continually uses COLOURlovers in every which way for both work and fun. Let's take a peek at how she does it...

Using COLOURlovers in Daily Design

COLOURlovers: How do you specifically use tools to work with a client in getting a perfect color palette?

Shawna: The first thing I do is to ask them what type of look they are going for. In doing so, I sometimes ask them what their favorite restaurant or hotel is, which can sometimes help show me an example of the style they like. After a preliminary discussion of their style, I direct them to and ask them to choose three color palettes they’d like me to work with. From that point, I can design a pattern in Seamless, work on the mock-up and work with them to get a design that they were imagining.

COLOURlovers: How exactly do you get clients to send you palettes to use?

Shawna: Usually I have clients email me links to the palettes, OR I have them download the AI or ASE swatch files (to email me) - depending on which is easier for them. Everytime that I have had them do this, it has gone very smoothly. Usually only issue being that they send more than three palettes because there are just so many wonderful color combinations to choose from. Then we get to play the elimination game, which can be a daunting task in itself!

COLOURlovers: What COLOURlovers tools do you use specifically, and how?

Shawna: When I use, I almost always use COPASO to create my palettes. COPASO allows you to make palettes with custom widths, but I mainly use it for the simple fact that I can use photos to pick colors from and use a scratch area to keep all my ideas organized.

Since I've just gotten the COLOURlovers iPhone App, ColorSchemer, I'm really looking forward to utilizing it in every day work. Being able to access and creating palettes on the fly will be an amazing tool. I imagine having a client sitting right with me saying, “Hmm, I need to see some color options for our company’s new look”. All I'll have to do is pull up the app and create the palette on the spot! It will definitely speed up this part of the process.

COLOURlovers: I know you've also recently got a copy of Seamless Studio. Do you use patterns a lot in your work already? If so, how will having a copy of SS on your desktop help out?

Shawna: I do try to use patterns in my work, because they can add subtle qualities that make a design much more interesting. Using the website is awesome because I can tailor the pattern templates to my needs, and then color several very quickly. It’s also exciting to find hidden gems among other users that create amazing templates.


Seamless Studio expands the limitations of making the templates in so many new directions. I have a lot more control over what shapes are in the pattern and better yet, getting the colors exactly how I like them for the big picture.

Being able to create organic shapes makes it so much more fulfilling to use the software and website to my full potential as a designer.


Shawna's current Fav's


I find it fascinating to see how our community uses COLOURlovers for both work and play and We have so many unique freelancers and small business owners. I'll be on the lookout for more Lovers to showcase here on the blog.

So how do you use COLOURlovers?


header design credits:

August 02 2011


July 13 2011


MadPattern Educational Series: The Awesomeness of Patterns

Patterns are way easier to make than you may think, you just have to learn the tricks. That's where I come in. It seems like the pattern world is real hush hush about their techniques and the tools out there are nothing short of awful - besides the COLOURlovers Seamless Pattern Maker and my own resources at In this Educational Series I'll be helping you understand the different types of patterns. Let's first start with getting you Lovers up to speed on some of the universal laws of patterns.

Pattern Types

 Pattern examples A, B, C, D (P1, P4, P6M, P3M1)

It is mathematically proven that there are only 17 different types of pattern symmetries. this is a surprisingly nice and natural way to organize the patterns you see around you.

Do you notice the symmetries?

Do you see how pattern A is just a bunch of images in a grid while pattern B is a motif rotated around its center four times?

Notice how pattern C has a naturally formed six-sided shape in it while pattern D has three naturally formed three-sided shapes.

Each of the 17-different types of patterns has a noticeable quality to it that you can learn to recognize. It actually takes a while to get good at, but it's a pretty fun game you can play while walking around throughout your day. For more information about some of the mathematical background, I recommend you read this Wikipedia article on it called, Wallpaper Group.

Pattern by Type: P1

We are going to focus on the type of symmetry in pattern A, called P1. P1 is the mother of pattern styles because it is the easiest to understand. Over the next few months, I will be continuing these educational posts to encompass all of the 17-different pattern types.

That Repeating Square - The Cell

Every pattern has a square/parallelogram that becomes the repeating part (that's the tile that you would make your desktop or website background). From here forward, this tile will be referred to as the Cell.

The biggest difference you'll notice later in this Educational Series, is that P1 has only one cell, whereas other pattern types have a smaller unit that can be reflected/copied/rotated to generate the cell. P1 has the least amount of symmetry, which means that it distorts your original art the least. This makes it ideal for showing off your artwork clearly within a pattern repeat. It'll be good to note here that the COLOURlovers seamless patterns are a P1, using the Cell for pattern repeats as seen in the Seamless Studio shot (above).

Getting to Know P1: Donut World

P1 is a donut!

Situation: Imagine you're standing on top of a delicious gigantic frosted donut. You hear there are sprinkles on the other side and decide to walk around (this donut has gravity, so you wont fall off). Once you've gotten to the sprinkles you keep walking and you end up back where you started at frosting, yay! Weird though, to be stuck on this giant donut, it seems like as far as we walk in that direction, we will keep just seeing frosting, then sprinkles, then frosting again, etc. We're trapped!

Here's yet another situation you can walk yourself through: You're standing on a vanilla frosted donut. Your buddy told you that the other half of the donut is chocolate glazed. Cool, lets go investigate. You walk around the top part of the donut and sure enough you find the chocolate frosting. Ok, so we head back around the donut, and now we are back at the vanilla side again. If we keep walking, we will continuously see vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, etc...

Ok, but what is the point? The point is that we have experienced a space that has this funny quality that no matter how far you walk in any direction, you'll just keep seeing the same things over and over. Not a terrible situation considering we’re on a donut. The world of your donut, is the world of P1, and actually, when you look at normal p1 patterns printed out, what you're really looking at is your donut world unfolded onto a plane.

donut world unfolded onto a plane

Notice if you're standing on the chocolate glazed area and you walk vertically, you will pass into the vanilla frosted section, and then the chocolate section again and on and on. Same as the donut, but it looks very different, not as delicious.

The point of this exercise is to help you see that patterns are not just things you see on fabric and around the world, they are abstract spaces that have been unfolded onto a plane. So remember, when you look at patterns, you are really looking at an infinite world of wonder.

Hands-On Learning: Making Plaid (next time)

So ok, we've learned a little. Next time we will focus on understanding and creating a plaid. I'm going to show you how you can break down a pattern, and build it back up again from scratch. Stay tuned...


June 24 2011


Freebie Friday: 9 Seamless Noise Patterns

One of the most oft questions I get asked on my blog Lost & Taken isn’t about the textures, it’s “How did you create your subtle background image?”. It’s actually a pretty quick process in Photoshop, but I’ve taken the liberty of putting together 9 different seamless noise-y patterns to help save you guys a little extra time. The patterns are a combination of noise and grunge, with some of them coming from photographs and others being generated by the computer. They’re perfectly seamless and will work great for website backgrounds and many other projects.

If you’re looking for a good way to put them to use check out what’s tagged with “noise” on Dribbble. There are all kinds of awesome designs on there that utilize patterns just like these.

I’ve included nine high-res .JPG files that you can edit/modify to your liking. I’ve also included a Photoshop .PAT file if you’re in need of a quick pattern fix. Both the .JPG and .PAT files are included in the download at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns


Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns
Freebie Friday: 8 Seamless Noise Patterns

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