Y’all, have I got some knowledge to pass along to you today! If you like wallpaper, fabric, and abstract acrylic paintings as much as I do, I think you’ll enjoy this. I want to show you how to turn a very simple acrylic painting into a repeatable pattern that you can use to print on wallpaper and fabric.
So let me back up a bit. Are y’all familiar with The One Room Challenge? I think it’s twice a year (spring and fall) and it’s where a group of bloggers each redesign and decorate one room in their own home over the course of six weeks, and then at the end of those six weeks, we all get to ooohh and aaahh over their results. I always look forward to the reveals. I make a Saturday morning of it, looking through all of the before and after room makeovers.
One of my all-time favorite rooms was a dining room by Cassie at Hi Sugarplum. The thing that absolutely made that room was the wallpaper. It’s truly spectacular, in my humble opinion. I’ve gone back probably a hundred times to look at that room and those walls.
Well, a few days ago, I was looking at the website of the artist who designed the wallpaper (I’m not going to link to the website, for reasons that should become obvious, so if you want to see those designs, you can do a bit of link-following to find it yourself), and it dawned on me that the design used to create that wallpaper was incredibly simple. As in, literally anyone who can hold a paint brush can create something similar. And you can customize it just for yourself using colors specific to your house or your particular room.
So I spent literally ten minutes yesterday afternoon making two 8″ x 10″ paintings, painted on 1/4″ MDF and using leftover Behr paint that I had on hand. And then I created my own wallpaper designs. Again, these were five-minute paintings using leftover paint that I had on hand. Here’s what the original paintings looked like…
I mean, those are pretty basic paintings, am I right? I’m pretty sure most people can do something like that. But that first simple painting turned into wallpaper looks like this…
(I should have brightened the image of my painting more with the white balance tool in my photo editing software before uploading it, but these are just quick examples.)
And the second simple painting looks like this…
Pretty awesome, right!? Now just imagine what you can do if you put a little more than five minutes into your painting, actually thought through the design a bit, and purchase some paints in amazing colors rather than using leftover scraps.
So let me show you how I did this. First of all, I use a program called Paint Shop Pro X8 to do all of my photo editing. It’s similar to Photoshop at a fraction of the price. Even my Photoshop-expert mom was pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of this program.
The X8 version is outdated, but you can click here to find the most recent version on Amazon, available in an instant download. You can also get it on a disc…but why would you do that when instant gratification is available? 😀 Anyway, here’s the process I used. And all of these screenshots should be clickable so that you can see a larger image with a bit more detail if you need to.
After I did the painting and let it dry completely, I took a relatively close-up picture of it, making sure that there weren’t any glares anywhere on the painting. I have an iPhone X, which is as good as many (but obviously not all) DSLRs available today, so that’s what I use for all of my pictures these days. I pulled up the picture in PaintShop Pro, and this is what it looked like right out of my phone.
You can see that the picture is kind of dark, plus there’s quite a bit of my kitchen countertop in there. All of that can be edited out. But first, I needed to straighten the edges of the painting, which I did using this pointer tool on the left. Once you click that, you can Shift, click and drag the corners of the picture to straighten the edges of the painting.
And then I used the cropping tool to crop out the countertop, leaving me with just the painting with straightened edges.
Next, under the Adjust tab at the top, I corrected the white balance, I edited the brightness/contrast, and I edited the fill light/clarity. You can play around with these options to see how they affect your image, but I generally have to brighten mine quite a bit.
Do not, at any point, resize the image! You want it to stay as big as possible, just as it is right out of your phone or DSLR.
When I had the brightness and contrast just like I wanted it, I clicked on the image and did a Ctrl + C to copy the image. Then under the Image tab at the top, I resized the Canvas Size to make it twice as wide and twice as high as the original picture.
It gives you the option to select a background color. This color won’t show in the final image, but making the color something dark (like black, which is what I use) or something bright (like hot pink) makes it easier to tile your image and make sure that you’re not leaving any areas exposed. It also gives you the option to determine placement of the original image on the new larger canvas. Just make sure your original image is placed in one corner rather than being centered in the middle of the new canvas size.
Then I pasted three additional images of the original painting using either the Edit –> Paste As New Layer option on the top menu, or by hitting Ctrl + V. Then I clicked and dragged each layer to its position. You can see the layers on the right side of the screen. The original one is the one with the background color.
Next, I clicked on each new layer one at a time, and flipped them using the Flip option under the Image tab at the top.
Then I clicked and dragged each layer so that they were perfectly lined up next to the original layer. You really have to zoom in to be sure they’re lined up. They may look lined up when you’re zoomed out, but if you zoom in, you can see that they’re just a couple of pixels off. I just use my arrow keys to get them perfectly in place.
And then when you zoom out, you should have a perfectly repeatable design. Just click on the Layers tab at the top, and click Merge –> Merge All (Flatten) to turn the four layers into one layer.
In order to upload the design to Spoonflower, the file has to be under 40MB. You can change the file size and quality as you’re saving the image. I personally use .jpg files, and I save them as high quality as I can while keeping it at or under 40MB.
And again, remember that you do not want to resize the actual dimensions of the image. Keep it as large as possible!
Once you’ve created your repeatable pattern, you’re ready to upload to Spoonflower. You’ll have to create an account, and then head to the Studio Home section on your user account, where you’ll see an option to upload a new design.
Once you upload it, it automatically sends you to the Fabric tab, and the proportions will probably be off. Mine looked like this…
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose which fabric you want because this will affect your design since each type of fabric is a different width. I ordered a sample of the linen cotton canvas ultra, and it’s really nice. It’s a soft cotton with a medium weight to it, which seems perfect for draperies, pillows, and pretty much all home decorating projects. So I chose that in the drop-down menu, and it automatically changed the dimensions of the pattern based on the width of the fabric.
But you don’t have to keep those dimensions. You can choose to make the pattern repeat smaller or larger. I like to have full repeats on my width of fabric, so I clicked the “smaller” button a couple more times until it showed me two full horizontal repeats of my pattern.
I liked it, but I decided to go even smaller and have three horizontal repeats on the single width of fabric. That made each horizontal repeat 18 inches wide. (It shows you the dimensions of the repeats just under the “smaller” and “bigger” buttons.)
Once you get the design the size you want it, just click the “Save This Layout” button, and you’re ready to place your order. I highly recommend ordering a sample first to make sure the colors are right, and the fabric you chose will work for your project.
And when you’re pleased with the size, click the “Save This Layout” button, and you’re ready to order your sample.
Easy peasy, right?! 😀
It really is quite a simple process from beginning to end. The photo editing process might have a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never edited photos before, but it’s really not difficult. And just imagine what you can create! You can cover your walls with your very own custom design that no one else will have.
And now that you know the process, you can go to the aforementioned artist’s website, reverse engineer the whole process, and see for yourself the original images that were used to create those gorgeous wallpapers. I think you’ll be amazed. Please don’t copy another artist’s design, but you can certainly be inspired by them, and use them to gauge just how detailed or simple you want to make your own design.