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Create a Design Using Photos

18 May 2017 08:30

Using a photo is probably one of the simplest ways of creating a design to use on fabric.  You can see how I've used photos in the blog posts Design your own Fabric Using Photos and Make a Cushion Using a Photo .  This is basically taking a photo and printing it onto fabric.  However, you don't need to stop there.  You can use photos in other ways.

I always love a view of something, especially a church. seen through a gap in the trees, when the trees form a frame for the view.  I decided that such a view would make the basis of an interesting fabric, for a dress or curtains.  This is the view which started my 'collection' of photos for such a fabric design.

I started looking out for similar views.  In the end, many of my views are taken from a river bank and some don't contain a tree frame.  I selected 15 which I thought might be suitable.  Including them all would have made a large file, and each view would only have appeared once (if that!) in the finished item.  So a bit of culling was required.

Do you find that making decisions about what to include - or what not to include - crops up all the time when you're designing?  So many options!  For today, though, I'm only going to use one photo - the rest can wait for another day.

I used Photoshop Elements to create this design, as it has more features than

Create your Fabric Design

  • In your software, open a new blank canvas.  Set the resolution at 150dpi and the size about 20cms square.  (You can always alter the size of your canvas if you change your mind.)
  • Select a background colour and fill the canvas.  I picked a pale cream from our colour chart, then made it paler in the colour wheel in Photoshop.
  • Open your photo; this will be in a new canvas.  You can just copy and paste this, but I think it looks nicer if it's softened a bit.  So, click on Cookie Cutter (or press C) and select an appropriate shape.  I wanted an oval, so I used the speech bubble.  Click on the shape, then position the shape over your photo.  When you're happy, click on the tick.
  • You may want to crop your photo a bit, depending on how much blank space is left round it.  Then copy and paste it onto your first canvas. 
  • Now you need to get rid of all the hard edges!

           I did this in two stages (although there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the two!)

           First, I got rid of the sharp corners by painting over them.  I picked up the yellow from the background and varied the              size of the paintbrush, using a larger brush first, then a smaller one to get more detail.   I wanted a 'faded' edge, not a                sharp one.


You will have two layers at this point.  Once you start working on more than one layer at a time, you will need to merge the layers.

  • The second stage was to use the smudge tool, again changing the size of the tool to give a more natural look.
  • Now you can flatten the image, upload your design to the web site, select a repeat and order your fabric.
If you decide you want more or less space around the photos, check the blog post Basic Design Alterations for ideas and help.