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Ready to stand out by gifting your product with a gorgeous surface design? Your first step is to choose the best surface pattern design type for your project.

But if you’re feeling lost with where to start (or if you didn’t even know there were surface pattern design types), keep reading.

Investing in surface pattern design can feel a lot like getting a super cute – and value-rich! – drink from Starbucks.

On the surface (pun unintended), it seems simple. You’re there to get something sweet to treat yourself. But then you glance up at the menu and there are so many options. Where do you start?!

And then come the questions. What size? Nonfat? 2% milk? Soymilk? Half-and-half? Almond milk? Coconut milk? Would you like it steamed, iced, blended, whipped? With foam? Without? With ice? Without?

By the time you dizzily walk away, hopefully clutching the drink of your dreams, it can feel like you’ve just been interviewed by NASA. And often what makes the experience so overwhelming isn’t just the sheer number of questions, but also the unique Starbucks lingo you’ve gotta navigate, too.

And while I promise choosing a surface design type isn’t quite that overwhelming, there are still some lingo and decision-making to work through.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the first two decisions you should make when choosing the best surface pattern design type for your product. Let’s get started

Decision #1: Do you need a collection?

When a potential client fills out my quote request form for bespoke surface pattern design, one of the first questions they’re asked is: How many patterns would you like me to design?

Your answer will depend on what your pattern – or patterns – are being used for. If you have one product that you’re selling as one variant (aka one type), then you might only need one pattern (like this!)

Surface pattern design, featuring various Christmas baking motifs.

You might want multiple patterns – with completely different designs – for a variety of products.

Pink Zebra stripes surface Pattern Design for Children's products
Sleepy Sheepy surface pattern design shown on a cute baby onesie
digital illustration of a lady with her hands in front of her saying "no"

Or you might want a collection of patterns. A collection is a set of patterns that use similar colours, styles and elements.

digital illustration of a lady with her hands in front of her saying "no"
digital illustration of a lady with her hands in front of her saying "no"
digital illustration of a lady with her hands in front of her saying "no"

Decision #2: How complex would you like your pattern to be?

Next, you can look at choosing the complexity of your patterns. This is another way of describing how detailed you’d like your illustrations to be.

As a surface pattern designer, I offer three tiers of pattern complexity: Basic, intermediate and detailed. This decision is largely a personal choice based on your vision for your project.

A basic pattern typically has one to two graphics/motifs.

Grey and Teal Zebra stripes surface Pattern Design for Children's products

An intermediate pattern typically has four to seven graphics/motifs.

Repeat pattern design featuring cute bees and sunflowers

And a detailed pattern has eight to ten graphics/motifs.

digital illustration of a lady with her hands in front of her saying "no"

Once you’ve sorted those two decisions, you’ll officially be ready to answer the first of your surface pattern designer’s questions! Go you!

Wondering what you should do next to prepare for your surface pattern design project?

Your next step is to create a vision for your surface pattern design. This helps guide your surface pattern designer in the right direction so they create a design you love.

And if you’re scratching your head wondering how you’re meant to “create a vision”, I’ve got you! Just download my freebie guide to learn how to create your very own surface pattern mood board using Pinterest.

Create a vision for your product patterns and build your very own surface pattern mood board using Pinterest

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