S1. EP6. Creating textile prints for fashion design

by | Apr 17, 2019 | Print Design, Season 1 | 5 comments

In this tutorial we use the source imagery (lilies and palm fronds) created in the last episode (S1. EP5), to design and build a series of professional, full-repeat, digital prints in Adobe Photoshop. First, we’ll import our source imagery into Adobe Photoshop and add it to a new print document. We’ll then scale, arrange and transform the flowers (source imagery) into an aesthetically pleasing print layout. Next, we slice the print layout up to create a full repeat print and then explore the use of filters, hue, saturation and colour layers to create the finished textile print. Finally, we’ll show you how to resize the finished print and save it ready to be digitally printed onto a textile that suits the project and Francesca’s robe.

To follow this tutorial you will need Adobe Photoshop CC and you must download our “Selected source images” pack. You can also visit our previous tutorial to get your hands on even more source imagery!

Creating your own textile prints

Creating your own textile prints can seem pretty daunting. It’s a job or skill in itself and people are paid a lot of money to create textile prints for commercial projects. I was a print designer for many years before we launched PatternLab and created 900+ prints for both individual clients and high street retailers. It’s a wonderfully creative job that can be very rewarding, especially when you see your textile print used to make a gorgeous garment. Creating your own textile prints might seem unattainable at first glance, but the process is actually quite simple.

This tutorial aims to give you an insight into how textile prints are created in Adobe Photoshop so you can then develop your own. It focuses on the key tools, processes and creative concepts behind print design. Once you have insight into these tools and processes, the only limitation is your own imagination or creativity.

We’ve broken the tutorial up into several key steps or stages. This would be a very long blog post if it went into detail for each step, so instead we have provided a little excerpt of what you can expect to learn in each step.

1. Selecting your source imagery.

In S1. EP5. we created over 200 source images of our lilies and palm fronds. This is quite a lot and we can’t use every single image in our textile print. We need to whittle it down to around 20 – 25 images and select only the most aesthetically pleasing ones. Once we have selected our final source images, they are added to a folder on our desktop so that they are easy to find and use.

lily source imagery stock imagery

2. Creating an initial print layout

Once we have selected our source images, we open up Photoshop and create a new document roughly 60 x 60cm and with a resolution of 360dpi (dots per inch). Next, we open our source images in Photoshop and cut (using the magic wand tool) and paste each flower into the new document. Finally, we start to scale, rotate and arrange them (using the free transform tool) into an aesthetically pleasing print layout.

3. Creating a full repeat print.

Once we have a beautiful print layout, we need to transform it into a full repeat print. We do this by cutting the print layout into two pieces, an upper piece and a lower piece. We then swap these pieces so that the existing lower piece now sits at the top of the print and the existing upper piece now sits at the bottom of the print. This rearranging of the upper and lower pieces creates a vertical repeat. To create a horizontal repeat, we use the same technique but this time swapping the right piece with the left piece. We then add or reposition the flowers in the middle of the print to close up any large gaps that might have appeared after rearranging the pieces.

4. Using colour layers and hue & saturation

Once the full repeat print is created, we can start to get creative. We enhance, or mute, the natural colours of the flowers using the Hue & Saturation tool to create a more classic style. We then add some additional colour layers and paint effects to create hyper-real or dramatic colour effects over the underlying flowers.

5. Using filters to dramatically change the original print.

Adobe Photoshop comes with an extensive range of filters (found in the filter gallery) that, when applied dramatically, change the aesthetics of the original print. Filters include: watercolour, glowing edges, poster edges, grain and much more. These filters can be used individually for subtle changes or in combination to create greater changes to the print. The effects of each filter vary and hundreds of different prints can be created using these filters alone. It is possibly the most interesting and creative part of the print design process. We also discuss what effect image size and resolution has on these filters.

6. Adding a palm layer

We’ve focused on creating a repeat print using just the lilies or flowers, but how do we add a new palm frond layer beneath the lily layer? Using the same technique as in steps 2 and 3, we create a fully repeating palm frond print in a separate document. We then cut and paste it into our lily print, resizing it to fit the existing lily repeat using the free transform tool. Once the palm layer is in place we can then enhance it by changing the hue and saturation and adding yet more colour layers (step 4). This creates a more dynamic print and gives us more to experiment with. Once the colour layers have been added we can then apply a range of filters to further develop the entire print.


7. Scale, sizing, and correction using your home printer

Once we have created our finished print, we need to check the scale of the print. We do this, by printing a section of the print on our home printer at 100% scale (not scale to fit). This will give us the exact size of our print and the size of the elements within it. We can then reduce or increase the image size of the print, in Adobe Photoshop, to get the correct scale or size.

We also need to check the colour and brightness of our print, since a computer screen is not always accurate. To do this, we use the same technique. We print, check and, if necessary, adjust the exposure or brightness of the print in Adobe Photoshop.

When it comes to the colour and brightness of your print, your computer screen and printer might not always be correct. It’s essential to send a test strip containing your print, in a range of different brightness/ colours, to the textile printers. When the strip comes back, you can then select the specific print with the brightness/ colour that works best and use that print when requesting the full material order.


8. File type, size and resolution of your finished print.

Saving your print as a file seems pretty straightforward but we need to consider the file type, size and resolution. Each textile print company will have their own specifications. We have chosen to use Spoon Flower as we’ve heard great things! They specifically ask that you save your print in one of the following formats: png, jpeg, giff or tiff. They also ask that the file be less than 40MB and has a resolution of 150dpi max.


Creating prints can be a time consuming process, especially when you are new to Adobe Photoshop. To help speed things up, we have created a few important artworks for you to use when following this tutorial. Each print artwork was created at important key stages in the design process. Downloading and using these artworks will enable you to practise or experiment with each stage of the tutorial.

Lily repeat

Lilies on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Palm repeat

Palm fronds on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Lily & palm repeat

Lilies and palm fronds on black background in full repeat with no layers or filters.

Lily & palm repeat

Lilies and palm fronds on black background in full repeat with multiple layers but no filters.

Finished prints

After an hour or two of experimenting with various layers and filters, here are a few of the textile prints that we came up with. We’ll add them to our mood boards and fashion illustrations of Francesca’s robe and present them to her for review. Once she’s picked her favourites we’ll use PatternLab’s made to measure basic blocks and patterns to pattern-make the finished garment!

Textile print template pack

Want to print your digital prints in full scale and full repeat on your home printer? Use our Textile Print Templates to create multi-page PDFs which can be stuck together after printing.

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