S1. EP5. Creating source imagery for floral print design

by | Mar 29, 2019 | Print Design, Season 1 | 2 comments

In this episode, we show you how to create your very own source imagery or stock imagery, allowing you to design and create fashion or textile prints. We show you how to set up your workspace, what lighting to use, which camera does the job and how to get the best shots of your flowers or subject matter. We also show you how to colour-correct your source imagery in Adobe Lightroom, ready to create your gorgeous textile prints in Adobe Photoshop.

Designing your own textile prints & creating source imagery

In the previous two episodes (EP3 and EP4), we designed a range of garments based on Francesca’s initial brief and inspirational imagery. Now that we have a collection of designs that suits the brief, we need to think about the material used to make the garment. From the very beginning of this project, we decided to create some gorgeous custom prints to match Francesca’s personality and compliment her skin tone. We even created a set of mood boards to inspire us as to what her prints might eventually look like. With these inspirational images in mind, we now start the process of designing and creating our own print. To do this, we first need to find or create the source imagery used to create our print.

What is source imagery?

Source imagery or stock imagery can be anything from graphics, illustrations, paintings, images, motifs – you name it! Essentially, they are the individual elements that go into building your finished print. You can either find this stock imagery online or create it yourself. 

Finding stock images online

There are a number of stock image sites online, such as iStock photo, Pexels, Shutterstock, Getty images, Adobe stock, Pixabay and Negative space.  Using stock imagery can be quite expensive, since most sites use licensing and charge a premium for each image. This is used to fund their services and the artists that provide the images. Finding the right stock imagery or elements to create your print can be time consuming and you’ll never get exactly what you are looking for. It’s often quicker to create your own!

Creating your own stock images

We highly recommend creating your own stock imagery. It’s a fun process that doesn’t break the bank or take too long and it provides hundreds of images that you can share and use for other print projects. We know some print designers that have vast personal libraries of their own stock imagery that they use time and time again when creating new prints for clients. Also, it’s completely free!

Creating source imagery for Francesca’s print 

For this particular print project, we’ve decided to go for a gorgeous dark background with tropical palm fronds as a base and then feature a top layer of stunning pink oriental lilies. To create this effect we need to create source imagery for both the palm fronds and the lilies. We’re using a dark background, so it makes sense to also take photos of our lilies and palm fronds on a dark background. Using a dark background will give us images that are as close to the finished print aesthetics as possible. The dark background will also change the lighting that we apply to the photo shoot. If we used a white background, we would have to cut the flowers out in Photoshop and then place them on a new digital background. This is time consuming and will give bad results. We’ve gone for a matt-black cotton rather than satin to limit the amount of shine reflecting off the material from either the camera’s flash or the natural light in the room. The matt-black cotton absorbs the light rather than reflecting it, which creates a great background for our source imagery.

Lights. Camera. Action!

When taking any photo, it’s really important to have a lot of natural light. The more natural light you have the sharper and brighter you images will be. Photos taken in low-light environments will have a lot of shadow and cause grain to appear on them. Too little light and your images might be unusable.

You might prefer to use a DSLR camera when taking your photos. That’s fine and you’ll probably get better results. However, not everyone has a DSLR so we’ve chosen to take our pictures using an iPad or iPhone. Camera phones these days take pretty amazing photos, so you should be fine!

We bought one bunch of lilies, which was more than enough to create hundreds of images. Lilies take days to bloom, so use this life cycle for your photos. Take images when the lilies are closed, partially open and then fully open. This will give you tons of imagery of your one bunch, making it seem as though you raided a florist’s shop. Just remember to use the same lighting, camera and setup each time you take your photos!

Positioning your flowers or lilies is key. Think about the angle from which you take your photo. Which angle shows off your lily to its fullest? If necessary, you can ask someone to wear a black glove (matching your background) and rotate the lilies as you take your photos. Don’t just take them from the side view, look into the flower itself. Also, think about the positioning in the frame or viewfinder of your camera. Ideally, you want your lilies to be dead centre, fully in shot and have plenty of black background around them. Petals and leaves that fall outside of the photo will make your source imagery unusable.

Define what you want your source imagery to look like! The lilies are beautiful as they come but sometimes we want a specific look or shape. Manipulate the aesthetics of the lilies by cutting off bits and combining pieces together to create new shapes and floral silhouettes. Possibly there are too many leaves, or not enough. Add bits and remove bits to get a beautiful shot.

It’s completely up to you how you go about creating your source imagery, but think about all the different aspects or images you can create using different angles of each individual flower. Really think about it and experiment. We’re going to take about 100-200 images of our lilies so we have a huge amount to choose from when it comes to building our print.

When you’re done, you should have heaps of images to choose from! Below are some of the images that we took. These have been retouched and cleaned up but we won’t discuss that here. Watch the video tutorial to find out more.

lily source imagery stock imagery

What’s next?

In the next episode, we’ll start building our gorgeous tropical lily print using our source imagery. We’ll also explain placement prints, full repeat prints, filters, colours and scaling to give you a full understanding of print design techniques that you can apply to your own projects.

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