I first published this tutorial of sorts in my blog for Poptastic Tees1 but I accidentally deleted that entire site a couple of years ago. Too depressed to attempt reconstructing 5 years worth of blog posts, I dismissed it as fate and let it be.  Last night I found a set of graphics illustrating my work process step-by-step and thought of rewriting just that one post since it might be helpful and worth sharing.

So this is one of my patterns — “Retro Robots” — as seen on a Macbook sleeve c/o Zazzle.


I will now describe how I make almost all of my digital graphics. Sorry about the ugly watermarks.

1. This step you already know: make doodles! Here are my robots.
retro robots by cynthia bauzon arre

2. Next step: scanning and making vector versions using Adobe Illustrator.

The bottom row shows my robots in their “cleaned up” vector state but still raw and outlined. You’ll see that they’re simply made up of basic shapes like circles and squares with rounded corners that I just tweaked, duplicated, and assembled together to make robot-like forms based on my doodles. On hindsight, I should have just vectorized the drawings instead of constructing clean versions since the actual doodles look sillier and funnier!

3. Here’s where the fun starts — adding color to the finished graphics. I like to use a palette of 4 or 5 colors only to give the design a cohesive and somewhat retro look. For color scheme formulating help, you can turn to a tool like Adobe Color CC‘s color wheel where you can make combos to your hearts’ content. (This blog post has a list of free tools for choosing a color scheme.)

choosing a color scheme

This nautical inspired colorway was my initial try. #meh

robots by cynthia bauzon arre

My second attempt was more successful, imho. I liked how the subdued colors made the robots look vintagey.

4. Time to play!

retro robots cynthia bauzon arre

Now my vector robots can be imported into Photoshop and arranged in several ways to make images for kiddie t-shirts or patterns for surface designing. 🙂

* See these robots in action in my shop Funky Patterns and on fabric / wallpaper in Spoonflower.

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  1.  the old t-shirt store a.k.a. our first foray into online selling [ back]