Saturday, October 30, 2010

20101 Christmas Designs

Here are more examples of star patterns that I used in this year's Christmas designs. The two at the bottom are interesting in that both were made with the same triangular cutout of ice plant foliage. In one, I pointed the lighter end of the resulting diamond shape outward; in the other I put it in the center. As you can see two very different designs emerge from this simple variation. At the top, I took one of the foliage stars, darkened and blurred it for use as a background.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pink Tree Bell Elements

Here are stars, a diamond, and a dodecagon made from triangular cutouts of flower petals. At the top, is another array expanded to wallpaper pattern. Do you begin to see the possibilities here? This is another way that surprising patterns can be allowed to emerge from the natural plant elements. It is nature plus applied symmetry.

Radiating Backgrounds

Up until now, I have been creating background patterns on a rectangular grid pattern. While those are very interesting and have many uses, these radial patterns make a lot more sense for use with the mandalas.
These are made by taking triangular cutouts from flower petals. They were originally pink, but I turned them blue by desaturating in Photoshop and adding a color overlay. I then used the horizontal flip function to create a mirror image and fused them to create symmetrical triangles or diamonds. By rotating them around the central axis 12 times, we get these patterns. I could have worked at making them fit together seamlessly, but I allowed the lines between the triangles. I created a layer behind the rays with a suitable solid color and then applied a radial gradient to it so that the lines are darker in the center and gradually lighten toward the periphery. I think it is a nice effect, but you may or may not want to include it.
I think you will appreciate that there are endless variations that can be done with this.

Ocitillo Array 1A

With these ocitillo designs, I advanced the techniques in several ways. I kept the mandala simple and expanded it as what I am calling a mandala arrray. I used other elements around the mandala to create this complex of interlinked components. I then expanded the array into a 9 plex pattern above. This can be further expanded to create a wallpaper. This in itself can become a background. One could blur, fade and darken or lighten it to serve as such.
I used triangular cutouts to create the dodecagons(12 sided polygons) you see at the top. I took triangular cutouts from foliage and flowers and radiated them around a center to create the designs you see here. These can serve as center or other elements for a mandala or be used as part of an array as shown here.
I can add even more symmetry to these designs, by taking the triangular cutouts, duplicating them, flipping them horizontally, and fusing them to create the triangles. There is so much that can be done with this, and to me the fun is in the surprise. You can't tell ahead of time what pattern will emerge from this process.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cactus Shapes for Design

At the top, is the original photo I used of the nightblooming cactus. While its flowers are spectacular, the cactus is not that exciting from an artist's visual perspective. I needed to find a way to use it and make it more interesting in the process.
I started with some simple cutouts of diamond and oval shapes. This is quite easy to do in Photoshop. Examples are in the top row above.
Next, I took a triangular section and duplicated it, flipping it horizontally to create a mirror image. I combined the two and came up with the diamond and oval shapes you see in the next rows. The third, larger diamond in the center took things a further step. With it, I combined 4 triangles rather than 2; to create this more complex design. I could do the same with the ovals.
It took me awhile to figue out how to make a triangular cutout with Photoshop's marquee tool. It will make rectangular or square cutouts, or circular or oval cutouts. To create a triangle, I took a square or rectangular cutout and used the paintbrush tool with a click in one corner and a shift click in the opposite corner to create a straight line from corner to corner. I then used the paint brush to block out one half of the square in a solid color. I then used the magic eraser to remove that half of the shape, leaving me with a triangle. One can then use the shape tool and drag the handles to adjust the shape to what is needed. Combine two or four triangles to create a diamond shape. Do the same with the ovals.
On the bottom left, is a rectangular cutout. I duplicated it and created the square you see in the middle. I used this to create the background for this mandala. I took a field of 85% gray and superimposed this shape over it. I then reduced the opacity until the gray showed through to dull the color enough to serves as a background. I then blurred it a bit with Gaussian blur so that it wouldn't compete too much with the foreground.
I will be using this same technique with other foliage sections for other mandala designs. You artists in the group could finds lots of uses for this approach.

Nightblooming Flower Mandala with Butterfllies

This mandala use some new approaches to the foliage elements that fit our emerging patterns theme.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nightblooming Flower Background

Of course, there are variations on this that are possible. Here, I have added a smaller flower in the middle. Then I expanded the larger flower and superimposed our butterfly outline mandala over it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Butterfly Mandala 2 with Flower Background

I created this new butterfly mandala on a plain gray background. It shows the colors of the butterflies well, but I wanted to add some interest; so I decided to put a large flower behind the mandala.
When I tried to put the whole flower in as a background, the large dark center didn't align with the center of the mandala, so it didn't work well. I like the radiating lines of the petals, but needed to find another way to make it work. As they say about necessity being the mother of invention; I came up with a new way to solve the problem. It is one that will have other applications.
I started with this photo of a nightblooming cactus flower. I used Photoshop's rectangular marquee tool to cut out the section outlined in yellow. I then used the pattern technique of duplicating that section and creating a mirror image by flipping it horizontally. Next, I duplicated those 2 sections and rotated 180° to create the next image.
It is mishapen, so I used the shape tools to turn it into a circular form.
Then, I put it behind the mandala and turned opacity down until the gray showed through. That toned it down to serve as a background. Under some circumstances, I would add a blur as well, and lighten or darken the image.
All this would fit nicely into a square, but to use it for a standard poster, I added the corner flowers and the poem on top. In posting it to Zazzle, I am adding the option for people to add their own text at the bottom. Perhaps someone has a line from a song or poem they want to add. If not, I give the last version of filling in with more flowers at the bottom.
I show all this here as an example of the ways we can work with backgrounds.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The top photo is of a yellow prickly pear cactus flower. The blue rectangle outlines the area I cut out in Photoshop with the marquee tool. I took that rectangle and placed it in the upper left corner of a new page.
I then duplicated it, and flipped it horizontally to create a mirror image. I moved it to the upper right corner of the page. I then took the two sections and rotated them 180°. I then moved them to the bottom of the page to created this simple 4 part pattern. This can then be used as a background for all sorts of other images.
The next image shows this same process used to create an 8 part pattern. The more complex pattern of 24 elements is just a continuation of the same technique. I could go on to 48 part images and so on. I like the 4X6 24 part patterns for most backgrounds, but all sorts of variations are possible.
In my second tutorial blog, I show in more detail how to do this. I am always amazed to watch the patterns emerge from the original image and grow interesting patterns by just adding symmerty. My intention here is to share the fun. There are no limits to the potential this approach offers.

Flower Petal Backgorund

The bottom picture shows a pair of jumping cholla cactus flowers. The blue square is the area I cut out to create the pattern of the top image. This could done with any flower to create an infinite number of interesting designs.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rainbow Background

This series of images show another way to create and use background patterns. At the bottom is a barrel cactus mandala in its natural colors. I then show it after it has been turned into a rainbow. Next, I blur the rainbow to turn it into a background. Finally, I show it with a butterfly outline superimposed.
I can take any of my mandalas and turn them into rainbows or other color combinations. I can also desaturate them into black & white images and colorize those in shades of blue or any color I choose. I can also leave a mandala in its natural colors and simply blur it to create a background. This is another way to get patterns to emerge.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I have several new skateboard designs with the patterns substituted for the plain background. As Emeril would say, this kicks it up a notch.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yucca Mandala on Green Pattern Shoe

Here is the yucca mandala on one of my Zazzle shoes with the green version of the yucca frond pattern.

Yucca Background Patterns

I created a pattern using the fronds of a yucca plant. The first image is in natural colors, the second has been turned a light blue. I then show you one of my Bright Blossom Binders on Zazzle in which I superimpose the same yucca mandala over the two backgrounds for very different effects. Interesting, eh?

How about we see what this looks like on one of my Emerging Pattern Ties.

Here is the same pattern in blue with the yucca mandala added. Do you begin to see the possibilities?

Keds Shoes

Here are two examples of how I used these patterns on shoes posted on Zazzle.

Barrel Cactus Thorn Pattern

This is a pattern created with the thorns of a barrel cactus. The first one is the natural color. The second one is turned blue.