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Make it in Design is the home of all you need for a successful career in surface pattern design

Design School

The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design is the
definitive guide to becoming a surface pattern designer.

Next class: September 25 – October 27, 2017

Designing your way‘ (Module 1) is a five week online course where you will learn everything you need to know to turn basic sketches into elements for pattern design. Find out more about colour and pattern, how to create mood boards and how to create repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator.

Module 1 is a fantastic introduction to the surface pattern design industry and helps YOU to find your passion, personal style and place within it.

We have welcomed students onto our courses from over 65 countries around the world, and our classrooms are accessible on-line 24/7, so you can join us from any time zone and fit the course into your busy life.

Check out our latest research to see how our alumni rate the course, what they got out of it and why you should join us too!

Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to refresh your skills, this is the start of a very exciting journey with new friends in preparation for a successful surface pattern career.



Did you know you can make BIG SAVINGS when you sign up to multiple modules at the same time?

View all bundle deals in our shop!

Module 1 includes:

  • How and where to seek out design inspiration
  • How to work with colour
  • How to create moodboards
  • How to build a pattern
  • How to develop your signature style and use this to brand your business
  • How to turn elements of a mixed media painting into a pattern (featuring the work of Kelly Rae Roberts)
  • How to create repeats in Adobe Illustrator
  • Time-saving tricks and industry insider tips
  • The secrets of successful surface pattern designers
  • Downloadable pattern source guide

PLUS *NEW* BONUS TECHNICAL WORKSHOP VIDEOS giving you a step-by-step guide to scanning images and basic manipulation in Photoshop and Illustrator, playing with colour and sketching and creating repeats on your computer. See the whole list on our Technical Workshops page.

Not only this, you also get a peek behind the scenes of Rachael Taylor’s life as a dynamic and successful professional surface pattern designer and a glimpse at some previously unpublished designs!

AND… anyone joining us in our February 2017 class will also have the pleasure of Rachael Taylor’s company as she’ll be an active participant in this class too as well as your course leader!

See the ‘What’s in store‘ section below for a week-by-week breakdown of the course content and check out our 50 reasons why this course is awesome!


This is for you if:

  • You are drawn to colour and pattern
  • You want to learn more about how to create your own patterns
  • You don’t have time to study surface pattern design at college or university
  • You want to join a community of like-minded people on a fun and inspiring creative journey
  • You dream of one day licensing your own designs but don’t know where to begin (NB this is the first step – Modules 2 and 3 provide more business-related advice)

You will do this by actually creating a set of source images, designing your own motifs, putting together a colour swatch and a moodboard and designing a set of business stationery.

NB: You do not absolutely need a computer for the creative exercises in Module 1, but you will be given valuable bonus technical guides to help you design on the computer should you wish to. Please note we do not offer technical guidance for any programmes other than Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (including free software).

Please also note that this course is not assessed and does not include individual critique of your work.

Take a classroom tour!

Take a peek inside our classroom to see what’s in store when you open its virtual doors and just how easy it is to learn on-line with us.

Testimonials and successes

Here are a handful of words used by previous students to describe this module: totally essential / liberating / energising / excellent / worthwhile / informative / jam-packed / challenging and fun in equal measure / informal / loved every day of it!


Course alumni have gone on launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books and on leading blogs and more. Many of our graduates have been signed for exciting licensing deals – such as Wendy Kendall with Deny Designs, Elizabeth Olwen with TeNeues, Anneline Sophia with Artscase.

Read a handful of our class testimonials, check out our alumni successes and see what our students are getting up to!

Check out our Terms & Conditions. We strongly encourage you to read these before registering, as registering for one or more Modules acknowledges acceptance of these Terms & Conditions.


Check out what’s in store:

Week 1

Week 1 - Inspiration

  • Seeking inspiration
  • Shapes around us
  • Mark making and motif development
  • Interview with Abigail Borg
  • Sneak peek into Rachael’s life as a surface pattern designer

… and more! PLUS Bonus Technical Workshops on how to scan in, manipulate and edit in Photoshop, and how to use the Image Trace/Live Trace tool in Illustrator

Week 2

Week 2 - Sketching

  • Sketching for design
  • Loosening up
  • Sketchbooks
  • Finding your style
  • A glimpse into the sketchbooks of Hannah Nunn and Priscilla Jones

… and more! PLUS Bonus Technical Workshops on how to add colour in Photoshop and Illustrator to create a basic surface pattern concept

Week 3

Week 3 - Colour

  • Live in colour
  • Colour swatches
  • Making colour choices
  • Creating a colour mood board
  • Colour meditation and interview with Louise Gale

… and more! PLUS Bonus Technical Workshops on how to create colour palettes from photos using Photoshop and Illustrator

Week 4

Week 4 - Pattern 1

  • All about pattern
  • Layering
  • Homing in on your signature style
  • Developing your pattern vocabulary
  • Exclusive interview with Marie Perkins of Print & Pattern

… and more! PLUS Bonus Technical Workshops on how to create a digital moodboard, and how to take elements from mixed media paintings and turn them into patterns (featuring the gorgeous work of Kelly Rae Roberts!)

Week 5

Week 5 - Pattern 2

  • Designing coordinating pieces
  • Patterns for products
  • Designing your own business stationery
  • Character creation
  • The road ahead

… and more! PLUS Bonus Technical Workshops on how to create technical repeats in Illustrator