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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 11 – October 27, 2017

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder is an advanced seven-week online professional surface pattern design course, consisting of an intense five-week class followed by two weeks of design reviews.

This powerful course will give you all the tools and advice you need to grow your body of commercially viable work, refine and strengthen your professional design portfolio and give you the fast-track to trade show success.

Brought to you in association with Printsource New York, one of the top surface and textile design shows in the world, this course will provide you with exclusive insight to help you secure the right buyers for your work, deal effectively with clients, get trade show ready and discover the secrets to landing work you dream of.

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. Plus, you can access the classroom for up to six months after the course finishes.


This course includes:

  • Five weeks of exceptional in-depth teaching on various subject matter (objects, characters, nature, geometrics, typography and abstract), colour and media, the power of recolouring, designing for occasions, genre and style, audience and market and so much more
  • A series of fun creative design challenges to help you grow as a designer and build a strong, rounded portfolio
  • LIVE briefs from real companies including DENY DesignsCardmaking and Papercraft Magazine, Really Good and others looking to sign the next big talent. They’ve already signed up a number of our students, could you be next?
  • A series of video based technical masterclasses from guest designers on typography, characters, photography, mixed media collages and more, to hone your professional design skills. Find out more on our Technical Workshops page
  • Invaluable individual work reviews from industry experts such as the fabulous Rachael Taylor and Janine Burrows so you can understand where you are now and how to move forward
  • Insight into the practicalities of managing a growing design studio
  • Trade show planning advice direct from Printsource New York
  • Opportunity to put questions to Rachael Taylor
  • Free access for 90 days to the top trend forecasting site WGSN


  • An incredible four-part creative brief from Printsource to help you attract the clients you want and the kind of work you dream of
  • Bonus material on managing your finances, how to be your own career strategist and thinking outside the box
  • Access to a huge library of textures to give your work depth and distinction
  • Access to exclusively styled room set and product images ready-made for you to render your designs on
  • A selection of colour palettes intended to help you push your colour choices
  • one awesome global design community
  • And a whole lot more – this course really is jam-packed full of goodness!

Want more?

Check out our 50 reasons why this course is so AWESOME!

This is for you if:

  • You have completed Module 3 (although this is not a pre-requisite)
  • You want to expand and develop your professional portfolio to show your versatility as a designer
  • You want to learn more complex techniques for sophisticated and commercially-appealing surface pattern design
  • You want to connect with other established designers and learn from industry experts
  • You want to know how to secure top deals at trade shows and attract the right work
  • You want to generate more income from your existing designs and create a new body of work
  • You want to be pushed outside your comfort zone so you’re ready to handle any brief
  • You want to make it as a professional surface pattern designer.

Please note this course is not assessed but does include individual critique of your work. This requires you to submit work at the start of the 2nd week of class.

You will need to be proficient in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to get the most out of this course. Please note we do not offer technical guidance for any other software programmes (including free software).


Take a classroom tour!

Take a peek inside our classroom to see what’s in store for you – you’ll be amazed at what this class offers and how easy it is to learn on-line with us.

Testimonials and successes

Lisa Lane (March 2016 class) explains what she found most valuable about this course, how it has benefited her career and why she would recommend it:

Here are a handful of words used by previous students to describe this module: a great investment / a fantastic course / wonderful in every way / an intense, highly focused course that will propel you to the next level / highly recommended for anyone serious about a career as a surface pattern designer / jam packed with opportunities / totally motivating.


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 are exhibiting at top shows, forming collectives, signing exciting licensing deals and enjoying lots of surface pattern success.

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.

Week 1

Week 1 - Subject Matter 1

  • Importance of a signature style
  • Designing with objects
  • Character designs
  • Masterclass 1 & 2: Character Designs with Allison Cole
  • Nature inspired designs

… and more! PLUS Bonus material on Portfolio presentation giving valuable website hints and tips and an introduction to our texture library.

Week 2

Week 2 - Subject Matter 2

  • Approaching difficult subject matter
  • Geometrics
  • Designing with Typography
  • Masterclass 3 & 4: Typography with Faye Brown
  • Abstract design

… and more! Plus Bonus material on thinking outside the box.

Week 3

Week 3 - Media and Colour

  • Colour obsessed – backgrounds, contrasts, spot colours and tints
  • Mix it up – the power of recolouring
  • Choosing your media
  • Masterclasses 5 & 6: Mixed media and collage with Adrian O’Meara
  • Masterclasses 7 & 8: Photography with Adrian O’Meara

… and more! PLUS Bonus material on being your own career strategist.

Week 4

Week 4 - Genre and Style

  • Your place in time – genres in depth
  • The importance of your style
  • Designing for occasions
  • Masterclass 9 & 10: Repeats – Regimented half drop and multi-layered and artistic repeats with Jessica Hogarth
  • Masterclass 11 & 12: Mockups

… and more! PLUS Bonus material on managing your finances.

Week 5

Week 5 - Audience and Market

  • Who’s your audience
  • Take it to market & get trade show ready
  • Securing the right buyer
  • Dealing with clients
  • Insider secrets on what really invites success

… and more! Including an introduction to your 90 days’ free WGSN.