Designing Gradient Stars (using Painstorm app on iPad)

Update September 2021: I no longer use Paintstorm as it didn’t work very well on my iPad Pro (when I upgraded from my iPad air). I now use Procreate! 🙂

So I’ve recently entered the world of surface pattern designing and thought that I would share some of my inspiration and some of the technical aspects of it as well as things I’ve learnt and what I’d do better if I were to do it again, in the hope that other people find it useful. Today is about my simple and cute stars design which s in the featured photo 🙂

Mood Board

  1. I absolutely love Emma Bridgewater designs and inspiration for a few of my designs has come from here.
  2. Spoon Graphics – Awesome gradient design inspiration for my colour schemes.
  3. Mamas and Papas. This image actually came from Pinterest and the image is no longer on the Mamas and Papas website. I’ve saved it to my board if you want to pin it you can find it here.
  4. The link didn’t work on Pinterest so once again if you want it you can find on my board here.
  5. Pastel Feather Studio – loads of beautiful colour palettes.
  6. Clipzine – more wonderful colour palettes.

Next step is to open my favourite app in the world – Paintstorm (as I’m travelling Southeast Asia I do all designs on my iPad). The app cost about £13 but is totally worth it. There is a Paintstorm Lite version which is free and doesn’t miss out many features so if you don’t want to pay for a version this is awesome and it’s how I started.

This design was created to fit a 4inch x 4inch patchwork sized square and when printing on fabric it apparently doesn’t make any difference whether you use 150 resolution (or dots per inch – dpi) or 300 so i actually set the resolution pretty low.

I drew out one neat and even star and then filled it in black and just resized and moved the stars about my canvas using the selection tool to copy and paste and make a pattern I was happy with. Every time you copy and paste in Paintstorm it automatically pastes in a new layer but I didn’t see the need to have multiple layers in this simple design so I merged all layers into one. Then I duplicated the layer so I now had two identical layers and made only one layer visible (I did this so I’d always have the simple black stars to return to).

With the visible layer as the working layer I selected the shapes using the select tool. Then I used the gradient tool to select my gradients and just click and drag on the canvas (the black line on the main image above) to draw the direction and length of the gradient until I was happy with it. As it’s just the stars that are selected only they were filled with the gradient.

Then my favourite part is to get the eraser tool, select grunge eraser, adjust the opacity and transparency (no exact science here) and just rough it up a bit. It’s worth noting that I duplicated the coloured stars layer before roughing them up with the eraser tool, so if I didn’t like what I had done it would be easy to go back. I also did this part in the seamless mode.

When I was happy with it, I ‘locked’ this layer, hid the two coloured layers (the plain coloured in one and the roughed up coloured in one) and repeated the process from the plain black stars with I had hid earlier layer to create more colourways.

The layout for the repeat pattern is the brick layout so when it’s printed out on fabric it’ll look like this:

This is a screenshot from my design on Spoonflower. (update 2021: that design is no longer on Spoonflower so I have linked to my general Spoonflower shop).

If I were to do this again I would do it on a bigger canvas, or on a higher resolution as doing it on low resolution means I can’t make the design bigger without compromising quality. Saying that, I’m massively happy with it in its current size, these beautiful little stars will make a gorgeous fabric and are perfect for patchwork squares.

Hope you enjoyed reading and let me know if you have any questions about any of it 🙂

References are all embedded within the text 🙂

2 thoughts on “Designing Gradient Stars (using Painstorm app on iPad)

    1. Thanks I love the stars too! Trying to decide what I can make with them… maybe pyjama bottoms…? Paintstorm is both complicated and uncomplicated. Sounds weird but bear with me. It’s easy to learn to do the basics and do your drawing and make seamless repeat patterns (that’s a major advantage of this app) but I think it’s complicated perhaps to learn it inside out and back to front. I get by just fine by being somewhere in the middle but I suspect there’s loads I don’t know yet. Have you given it a go? 😃😃


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