How To Guide - Designs

by Lewis Warren on April 28, 2020
So the obvious part of a clothing brand is the style, and to create a style you need to either create designs, or have someone create designs for you. As I'm not in the financial position to pay someone, and my ethic is that if I will ultimately pay someone to do something I want to understand what it is they do so I can appreciate the value of their work, this means that I had to learn some basics of designing my clothing.
I am in the fortunate position to know a couple of people who know how to design and could point me in the right direction of where to start, and as always, there's good old google. This is where I found Inkscape, the software I've used to create all the designs and custom content that is on the site and social media.
Takona Logo
 
For those with money to spend on design software the Adobe Illustrator is the go to choice, combine that with an apple computer and you're pretty much at the professional level of tools, without necessarily having the professional level skill set. For the rest of us, Inkscape does great at the majority of things you will need to get started, it's free to download and use, is available on windows and Mac, and comes with the basic tools for creating designs.
 
The Initial Takona designs are variations of lines and colour, so not all that hard to make, and certainly not anything to brag about. But when playing with different styles and ideas, I have discovered a few interesting ways to play around, and some handy little shortcuts that I wish I had known from the start:
 

The Bezier lines tool will be your best friend.

This tool effectively allows you to plot the line paths free hand, and then after the line is drawn you can adjust the angle, radius, thickness, etc. this is perfect when creating most designs, other than standard shapes, circles, squares etc. I use this tool constantly when creating new logo styles and tracing outlines.
 
The easiest way to use this tool is to pick the points wherever you are wanting a change of direction, for example when tracing the outline of a car, at every part of the outline where a curve starts you place a point, and then where the curve ends place the next point. For something like an outline it's best to go all the way round so your line creates a complete circuit.
 
Once you've plotted your points you can then get to work with adjusting the radius and angles of the lines between them, I find it easiest to drag the apex of a curve to roughly where it needs to be, and then use the small adjusters on the points to fine tune how it sits, this is easiest done when tracing as you can see exactly how it needs to sit and adjust accordingly. This is how the GT40 outline was created for the below style.

Exclude paths is what you're looking for.

This one took me so long to find, and now it's an absolute life saver. The thing I use this most for is having "holes" in things, meaning the fill goes around this space and leaves an empty space within. For example, the lettering in the Takona logo below is cut out of the stripes background. When I originally created that design I spent hours making the stripes go around the text, using boxes and fill and adjusting all the nodes in the paths of these objects to go around the lettering. I then discovered the way to exclude paths and that's saved so much time.
 
The way to do this is to use the "edit paths by nodes" tool, select the piece you're wanting to cookie cut out of the large object, hold shift, then select the larger object. Once both are selected select the Path drop down menu, then select Exclusion. This will combine the two objects into one piece, so when you select the fill and colour etc, it will go around the smaller object rather than filling in the whole of the large object.Takona Martini Stripes Logo with It's Ok To Tlk. slogan

Masking

 
Masking is a great way to create a textured look to a design, I've used it on some styles I played with that had a weathered look (like the one below), and also on some clothing edits where I wanted to test the look of a label or design on a blank garment style.
 
This is a simple one to use and can create some brilliant looks. The basic of this are: Find a texture you want to apply to a design, copy the image of that texture into your inkscape project, make sure it is raised above your design but on the same layer, then place it over the top so that it covers the design. Select the masking texture image and your design (use your mouse to drag a square around the whole thing), select the object drop down menu, click on mask, and then set. This should now have masked the top image onto the design.
Weathered Takona Logo with Martini Stripes

Clipping

 
Clipping is the last tool I've come to rely on quite regularly, it's not as complex to use, it is however quite handy. It's main purpose is to cut out one image from another. This is great if you're wanting to cut out a shape from an existing design, such as the gulf coloured GT40 from earlier. To do this create the outline using the Bezier line tool, and then place that outline over a design that you want to cut it out of, for this example it was a box that was half orange and half blue, select the outline and the design together, select the object drop down menu, click on "clip" and finally "set". This should cut the underlying design to the shape of the outline.
 
I'm by no means and expert or professional, and this is an ever developing skill I'm developing while learning how to create designs. I hope these few tips will save you the hassle and headaches of going the long way round.
 
Lewis.
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