Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cleo's garden of motifs

It's funny how an incidental experience can spread its influence, much like the tiny incidents that start a novel splay out into larger events...

We watched the 1963 Cleopatra a few weeks back, and while it isn't the most amazing movie ever made, it is visually amazing, and while I was watching I was sketching. Specifically, I was sketching robots for my illustrator class, but found myself sketching shapes and textures I saw in the background of the film, and from there, designed a ballerina robot. The feathers of the costume are based on either a headdress that Elizabeth Taylor wore, or some sort of plant that was on screen for a few moments, I'm not sure.

This isn't the final version, but you get the idea...
But, that's not all, because I also noticed a flower design. I think it may have been a papyrus flower, but I simplified it dreadfully, and geometrically, and it's the basis of my design for my final project for my color theory class, but I also reconstructed it into a flower for my second illustrator assignment, on symmetry. (this also isn't the final version, but the final version involved something that would confuse my narrative):

The disc shaped flower, that is, not the daisy style one, or the lollipop.
So, I was thinking about this, and how it's not a great design... and so I've been fiddling with motifs to see if I couldn't come up with something more inclined to repeats.

My first attempt was to rearrange the motifs into a diamond, and I added this new shape for a focal point:

Repeating it looks like this:

I decided it was better, but not entirely finished. Then, I thought, well, maybe a blue background?

Which I like even better. And OMG is changing colors a million times easier in Illustrator than in Photoshop!
But not being entirely satisfied, I went back to sketching:

And realized one issue with the design is that my disc flower are too long and skinny instead of fat. So, they're newly drafted, with more complex stems. Then I tried more of a scatter approach to laying the motifs out on a four by four grid. But it's not a true scatter because it's a one way design. (And you can see that the star was really two cacti stuck together.)

The tiling is shifted in what is called (at least on Spoonflower) a half drop.

I like it well enough, the flower certainly has improved. I'm not saying I'm done with it, maybe I'll never be done with it(!) but I just wanted to show some process... or progress?


  1. Fascinating post. I love your design and would buy it in any stage.

  2. It's amazing what a difference changing the background made. Do you have a version of the diamonds with the blue background and more red elements? Just curious ;)

    I really like the cacti!