What's more jolly than snowflakes and holly? Birdies and bunnies plotting their winter feasts! Make this charming seamless pattern in Adobe Photoshop, get it printed and use it as wrapping paper for your gifts this season.
1. Sketch Some Cute Animals
Start by sketching out some cute critters. I decided to go with bunnies and birdies. I started out directly in Adobe Photoshop, on a neutral-colored background.
You can draw any number of animals but I suggest having at least four or five to work with, otherwise you'll have a difficult time with the layout later on. The more variety you have, the less challenging it will be to not have motifs repeating next to each other.
Pick out a nice textured Brush that will give your lines a soft, hand-drawn feel.
To take maximum advantage of the textured brush, vary your stroke pressure to achieve some soft shading and transitions.
2. Let's Color the Bunnies
Create a New Layer underneath your line-work layer, and paint the bunnies solid white, like snow.
Choose a soft pink and paint in the bunny's nose and the inner part of his ears. Feel free to leave your strokes a little rough or unfinished, to keep the drawing looking soft and loose.
Choose a nice shade of 'caffè latte' brown and give some variety to the bunny's fur, adding a few darker patches. You can add these over eyes, ears, paws, on his back, or down his forehead.
Play around to see what suits him. Give different bunnies different markings.
Give your animals some holiday accessories, like this nice golden ribbon. Gold is best achieved by using a few different values of mustard tones.
Make the underside of the ribbon darker, and have it twisting in a few places for more volume.
Add a soft white highlight to the ribbon and your bunny is good to go.
Paint your bunnies with some variety, but keep them in the same color palette, to give your pattern more cohesion later on.
3. Let's Color the Birdies
Once again start with the line drawing, made with a textured Brush that resembles a soft coloring pencil. These are great for blending colors.
If you don't have the right custom brush, you can always pick some up inexpensively—like these nice pastel brushes.
Once you're happy with your lines, draw in some shadows. Your shadows can be soft and gradual, like mine on the wing and tail feathers, or they can be hard, like the one under Mr. Birdie's hat.
Don't feel pressured to overdo shadows, but make sure you have them adding volume to the right places. Their purpose is to make things feel round and fluffy.
Paint in a nice medium brown tone for the wing and tail feathers.
Use an analogous lighter tone for the robin's fat little body.
Pick a warm red for his characteristic breast plumage, and his Santa hat. We'll find a way to repeat this red later because it's a great holiday color: warm, bright and strong.
Time to throw in some highlights. Give a slight highlight stroke to each feather, and add a bright dot to the eye to make it sparkle.
Our bunnies had a lot of white, so we're echoing it now on the birdies, to bring them all together.
The advantage of using a textured Brush is that its coverage is not 100%, so you can paint in additional tones under or over it for great, subtle blending effects.
I added some bright orange under the red on the robin's breast, to make it warmer and more intense. I also added some pink to his belly, to break up the brown tones of his body.
Finally, choose a nice shade of plum purple and add some shadows and accents to the red parts of the image.
4. Time to Work Out the Layout
Group your critters. You can draw them in pairs or groups to begin with, but you can also draw each individually and pair them up afterwards, as I did. They will seem more festive and jolly if they seem to be interacting with each other.
You can help the pairs look more cohesive by having them share accessories, color palettes, or props. It also helps if they're turning towards or looking at each other.
Once you have your pairs, scatter them around randomly, but with somewhat even spacing. Some animals can remain single, and you can copy and flip each animal or pair to give you more variety in your repeat.
You can space them as close or as far apart as you like, depending on how dense you want your final pattern to be.
When you think you have a good distribution going, merge all your motifs into a single layer by selecting all the relevant layers (hold down the Shift key while selecting to select multiple layers at once) and then clicking Control-E to merge them.
Then use Control-J to make a copy and Shift-drag it to the left to see how well the edges meet up. If there are any awkward spacing issues, move one of the motifs from your original layer—not the copy—and check again.
Do the same for the vertical edge of the repeat, making a new copy and Shift-dragging up.
Merge all the copies you've made around your main motifs and reduce their Opacity to around 20%.
This will clearly show you your main pattern tile and let you see how the new elements you add are fitting into your repeat.
5. Let's Spruce Up the Background
To make some pretty snowflakes, draw a large, chubby asterisk. Make a few copies of it using Control-J and arrange them next to each other.
Make these almost as large as your animal characters.
Add some frills and bits to each of the asterisks to make unique and charming snowflakes. Simple shapes are best because they create intricacy through repetition. If you try to get too fancy, your snowflakes may end up looking too busy.
Create some smaller elements—simple asterisks and different-sized dots—to add variety to your snowy background.
Copy, Rotate, Reflect, and Scale your background snow elements and scatter them around behind your animal characters until you feel you have a good distribution going.
Create a New Layer on top of everything and roughly draw in some vine shapes to support your characters.
Use Control-J to create a copy of your vines and then Shift-drag them up, making sure to position them accurately in relation to your control repeat layer (the one with the lowered Opacity).
Once the copy of the vines is positioned at the correct height, use those as a guide and match your main vines to them, making sure they will flow smoothly together when repeated.
Using the same color as the one you used for the vines, draw in some big holly leaves for your animals to sit on.
Use the Lasso Tool to select half of each leaf, dragging the tool through the leaf's imaginary central vein. Don't worry about the outer edge of the leaf.
Hold down Shift while using the Lasso Tool to add multiple areas to your selection.
Pick a nice soft or textured Brush and choose an analogous lighter color to the main color of the holly leaves. Spray the lighter color liberally along the bottom edge of the leaf.
Then press Control-Shift-I to invert your selection, and spray the same color along the top part of the leaf's imaginary central vein. Your inverted selection will protect the bottom part of the leaf, and you'll get a quick and simple but very pretty shading effect.
Press Control-D to release your selected areas, and then Control-Click on the holly leaf layer, press Control-Shift-I again, and hit Delete. This will remove any unwanted color that has spilled over the sides of the holly leaves.
We're going to make some berries. Add some nice round red blobs to the ends of some of your vine branches.
Control-click on the berry base color layer to select the berries, and then create a New Layer and use a soft textured Brush to paint in a subtle highlight.
Make another New Layer and add a smaller, brighter highlight. Place it more or less in the most intense part of the previous one.
And Voila! It's Done!
Now Merge all your main layers into one, Delete all the control layers, use Control‑J to make a few copies, and Shift-drag them up or to the side until they slide into place.
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a sweet winter pattern!
Here's a slightly more zoomed out view.
You can get your pattern printed on some nice matte paper and use it to wrap your presents this year. Your friends and family will be so impressed!
Hope you enjoyed making this, and wishing you a great holiday season ahead!