7 Tips to Boost Pattern Design Skills in Affinity
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Practice symmetry
  2. Use of gradient and opacity
  3. Experiment with repetition and variation
  4. Study color theory
  5. Seek inspiration from nature
  6. Learn to use Affinity Designer tools
  7. Practice consistently

Surface pattern design in Affinity Designer can seem like a daunting task, but don't worry! With a little patience, a splash of creativity, and a handful of tips, you'll be getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer in no time. In today's blog, we'll discuss seven practical ways to boost your pattern design skills, turning you from a beginner into a proficient pattern designer.

Practice Symmetry

When it comes to getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer, practicing symmetry is a great first step. Symmetry isn't just about creating mirror images—it's a design principle that can add balance and harmony to your patterns. Let's dive into how you can practice symmetry.

Start with Simple Shapes: Whether it's a circle, square, or triangle, simple shapes are perfect for practicing symmetry. Try creating a design within one shape, then duplicate it and flip it for an easy symmetrical pattern.

Use the Mirror Tool: Affinity Designer's Mirror tool is your best friend for creating symmetrical designs. This tool automatically mirrors any design changes you make on one side to the other—making your symmetry practice a breeze.

Play with Rotation: Symmetry doesn't always mean duplication. Sometimes, it involves rotation. Try rotating your shapes at different angles while keeping the design centered for a unique take on symmetry.

Remember, like any other skill, mastering symmetry takes time and practice. But once you get the hang of it, you'll find it's a powerful tool for getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer.

Use of Gradient and Opacity

Next up on our quest for getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer is the use of gradient and opacity. These two elements can add depth, interest, and a 3D effect to your patterns. But how exactly do you use them? Let's dive in.

Gradients: Gradients are a smooth transition between two or more colors. In Affinity Designer, you can use the Fill tool to apply a gradient to any shape. Don't be afraid to experiment with different colors and angles—you might be surprised by the results!

Opacity: Opacity refers to how see-through or solid an object is. In pattern design, playing with opacity can create a sense of layering and depth. To adjust the opacity of an object in Affinity Designer, use the opacity slider in the Color panel.

Here's a tip for you: try combining gradients and opacity for a truly unique pattern. For example, you could create a gradient shape and then layer a semi-transparent shape on top. The possibilities are endless!

By mastering the use of gradient and opacity, you're not just getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer—you're also adding more tools to your design toolbox. So go ahead, start experimenting!

Experiment with Repetition and Variation

Let's talk about repetition and variation. Sounds like a dance routine, right? Well, in a way, it is! It's all about creating a rhythm and then breaking it. It's one of the keys to getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer.

Repetition: Repetition in design creates a pattern. Simple. But it's how you use this tool that makes the magic happen. Think of it like this: if you were to play the same note on a piano over and over again, it would get boring pretty fast. But if you start to repeat a sequence of notes, you create a melody. The same principle applies to pattern design. So, repeat shapes, colors, or lines in a strategic way to create a visual melody.

Variation: Now, what if that melody never changed? It would still get boring, wouldn't it? That's where variation comes in. By introducing slight changes in your repeated elements, you create interest and surprise. This can be as simple as changing the color or size of a shape, or as complex as introducing a new element every now and then.

Remember, pattern design is like composing a visual song. And just like in music, the best designs often come from a mix of repetition and variation. So don't be afraid to play around and find your own rhythm!

Study Color Theory

Color theory might sound like a complex topic best left to art school students, but I assure you, it's simpler than you think, and it's a game-changer when it comes to getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer.

Basics First: Let's start with the basics: the color wheel. It's a simple tool that helps you understand how colors relate to each other. You've got your primary colors (red, yellow, blue), your secondary colors (green, orange, purple), and your tertiary colors (the ones in between).

Complementary Colors: These are colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Think red and green, or blue and orange. When used together, they create a strong contrast—perfect for when you want a design element to pop!

Analogous Colors: These are colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Think blues and greens, or reds and oranges. They create a harmonious look, which is great for creating a calm and cohesive design.

By understanding these basics, you can start to make more informed decisions about your color choices, which will take your pattern designs to the next level. So, go ahead and add "color theory master" to your list of skills!

Seek Inspiration from Nature

Ever wonder why some patterns just seem to draw you in, while others leave you feeling indifferent? Often, it's because the most compelling patterns take a cue from nature. This is a fabulous way to get better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer.

Think about it: From the spirals of a pinecone, the symmetry in a snowflake, to the spots on a leopard—nature is full of patterns. And these patterns have a certain rhythm, a flow that feels familiar and comforting. That's something you want to replicate in your designs.

Take a Walk: So, the next time you're stuck for inspiration, consider taking a walk in the park, the woods, or even your backyard. Be present and observe the patterns around you. The veins on a leaf, the arrangement of petals on a flower, the undulating pattern of waves on a beach—nature is brimming with inspiration!

Keep a Sketchbook: Carry a sketchbook with you to jot down ideas or sketch out patterns you see. This way, you have a ready source of inspiration for your next project.

Remember, inspiration is everywhere—you just need to open your eyes and look. So, don’t wait. Grab your sketchbook, get outside and let nature be your guide!

Learn to use Affinity Designer Tools

Imagine trying to build a house with only a hammer. Sounds tough, right? The same holds true when you're getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer. You need to know your tools.

Get Acquainted: Affinity Designer comes packed with a plethora of tools, each designed to make your design process smoother. So, familiarize yourself with the software. Learn about the Pen tool, the Pencil tool, the Vector Brush tool, and more. What does each tool do? How does it affect your design?

Play Around: Don't be afraid to experiment with these tools. Try out different settings, play with the brushes, use the gradients. You'll likely make some mistakes, but that's part of the learning process. Plus, you never know—you might stumble upon a technique that becomes your signature style!

Use Tutorials: There are numerous tutorials available online that can guide you in using these tools effectively. While they might not replace hands-on experience, they can certainly help you understand the functionality of each tool better.

Remember, tools are there to assist you, not limit you. So, take the time to learn about them and how they can enhance your design process. This will undoubtedly help you in getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer!

Practice Consistently

Let's face it, becoming a pro at anything takes time and effort. And getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer is no exception. But, here's the good news: practice makes perfect! So, how do you start?

Set a Routine: Schedule a specific time each day dedicated solely to practicing your pattern design. This could be as little as 15 minutes a day or a couple of hours if your schedule allows. Consistency is key here, not the length of time.

Set Goals: What areas of pattern design do you want to improve? Maybe it's your use of color, or perhaps it's your ability to create complex patterns. Identifying these goals will give you a clear direction for your practice sessions.

Keep a Record: Maintaining a visual diary of your work can be immensely beneficial. Not only will you see your progress, but you'll also be able to identify areas that need improvement. Plus, it's pretty satisfying to look back and see how far you've come!

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. So, don't be disheartened if you don't see immediate progress. With time and consistent practice, you'll surely start getting better at surface pattern design in Affinity Designer. So keep at it, and watch your skills bloom!

If you enjoyed these tips on boosting your pattern design skills in Affinity and want to further develop your skills in digital design, check out Faira's workshop, 'Refreshing your Colours in Procreate.' This workshop will help you explore the world of color and enhance your digital designs while working with Procreate.