Review: Digital Textile Design

digital_textile_design_coverAs I mentioned yesterday, we have a review written by Jasonda Desmond (Dotty Logic), maven of all things textile and design related. Jasonda is a long time member of our forum and designed the masthead of Fashion-Incubator. Without further ado, here is Jasonda’s review.

Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac focuses on creating surface designs for fabric using digital mediums (Photoshop, Illustrator) and touches on a wide variety of related subjects.

The 20 surface design tutorials make up about half the content. There is a strong focus on techniques that are currently in fashion, such as “engineered” prints – for example, a design created based on a photograph of a necklace, where the print is placed around the neckline of the shirt, to create a trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) effect, something that has been popular on the fashion runways for the last few seasons.

Of course, the issue with design techniques currently in fashion is that they have a shelf life of a few years at most. I feel that the most valuable tutorials here are the ones showing how to create basic repeats, which can be used to create repeating prints from any source material (examples include illustrations, photographs and paintings). Following these tutorials, anyone with a very basic understanding of Photoshop or Illustrator and access to a library of stock photos and illustrations could create some beautiful prints. The 3 tutorials showing how to “mock up” your designs on a fashion illustration or photograph to illustrate how the print would appear on a finished garment are a nice bonus.

Unfortunately, there is almost no mention of drawing illustrations specifically for these applications, and one of the most important digital design tools we have today, the digital graphics tablet (referred to in the book as the digital stylus pen) apparently only merits a brief paragraph. There is also nothing here that would help you objectively determine if the print you want to create is suitable for the application you have in mind – surface design basics such as colour theory, print scale, print direction and creating coordinating prints are touched on briefly or not at all.

Of the remaining content, digital printing receives the most attention, with a dedicated chapter and several mentions throughout the rest of the book. Most of the discussion with regards to digital printing is in the context of very small scale production (i.e. high fashion or one-of-a-kind applications), however it does give a good overview of the technology and can help you understand some of the factors involved in using digital printing for the production of an apparel line, such as printing speed and colour management systems. Screen and hand-printing techniques are also discussed. One of the areas of the book I found the most engaging was the Digital Craft chapter, which features 3 designer profiles and some examples of creative techniques using digital design and printing.

The target audience for this book seems to be fashion designers or students who want to take a shot at creating their own prints. Those who are interested in becoming surface or textile designers will definitely find it a little lacking. I would recommend it for anyone who is curious about how digital surface designs are created, wants to learn more about digital printing, or perhaps just want to peek at some of the latest trends in fashion design.

Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac
192 pages, Second Edition
Laurence King Publishers; October 2012

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