Source Imagery: Collecting Motifs

Now that I have my idea and my style, I’m almost ready to begin one of the most exciting parts of designing — sketching! However, there is one step left: gathering source material. Of course, this is not always a necessary step. If you intend to draw solely from your imagination, you do not need to reference any sources. If I’m designing something very stylized and abstracted I frequently won’t. However, when it comes to drawing more modeled, realistic forms, I am totally helpless without visual reference.

As I discussed in my previous posts, this design is a bit unique in that I’m drawing from both photographs and from preexisting, stylized forms. As a tool for collecting imagery that I either simply find inspiring or hope to incorporate into my own design work, I am a big fan of Pinterest. Therefore, my own boards were the first place I went to when digging for source material. I have a board specifically for flowers, which is where I pulled the following images from (I am only going to show a select few):


For my stylized motifs, I gathered images from my "Textiles," "Pattern Love," and "Illustration" boards (again, I'm only showing a couple here):


The only complaints I have about Pinterest are that citations frequently get lost in the mix, and the images are frequently very low resolution. I try my best to only save higher quality images, but they can be difficult to find. Otherwise, I highly recommend using it to actively keep up a collection of source material — believe me, it pays off when you’re at this point of the design process!

Outside of Pinterest, I also culled images from the book How To Read Islamic Carpets by Walter Denny, which I referenced as inspiration in my first post. Any additional specific visuals I needed I simply googled. For instance, I knew that I wanted a snake to wrap around a branch in my design. After some searching to find a high resolution image that fit what I had in mind, I had a source:


For my secondary motifs I went back to my Pinterest.  I knew I was searching for smaller, simpler floral designs that filled negative space in an intriguing way and would be easy to incorporate—that is, easy to alter in order to fit the space provided, as I don't want to have to adjust primary motifs to make room for secondary ones.

Walter Crane

Walter Crane


One thing I like to do is find inspiration from other design fields and interpret them into textile designs—it allows for very interesting inspiration and creative opportunities.

An Iznik Tile

An Iznik Tile


Usually I would be paying more attention to making sure that my motifs are very stylistically cohesive. However, like I said, this is a bit of a unique design and I want it to feel a little like a hodgepodge, so I just had fun collecting my favorite motifs regardless of their style.

Finally, I’m ready to begin sketching!

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