How To Create a Surface Design Motif with Adobe Capture

I’m a really big Adobe CC nerd and I’ve been doing a lot of work lately digitizing motifs for pattern and surface design, and discovered a super quick way of translating IRL sketches into quick cleanable vector art for Illustrator. If you’re curious, a creator of surface design and a fan of Creative Cloud, read on!

This is also part one in a series I’m writing for a quick lunchtime tutorial I put together for LPK. Part two is here.

I would also highly suggest watching Wayne’s World and drinking this as you create your artwork.

Apothic Dark 2013 Red Blend









STEP 1: Make your art!

motif creation

I’ve been really into memphis style art and zodiac symbols so I’m doing a simple toss of some of some icons and wavy lines. My medium of choice is usually a sharpie, but you can use any style marker. The main goal here is to make a simple geo that’s fully filled in, in order to quickly translate to vector art.

STEP 2: Make sure you have Adobe Capture downloaded. This is that app that we’ll be using to essentially ‘scan’ this artwork.

adobe capture surface design

STEP 3: Give that thumb a workout and tap that app. Sign in and you should see a screen that looks something like this. Make sure you you have SHAPES selected on the toolbar.

adobe capture surface design

STEP 4: Now we’re going to create our new library of shapes. Adobe Capture is really nimble and great to use for a ton of things. You can create brushes, color palettes, and even patterns, which I’ll probably explore in future tutorials. But for now click the drop down menu in the center of the screen.

adobe capture surface design

Then the + sign on the next screen.

adobe capture surface design

And create a new library.

adobe capture library surface design

I named mine “Zodiac”. V. creative.

STEP: 5 You now will have an empty library called ‘Zodiac’ that looks like this:

adobe capture shapes surface design

Press the green circle with the + inside.

adobe capture surface design

And hover over the artwork you just created with your sharpie so you can frame up a beautiful picture.

STEP 6: You’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:

adobe capture surface design

Here’s the magic part. Adobe Capture is using your camera to pick up on those black shapes against the white paper and is choosing, in the green ink, what shapes to pick up to vectorize. You can use the slider to increase and decrease the amount of detail the app picks up.

Press the green capture button at the bottom and you’ll be taken to the next screen.


adobe capture vector surface design

This screen is demo-ing in black what will be vector shapes in Illustrator. Here you can use your thumb to deselect elements by sliding it over the screen where you don’t want the black ink to be.

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Everything selected in black will be vectorized. You can also choose ‘SELECT’ at the bottom of the screen if you messed up, and re-blacken the part of the art you accidentally deselected.

Click NEXT at the top right of the screen.

STEP 8: The next screen is where you name your master shape. I named this shape ‘STARTER SIGNS’.

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You could go through and photograph and save every motif individually if this suits an extreme need for organization you have, but when we bring this into illustrator we’ll be expanding the artwork anyway, so there’s no need to have individual shapes just yet.

Click ‘SAVE SHAPE’ in blue at the bottom.

STEP 9: Yay! You now have your first Adobe Capture shape library and your first set of instantly vectorized motifs!

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STEP 10: Open Illustrator. To find your new shape library click on this icon in the right toolbar menu. Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.00.52 AM This is where all of your libraries live. Click and the following menu appears:

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To find your new shapes library click the dropdown menu arrow and you’ll see a big list unravel of all of the libraries you’ve ever made.

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After I click ‘ZODIAC’ I get the following screen:

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.04.09 AM

STEP 11: Open a new blank document. Click, hold and drag your elements onto the empty artboard, and Voila!

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.06.17 AM

Ungroup and now you have a whole set up motifs to pick up and use in your surface design!

You are now ready to make these artwork elements into a simple toss to then put onto fabric. So exciting! It’s pretty amazing how Adobe has evolved their mobile capacities to be able to translate artwork on the fly. It’s saved me a ton of time within my workflow.

If you’re interested in learning how to make these into a tossed pattern to send to Spoonflower to be printed onto fabric see part two of this tutorial series here.