Over a series of several posts, I’ll be showing you how to use a drawing program to create a patchwork design and turn it into a pattern. If this doesn’t interest you, just skip these posts. I won’t be offended. This type of activity isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
I’ll begin with an overview and some basics. The next post in the series will cover design stuff–placement, color, editing for ease of use, etc. In the last post of the series I’ll go over how to turn your design into a pattern so you can make it “in real life”.
Let’s get started. Remember, I’m using OpenOffice Draw , a free open source program, for these posts. (Use any drawing program you like, but get acquainted with it first.) The first box to pop up in OpenOffice asks you to choose which type of file you want to open. Select “Drawing” and then open a new file. You’ll have a blank page in front of you like this:I’ve noted the places you need to pay attention to: Line details, Fill details, Magnification, where to find the shape size and the two buttons for Text and Shapes. These are pretty self-explanatory. The Line and Fill details in the upper toolbar will change the appearance of the border (outline) of your shapes and the color of your shape itself.
Magnification will zoom in or out. Choose a magnification that is comfortable for you. As the design evolves, you may need to change the magnification both in order to see more details and to get the big picture.
I usually work in 1/4 scale (1 inch = 4 inches). Use whatever scale works for you. Just be sure to make a note of the scale so you don’t forget. You can see the size (width x height) of your shape on the very bottom of the window.
The two buttons, “Text” and “Shapes”, are exactly what they say. If you want to add text, click this button. For making shapes, click the little down arrow to the right of the “Shapes” button. Then click on the shape you want to make. (Square, rectangle, triangle, etc.)
Ready? Let’s put some shapes on the page.
- Click on the little arrow to the right of the “Shapes” button (found on the bottom toolbar). Select the square. Your cursor now looks like cross hairs.
- Click and hold anywhere on your page, dragging the cursor to the size you want to make. Release. You now have a square.
You should have something similar on your screen. My square is 2″ x 2″ with a gray outline and blue fill. I don’t love the fill color, but I’ll change that in a minute. First, let’s add a few more shapes. How about a few triangles.
- Click on the “Shapes” button again, but this time select the triangle. Again, your cursor looks like cross hairs.
- Click and hold anywhere on your page, dragging the cursor to the size you want to make. Release.
- Repeat to make a second triangle.
Notice there are two types of triangles in the Shapes options. Choose according to your preference. Add rectangles or more squares. It’s up to you. Remember there is no right or wrong here. We’re just playing.
So what if you want to change things you’ve already drawn? Easy. When it comes to size, you have two options. You can select the shape by clicking on it. When you hover the mouse over one of the points, you will see a double-headed arrow. Click and drag to increase or decrease. Or, if you want precision, select the shape by clicking on it. Then double click the bottom bar where the size is shown. This will open a dialog box.Enter the width and height you want for your shape. Click “OK” and it’s fixed for you. If you want to, you can play with the position by entering values for the X and Y axis. However, it’s much more fun just to drag and drop them where you want them.
Ready to change the color from that drab blue? Me too. Select the shape you want to change by clicking on it. Then go to the Fill drop down box. Scroll through and select a color. It’s that simple. I usually leave the outline on my shapes while I’m working with them. It just seems easier on my eyes. Feel free to remove them. Just select a shape, go to the Line drop down box (where you currently see a straight black line in the box) and change it to “none”.Once you’ve added some shapes, changed up the sizes and colors and moved things around a bit, save your document. You may want to create a file just for your practice documents. The files are small and you can create and save, create and save, create and save all day long if you want to.
If you are interested in more information about using OpenOffice Draw, or want to see videos of it in action, just Google “OpenOffice Draw tutorials”.
In the next post, we leave the boring stuff behind and start getting serious about shapes and color, creating a design you can use for patchwork.