Water Pistols Pattern Design

Water Pistols Pattern

Water Pistol

Water Pistol Find

I found a pack of four water pistols in a pound store – they would be ideal for a pattern design. At the time I thought the design would be for children, but after developing ideas they began to look a lot more like Andy Warhol than Andy Pandy. The water pistols are very translucent and in four wonderful lurid colours. Elephant Squirt Gun is embossed on the side, perhaps they were made in India for an American market?

Photographing The Squirt Guns

The first photos were shot with strong lighting from below, but this made them into silhouettes. Adding an extra light on one side with reflectors all round worked the best. I shot all four water pistols, but found the blue one had the best definition. This was then cutout with a clipping path. It was then easy to set up different hue and saturation layers to achieve all the different colours.

Converting To Illustrator Files

I used Illustrator’s Auto Trace to convert the blue photograph into just six colours. I then converted the six colours to different opacities of the same hue. It was then possible to use the same image 6 times over using different colours.

Adding Colour Behind The Pistols

As the design progressed, I wanted to be able to re-colour the pistols quicker. So instead of using six different opacities of the same hue, I changed each one to six different opacities of white instead. By adding a layer behind of the entire water pistol I could easily alter the colour quicker.

Drop Shadow

I experimented with adding a drop shadow generated by Illustrator, but it looked old fashioned so instead I used the background shape moved slightly. Then making it 20% black. So would take on the effect of the background.

Colour Combinations

I think the most appealing are those with one main colour with one secondary colour for just one of the pistols. Perhaps the least successful were the ones using all the colours at the same time.

Coding The Files

To be able to go back to Illustrator and recreate all the images it is important to code them in a way that can be reproduced. Here my designs are coded from A to D. Then the number relates to the colour code of the background. So for instance D-33 means design D with colour 33 background – which is black. I currently have 35 colours in use for my pattern designs. Rolling your mouse over the image should display its code.

Two Colour Images

When I chose one main colour for the pistols plus a secondary colour I put the main colour first, then the second one refers to the spot colour. So for instance D-cyan-red-0 would mean design D, with mainly cyan pistols and spot ones coloured red. Shown on a background of white (0).

Placing The Pattern In A Location

To give context I combined a selection of finished designs with a straight-on shot of the chair used in my design for mid century modern chairs. Adding a fake carpet and simple skirting board. For every image I altered the colour of the real chair to complement the surface patterns. For each design I also created a simple version that was just the pattern, to show how the design could be used for fabric, lampshades, and other surfaces.

Creating This Page

With so many colour combinations it would be impractical to show all of them. Here I have chosen a selection of combinations that I feel are interesting.

* Smaller screen sizes are designed to display less colour examples.
Rolling your mouse over an image will display its code.

The Future

The pattern would be great for wallpaper but also fun for gift-wrapping and fabric too. I would love this design to have another life taken up by a manufacturer. Please contact me if you would like a high resolution file or to talk about how we could work together.