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How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?

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Matthew OConnor
How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:12:02 am

Lately I have been wondering how to create the prints seen on swimsuits, especially women's one pieces. I am really interested in making that kind of abstract art. Here are some examples:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/42621.htm
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/40994.htm#color=11590
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/40995.htm?color=212
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/30002.htm?color=206
http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/42618.htm

I have Googled every nook and cranny on this and I am really frustrated with how irrelevant the results were (they were mostly on how to make a pattern for the cut of a swimsuit). This forum is the only place I can possibly find answers.


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Bill Stephan
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:15:57 pm

There are software applications specifically for fabric design. These are somewhat similar to Photoshop as far as the graphic design part, but they also generate electronic patterns for the fabric weaving machines.

Bill Stephan
Senior Editor/DVD Author
USA Studios
New York City


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Bill Stephan
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:18:55 pm

Also, designs that are too complex for weaving are printed directly onto a neutral-colored fabric.

Bill Stephan
Senior Editor/DVD Author
USA Studios
New York City


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Matthew OConnor
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 5, 2013 at 6:20:31 pm

I have looked at the types of software there is for this purpose, but they all seem to be geared towards repeating patterns of flowers and other recognizable things. The printed textures on the swimsuits are more abstract and digital and don't necessarily have a recognizable subject. I'm looking for a way to make those kind of textures with Photoshop.


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 5, 2013 at 11:35:00 pm

I would approach it from the same angle as any other print job:

Determine your size, DPI, various limitations, etc, find out how you're gonna print it (likely screen or pad printing, though it could be offset litho, too), match your colors (might be spot colors so Pantone or a similar proprietary color technology). Determine your final file format, export as needed and go from there.

If this still doesn't help, pick up the phone and call the companies that make this stuff, tell them you are interested in designing the print patterns and you would like to know more about the print process. I can't tell you how many times I've done this for projects: find someone who knows more than you and milk them for info. Sometimes, this results in new clients, too!

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Matthew OConnor
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:10:13 pm

I don't think I made myself clear on what I want to do. I am not interested in the print process, I am interested in the process of making the abstract designs before they are printed on. What software do they use? What filters in Photoshop would make designs like that? I obviously can't use the paintbrush to do it. The design would come off as mediocre.

I want to learn how to make the art that they print onto the swimsuits (refer to the examples at the beginning). I hope I made myself clear with that.


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:00:37 pm

Okay, I get you. The reason I mention the print process is because you can't just print any old thing on Lycra. It has to be printed on the fabric bolt and that printing must take into account very specific restrictions on printing onto Lycra. So, no matter what you WANT to print, you will have to temper that with what CAN be printed and if you take those limitations into account early in the design process, you will have far fewer headaches when it comes time for the final file(s).

Looking at the samples you sent, they appear to be repeating patterns on a bolt of fabric. If you read the description, it mentions "Xtra Life Lycra performance in a fun bright print." Print is the giveaway: it just means it was printed onto the fabric either at the request of the clothing maker or it was purchased in bulk, preprinted, from a supplier and then made into swimsuits.

As for design: it's pretty straightforward. Each of the designs can be put together a broad variety of ways in Photoshop, Illustrator, et al. Are you looking for design on all of the swimsuits? I'm happy to discuss specifics, but you've sent 5 different patterns which could each require their own detailed posts and I may not have time for all of them - others here may be able to help, too. Maybe create a new post and ask about just one design and it would be helpful to know what you will use them for.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Matthew OConnor
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:10:46 pm

Alright, now we're getting somewhere. :D

I am especially insterested in how the "mighty python" and "sporti flash" designs were made. The mighty python one looks photo based and I have no idea how the sporti flash could be made without large amounts of manual labor.


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: How do they make the textures on their swimsuits?
on Aug 8, 2013 at 2:04:02 am

Okay, so I'm looking at the design here: http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/30002.htm?color=206 (Speedo Mighty Python Flyback).

I know you said you weren't interested in the print process, but I'll tell you it's vital to the design process. Look at the blue/red one in the enlarged view. The design is likely printed as a type of offset, pad, or screen print process - in other words, one color at a time and then they just change the colors and use the same design to make all the variations - it saves time and money and is pretty typical for these types of print jobs (you get 8 designs from 1 instead of only 1 design). Why is that important? Well, it determines which colors print first, second, etc. In this case, black is the overprint or last color printed.

The layers look simple: a layer of the blue, then a layer of the red, then the python in black. I would design each one separately. Important to note: this will likely be printed between 150-300dpi or more depending on the process.

The red and blue just look like splotches of "paint" on canvas in a sort of randomized herringbone pattern. On closer examination, there could be a second blue plate or it could be a combination of blue and black OR the lighter is a halftone of the darker - none of which would be surprising, but registering these kinds of prints can be difficult so it may have just been easier to allow sloppy registration or, for randomness of pattern, none at all. Honestly, I'd have to examine the fabric to tell. The black python part is likely from a photo or from an existing library of graphics and converted to black/halftone black.

Incidentally, when you look at a bolt of fabric, there are little colored dots on the selvage(s) which indicate which specific ink colors were used so having the bolt in this case would resolve any questions as to how many plates/screens were used and allow us to finally determine how many layers were used and how to break down the design. This is the same process I've had to use to recreate screen printing patterns when the original files and/or plates are lost. I've done marble patterns for acrylic awards (a single black plate of the marble halftone is applied and then you put any of a variety of other colors down and the final looks just like marble).

Setting up the file:

1) Create a new Photoshop file with color mode as grayscale (there are other ways to do this, but this works well for me).
2) Now, go to Image >> Mode >> Indexed Color (no real changes will show)
3) Switch to the Channels tab, then, in the dropdown, choose new spot channel. Solidity 100%. In Ink Characteristics, hit the color swatch and the color picker will pop up - choose the Color Libraries button and I used Pantone + Solid Coated in the top dropdown, and I picked Pantone Bright Red C. Hit okay when done.

4) switch to your brush and paint some daubs on the palette in red.

5) Repeat this for the 2 blues (arbitrarily, I picked 7688C and 7455C), painting some daubs for each channel.

6) for the snake skin, I found a decent one here:
http://www.insulinpumpfashions.com/getfabric.asp?pID=4109
loaded it into photoshop, selected only the black areas (select >> color range >> shadows), then pasted the selection of black to a new channel with just black.

To get the finished version, save as an indexed photoshop file, then merge channels in the channels dropdown and then convert to RGB (Image >> Mode >> RGB) and save as a new Photoshop file or just a JPEG. RGB colors will not necessarily reflect the actual pantone colors. Here's my version:



Note that each color is its own CHANNEL (not layer) and I didn't really go to the trouble of exactly converting it all with precise brush strokes.

Hope this helps.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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