Book Review: Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac

Computers and crafts have been converging for a very long time. The endless possibilities of the digital art world are constantly being merged into crafting, sewing, and fashion. Digital Textile Design (Lawrence King Publishers) is a new primer that takes you to the world where technology and textiles intersect. The authors, Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac, wrote 23 easy-to-follow tutorials. They cover creating custom-printed fabric, making repeating patterns using Photoshop and Illustrator, building visual elements like photographic montages, and making fashion illustrations. Everything in the book is stunning to look at, and many of the projects are inspired directly by pieces from cutting-edge fashion collections. Designers are profiled, and the world of digital crafting is explored in-depth.
The book is filled with very cool specific fashion-oriented projects. Make a cross-stitch textured pansy in Photoshop with a repeating “x” and some original art. Scan a sequin, use it to build an illustration, and then print it to an iron-on applique. Learn to tell the difference between a good pattern repeat and a bad one.
Many of the tutorials teach how to build visual images in Photoshop or Illustrator. Follow the screen caps of various tools and pallets in the software to make gingham, plaid, or complicated repeating patterns. Besides textiles, these skills and projects could easily be translated into other designs, like paper crafts or digital art.
An entire chapter is dedicated to fashion illustration, with absolutely beautiful inspirations. Digital Textile Design also contains complete explanations of different printing techniques. Bowles and Isaac explain ambitious methods, like rotary screen-printing and heat-transfer printing. They also discuss more accessible and traditional methods like woodblock printing and stenciling. For the serious artist working in a textile studio, the book has specific useful tips like a breakdown of the direct inkjet-printing process and a fascinating spread about the chemistry of applying ink to fiber.
Digital Textile Design is beyond inspiring. Novice and expert crafters alike will be enabled by this book to take their art to the next level.
Next Friday we will have a complete tutorial excerpt, with step-by-step instructions for building a custom plaid. Plaid is the hottest print for fall, and using Bowles and Isaac’s instructions will guarantee success!

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