Patterned Heat transfer film or “HTV” is growing in popularity and seems to be an enduring trend. A visit to etsy.com or Pinterest shows a large variety of available printable HTV patterns from simple to complex. It’s an inviting market with lots of creative and commercial appeal. You might think you need Photoshop and a graphic design degree to jump into to this game, but you don’t. All you need is LXI 12 and command of a few of its many design features. If you also own a PrismJET VJ24 eco-solvent printer, you are uniquely equipped to create some pretty cool HTV patterns for personal use, for sale to your customers, or for resale online.
Of course printed patterns can be used for more than heat transfer garment decoration. You can also print patterns on self-adhesive printable media for all kinds of other applications, from wall décor to custom decals and monogram fills.
So how LXI support this market? LXI comes with pre-designed pattern fills and several cool design tools you can use to create your own. To set you on a firm footing, we’ll show you how to create simple vector patterns with shapes and spot colors, ornate vector pattern with gradients and layers, and rich vector-raster combinations. Once you master these tools, you’ll be able to create your very own custom HTV product line. Here’s how to create patterns in LXI.
Default Pattern Fills in LXI 12
LXI Master Plus 12 and LXI RIP 12 include a pattern fills option in the Fill/Stoke Editor. The three fill types are solid, gradient and patterns. There are a few basic patterns there, including diamond plate, bricks, and waves. Once you’ve selected a pattern fill, you can click the Advanced tab and edit the tile size and margins between the tiles. You can modify the pattern to show gaps between the tiles, overlap them, or have them join seamlessly as you wish.
Create Your Own: Simple Vector Polka Dot Pattern
Let’s start with a simple spot-color pattern like polka dots. If Etsy.com is any indication, people love polka dots. You can create a custom polka dot pattern using the basic shape tools and the define pattern feature.
- For simplicity’s sake, you might begin with a 2” x 2” square. Start with smaller tiles for small format applications like mug monograms or custom car tags.
- Place some circles on your square tile.
- if you want a preview of how the pattern will look, you can use the Step and Repeat Tool. Select all the shapes. Then, from the top tool bar, click Arrange. From the bottom of the drop-down menu, Select Step and Repeat (see below).
- Design Central will present several tools for managing the copies. Choose the Block tab to create a square grid of copies. Set the horizontal and vertical spacing to 0.00” to align the copies adjacent to each other.
- Click the green check mark or press the enter key to apply and examine the pattern. If your preview looks good, you can turn the entire batch into a pattern or take a step backwards to select only the original block of shapes
- Then select the objects and click View in your top navigation tool bar. From the drop-down menu, mouse over Color. From the fly-out menu, select Define Pattern.
- If you have more than one color palette open, LXI will prompt you to choose which palette gets the new fill. Pick one and click OK
- Now you can add any object to your workspace, select the Fill/Stroke editor, and choose pattern fill. Your new polka dot pattern will appear at the bottom of the list. You can select it to apply it to the new object, then click Advanced to manage the tile size for larger or smaller polka dots.
Add Variety with Gradients and Transparent Fills
To add variety and spice up your pattern palette, you can kick it up a notch and mix in some gradients and overlays. Let’s start with the polka dot pattern we just created. You can use that fill to create a polka dot monogram effect, then add an overlay with gradient color and a transparency that shades the polka dot pattern and adds a tonal gradation. You can start with one simple polka dot pattern and turn it into dozens of different designs using various gradient fills and transparency options. Here’s how to add these effects.
- Create your monogram text and apply the new polka dot pattern fill.
- Duplicate the monogram element and change the fill from pattern to gradient.
- Select both monogram elements and, from the Arrange menu, select Align. From the fly-out menu, select Both Centers. This will place the gradient monogram directly over the polka dot version, temporarily hiding it.
- Select the gradient filled object and, from the Fill/Stroke window click on the Transparency tab (third one on the right) Change the fill opacity level from the 100% default value to whatever you desire. 50% is a good place to start.
- Then change the blending mode from Normal and experiment with different overlays. There are 17 blending modes provided and they apply very different effects. Mix and match opacity levels and blending modes for limitless design options.
Create Complex Vectors: Decorative Floral Pattern
You can also add variety and complexity by applying gradients to the elements in the pattern itself. You can start with something simple, like a vector clip art image, and use LXI design tools to create an ornate decorative pattern by layering gradients in the vector shapes and in the background. Here’s an example using a simple LXI clip art floral image.
- In this example, I imported a vector file from the LXI clip art collection available online.
- I used the un-compound featured to break the flower into individual shapes, added gradient fills, and duplicated them to create the basic element of a decorative floral pattern.
- Then I placed them on a background square and duplicated it. I applied a stripe effect on the top square and a complimentary gradient fill on the bottom tile. This makes for a little more interesting backdrop for the floral pattern.
- When you apply the Define pattern tool, you have a nice decorative floral print that can be used as a fill for a T-shirt transfer, or sold to craft and hobby decorators as a full sheet of custom printed HTV.
Vector Mask Option
Some of the popular patterns for sale online are more complex and involve a combination of raster and vector elements. LXI is primarily a vector design application. But it’s a very smart vector design suite that includes enough raster design tools to allow you to mix and match them for delightful effects. The Mask and bitmap editing tools can be used to layer simple shapes over photographic elements to create more sophisticated patterns. The mask tool allows you to use an image or shape to cover parts of what’s under it. Think of it as a digital stencil. Here’s a process involving a fleur de lis pattern with a photographic fill.
- We’ll start by importing a fleur de lis image, and a large photographic element. If you don’t have this shape as a vector, that’s not a problem. You can start with a solid color raster image (.jpg, .bmp, or .png, or .eps). Import the file and place it on your workspace.
- Select the image and click on Bitmap in the top toolbar. From the drop-down menu, select Make Transparent. Then use the magic wand to select the areas around the main shape.
- The “marching ants” will show a preview of the white pixels. Click the green check mark in Design Central or press the enter key to apply the change and delete the background.
- Position the Fleur de lis over the photo. This might be a good time to duplicate it and arrange the copies in an appealing pattern, as seen below.
- Select all the copies and use the Arrange/Group command to turn them into a grouped object
- Position the group over the photo, keeping in mind that only the area of the photo covered by the pattern will be visible.
- Select both the group and the photo. From the top toolbar, select Arrange. From the drop-down menu, select Mask.
- From the Fly-out menu, select Mask again, and click the green check mark to apply. The background photo will go poof! It’s still there, it’s just hidden under the Fleur de lis.
- Now you can treat the foreground element as a separate object Place the groovy raster-filled Fleur de lis pattern over a solid background, (or use the layered background elements as we did in the previous version)
- Select the background and foreground elements, then do the Define Pattern dance. You know the rest.
HTV Patterns and Other Applications
We’ve already talked at length about the demand for printed patterns in HTV for garment decoration. Mr. Ed is dead. Moving on. What else can you do with these cool design tools? Another trendy application for pattern fills is monograms. These are popping up on mugs and tumblers, automotive window decals and even laptops. What else might you do with custom printed patterns? How about wall applications on removable vinyl or Wall-Tex printable fabric? A logo pattern might make a nice overlay for interior commercial glass. And there are dozens of personal items that can be decorated with custom decals using your pretty patterns. As with anything else in the sign and graphic industry, the only limitation is your imagination.
LXI has loads of smart design tools for professional quality graphics including all the tools you need to create appealing patterns for all kinds of applications. Once you’ve mastered these tools, you can create custom patterns for unique fills on HTV transfers or create and resell full sheets of custom printable HTV patterns. Put a totally unique license plate on your car. Or accent the back window with an upscale monogram filled with the vehicle brand’s logo. Or petunias. Or Fleur de Lis filled with Mardi Gras beads, or whatever floats your boat.
As noted above, the Pattern Fills and Define Pattern tools are only offered in LXI Master Plus and RIP 12. If you have a lower level of LXI 12, you can purchase and upgrade to unlock this function. That process starts with a phone call to 800-899-5655. Ask for the equipment sales group. Got comments, questions, suggestions? Feel free to drop ‘em in the comments field below.