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Polar bear print – inspiration to final design

Polar bears are one of my favourite animals.

I visited the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and was lucky to see the polar bears out and about, playing in the water and with their toys. After seeing them in real life I absolutely fell in love with them and knew I had to design a polar bear print.

Polar bear at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

I looked through the photos I’d taken and researched more close-up images online too. When I’m designing a print I always like to use reference pictures. This way my drawings are as true to life as possible. For the polar bear print I decided to use pencil crayons as their colouring is very soft.

The drawing stages of the polar bear

To make sure that I got the shape of the polar bear right I studied the photos I’d collected. Using simple shapes I built up the initial structure of the polar bear. Then I joined all the shapes together to get the outline of the polar bear and added texture lines to show the fur. The face was especially difficult to get right. It turns out polar bears have a very particular face shape and can easily end up looking like a tiger if you’re not careful!

Polar bear drawing step by step

Once I was happy with the shape of the polar bear I started to colour. It’s always difficult to colour something that is predominantly white to make it stand out. However on close inspection I picked out lots of shades of browns and yellows in the folds of fur that created shade. I used lots of short sharp marks to show the furry texture of the polar bear which I think worked well.

The finished polar bear drawing

From the sketchbook to the computer

After finishing up the drawing in the sketchbook it was time to transform it into a digital design. I scanned the polar bear into the computer and adjusted the levels in Photoshop to ensure the details were clear. Once the drawing was cleaned up I started thinking about the composition of the print. First of all I tried a simple half drop repeat. I paired this with a cool icy blue background to mimic the polar bear’s natural surroundings. I also thought the polar bears would stand out well against a blue background without looking too contrasted.

Half drop repeats are simple but they work well! I always like to have a random repeat option as well though so I started work on that next. These take more work as it’s surprisingly difficult to arrange a random pattern whilst getting a good mix of sizes and angles. After a lot of tweaking I finally settled on a design that I was happy with.

Then it was time to have the design printed onto the fabric and make some items with it!

Going into production

If you like the polar bear design, take a look at the items available in this print. Just click the picture to be taken to the product page.

Polar bear wash bag
Polar bear makeup pads
Polar bear pencil case
Polar bear apron
Polar bear reusable beeswax food wrap