Vector Traditional Rug Design

Style of Traditional Patterns

As an artist, it’s rewarding to develop a personal style.

My background is in the “commercial clean” look.  You see it all the time,  in brands like Target and other major retailers.  This is more or less an Arial logo, a splash of the company color, sales text and some photos.  What I’ve been trying to grok is the sharp contrast of the “commercial clean” to the traditional shapes used so much in architecture and really old rugs.

So, I’m mostly new to the traditional stuff but I want to learn.  Where to start?  The old adage “fake it till you make it” comes to mind.  The way I get a handle on new design styles is to… start tracing!  That’s right, I took a photo of one of my rugs and hand traced it into the vector form that you see in the pictures.  At the start the tracing is exact, then later once some of the basic style rules are discovered a bit of “creative license” can happen and the style can be extended.

First off, wow is it amazing.  After this project, a weird side-effect is seeing the rug patterns in every bush or plant.  Mother Nature is truly the original artist that all other art copies.  You can take any odd shape from nature, mirror it for symmetry and -poof- you’ve got one of these rug symbols.

Lets not forget, this was practice only.  Someone holds the rights to the rug design that I traced, making mine unsalable.  I do have to say I really enjoy this style and plan on advancing in it.  For my next project I think taking my own photos of nature is in order.  Then when I trace those the rights will be mine.


I’d like to detail out some screenshots from the project:

Rug Photo

The original rug photo

1.  The Photo

To start I took a photo of a quarter of the rug.  It’s sooo detailed.  One of the nice things is it’s all symmetric.    I straightened the photo and gave it a lot more contrast (to make tracing easier.)

If you zoom in you’ll notice this rug has a fairly high pile.  That means the actual design is “muddy” because there is so much offset between the backing and the plane the art is displayed on.  No problem.  Muddy is great for me because I don’t want an exact copy.  The goal is to develop a personal style right?  I want to be able to draw individual symbols using my style, but also with the traditional look from further away.


Mid-Project Screenshot

Mid-Project Screenshot

2.  The Tracing

Mess of grid lines and assorted oddly drawn shapes, check.

This screenshot is the staging area for working, then assembly is in a different area.  Again emphasis on developing personal way of representing nature, not on copying the glyphs precisely.


Rug Vectorizing Assembly

Click on me for animated gif of assembly

3.  Assembly

Click thumb for animation, you can see the order of operations.

I think it kept getting better as I stopped tracing so much and started creating my own symbols.




Vectorized nature symbols

Vectorized nature symbols

4.  The Payoff

Eventually these cool shapes start to emerge.

I can’t wait to get going with some of my own nature photos to make these.  Alas, one project at a time makes for finished projects!


Fullsize Vector JPG (4.6MB)

Finished Vector (4.6MB)

5.  The Finish

Here is the final vector tracing for inspection. I even added some stylized tassels!




Traditional Rug Pile Texture

6.  Photoshop’d

One step further, lets add rug texture.

Turns out Photoshop’s Pointillize filter does a good job… just like magic.


Photo-stylized Mock-up

Photo-stylized Mock-up

6.  Ship It

Sales guys and visual learners agree, mock-ups push projects to completion.

Here I’ve applied my vector rug to this fancy photograph. It’s just a quickie, but realistic enough for internal use.




Enough rambling from me. I’m off to go work on my stuff, and also read up on how to write a lucid blog article!

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