Leaf Venation

Welcome to a surface pattern design case study called “Leaf Venation”. It was inspired by the fine design the smallest of nature’s creations. Through magnifying leaves, the translucent structure offers an opportunity to marvel at its intricacies. 

The highlighted venation system reminds us of the life pulsating in their veins, as well as our own connection to all living things.

This pat­tern design project was a part of my ongo­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kidspat­tern. If you’d like to learn more about them please vis­it their web­site HERE. Alter­na­tive­ly, view the archive of our pre­vi­ous projects HERE, in which I dis­cuss in detail the his­to­ry and nature of our work.

All cloth­ing-mock­ups pre­sent­ed here are pro­vid­ed cour­tesy of Kidspat­tern and are used for visu­al­i­sa­tion pur­pos­es only.


This pat­tern design series is a briefed com­mis­sion for a Spring — Sum­mer Col­lec­tion for boys aged up to 36 months old. It was direct­ed by Kidspat­tern, whom also com­posed the colour palette, which you can view below. It is an ele­gant selec­tion of a duo of blues, matched with a camel shade and con­trast­ed with an indi­go which is so dark, it’s almost black. This design shares this base of a duo of blues with anoth­er pat­tern set from the same group. To view “Graph­ic Botan­i­cals” please click HERE.

The main con­cept for this design involved the botan­i­cal ele­ments being sub­stan­tial­ly enlarged, scat­tered and lay­ered on top of each oth­er. The result­ing over­lay­ing effect makes this series not only very dimen­sion­al, but also full of inter­est­ing tex­tures, which emerged from the ele­ments blend­ing together.

In this series, the pat­tern is also often sup­port­ing a com­pli­men­ta­ry stand­alone, place­ment illustration.

Pattern Elements

With dig­i­tal print tech­niques in mind, a mixed media tech­nique was used through­out the process.

These were based on high detail pho­tographs tak­en by Kidspat­tern of ivy leaves and a snip­pet of an ele­gant green­ery. This formed the base ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al, which was then altered and topped with an addi­tion­al lay­er of com­ple­men­tary dig­i­tal drawing.

Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design

Smooth Transitions

In this ver­sion, in order to place more focus on the inter­ac­tions between the tex­tures and colours with­in the leaves, the lin­ear draw­ing was removed. Fur­ther­more, this focus is empha­sised by hav­ing both con­cepts visu­alised in a large size. This allows the pat­tern to soak up the sooth­ing blend­ing between the ele­gant shapes and soft, warm colours.

These were also recoloured in a del­i­cate mono­chro­mat­ic palette and placed atop match­ing light brown, as well as light blue coloured back­grounds. A lay­er of depth was added by chang­ing the leaves to a dark­er shade. This makes them sink gen­tly into the back­ground, as the white ones rise to the surface.

Last­ly, the sin­gle white ivy skele­ton, though under­stat­ed and almost imper­cep­ti­ble, adds a love­ly fin­ish­ing touch.

Venation Drawing

Both pat­terns incor­po­rate the use of the hand drawn vein net­work in the major­i­ty of the leaves. These were then recoloured in dark­er blue, which serves to draw the eye in by cre­at­ing a meshed structure.

Using this enhanced detailed imagery offers a much fuller print. Fur­ther­more, plac­ing it on a crisp, white back­ground sup­ports the desired con­trast; bring­ing the opac­i­ty down gives the leaves a trans­par­ent qual­i­ty to them which pro­vid­ed a light and airy design.

Last­ly, both of these pat­tern designs focus pre­dom­i­nant­ly on the dark blue aspect of the palette; each one match­ing it with either light blue or camel brown. Addi­tion­al­ly, they are both visu­alised in a large size on tops aimed at boys.

Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design
Leaf Veins · pattern design

“The leaves and the light are one.”

Albert Ein­stein