The Funghi Hunt

Welcome to a surface pattern design series inspired by a wild mushroom hunt in a dew covered forest during late summer. It aims to evoke the spirit of this most absorbing quest of spotting their hiding places amongst the grass and moss. 

Afterwards, as the sun is setting low, equipped with a filled wicker basket, the hunters head back home to assess their precious unearthings.

This sur­face 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.

Mushroom Sketchbook 

To begin, below you can find insights into the begin­ning of the sur­face pat­tern design process where the sketch­book pages show hand draw­ings of these designs’ main motif. These explore the var­i­ous shapes and sizes of dif­fer­ent types of mush­room, mar­vel­ling at their pletho­ra. The selec­tion of the motifs had to uni­ver­sal­ly suit both male and female designs, and also be appro­pri­ate for two dif­fer­ent age groups as well.

This sur­face pat­tern design series began with work­ing in pen­cil on paper as opposed to work­ing dig­i­tal­ly from the off­set – this gives the work, a more earthy and authen­tic feel.

This sur­face pat­tern devel­op­ment series was com­mis­sioned for a kidswear client to include in their Spring — Sum­mer Col­lec­tion for chil­dren aged up to 36 months old.

Below please view the break­down of the pat­terns’ struc­ture which was direct­ed by Kidspat­tern, along with the respec­tive colour palettes with shades tran­si­tion­ing along with the age and sex group they’re indica­tive of. For girls, we have a soft blue, the ever pop­u­lar lilac and a rasp­ber­ry ice cream pink, matched with a light fawn and con­trast­ed with a milk choco­late brown. Whilst the boys’ colour palette shares the same browns and blue, but has an addi­tion of moss green and deep taupe. Over­all this makes for a beau­ti­ful selec­tion encap­su­lat­ing the dreamy mood of a bright woodland.

Pattern Elements

These were shared in both sex and age groups, hence we need­ed to find a way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the spe­cif­ic designs. To accom­plish this, we used var­i­ous types of arrange­ment and ways of colouring.

In the first age group, 1 – 3 year olds, all the mush­rooms are kept as an out­line draw­ing with no or, a flat one colour fill.

In the sec­ond age group for 3 – 6 years olds, two types of water­colour fill were added to the out­line draw­ing; both paint­ed using a dig­i­tal paint­ing brush. The first design, cov­ered the whole of the shape, where­as the sec­ond filled it the mush­rooms only par­tial­ly with small­er strokes.

Age Group 1–3 Years

With­in this age group, the sec­tions for boys and girls are dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed by the pat­tern arrange­ment. First­ly, for boys, mush­rooms were organ­ised reg­u­lar­ly in an upright and straight­for­ward seam­less repeat. This sim­ple, one colour pat­tern design is easy to use on any coloured fab­ric in any colour com­bi­na­tion. In these exam­ples, we focused on the tints of brown and taupe.

Sec­ond­ly, for the group for girls, the same mush­rooms were arranged into stripes. With the out­lines in one or mul­ti­ple colours these ver­sions explore dif­fer­ent sizes and coloured backgrounds.

Includ­ed are some ideas for a few place­ment prints resem­bling a thick mush­room for­est where the ele­ments are lay­ered on top of one anoth­er in dif­fer­ent sizes. As they float and rotate fur­ther away from the main busy strip they cre­ate an inter­est­ing tran­si­tion, through hav­ing these stripes enlarged and placed along the top and the bot­tom of the dress. Mean­while, the over­size ver­sion has one run­ning along just the hem of the garment.

Full Palette

In the age group for 3 – 6 year olds, the mush­rooms were filled in with dig­i­tal water­colour shading.

This is the main ver­sion from this sur­face pat­tern series that was select­ed by the client and went into pro­duc­tion. Using a dig­i­tal print tech­nique allowed the use of mul­ti­ple colours and high­light­ed the tonal tran­si­tion between them.

The first option places the many hued mush­rooms on the fawn back­ground. Then, the sec­ond option uses a white back­ground, which sharp­ens both the colours and the painter­ly effect.


In these pat­terns the water­colour fill was approached in a mono­chrome man­ner, offer­ing a sub­tler option, in tune with the exact pan­tones from the brief palette.

Each mush­room is thus recoloured sep­a­rate­ly. The first recolour­ing full of earthy tones was intend­ed for the boys’ group.

Mean­while, plac­ing a flat white shape under the water­colour fill allows the ele­ments to stand out from the coloured back­ground and so pre­vents it from blend­ing in with the fab­ric. In the last ver­sion, which is sim­pli­fied to the use of only one pan­tone, the mush­rooms soft­ly come to light from the warm hazel­nut background.

Brush Strokes Fill

To con­clude, the last out­line draw­ing used a par­tial fill, done with a broad water­colour brush with­out fill­ing in the whole of the shape. As a result, this approach is more graph­ic and sub­tle, so it offers a hap­py medi­um between the oth­er two techniques.

In these sur­face pat­terns the mush­rooms are recoloured in mono­chrome tones from their respec­tive colour palettes. Con­se­quent­ly, this pro­vides a selec­tion of designs with the ele­ments soft­ly blend­ing in and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly stand­ing out against both white and coloured backgrounds.

Pattern in Print

Below, please browse through a slideshow selec­tion of exam­ples of this sur­face pat­tern applied as a fab­ric print. These pho­tographs are by Kidspat­tern and were tak­en in the client’s brand shop upon the launch of their Spring — Sum­mer Kids Collection.

These aim to pro­vide you with an insight into how ver­sions of this sur­face pat­tern were used on cloth­ing and how those fit­ted in with the wider con­text of the colour group and oth­er items. Also includ­ed are a few close-ups of the print details.

These exam­ples cov­er both colour releas­es, with the first one focus­ing on the pas­tel blue and lilac, whilst the oth­er is suf­fused in warm browns with an addi­tion of mauve.

Please note that these images are pro­vid­ed cour­tesy of the client and Kidspat­tern and are used for port­fo­lio pur­pos­es only.

“Advice is like mush­rooms. The wrong kind can prove fatal.”

Charles E.McKenzie