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Why You Don't Need an iPad for Surface Pattern Design

Thinking about getting into surface pattern design? Good news: you don't need an iPad ! People often think that they need to buy an iPad, or be savvy with one. Or they think that they need to know Procreate or Affinity, which are programs that enable you to draw on the iPad.

Here are 3 reasons why you don't need one:

1. Hand drawn sketches can be imported into a laptop or desktop. As long as you have Adobe Illustrator, you're good to go. The sketch in the photo is one I did with Micron markers on a sheet of plain white sketchbook paper.

Some of the most successful surface pattern designers out there only draw on paper and bring their sketches in. All you need to import a sketch is your phone or camera (take a photo!) or a scanner.

2. The full power of Illustrator can't be utilized on an iPad. While you can access many of Illustrator's tools on an iPad, you can't access all of them. Which means that while you can start creating art on an iPad, you'll need to bring it into Illustrator on a computer in order to create repeating patterns.

3. Procreate tends to cut off the edges of artwork if you try to create a repeating pattern with it on an iPad. Enough said.

So if you're thinking about becoming a surface pattern designer, all you need is Illustrator installed on a computer. Pro tip: make sure that you have enough room on your computer for it! Adobe Illustrator is a robust program, and it takes up a lot of space.

If you're not sure if your computer makes the cut, click on this link to see what Adobe recommends:

Truth be told, there is a LOT of super techie info on this page that can make your head spin. Pay attention to how much RAM you have. Adobe says 8GB is OK, but 16 GB is recommended.

If you're not sure if you have enough space to install Illustrator, give Adobe's customer service people a call. They are very helpful. They'll ask you about the computer you'll be working on, and they also provide tips about how to get rid of files and programs that may be clogging it up unnecessarily.

Here's the link to their support page:

Questions? Send me an email at


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