I have become an online learning enthusiast in the last five years or so. I went from having signed up for online classes but being too afraid to even start one, to completing dozens of courses on many different platforms, in subjects ranging from programming to psychology to illustration.  The skills and knowledge I’ve cultivated are worth every minute of video lessons and class projects.  Here I’ll share my experience with Bonnie Christine’s Skillshare workshop “Illustrate from Sketches: Design 3 Patterns in 3 Weeks”.

What is skillshare?

Skillshare is a paid membership learning platform with classes on everything from marketing strategy to children’s illustration.  Yes, the annual membership fee is a bit pricey ($96 as of this writing), but think of it this way: that’s the price of a handful of outings to the movies but instead of a few hours of entertainment you get to learn almost anything, anytime, anywhere.  I am a fan.  There are downsides, as with anything.  Skillshare is also a platform for teaching so some classes are not as high quality as others.  Although there’s no shortage of quality classes on any given topic.

Think of learning on Skillshare as powered-up video tutorials.  Every class has two things on top of (usually) great instruction: a class project and a community of students.  The class project keeps you accountable for actually applying the skills you just learned.  Getting feedback from other students keeps you motivated and checking out how other students have interpreted the lessons in their projects is inspiring.

What is a skillshare workshop?

Normally you complete Skillshare classes at your own pace. You decide when to watch the lessons, when to start your project, and when to finish it.  A workshop has more a more structured timeline.  The workshop schedule will let you know when you should have watched video lessons and when to complete the different steps in your project.  Some workshops have limited spots and may cost an additional fee on top of your Skillshare membership. In these workshops you can generally expect more involvement and individual feedback from the instructor.  If you are on Skillshare to level up your professional skills a workshop might be a good investment.


Workshop: Illustrate from Sketches: Design 3 Patterns in 3 Weeks
Price: $40USD
Instructor: Bonnie Christine
Workshop Timeline: January 24, 2017 – February 14, 2017
Project: design 3 seamless repeating patterns based on digitized original sketches on a theme of your choice

My Project

Theme: Exhibits at the Legion of Honor San Francisco

The Legion of Honor is my favorite museum in the city.  I love its serene setting, surrounded by redwood forest, overlooking one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Some of my favorite pieces in the museum are everyday artifacts: jewelry, porcelain dishes, and ancient jars and bottles. I was also inspired by the design elements in the architecture of the museum itself.

Reference photos

Pinterest board of photos from my museum visits

Sketches and Palette

motifs sketches

My pattern designs

Here’s some ideas of how these patterns could look on some different items.

Frames and Gallery patterns on pillow and blanket
Glaze pattern on coffee cup
Frames pattern on packaging
Curated pattern on notebook

What I learned

First of all I have to say I learned quite a bit about the basic tools in illustrator. I started using Illustrator (after over ten years of being die-hard Photoshop only) in another Skillshare class (“Learn to Draw Digitally: Create Cute Drawings Using Basic Shapes”). That was great for breaking the ice.  This workshop really felt like a leveling up in Illustrator skills.  I will definitely be using it as much as I do Photoshop now.

I also learned how enjoyable and accessible designing repeat patterns can be.  It opens up a whole new way to make customized items and I particularly look forward to applying it to making gifts.

If I had to do it over again I would definitely plan a more specific concept/story for a collection. As it was my idea turned out to be too broad.  Deciding what motifs to use, choosing a color palette, and designing the style of the patterns were all much more time consuming and difficult than they needed to be.  Another thing I’d do differently would be to add textures to motifs before creating patterns. Adding them in later on top of my patterns did not give me the effect I wanted.

Overall I’m really glad I enrolled in the whole series in this workshop.  I can’t wait to go through the process again (and again!) to keep learning.

Curious About Skillshare Workshops?

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