TAM 271 – Teaching Computer Aided Design for Textiles: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Lisa Parrillo-Chapman, Lecturer
Use of the computer is essential to textile design, from concept, to sampling with a textile digital printer, through to presentation. Designers must not only know the fundamentals of computer use but how to utilize software as an effective tool for designing. The College of Textile students at North Carolina State University are introduced to computer aided design and digital printing in a beginning level course, Computer Aided Design for Textiles. In this course students are introduced to the operation of software to aid in the design, sampling and presentation of woven, printed and knitted textiles. This course is intended to introduce students to the various soft wares used for the conception and presentation of textile designs. Fundamental textile design skills such as pattern repeat, use of color and portfolio layout are reinforced. Textile digital printing onto fabric, an essential part of computer aided design, is included, allowing students the ability to quickly, and relatively inexpensively, produce their own fabric designs and end products. The College invested in fabric ink jet printers in 1999 so that students would have experience working with this new technology. By allowing students the opportunity to become involved in the production of their designs we are able to broaden their education by providing a multidisciplinary course that includes computer aided design, color management, dyeing and finishing and marketing.
In the course of a semester, students had to complete three projects and a final portfolio with each project requiring a minimum of three new patterns. The first project was presented in storyboard format and began by having the students research design ideas on the internet, using Worth Global Style Network (WGSN) and Digital Design Warehouse (DDW), the College’s digital design site, a portal for design resources. Students were asked to catalog sources and patterns in an organized, well-named manner, for ease of retrieval. They could open previously created files and change color, scale or combine two or more patterns together, enabling them to constantly rework and improve their designs. The libraries proved to be an invaluable resource for students when developing new patterns, not only in this class but for classes in woven and knit design.
For the third project the students create an end product with their digitally printed fabric. Students were able to be much more critical of their designs once they viewed them as fabric. The biggest surprise for most was the actual scale of their design. It is difficult for a novice to gauge scale when viewing a design on the computer screen. Once it was printed on fabric they were able to bend, wrap, drape and fold it, to better see how their design worked as a piece of cloth.
Repeat pattern structure, the basis of print, knit and woven design, is a fundamental skill that textile design students must learn, and print design is often the easiest way to introduce this concept. Computer aided design, as compared to hand drawn or painted design, has been a wonderful teaching tool for this because of the ease in putting designs into repeat. Students can scan art work into a CAD program or draw directly into a program by use of a drawing tablet. In CAD, if mistakes are made, or color or scale needs to be changed one does not need to start over on another piece of paper, but rather can quickly make changes or undo mistakes. But, while computer aided design is, in many instances, faster and easier to use than pen and paper, it is also much easier to quickly make bad designs. When it is so easy to change color or repeat or scale, novice designers may make less calculated choices. And for many, the image on the computer screen is not “real”. A challenge in teaching computer aided design is how to provide a “hands on” interactive learning experience as opposed to the sometimes solitary experience of working on a computer.
project for this class was to submit a portfolio of work created through
out the semester. Students laid out the pages in Photoshop,
printed them on a large format paper printer and attached
fabric swatches of
their designs onto the pages. This format allowed students
to showcase their
pattern design, texture mapping and design composition
skills. Several students also designed web pages to supplement their
of this course, students will be able to
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