If you're wondering who's been designing patches around here nowadays, the answer is all of us as well as some of our artist friends. When we need something really fast though, one of us will whip something up right here in the office. To assist with this, I've been playing around a lot and found a fun and fast method for designing patches. It's crude and sometimes yields questionable results. Enjoy...and remember, this can be used for any type of product, not just patches.
Step 1: Brainstorm.
However you know how. What kind of patch would you like to make? Leather, PVC, embroidery? Your lines and style are dependent on what your final patch type is going to be.
Step 2: Find your inspiration.
I'm going to be showing you how I'd make a design for an embroidered patch. Because it's Tuesday, I will be using a picture of a taco (labeled for reuse on Google) and turning it into a design because I know nobody out there will be trying to steal it...tacos are just too plentiful.
Step 3: Photoshop it up.
I use Photoshop because it's my native language (others might know Illustrator better) and I am way faster with it. I'll open a new document, make it 10" x 10" inches at 300 DPI. After I add my example picture, I first trace my lines with the brush tool- using hard round brush in black. For an embroidered patch, I won't outline everything because that can end up messy and too detailed... I add color next by duplicating the line layer, placing it underneath the original line layer and dumping color inside each section with the paint bucket tool and then fine-tuning with the brush tool. For the taco design, I didn't make many lines so I just used the brush tool for the color layer and didn't duplicate any lines. Pay attention to how many overall colors you use (I stick to around 10 or less) and use the eyedropper tool on your original image to get exact colors. I then create the overall patch shape and background behind both line and color layers. I make sure to have my example photo that I trace, lines, color and background all on separate layers- that is probably the most important part. When it's done, I will save it as a .psd file with the example layer hidden.
Step 4: Turn into a vector.
I use Adobe Illustrator for this step. Simply import your .psd file, use the image trace function, expand it, then save as an .ai file. Manufacturers prefer vector artwork in the form of .ai files, but they will often accept .psd or .pdf files as well...so you might get away with skipping this step.
Step 5: Know your specs and order!
We won't be ordering this one, but for the example's sake, I would order at least 100, keep it around 3" inches wide or tall (with its corresponding height or width justified), hook Velcro backed, 100% embroidered (or dye sublimated over embroidery if it's too detailed), with merrowed or heat cut border. Voilà You've got a patch.
I used this process to make the following products!
Skateboards, Polaroid cameras, meatball subs and a broken hand, this story has it all. Let me start from the beginning. Since Munson showed up a few months ago from Florida, the entire gang has been talking about learning to skateboard. Why? Well, why not? We all had Skateboards, some of us were more skilled than others (Emily and I had about as much experience skating as we do hunting whales).
Fast forward a few weeks and there are nine skateboards floating around the office. Yanne and I had previously gotten a little carried away at a silent auction and, well, we bought a few skate decks. Yanne, always with the most fun ideas, said "Hey, lets ride our boards to lunch". It was a beautiful Friday up here in Sun Valley, Idaho, and we like to take advantage of the warm weather while we still can. The target was an easy, slightly uphill destination about two miles away on a smooth bike path. Easy enough.
The first part of our trip was pretty mild. Nobody got hurt, it was slow, and Emily was wearing a ski helmet. We arrived at lunch, talked about weird dreams over beer (or apple juice in Emily's case). I may have exaggerated on the meatball subs, I just really wanted to order two like I was in the movie Point Break.
Heading back to Violent Little HQ from the restaurant is a nice, gentle downhill, with one slightly steeper section at the beginning. I'd recently quadrupled the amount of time I'd spent on a skateboard so I thought "Shit, I got this". I hopped on and quickly discovered what loose trucks and speed wobbles are all about. I ditched it and rolled a few times before coming to rest in some sage brush. My hands suddenly looked like raw hamburger, but other than my ego nothing was too badly damaged.
We got that one crash out of the way, so it was just time to cruise the easy section. We were getting our legs under us, learning to carve, having fun. Cars passing by were looking at us, probably jealous that they don't have as much fun as we do. I was admiring the ski hill in the distance when all of a sudden I discovered a skateboarder's worst enemy...a pebble. This time I wasn't as fortunate and planted all my weight into my hands. If my hands looked like hamburger before, they just looked like unprocessed meat now. I brushed it off, Munson and I posed for Polaroid photos, and everyone driving by laughed at me (I ain't even mad). Once we got back to the shop, I knew I'd fractured my hand. It's not the first time I've done it, so I already knew what was up. I cleaned the wounds with some Dr. Little's Aids Cure, did the sensible thing and spent the next few hours with a cold beer in my hand.
1. Bravo Bandidos- During the earliest stages of Violent Little, I came to visit Yanne before heading out on another deployment. I saw what cool things the laser could do and I asked if we could make a platoon patch. That's when I fell in love with the idea of creating patches, which was something that influenced my decision to leave the SEAL Teams...but that's a story for another time. It took a few hours to get every detail I wanted onto this patch, like the dots on the sombrero, rose on the pistol grip and all the roses and ivy on the sombrero. It's all the little things that make this my favorite patch. So much so, I gave up an arm for it and I am not disappointed. Check out the picture below.
3. Just the tip- It always reminds of that scene in Wedding Crashers, when Vince Vaughn is explaining why he doesn't seem interesting in dating. If you remember at one point I used the whole quote in an email closer to Valentines Day.
2.Heavy Days- This was the first time I saw some really great art that depicted what the effects of operating can produce. Like the stresses that drive you to drink obscene amounts of alcohol and take up new addictions like smoking or dipping. Thankfully, I was never into tobacco. It depicts the exhaustion of non-stop movement and catching those quick breaks when given the chance, before you get back up and go kick some more doors in with your brothers. It's about being each other's "guardian angel".
4.Shark Weak- If you missed out, it was one of our best Shark patches ever if I do say so myself. Now it may have something to do with the fact that I was involved on the creation that makes me love it so much. Also it's just sooo awesome.
5.4 Bed Rats- While this one might not have been entirely popular with everyone it sure was for me. During another visit to Sun Valley we watched the cockatoo youtube video over and over again. The whole week I was there and we were drinking it was non stop "I can't do it!' and "Bed Rats!!" Sometimes when we get drunk like that we bring it back, or just when someone asks you for a favor "I can't do it!!'
Least Favorite 5
1. Abe Froman Sausage King- As a Chicagoan and fan of Ferris Bueller''s Day Off, you'd think i'd love this. But I have to say it just doesn't tickle my fancy as much as I like it being tickled. I'd like to see a PVC patch of a leopard print vest, silhouette of man with great hair and holding a mic with the words "Shake It Up Baby" hmm might be onto something here.
2.Cash Money- If it was the old Nintendo Blaster color you bet your ass it wouldn't be on here. Unfortunately even the urban "Cash Money" paint job didn't appease the south side Chicagoan in me.
3.There is No Dana- I love the Ghost Busters but damn that Dana, let little baby Oscar get taken away. Her poor parenting is basically why Vigo the Carpathian was able to get so strong.
5.Hurt Knees- I am a fan of Burt's bees actually, like they're my favorite chap stick.
Honorable Mentions for Top 5:
-Tracking Bitch Limited Edition patch- Back when I was running the customer service I'd often time have an impatient customer who would place in order and before their confirmation email is sent, they're calling the shop and emailing me about how distraught they are over their lack of information. Sometimes I wish we'd just give this one out to the biggest whiner of the month.
-Gay Underway Patch- Being a Navy boy I've had my fair shares of "good game" slaps, often times we're not even gay we're just bored.