Mable Tan


What is a collection?

If you aren’t sure what a collection is, I’ll try and explain it in the best way possible.

Look at a collection as a movie or book. It always have a theme, and centres around two main characters (hero print #1 and hero print #2).

The theme is important, because it tells a story. Is it an underwater themed collection? Who is the collection for? Who are your target audience? Are they for adults or kids? If they’re targeted for kids, is it gender specific or neutral? What age group is it best for? The clearer you are about your audience, the more cohesive your collection will be.

For instance, my collection for Paintbrush Studio Fabrics is called ‘Picnic‘ and it is for carefree young girls, of ages between 3 to 7, who loves to have fun, frolicking in wild fields of flowers and making daisy rings as crowns.

The complex coordinates are supporting characters to your story. They’re friends or family of the main characters. They’re important but the limelight is still always on the two heroes. It is not as elaborate as the two hero patterns, but has some complexity to it.

Finally, the simple coordinates. These are people in the background. They’re not as important, and what some people would call ‘space fillers’, but they’re needed to compliment the storyline. In the fabric industry, they are quite necessary. The simple pattern is important for the hero print to shine.

You can download the collection structure below and customise it on Adobe Illustrator.

  1. To add your patterns to the template, first open the patterns you have created for your collection and the template on Adobe Illustrator.
  2. Copy your first pattern and paste it into the template.
  3. Select the first box and use the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the pattern.
  4. If the design is in its original form (pre-pattern), drag it to the colour palette. Select the first box and then click on the pattern.
  5. Use the Eye Dropper tool (I) to select to colours from your collection. (TIP: It is highly recommended to work between to 16 – 18 colours for one colorway in a collection)

comments +

  1. CJ Hartsock says:

    This is an easy visual to have as a reminder. Thank you Mable. – CJ

  2. Thank you so much! What a great resource!

  3. Suzanne says:

    I am so looking forward to using this guide!
    Thank you 😊

  4. Hi Mable!
    I realize this was from two years ago, but I just completed Immersion 2022 and trying to format my collection. This was an absolute God send for me! Thank you so much. I love your work and your interviews!

    • Mable Tan says:

      Hi Suzanne, it’s my absolute pleasure. Thank you for loving it and leaving a comment. I appreciate that!

  5. Dawn says:

    Love this template. Thank you so much!

  6. Abigail says:

    Thank you for making this available.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I just signed up for your Artist Portfolio course on spoon flower 11/25! Thank you so much for this template! Can’t wait to take your class!

  8. Maria says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this resource!!!

  9. Maria says:

    Hi there!
    Excited to use this resource, but I’m having a hard time downloading it. Any suggestions on what I might be doing wrong?

  10. Suzanne says:

    Brilliant! Love it! ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hey Friend, Let's keep in touch!

Want to know about the latest and the hottest? Hit subscribe to know what I've been up to.

Thanks! Keep an eye on your inbox for updates.


Hi, I'm Mable! I'm a surface pattern designer. I'm passionate about creating designs that adds prettiness to every day life.

oh hey!

get my free download


Download My Swipe File

what to say to art directors & get licensed!

Check me out on instagram ...







useful links


contact me

© mabletandesigns 2021

mable tan designs