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The Secret to Creating an Ikat (it’s not what you think it is!)

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

You’d be forgiven for thinking a modern Ikat is created with some sort of Photoshop effect. I mean, look at that lined texture. It’s so neat.

That’s what we here on the content team thought before diving into our Ikat-themed social media week. Because so many miraculous effects can be achieved with our friend, Photoshop, we just expected this to be the same.

BUT we were wrong. So wrong.  Senior designer Katrina explains the wonderful way Ikat is actually created.

With a brush! A physical brush rather than the digital kind. Here’s how to re-create these Ikat-style elements the analogue way.


You’ll see Ikat-style designs all over the place this season, especially on togs and beach cover-ups. Do you want to know what’s going to sky-rocket next summer? We share all our trend intel with a group of select people. That is the Trend Report Subscribers.


1. Sketch out your design on your paper first

“You need a plan. It’s easier to paint an Ikat exactly how you want the finished design to look as you are limited as to what you can change in Photoshop.

Look at traditional Ikats for ideas on the shapes you want to incorporate and combine these shapes to create your own new pattern. Make sure you have enough detail in here to keep your design interesting, and that all your shapes work in with the other shapes in the design.

As you paint your Ikat, it’s very important to keep your paint strokes going in the same direction consistently to mimic the staggered threads of the weave. This is the key defining characteristic of the Ikat design. It might take a little patience but hang in there!”

2. Create harmony

“Keep your colour and tonal distribution balanced throughout your painting to create a harmonious end design. I like to paint one colour in the design at a time and I make sure I’m spreading the colour evenly across my page. It’s the same for tonal differences, make sure you have a good balance of dark and light. Otherwise, in your final design, one colour might dominate.”

3. Think about the mirror image

“Keep in mind you will mirror out your Ikat pattern vertically and horizontally and this will instantly transform your Ikat into something that looks so much more complex than your original painting. Be careful not to use any shapes that when mirrored will look like “scary faces” or “female bits.” They might scare off clients!”

4. Photoshop Finishes

Although it’s not key to an Ikat design, Photoshop can still work wonders on your artwork. “Usually when I take my painting into photoshop I will modify the artwork a bit. I will most likely change the colours of my painting. You can also play around with where you crop your painting and mirror it out to get different patterns.” I love playing around with this to see what results I get.


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