How to use Creative Cloud for Fashion and Textile Design

Fashion design instructor Robin Schneider joins old-fashioned artistry with new tech for a whole world of creative opportunity.

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As a young scenic artist in the film industry with a graduate degree in technical theater design, Robin Schneider never imagined she’d end up teaching Adobe Creative Cloud to aspiring fashion designers. But a meandering career path has led this pioneering fashion designer and teacher to become the leading expert in how to use Adobe creative software to design fashion and costumes.

And now her methods are shaping the way fashion designers across the industry work, and defining what new designers need to know as they head out into the workforce.

A modern maker

Inserting image...Robin’s surprising path is the result of always striving to be a “modern maker,” applying new technology to traditional creative workflows. When the sign shop where Robin was working got computers to make vinyl lettering, “None of the old sign writers wanted to learn that newfangled thing, so I learned how to use the computer,” she says.

She began developing her computer skills, adopting new software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as it came out, and eventually becoming a union graphic designer. After deciding to leave the film industry to pursue fashion design, she discovered how well her computer skills translated to the craft.

Following a stint as a head designer for a clothing company, she eventually stumbled into teaching and has now been at it for 13 years. She currently teaches at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and online at

“Who knew? I’m a really good teacher!” she says.

With fashion design making up a growing segment of the maker movement, Robin is well positioned to help her students get ahead in an increasingly competitive field. She’s one of the few fashion designers who pioneered the use of cutting-edge creative technology including Adobe Creative Cloud to help bring fashion to life.

Using Adobe for fashion design: Mini-tutorials

Robin offers a few examples of how she uses Adobe Creative Cloud in designing for fashion

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1. Creating denim fill. After you’ve set up a template for the design in Adobe Illustrator, create a swatch of denim color and pattern in Adobe Photoshop using halftone dot pattern from the Filter Gallery, stylized with the “diffuse” option.

Paste the swatch into Illustrator, and put it into a repeat pattern in the Swatches panel so you can use it to fill the template. Learn the details and an alternate option for making the swatch from the full tutorial.

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2. Warping fabric fills. Use the Smart Objects function in Photoshop to create the impression that fabrics and patterns are wrapping and draping naturally around the body in your designs. This brings a realistic three-dimensional look to designs, and gives designers the ability to easily swap out the pattern with a new one that will retain the same warping and shading. Learn how in this e-course.

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3. Color indexing and reduction. Learning how to index a print allows you to easily reduce and recolor your textile print designs in Photoshop. Using the Indexed Color mode in the Image drop-down menu, you can customize and organize the colors in your pattern, as well as preview color changes as you experiment with various options. See the full tutorial for all the details.

Technology enables unparalleled creativity

With advances in design technology like Adobe Creative Cloud, makers are more empowered than ever to design and create things however they envision them.

By integrating this technology into their workflow, costume and apparel designers of all skill levels and backgrounds can create realistic renderings of unique pieces to enhance their portfolios. The software also lets designers easily transform and reimagine designs they’ve already created.

Using software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign can supercharge designers’ creativity, allowing them to conjure concepts straight from their minds onto the screen with a few clicks. “Fashion changes constantly. One day this particular fabric is in, and then for whatever reason it’s out, and we’re switching to a different fabric.”

By tapping into technology, you can avoid common pitfalls. “If you hand painted with watercolor or gouache, or used markers to render that illustration, you would have to re-render the entire thing,” Robin says. “But in Photoshop, once I incorporated Smart Objects into applying patterns to my illustrations, in three clicks I can swap out that plaid fabric for a floral and be done in literally two or three minutes. And that is, for me, the magic of Photoshop.”

That “magic” is simply a very smart technology created specifically to bring your creativity to life.

The next step? Harnessing the power of Robin’s go-to technology suite to create your own magic. If you’re struggling with where to start, or simply are looking for some creative inspiration, take a page from Robin’s sketchbook — literally. Download Robin’s Missy template for Adobe Illustrator and you’ll be able to dive right in and design your first — or next — piece like a pro.