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How to design and print a drum lampshade panel

I am Alison Bick, a designer living in Newquay, Cornwall, UK. The inspiration behind my illustrations comes from my love of nature, birds, daily dog walks, my family’s surfing heritage in Cornwall, vintage swimwear, foraging, beach-combing, the flowers in my garden and visiting botanic gardens. In this post I show you how to design and print a drum lampshade panel.

I use my illustrations to create prints and art cards, lampshades, cushions and gift ware. My designs start off as an idea inside my head, which I then sketch out roughly with pen and ink, watercolour or gouache paints. Once I am happy with the layout, I then turn on my computer and create vector illustrations which can be applied to any surface, whether it is a cushion, lampshade, pocket mirror, paper or fabric.

I apply my illustration skills to designing work that really comes from my heart. Each one of my illustrations has a story behind it that is personal to me, but also is commonplace memory or a shared emotion.

I started making lampshades from my designs last year, in response to customers requests, and they have proved to be a popular addition to my range of products.


I start off my designs as gouache painted sketches. These can be quite rough, but give me a visual starting block from which to then turn my illustrations into vector patterns which can be adapted to print on any surface.

Paint palette and brushes

I use Illustrator, as this is the vector programme I’m most familiar with, I’ve been using it for almost 18 years now (but for most of that time for other people’s websites, logos and branding!) There are free alternatives for creating vector images, like Inkscape or Vectr.

Image of Adobe illustrator screen while making a lampshade pattern

When experimenting with fabric printers for my lampshade fabric, I eventually found the easiest way was to download the pdf template from Dannells’ website, and overlay my design. The fabric is very smooth, it doesn’t have a texture and has quite a papery feel to it . The printed result has really strong colours which I love. The beauty of this method is that you know exactly the right position for your print, and there is no wastage in fabric.

First of all, I download the lampshade template PDF from Dannells website, and use that as a guide when creating my lampshade designs. The PDF template has guidelines of where the design should be placed, the bleed marks etc, which help you to lay out the design so that you don’t crop off or overlap (unless that is your intention).

Screenshot of Dannells printing service details

Next I create a new Illustrator file, using the measurements supplied in the template, and save it as 300dpi. I create three layers in Illustrator, one of the Template pdf, which I lock so it doesn’t move, one for Guides, and then one for my design.   In the Guides layer, I pull across guides to where the bleed, rolled edges, overlaps are, and then lock the layer. In the design layer, I then layout my design with the guides, and tweak it until I’m happy with how it looks.

Top Tip

I find it really handy to print off a miniature version of the lampshade, and check the overlaps and how the design will eventually look. It is much easier than trying to visualise it from a flat template.

Mock up lampshade panels made using paper


Once I’m happy with the design, I save it as a high resolution (300dpi) RGB jpeg.

Top tip: By saving it as a RGB colour profile rather than CMYK you are more likely to get the colours as they appear on your screen.

Once I have made the payment for a Digital Print, I use the order number as a reference so that my print can be easily identified and matched against the paid order.

You can find the link to upload digital files for print on the lampshades kits section of Dannells’ website. When it has successfully uploaded, you receive a notification, and again you receive another email to say that your print has been downloaded at Dannells, so you know your order is being processed and on the way.

The prints don’t take long to arrive. I always have a little moment of pleasure when I open a package up from Dannells to see how a new print looks.

Dannells Needcraft lampshade kit and Dannells printed lampshade panel

Watch out next week for Alison’s ‘How to make a DIY lampshade‘ post, where she uses this striking Hellebore print to make a handmade drum lampshade.

How to design and print a drum lampshade panel

Find Alison Bick Designs:


Learn how to make a lovebird lantern HERE

Find out how to make a birdcage lampshade HERE


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