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Claudia Wade writes about how she is using Creative Impulse and Repligator and Electric Quilt designs to create innovative new quilts. She has included great examples!

Expressive Quilters' Newsletter
Supporting The Expressive Quilter In Tradition, Innovation, Art & Computer Quilting

Issue 5: April 1999 continued
Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
Newsletter index for all issuesTable of contents for this issue

By Claudia Wade


This picture was made using Windows Paint, Repligator, and Paint Shop Pro


What quilting activity does not diminish my fabric stash in any way and yet improves my quilt designs? The answer to that question is computer-aided quilt design. It is also more fun than I ever thought possible. Computer programs specifically for quilt design have been around for years now. My favorite quilt-specific program is called Electric Quilt. Version 4 of Electric Quilt, a significant upgrade, has recently been released. It makes designing traditional or innovative quilts easy and fun. It even encourages experimentation and 'What if?' discoveries. Recently, I have found two less-well-known computer programs that have put a whole new spin on my quilt designs. These two programs are called Creative Impulse and Repligator 4. They help me generate ideas for quilts by applying creative effects to a basic design.

Some of the designs I've made using these two programs are wild and wonderful in my opinion. Many of them would be challenging and fun to translate to actual fabric. Lots of them never even get saved because it is so easy to create more. I feel that using these programs is like exercising my designing muscles. A further advantage of any computer quilt design program is that it gets the not-very-good designs for ho-hum quilts out of my system, into virtual reality, so that I can develop my critical eye and go on to design much better ones!


Creative Impulse is the first non-traditional quilt program I encountered. With Creative Design one creates and manipulates designs using 'tiles'. Think of tiles as quilt blocks, although many of them don't resemble traditional quilt blocks. Dozens of tiles are included in the program and you can also draw and color your own.

When I open Creative Design, I usually choose 2 or 3 tiles at random and tell Creative Design to make me a design using those tiles. The program makes the designs according to various Methods involving rotations, mirrorings, or random placements of the basic tiles. One can control these design Methods and also change the color and size of the tiles. Rectangular blocks are possible. There is a Make Design button on the tool bar that changes the design, within the pre-selected design parameters, every time one pushes it. It's sort of like doodling to keep clicking on the Make Design button and watch the design change. The design below, Figure 1, was quickly made in Creative Impulse by choosing two tiles and clicking on the Make Design button:

    figure 1

    So far, it doesn't look that special---this design could easily be created in any of the quilt design programs. I can stop creating new designs at this point and start manipulating this design further, or I can keep clicking the Make Design button until I find a basic design I like better as a design starting point.   Let's say I like this design well enough to want to manipulate it further. That is when the fun really begins. To see the full potential of my design in Creative Impulse, I want to start applying Effects. Effects are what the program calls various distortions that one can apply to the basic design. These effects all have names descriptive of what they do, but it takes a lot of practice before you can predict what the resulting effect will look like when applied to a design. To me, that is a big part of the fun---not knowing what to expect!   The program encourages playing and experimentation because it has an Undo button. Some of the possible Effects are Kaleidoscope, Circle, Vertical Twist Linear, Vertical Twist Steps and Horizontal Twist Smile. There are about 30 different Effects possible. Multiple Effects can be applied to a single basic design. Each Effect can be controlled to a certain extent by user-controlled parameters. If you want the program to make your design into a circle, for example, you are able to define the point of the design you want to be the center of the circle, the number of sections in the circle, the radius of the circle, and other variables.   One of my favorite Effects is the Smile Effect, which can be applied vertically or horizontally. The Smile Effect resembles an overlapping curve in the design. The design below, Figure 2, is my original design with the Vertical Smile Effect applied.  

    Figure 2

      But that's only the beginning. Several different effects can be applied to a single design. Two different designs can be overlaid on one another, and one design can be used as a border for another. I can save any or all variations of the design that I like. And designs can be printed in any size for piecing diagrams. I suppose you could even cut the printed design apart to use as templates.   If I want to add a second Effect I can. For example, if I change the tile size after applying an Effect, it makes the Effect change. See Figure 3 below, where I changed the tile size after applying the Vertical Smile Effect, making the Smile Effect look jagged rather than smooth.  

    Figure 3

    This is beginning to look like a very funky quilt! And I could keep playing with this design, adding more effects, start over with the same original design to add different effects, or delete it and start again with different tiles, Methods, and Effects. Another choice would be to print the design in color on a single sheet of paper to use as a springboard to a similar but perhaps simpler design using Electric Quilt 4. That way I could get templates, yardage estimates, color changes and added borders quite easily. The variations go on forever!    I'm still in the early stages of learning how to apply, control and manipulate the Effects using Creative Impulse. I'm very excited about this program as a tool for artistic quilt design.    Here are some additional examples of Creative Impulse virtual quilt designs I've made:  

    Figure 4
    Figure 5

    Figure 6

    Figure 7


    Click here to continue to Part 2 using Repligator


    For additional information about Creative Impulse go to the following resources:

    Download your trial copy good for 30 days

    Creative Impulse Review
    by Sharla Hicks

    Creative Impulse 2000 (about program operations and magic!)
    by Birte Hilberg, the program developer

    By Claudia Wade includes working with Creative Impulse

    For additional information about Repligator, go to following resources.

    Slide Show Available for Repligator
    Repligator Review by Sharla Hicks.
    Check out how Claudia Wade is morphing her Electric Quilt designs into new and different interpretation not possible in a standard quilting software in her Computer Quilting BYTES article, Playing with Quilt Design Toys.
    Another MUST see stop on the Internet is a visit to Owen Ransen's Website (program developer), his gallery and examples really show the full range of possibilities. But remember to come back to order at our great discount price. (Click back in your tool bar)

    Kaliedoscope design using a photograph embedded image


    Bitmap Embedded Design using a photograph by BIrte Hilbert

    Creative Impulse 2000

    Software NO longer available

    Program Developer: Birte Hilberg

    Ripple Effect added to quilt

    Hexagon Effect added to quilt


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