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Dealbhte air a' Chomraich

Design Process | Dealbhadh

Designed in Applecross

Design Process | Dealbhadh


Valerie designs the artwork for Applecross Croft. She gained a first-class honours degree in Photography at Napier University in Edinburgh before completing a post-graduate Diploma in Electronic Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone college of Art in Dundee. Valerie worked on CGI animation and motion graphics in the television industry for several years before moving to the Isle of Skye to take up a job in print-based graphic design at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture. Following this she worked in pre-press and design at Strath Print before going freelance as a commercial graphic designer.

Valerie's extensive and diverse design experience has led to her developing a range of her own designs inspired by her interaction with Highland landscapes, seascapes, flora and fauna.


Being immersed in Highland life and the daily wonder of this spectacular place invigorates the senses. The challenge is not inspiration but narrowing down myriad potential designs. While the physical surroundings inspire, design ideas are also originated and sparked by Gordon, the other half of the Applecross Croft team. With Gaelic as his first language and deep family roots in both Applecross and the Hebrides, he brings a lived perspective and a lifelong interest in the heritage and culture of the Gàidhealtachd.

Having finished a PhD in Gaelic studies, his personal passion for Gaelic language, history and culture deepens and entwines the rich layers of meaning and story behind and within the designs.


Valerie's designs are informed by both photographic reference imagery and sketches.

"I make reference sketches and take photographs as well as having found objects around me as I design. Elements of a design might be worked up in a variety of mediums from simple pencil or pen & ink sketches to paintings and screen prints. Sometimes design ideas come almost fully formed, while at other times the designs reveals themselves gradually as I work."


The original ideas are either developed as preliminary sketches which are then transferred and individually drawn within the intricate master design file as vector artwork, or drawn directly within the computer from the reference imagery. Every stroke and curve is individually created and finessed to prepare the imagery for print – a meticulous and time-consuming process. Our designs have hundreds of individual elements and many layers forming the framework of the final piece.

Once created with a specific medium in mind, the designs may then be reworked to best suit different scales of reproduction. We do not just scale the whole design as pattern and line elements may not then reproduce optimally. Elements of the design are nuanced to best reproduce at the desired size and medium. A pixel-based file is then rendered from the vector image and retouched for any unwanted artefacts that may appear.

STAGE FOUR: Colourways

Every nuance of the design is refined and considered using layers to build up visual depth and interest. Once every last detail is perfected and working as a whole within the final composition, the final colourways can be selected. 

STAGE FIVE: Test prints and production

Initial tests are set up and run and the designs and colours can be altered if needed. Once everything is in harmony for the design the first limited run is put into production. Silk is printed for us by specialists in both Scotland and England.

Once we get the first tests back we live with them and wear them and if we delight in how the printed artwork makes us feel then we move forward with production. 

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