The creation of a bead pattern that is your own design, or designed with input from a personal photograph or other personal image can be accomplished quite easily via either graph paper, or a computer program. To start, a picture with clearly defined areas of color and shape will work best, but nearly any picture can be transformed into a pattern that can be used as a bead graph.
The first steps involved though, start long before the graph paper or computer program. As with any artwork, some thought and advance planning must progress before the actual artwork comes together. First, take into consideration bead size and bead colors that you have available to use and what additional colors will be necessary; small details can be represented quite beautifully through beadwork, just take into thought how detailed you want your graph to be, before you plan how large or small an area the design will be worked. For example, if you intentionally want to provide some very detailed areas of design, a small design area, such as a post earring, will most likely not be the best fit for that particular design. Look more into using the detailed graph for a larger item such as a medicine pouch.
Bead uniformity is also a design element that needs to be calculated. Some seed beads are all over a size range within one pack of beads, often common in packs marked as the economy. This makes it very difficult to construct a uniform item that clearly shows the image you are trying to convey through a beaded design. Others, such as Delica beads, manufactured by Miyuki Shoji of Japan, offer such an exact sizing of beads, that designing and creating with them is almost as precise as painting, but much more fun!
Material Set One
Translucent graph paper in compatible stitch for desired finished product, such as Peyote
Image to be converted
If the graph paper you have is not translucent (see-through), you can easily make your own. Scan a sheet of the graph paper you have, or search for a pattern online of the type desired, to print. Vellum or tracing paper that is printer friendly is ideal.
Place graph paper over item, and with colored pencils, fill in the graph with corresponding colors. Tip: only place a mark in each box when you first graph it, then go back and fill in when you can place the paper on a solid, flat surface. Do not ever use an original photograph when graphing with pencils, as this will mar the picture. For this reason, always use a copy.
If the picture you are converting to graph has areas that fall with two colors evenly distributed between one square, attempt to divide these evenly, allowing each color to absorb spaces as needed to give the overall graph as accurate a final picture as possible.
Material Set Two
With a computer and software, converting an image into a bead pattern is very simple. Once an image is scanned into the computer, or using an image already there, such as clipart, you can quickly be on your way to building your own bead graph library!
The Bead Pattern Designer computer program will in a matter of seconds, have you turning a photograph of your favorite kitty or even an heirloom photograph of your grandparents, into a completed bead pattern ready to stitch. You specify to the program the design elements that you want to be used, including the stitch to be used, such as loom or peyote, and what size bead to incorporate into the design. The program will not only give you the finished graph, but it will also tell you how large the finished graph will be when stitched using the size bead you told it. Other software programs, specifically for bead design are available, including a program named The Bead Cellar Pattern Designer. Some cross stitch conversion programs can also be used for loom-style bead graphs.The Bead Pattern