Credit: Amberdawn 2011Do you like M.C. Escher's art? Do you like to trace and color? Do you like patterns and design? If so, try this introduction to creating your own tessellation.  A tessellation (or motion geometry) is a repeating pattern, and the resulting designs look complex and busy.  However, it's actually easy to get a uniform look when you make a tessellation if you know how.  The key is to create a single tile that you can trace over and over.  So if you'd like to learn how to make a tessellation, read on!

Credit: Amberdawn 2011For your first tessellation, make it a goal for the end result to simply be an abstract design.  Therefore, to create any tessellation, start with a square tile (thick heavy paper like an index card works fine). Draw a line from on corner to an adjacent corner on 2 adjacent sides. For this demonstration, this will be the top and right. Be creative!  Your line can have straight edges, or curved like in the example shown.  Don't worry about trying to make it look like anything for your first design; with practice you will come to predict what your end result will look like.  Cut these pieces out.

(click the pictures for a larger image!)

Credit: Amberdawn 2011To create the simplest type of tessellation, the translation, slide each piece you cut out to its opposite side. Tape the edges together to create this new shape.  The reason this will work is because the negative space left over from where you cut makes way for the spot where you attached the pieces you cut.

Credit: Amberdawn 2011

Trace the tile on a paper that's at least 4 times larger than the tile, depending on how many repetitions you would like.  Obviously the more repetitions, the more impressive the design, but it will also be more work to decorate and color in.  Notice in the example you will only have a single full figure.  The rest will be cut off, so you may want to use a much larger sheet of paper.

Tip: Some people like to draw a grid for a guideline as shown here, then erase it for the final project, but it's not necessary when you're making a tessellation because the edges should automatically line up perfectly if you traced, cut, and tape carefully.

Credit: Amberdawn 2011

Slide the tile to the left to trace it.  Then slide it up as well. Notice that all your figures in the tessellation will all interlock if you did the previous steps correctly. Repeat for to the left and below your original traced figure. Continue tracing the tile you created until the page is filled.

Credit: Amberdawn 2011

Color as you wish!  You may find that after you've created your tile you're saying to yourself, "Hey, it sort of looks like a..."  Draw in those added details add life to your artwork.

If you enjoyed this article, and would like me to write future articles on how to do other types of tessellations, please leave a comment. Thank you, and good luck with your project!