Tessellation Art Project

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Objective: Create a tessellation with "recognizable figures" in the style of M.C. Escher.

Use techniques from this course, or some other method of Escher’s to create a tessellation with recognizable figures. Some suggested techniques:

  • Use a parallelogram lattice and translations to produce a tessellation with p1 symmetry.
  • Alter a parallelogram, kite, or dart tiling to produce a tessellation with pg symmetry.
  • Alter a quadrilateral, so that it will still tile by rotating around midpoints of its edges.
  • Start with the tessellation on Visions of Symmetry page 18 and follow Escher's lead.
  • Start with the tessellation on Visions of Symmetry page 106, as in Polygonal_Tessellation_Exercises#pentagon_tessellation.
  • Split a tile in half to make a two-motif tessellation.

Preliminary Sketches

The preliminary sketches you make in class and at home are an essential part of this assignment, and you will hand them in. You may have already done some in the Sketches for the Art Project Exploration.

Create 10-15 rough tessellation sketches. These should demonstrate your understanding of multiple techniques. There should be enough reasonable attempts so that the one you choose compares favorably to the others.

From your rough sketches, choose one to develop into a finished artwork. Create more versions of your chosen motif, to improve its outline and design. Create a test sketch of one or more copies of the finished motif at full size. You may also want to do a colored test sketch. It's also advisible to do small trial version using the art supplies you'll use for the finished artwork.

Finished Work

After making many practice sketches, create a finished artwork. Layout a geometric tessellation or grid, then replicate your motif. Making a stencil or creating a traceable master copy of your motif can be very helpful.

The finished tessellation must be a high quality piece of work:

  • Accurate: The underlying lattice should be precise. Use graph paper or drafting tools to lay out the geometry.
  • Good materials: Pencils and ball-point pens are not acceptable. Use ink, paint, pastels, markers, colored pencil, or any other bona fide art supply. Binder paper is not acceptable. Use a heavy artists paper, or posterboard, or better. If you use graph paper, attach it to a piece of backing board so it is sturdy.
  • Polished: The finished work should not be the first time you ever draw the tessellation. Refine sketches until you're satisfied with the pattern. Erase any light pencil marks you needed to lay out the pattern. Add color or a border if appropriate. Make your motif large if details are hard to see.

Above all, make something you are proud of. You should want to hang your tessellation on your own wall.

Written Report

The written (typed) report should be a short discussion of your tessellation and the process you went through to create it.

  • Go over your sketches, and discuss which ones worked, which didn't, and why.
  • Describe the underlying geometric tessellation and the symmetries of your pattern. Identify the symmetry group of your finished work.
  • Find sketches by Escher with similar structure and discuss (or else mention he's done nothing like yours).
  • Identify the tile or tiles used in your tesselation.
  • Explain the techniques you used in creating the final shape, and specifically the steps you used to actually draw the final work. This includes, for example, materials you used, how you laid out the underlying geometry, and how you replicated your motif.
  • The length and detail of the paper depends on the instructor.

Examples of Student Tessellation Projects


The finished work, the sketches, and the written report.

Tessellation Art Project Grading Rubric