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by JuliannaKunstler.com

Tessellations. Art lesson.

Learning objectives:

  • integrate math and art
  • grid concept
  • positive/negative shapes
  • problem solving skills
  • abstract thinking
  • critical thinking
  • intuitive sense
  • spacial rotation skills
  • eye-hand coordination
  • spacial relations

about tessellations


Principle of Design: Repetition

We are using a Repetition Design Principle: Pattern in this assignment.

Click on the image to view detailes.

materials used:

paid links

sulphite 90lb

illustration board, 14 ply

drawing pencil B

white erasers


craft knife

masking tape

Prismacolor scholar 48

pencil blender 12



assignment details

basic shapes

Create a pattern design based on a tessellation.

Start with creating a tessellation shape using the "translation pattern" (see the steps below). Your tessellation should be a recognizable (not abstract) object - animals, birds, insects, fish, etc.

Pick a starting shape - square or hexagon.

bird tessellation

Use your handout to plan and practice your tessellation.

Cut the base shape out of your handout.

fish tessellation

Draw and cut out details.

Use masking tape to attach the pieces.


Draw a 9"x9" grid with 3" cells on your paper or board.

The border around the grid will depend on the paper dimensions (0.5" border for 10"X10" or 1.5" for 12"x12")

Trace your first tessellation into the central cell.

Continue tracing untill yiu fill in the grid.

Draw details inside each tile. Do not shade!

fish tessellation

Draw the details inside each tessellation,

Use Prismacolor pencils to complete the tessellations:

  • Each shape should be different inside - use different color schemes, designs, details, etc.
  • Apply the coloring technique that would incorporate different shades of a color, color gradations, blending the colors.
  • Color with short strokes!!!


  • Project is finished
  • Complexity of the tessellation shape
  • Shape is recognizable
  • Details inside each tessellation
  • Creativity and originality of the tessellation
  • Coloring technique:
    • blending colors
    • small strokes
    • paper is not seen through shading
    • variety of colors
    • tessellation looks 3-D, not flat


face tessellation

There are few patterns that you can follow to construct a tessellation.

The basic one is "translation" pattern - where you attach the cut out pieces to an opposite side of your shape:

face tessellation

face tessellation

After you sketched the shape - cut out the pieces.

Do not ever throw away any cutouts! They should be attached to the opposite sides.

face tessellation

Slide down the top piece and tape it to the bottom side of the square.

Slide the left cutout to the right side of the square and tape it.

face tessellation

Trace your tessellation onto a drawing paper.

face tessellation

Outline the contour of the tessellation s with a thin marker.


Add details!

bird tessellation

This is an example of a "translation" tessellation pattern,

The bird shape was based on a square.

fish tessellation

This tessellation was based on a hexagon.

dragon tessellation

Another example of a square-based tessellation

dragon tessellation


bird tessellation

This is an example of a more complex tessellation pattern - "rotation" template.

bird tessellation

Instead of sliding a cutout to an opposite side - you rotate it.

bird tessellation

Ask me for more details if you choose this pattern for your artwork.

bird tessellation

Trace your tessellation onto a board.

bird tessellation
bird tessellation

Add details to each tessellation.

bird tessellation
rhino tessellation

Try to think of your own tessellation.

Copying someone else's is not as much fun!

rhino tessellation