What Are Some Ideas for Designing Shapes and Patterns?


Quick Answer

When designing shapes and patterns, think about elements such as symmetry, asymmetry, odd vs. even numbers and the use of negative space. Interesting patterns, even those that seem very intricate, are made up of basic shapes, including circles, squares, rectangles, ovals and triangles. It is how you choose to assemble these shapes that makes a great pattern.

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Full Answer

The human eye is naturally drawn to symmetry and, for reasons not fully understood, humans seem to prefer series of odd-numbered objects more than series of even-numbered ones. Though these ideas seem to conflict, since odd numbers lead to asymmetry, keep them in mind when designing a pattern.

To design a pattern, choose a shape or two that you like and play with them; see how you might align them next to one another, or even overlap them. Once you find a basic unit of shapes that pleases you, repeat it next to itself, or above or below the original unit. Move your repeated shapes around until you like the pattern you have designed. Many patterns are designed around a single shape, so do not feel as though you must include several shapes in your design.

When designing shapes, be open to playing with proportion. Extend a circle into an oval, tilt a square enough that it becomes a diamond or drag one corner of a rectangle to make it into a parallelogram. When you do not feel confined to a preset notion of how a shape must look, your design opportunities are endless.

Finally, think about negative space, the space on a page or screen without anything in it. When a page is completely filled, there is nowhere for the eye to rest. If you leave blank space, however, it allows the eye to take everything else in and is more pleasing.

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