Modular Patterns


Joey and Brad finished print

Sadie and Ulzi finished print

Amy and Gary finished print

Vivian and Luke finished print and process

Jeany's proposed pattern sketches

Level: , ,
Duration: 1 week
Filed Under: , , , , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Design and print a two color pattern using the provided lego tile pieces.

Design your pattern to fit on a 16x16 lego board using the following lego tile pieces. small circle, small square, big circle, big square, and big quarter circle. Print your pattern in two colors at least four times to show how the simple elements quickly combine to form a complex composition.

Inspiration Look for inspiration. You can start with Islamic tile patterns, but don’t stop there. You may look into other cultural patterns across all time periods and forms of media from ancient tiles, fabric, and carvings to pixel art, or other geometric inspiration from nature. Don’t limit yourself to one source of inspiration.

Exploration Begin by doing a series of quick explorations with the shapes on a baseplate. See what types of patterns and shapes you can create. Pay attention to the amount of pieces available to work with and keep that in mind as you move to the planning and further sketching phases.

Plan Use the graph paper to create a series of sketches or blueprints for your pattern. Your pattern will need to be repeated, consider how each edge leads into each other, does the design have a hard edge or does it try to blend the space between the two edges? Each pattern must use a total of two colors layered on top of each other.

Print After evaluating all your various sketches choose your final and use it as a blueprint for your print. Using the printing ink and breyers make a print of your pattern you need to make at least four impressions of your pattern. When making your final impression consider colors, alignment and spacing. You must collaborate with another student and mix and match patterns or colors for your final piece.

Learning Objectives

Students explore and demonstrate an ability to work within tight physical constraints to create a pleasing composition and pattern.

This project explores the idea of grid, modularity and patterns. We discuss different types of constraints as well as how simple things can combine to create an elegant complexity.

After they complete their brainstorming and plans I spring on them that this project will be completed in pairs. So we talk about working in groups, how to compromise, come to a consensus, and how to combine and iterate from someone else\'s idea.


Finished two color pattern print.


We read and discussed the chapters on Grid, Modularity, and Pattern from Graphic Design the New Basics


There are tons of lego tile pieces that you can choose from to help them create their patterns. We ink and print the lego pieces like you would a linocut. I like this project because the constraints that we use are tangible and not arbitrarily set by the instructor. Having them pair up usually works well, It\'s helpful to have someone to help you print, and making them decide on a single design that they will both complete is a good introduction to group dynamics and team working skills.

I used a laser cutter to create the big quarter circles we use in the project.

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