How to create bird tessellations step-by-step

Written by stephanie luntz
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How to create bird tessellations step-by-step
(Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Made up of repeating, interlocking shapes, tessellations are a mesmerising combination of art, pattern and mathematics. The simplest tessellations are made up of repeating geometric shapes that are rotated to fit together with no gaps and no overlaps. Drawing your own tessellations can be fun and rewarding. Birds are a popular animal subject, but there are endless possibilities. After you've completed your first tessellation, you'll have the skills to begin experimenting on your own.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 3 sheets of tracing paper
  • Protractor
  • Coloured pencils or crayons
  • Graph paper (optional)

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Instructions

    Making a Bird Template

  1. 1

    Draw a square in pencil on a piece of tracing paper. Call this Page One. Use a ruler and a protractor for accuracy or trace a section of graph paper. Trace or draw a new square on a second piece of tracing paper. Call this Page Two. The positions of each square on the papers do not need to match.

  2. 2

    Draw the shape of a bird's head inside of the square on Page One. The head should start at the top right corner and end at the bottom right corner, taking up about half of the space in the square. This should be only an outline; such details as eyes and feathers will be added later.

  3. 3

    Place Page Two on top of Page One and line up the squares. Trace the bird's head onto Page Two in the exact position as on Page One.

  4. 4

    Line up the squares so that the bird's head extends from the left edge of the square on Page Two and trace the bird's head a second time. The space between the heads will start to resemble the bird's body.

  5. 5

    Draw a wing shape from the top left corner to the top right corner of the square on Page Two. The wing should be inside of the top edge of the square.

  6. 6

    Place Page One on top of PageTwo, again lining up the squares. Trace the bird's head so that it extends from the left side of the square on Page One.

  7. 7

    Trace the wing shape onto Page One in the exact position as on Page Two.

  8. 8

    Line up the squares so that the wing shape extends from the bottom of the square on Page One and trace the wing a second time.

  9. 9

    Add details to Page One to make the bird come to life, such as eyes, feathers and a nostril on the beak. Keep the details within the original bird shape.

  10. 10

    Trace the bird shape and the details you've added with a felt-tipped pen, leaving the square shape in pencil.

    Creating the Tessellation

  1. 1

    Draw a grid of squares in pencil on a new piece of tracing paper. Each square needs to be the same size as the square on Page One. The number of squares is up to you, but the grid must contain at least four squares arranged two by two.

  2. 2

    Place the grid on top of Page One and line up the first grid square with the square on Page One. Trace the bird shape and the details. Repeat this step for each square in your grid.

  3. 3

    Go over the birds with a felt-tipped pen and erase the grid lines. Colour your tessellation using coloured pencils or crayon.

Tips and warnings

  • If after drawing your template you wish to make small changes, repeat each change on both sides of the square.
  • When colouring your tessellation, alternate between a light and dark colour to highlight the pattern.

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