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Repeat Patterns

A pattern relies upon three characteristics:

  • a single motif,
  • repetition of the motif,
  • a system of organisation

There are four basic ways that you can repeat a motif to create a pattern:

  • repeats
  • half drop repeats
  • reflection
  • rotation

Mathematicians call these repetitions “rigid motions” because the movements do not lead to any change of size or shape of the original motif. The four basic ways of creating a pattern can be combined to make seventeen distinct pattern types. In the following examples P (for pattern) has been used to illustrate the various ways patterns can be formed by using a single motif in various different ways.

Right click and choose "save target as..." to download "What is Pattern?" PowerPoint

Diagram illustrating repeat patterns
Diagram illustrating half drop patterns
Diagram illustrating reflection patterns
Diagram illustrating rotation patterns

Repeats (also known as translation)
This is rigid motion where the motif is simply repeated over and over along horizontal and vertical lines

Half drop repeats (also known as glide translation)
This is a rigid motion where every other line of motifs is staggered

Reflection
Reflection is rigid motion where the original motif is reflected across a line or axis.

Rotation
Rotation is rigid motion where the original design is rotated around a single point

Diagram illustrating 120 degree rotation
Diagram illustrating 60 degree rotation
Diagram illustrating 90 degree rotation
Diagram illustrating 180 degree rotation with reflections
120 degree rotation
60 degree rotation
90 degree rotation
180 degree rotation with reflections
Diagram illustrating 120 degree rotation with reflections
Diagram illustrating 60 degree rotation with reflections
Diagram illustrating 90 degree rotation with reflections
Diagram illustrating 90 degree rotation with reflections
120 degree rotation with reflections
60 degree rotation with reflections
90 degree rotaion with reflections
90 degree rotaion with reflections
Reflections and reflections
Rotations and reflections and reflections
Half drop reflections
Reflections and half drop reflections
Reflections and reflections
Rotations and reflections and reflections
Half drop reflections
Reflections and half drop reflections
90 degree rotations and reflections
90 degree rotations and reflections