Category Archives: Repeating Patterns

Artlandia SymmetryMill 2 Is Coming. Are You Ready?

SymmetryMill 2 is almost here, and it comes with a new automatic pattern generator, advanced blend modes, a bevy of new filters, numerous improvements, and, importantly, a modern technology behind the familiar user interface.

SymmetryMill 2 beta
SymmetryMill 2.

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Pattern applications in fashion design

Where Do Patterns Go? Part 1: Fashion Design

Pattern applications are endless, but there are never too many ideas when it comes to brainstorming new uses for your patterns. Here, inspired in part by a wonderful collection of 1000 dresses by Fitzgerald and Taylor, we ran through a few of such ideas.

Most of the source patterns are taken straight from the Artlandia Glossary and are included in a free bonus pack (in a vector format, of course) available with a purchase of SymmetryWorks. We did make minor alterations, though. Couldn’t resist a temptation to tweak patterns on mockups when it’s so easy to do with SymmetryWorks LP. We can make the modified patterns available too. If you wish to get exactly these versions, please contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

Now, let’s get to work. An animal print goes to a fitted round-neck knee-length sleeveless formal dress which underscores femininity (even within the constraints of business settings) and altogether creates a strong impression of authority.
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Positive-Negative Patterns, Figure-Ground Reversal, and Counterchange

Call it whatever you like, but this is a fascinating subject. The terms “positive-negative patterns,” “patterns with figure-ground reversal,” and “counterchange patterns” are often synonymous, but they can also shed light on the same pattern at different angles and go to the heart of what makes patterns with color reversals so interesting and attractive.

Counterchange patterns

Before we start, let’s be clear on one thing. Traditionally, counterchange patterns are introduced with the help of black and white pictures, which is certainly proper because nothing conveys the gist of color inversion better; or the concept of yin and yang; or positive and negative. We’ll follow the tradition and give only a few examples in full color, mainly to drive home the fact that color reversals work splendidly with any number of colors so your counterchange color palette can be as elaborate as you wish.

Back to the subject, “counterchange” usually refers to color reversals in the most generic sense. For instance, we could say that the number of standard pattern types grows dramatically from 17 to 46 if one permits color reversals, alongside rotations, reflections, and other symmetry operations, when generating a pattern from a motif. In that context the neutral term “counterchange patterns” is ideal. And, yes, starting from version 6, SymmetryWorks creates both the standard 17 pattern types and the 46 counterchange pattern types at a click.

Counterchange patterns from H.J. Woods re-created with SymmetryWorks
Three of the 46 black and white counterchange patterns from H.J. Woods re-created and recolored with SymmetryWorks. Inset: How do you make that chevron pattern? Draw a colored rhomboid, choose Mirror as the main symmetry and Mirror and glide as the color symmetry, and click Make in the SymmetryWorks panel. Then rotate the control path 90 degrees and tweak it to be as shown. Want to see a tutorial? Vote in comments.

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The Simplest Diagram of the 17 Symmetry Types, Ever

As a pattern junkie, you may know how to capture the structure of a repeating pattern in a diagram; that is, determine to which of  the seventeen symmetry types a pattern belongs. Yes, we are talking about surface patterns, or wallpaper patterns, whose type is determined by what mathematicians call the plane (2D) symmetry groups. Turns out all pattern schematics are not made equal and, surprisingly, the most simple diagram, which is also the most useful for the non-mathematically inclined, is also the least known or, we might even be tempted to say, a well-kept secret.

Traditionally, because you are dealing with symmetries, your pattern schematics would show symmetry operations, probably combined with boundaries of repeating units (“unit cells” or “fundamental domains”), and often made more intelligible by superimposing  actual patterns produced by a simple asymmetric bit (a line, a comma, or a letter of an alphabet). Here are a few examples of the standard approach, which we show mostly to help you fully appreciate a simpler one that’s coming up next:

Symmetry diagrams (international notation)
The 17 pattern types shown in the standard international notations for symmetry operations (rotations, reflections, and glide reflections), from D. Schattschneider.

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