Hand Drawn Repeats

We have friends visiting from out of town, and the two middle-school-aged kids like to do  art projects.  I thought it would be fun to show them how to do repeat patterns using their own drawings. They can use their repeat patterns as wallpaper for their computer or phone screens.

The steps are pretty simple, leaving lots of time and energy for creativity.

Step 1:  start drawing your design and be careful not to have any part of the drawing touch an edge of the paper.

Step 2:  cut the paper in half vertically.  (Note:  it doesn’t have to be cut exactly in half, but the cut does need to be precisely vertical–best to use a paper trimmer or a rotary cutter and ruler.)  Swap the two sides (put the right half of the paper on the left side, and the left half on the right side — see below) and tape the paper back together.  Be careful to match up the edges of the paper exactly.  Put the tape on the back so you can draw on the front.

Step 3:  cut the paper in half horizontally.  Swap the top and bottom halves and tape them together.  The picture will look like the one below.

Step 4:  draw more design to fill in the blank spaces.  Again, be sure not to draw anything that touches an edge of the paper.  This is one of Lindsey’s completed designs.

Scan your hand-drawn design into your computer and then use it as a repeat unit for a repeating design.  Here’s Lindsey’s design in repeat.  I love the way the cupcake is encircled by circles.


Here’s one of Nathan’s designs.

And here it is in repeat.  I really like the stripe effect.


Here’s an example where the cutting and taping back together can get mixed up.  After drawing the first part of the design, Lindsey cut the paper apart vertically, swapped the sides, and taped them together.  She then cut the paper horizontally, but forgot to swap the sides when taping it back together.

She filled in the blank spaces (on the left below) which created the repeat on the right.  Unfortunately, this left some noticeable white spaces in the repeating design.

To fix these spaces, she cut the paper horizontally near the bottom and moved that piece to the top (see below).

Lindsey filled in the blank space with more designs (on the left below), which created a nicer repeat (on the right).

As long as you’re careful with the cutting and re-taping, you can do it multiple times to improve your design.

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
Paul Klee

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