Popular Easy Motifs in Tessellation Art
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Some motifs show up oddly often in tessellation art. Why?
And, what rules should guide you in choosing an easy motif?

MONSTERS & AMOEBAS

It's easy to obey when there are no rules. There is no motif more forgiving than "monster". Its shape and pose are always allowed to be unusual, weird, disproportionate, and unnatural.
When you choose a motif for your tessellation, choose something exotic with a shape that's got vagueness, variety, and flexibility.

Look at these three galleries (1, 2, 3) and you'll see that monsters really do show up often. So, why do so many tessellations have a monster theme? Those reasons are important.They're going to show up again and again in this essay.


It's easy to obey when there are no rules. There is no motif more forgiving than "monster". Its shape and pose are always allowed to be unusual, weird, disproportionate, and unnatural.

A tessellation artist often starts with a shape that tessellates, and then imagines what it's shaped like.

A toaster is an unlikely choice because its shape is well known and inflexible. If the tessellation doesn't fit and look like a toaster, there's no "play" in the shape that would let us make it fit and look like a toaster.

a toaster is a poor motif for a tessellation because its outline is rigid and familiar
A toaster is a poor motif for a tessellation because its shape is rigid and familiar.

A toaster can't even change its pose. A monster is excellent for the same reasons. A monster is, by definition, weird-looking and not posing in a comfortable natural way. Does he have extra arms? No problem, if your motif is The Grimace or Doc Oc. Is he somewhat human, but covered with weird lumps and bumps, and walk in an awkward way? It sounds like a monster called Swamp Thing or Igor, Frankenstein's assistant... or Frankenstein's monster. Maybe Dick Cheney.

Mr. Hyde, from an old black and white movie "Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" the mut-ant monster from the movie "This Island Earth" A Jackalope: part rabbit, part antelope antlers
Mr. Hyde The mut-ant from This Island Earth A Jackalope

Is your motif a combination of several animals? Ah, that's like the monsters called Sphynx, Griffin, Werewolf, Chimera, Jackalope, The Fly, and George W. Bush™. Is your motif somewhat human, but its head or arms are too big? That sounds like Dr. Jekyll's Mr. Hyde or the "mut-ant" from This Island Earth. Remember this quote from the M. Night Shyamalan movie Unbreakable:

" It's a classic depiction of good versus evil. Notice the square jaw of Slayer, and the slightly disproportionate size of Jaguaro's head to his body. This again is common, but only in villains."

Does your motif look totally shapeless? There's nothing like a head or arms or wings or even a toaster knob push-the-bread-down button thingy? No problem: it's a monster called The Blob.

The Blob from
Monsters vs Aliens
The Blob from
The Blob, starring Steve McQueen.
He's looked better.
Smiley Blobs
by Allison B.


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