Free Online Tessellation Maker

Free easy-to-use online Java-based program.
also available on a CD, if you donate to Shodor. is a website for teachers. It has lesson plans, activity plans, teaching tools... what a treasure chest it is!

For us,'s main pages of interest are this tessellation engine and their search page which gives us an amaaaazing one hundred and eleven activities, student evaluation tools, and lesson plans for "tessellation".

Just click on this link to their web page. No installation is necessary, beyond having a functional web browser, Internet connection, and Java.

If you don't see a screen like the one pictured on the right side of my page, then perhaps you need to install Java. This is particularly true if you see a small jigsaw puzzle piece and the words "plugin required". (Java is a free engine that makes other programs work. It's like Flash or JavaScript.) You can find and install it at

If installing Java doesn't make this run, then you might need to shut off your web browser and restart it. If that doesn't work, then perhaps you need to adjust the security level for your Internet browsing, or tell your web browser (e.g., Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera) to turn on "scripting languages" like JavaScript, Java, and Flash.

Its drawing toolkit is very limited. That makes this software easy to learn, yes, but after using it once or thrice you may wish for more.

You start with one of three basic "tile" shapes: square, triangle, or hexagon. You click on the "edit edges" or "edit corner" buttons on the right side of the screen, then click-and-drag the outline of your tile with your mouse. In this way you can add new corners, move the whole tile, drag corners around the page, and drag the entire tile around the page.

All lines are black, and there is no way to adjust the line width or its color, nor to draw interior lines like eyes, mouth, fish scales, fur, and so on. You cannot even make curved lines, although you can "break" an existing line into joined straight segments (essentially creating a new corner).

ERASING There is no eraser. There is no "undo" button except "reset", but "reset" brings you all the way back to a fresh beginning.

The help menu is nonexistent, although there's a very nice picture-filled tutorial about how to make a screenshot of your work to edit or save in another program such as Windows' "Paint".

How do we rate this program? It's intuitive & easy to start creating immediately, but lacks almost every basic drawing tool, editing and file-saving feature, & advanced tessellation feature. Like the Chinese food served in American restaurants, it's entertaining but half an hour afterward you'll be wanting something more substantial.

Shodor Tessellation Maker, starting position
Screenshot 1:
This is what the screen looks like when you start.

Shodor Tessellation Maker, messing with a hexagon
Screenshot 2:
I used the mouse to move the corners and add new corners to the starting "tile" (the hexagon in screenshot 1).

Shodor Tessellation Maker, messing with a hexagon
Screenshot 3:
Click on the center button, "Tessellate", to see your single "tile" reproduced in three colors all over the page. (Artists and mathematicians also call this "tiling".) Notice that the center button then reads "edit": clicking on it returns you to the menu for editing your tile's shape.