tesselmaniac software for creating tessellations

TesselManiac!™ is a stand-alone tessellation creation program (with the ability to ANIMATE your tessellations, and a GAME, built right in) written at the end of 2013 for Macintosh and Windows computers by Prof. Kevin Lee. This professor also wrote this program's predecessor, "Tesselmania!", many years ago. Kevin Lee is also 2012/2013 winner of the prestigious international Bridges math meeting's art award for his laser cut wooden boxes featuring designs by many of the most famous tessellation artists.

Want to try it? You can download a FREE version for Mac (program file / "readme" file) or Windows from the author's website, www.TESSELMANIAC.com. The free version is intentionally limited.These are the limitations: You can create tessellations, but not save them to edit late. You can only create tessellations in 8 of the Heesch types; the full version allows all 30+ Heesch types. Also, in the free version, the slide show at the beginning shows only 5 tessellations by famous tessellation artists who've used the program.

Mid-April 2014 EDIT: From now onward, the free version is, to borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams, "mostly harmless"-- that is, most of the bugs in early test versions have been removed-- but the free version has been limited in what it can do; the paid version is full-featured.

The free demo version is available from Tesselmaniac.com. Creator Kevin Lee will be selling education-industry full-featured versions and normal full-featured versions of the program for $30 per copy through his website (www.TesselManiac.com) and educational group licenses with workbooks through Tessellations.com (that's dot-com, not my site, which ends in dot-org.). Folks in the U.K. can order your copy from TarquinGroup.com.


Starting with any of a broad range of geometric templates and symmetries, Tesselmaniac! draws the full tessellations in real time as its user distorts a single tile.

Tesselmaniac! is packed with powerful and convenient features:

  • A curve tool and a sharp tool allow addition and editing of points to shape the border of a tile.
  • A set of paint tools allow features to be added to the interior of a tile.
  • Tesselmaniac! automatically applies the geometric rules of the selected tile type to ensure it tessellates.
  • The Flipping Tile Game is included to make learning about geometric transformations fun.
  • Tesselmaniac! includes several fun and dynamic animations of your own tile that illustrates the mathematics behind the tessellations.
  • The multi-user education versions come with eight activities well designed to meet classroom mathematical objectives, including eight reproducible worksheets.
(There are multi-user licenses and versions for 5 and 10 people at once.)

At right you can see some tessellatons that Alain Nicolas ("LEE" tessellation) and I made using this software. The "Goat" tessellation was my first original tessellation using this software. It took about 30 minutes for me to figure out most of the features and how they work. I did "Goldfish" next, to see how quickly I could copy a design I'd done earlier using paper and pencil. "Goldfish" took about 15 minutes. "Foxes" was my third effort, and second original tessellation using this software. It took about 20 minutes, mostly because I was struggling with the intricacies of how to use the tools for painting the interior of each fox.

Please feel free to download these free (for non-commercial, educational purposes) but copyrighted sample files for Goat, Goldfish, and Foxes. You will be able to use them only within Tesselmaniac!. Why look at someone else's tessellation in Tesselmaniac!? Well, if you click on the "Anim Screen" button at bottom-right, you can see how each tessellation was created in an animation that recreates each step in the process, starting from the starter shape, a triangle (for "Goldfish"), hexagon (for "Foxes", and pentagon (for "Goats"). You can also watch some animations for fun's sake; my personal favorite is "Goldfish" doing the "big bang" animation. Here are those downloads I've made for you:

To use them, first right-click your mouse cursor on each link and choose "save target / file". Save each file to the same folder as where you've installed TesselManiac!. Then open TesselManiac!" and right-click in the main picture screen. A small menu will pop up, asking if you want to click on "file" or "edit". Choose "file", then "open..." from the "file" submenu. Choose Tesselmaniac-Goldfish.txt or one of the other tessellation files. From then on, you can edit or animate my TesselManiac! sample tessellations. Enjoy!

Below: a screenshot from the "flipping tile" game inside Tesselmaniac!
Foxes made with TesselManiac!

Tessellation artist Alain Nicolas created this tessellation using TesselManiac!
Famed author and French tessellation artist Alain Nicolas used Tesselmaniac! to create this tessellation of program creator Kevin Lee's name.

Tessellation of 'LEE' made by Alain Nicolas with TesselManiac!

Bird tessellation made with TesselManiac!

Dinosaur tessellation made with TesselManiac!

Goat tessellation TesselManiac!

dragon tessellation made by Robert Fathauer

Mice made with tessellmaniac
Above: A few screenshots of tessellations I made in about 15 to 30 minutes each, with minimal reading of the instructions.