Grid Compositions, Assignment 1


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The works of these artists are not exactly examples what you will be doing in this assignment. But, the CONCEPTS from this assignment are a part of—or evident in—each of their work in some way.

These next links reference two well-established methods that artists and designers have used for centuries to aid them with composition. Can you discover ways to use one of them in this assignment?





Some cultural design motifs based on grid or cell repetition of shape or pattern

The patterns created by M.C. Escher show creative use of Repetition with Variation as well as dynamic changes in the Figure and Ground relationships.

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Essentially, you are always telling a visually story. The simplest of those stories may be told using geometric shapes and no color. The arrangement or composition of those shapes therefore becomes essential in the success of the story. In this case we will be concentrating on the use of a grid system, or lattice, as an approach to composition. It is important to realize that for this assignment your are not creating a “picture”, but instead a “design” where pattern is a prime concern or goal. The concept of Repetition with Variation is essential to creating an interesting pattern to create a sense of internal harmony, rhythm, contrast and movement.


  • Create a design based on Pattern (repetition with variation)
  • Apply the Grid to organization (size and location) of both objects and interval/white space
  • Create movement within the design






  • Open the 160 x 20 lattice grid template provided grid 2
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  • Download the file to your computer
  • Open the download template in Adobe Illustrator
    • These lines represent the main grid structure
    • lock this layer
  • Change Illustrator’s grid units to 4 inches from Illustrator Preferences 
  • Turn on View the Grid
    • this will reveal the smaller 4 inch increments that will allow you to create smaller changes within the larger structure
    • change the color of the grid lines (in preferences) if you need to make them easier to see and different from the template lines
  • Turn on Snap To Grid
    • this will allow you to be precise
structure of authority

A regular lattice (grid) shows points of regular intersection. A semilattice illustrates the use of this structure to create a more visually dynamic arrangement of shapes/objects. Notice how size and interval space have a major impact on the resulting dynamism and visual hierarchy.

  • 1st version, Make a new Illustrator Layer
    • Using only rectangles (no lines or other shapes) create a black and white composition utilizing the grid (individual cells or multiples of cells) to determine size and placement of both black rectangles and the white interval spaces between.
    • Look for Implied Lines/Lines of Continuity which visually link or connect shapes together
    • Use Size and Intervals/Space Between to create variety
  • Make a 2nd version, Make a new Illustrator Layer
    • Do NOT simply add to your previous version, but instead, create a brand new composition that incorporates the ideas/concepts from the previous version plus the new concepts listed below. Each concept is essentially a prompt I am asking you to interpret in your compositions.
    • Start with a black background and add white shapes
    • Add the concept of Progression or Gradual Movement in addition to Size and Intervals/Space Between from the previous version
  • Make a 3rd version, Make a new Illustrator Layer
    • Start with either a Black OR a White background
    • Do NOT simply add to your previous version, but instead, create a new composition that incorporates the ideas/concepts from the first two versions plus the new concepts listed below
    • Add the concept of Evolution/Transition or Gradual change/Morph to Movement, Interval, Size Variation. 
    • Shape Variation or Morph is the new concept. A morph, in this case, is kind of like the stop action frames of an animation that show a gradual, step-by-step transformation from one shape to another one.
    • Develop your understanding of the difference between simply morphing a shape from one thing to another and the more complex visual situation where, in addition to a shape morphing, there is also a gradual change in the way that the black and white areas of the entire design are perceived. This is the beginning of Gestalt. (The whole is more important that any of the individual parts).
  • Make a 4thversion, Make a new Illustrator Layer
    • Start with either a Black OR a White background
    • Add a single word to your composition in addition. Still apply all the previous concepts of Movement, Interval, Size variation, Shape Variation/Morph
  • Make a 5th version, Make a new Illustrator Layer
    • Start with either a Black or a White background
    • Add a high contrast B/W image of a person OR a high contrast B/W graphic texture/pattern. Still apply all the previous concepts of Movement, Interval, Size variation, Shape Variation/Morph, and a single word.



For this assignment, that does not require color, please print to the HP laser jet printer. This printer can print paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches or (legal) 8 1/2 x 14 inches by using the manual feed tray. So, print your designs to legal size paper by selecting the “Fit to Page” option. Load the paper in the manual feed tray. This is your “Proof”.

As a class, arrange all your prints to make a large composite design. Work together to determine what each of you should modify on your own design to work with your “neighbor’s”.

If it is acceptable and meets all the assignment criteria, make a final print to Film.We will print to the Epson SureColorn that fits the garage door grid.  P6000 printer using roll film for the final versions of this assignment.

Below are some pattern examples based on the grid. Look at how modification can be made by “cutting” into the basic cell unit, rotation, scale/size change, and application of the golden section.