Design Exercise: Repetition

In two recent posts I discussed the use of repetition and its relationship to the design principles of Balance, Unity and Variety, the Grid, Pattern, and Rhythm. Today I want you to put to use your new-found knowledge about repetition.

I suggest you begin by reviewing our book Design: A Beginner’s Handbook and rereading the posts, Repetition and the Principles of Design Part One, and Part Two.

This is a collage assignment that can be completed with paper and board or digitally, using image processing software such as Photoshop. You may add additional materials such as paint, drawing media, ink, etc.

Spend some time looking at images until you find one that grabs your attention. Select a single image and make multiple copies, I’d suggest a minimum of ten copies. You can use the entire image or cut out sections you do not want to include, for example, in a photograph of a person walking down the street you might want to remove everything but the figure.

Next, decide which elements and principles of design you want to emphasize in your composition. Perhaps you want to work with Unity and Variety and the Grid. In this case you might decide to lay out your copies in a grid format and then create variations between the images by adding the elements of color and texture to each image.

Another way to employ the principle of Unity and Variety would be to work with the gestalt principles discussed in our book. Consider using grouping or continuity in your composition. 

What are other possible options? You can suggest movement and rhythm by playing with the spacing between the images. Working with a copy machine (xerox image) or image processing software you can change the size of your repeated image. If you overlap images, with smaller images behind larger ones, you can create illusions of space.

Think about the possibilities of working with radial symmetry or pattern. You can alter the orientation of your images – vertical, horizontal, diagonal. You can even break up the repeating image into smaller units that are then combined into a single repeating motif. 

Please pay attention to the positive and negative shapes in your final composition. They are essential to the success of your project. In addition, craft is equally important. Make clean cuts and if you mount your project onto board avoid ripples and glue marks.

This exercise is very simple but if you push its limits, incorporating multiple design elements and principles, you will arrive at a complex solution.

Share your solutions by posting to our Facebook page.

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