The Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette

Home of the #tutorialtuesday #twelvefoldchallenge activities from June & July 2020 but perfect to work through any time at your own pace.

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This page collects together the relevant YouTube tutorials & art work that will help you work your way through this family of patterns with a series of activities. Suitable for those of you have drawn a little before or brave beginners! The key is perservere and practise. In terms of tools & materials, they are listed listed at the start of each tutorial video, click here for materials & equipment.

Activity 1: Watch #15 Al Nasir Masjid - How to draw Islamic Geometry

Just watch, don't draw, this first video. #15 Al Nasir Masjid is a the original animation, a precursor to the tutorials I've produced in recent years. I enjoyed creating the animations in PowerPoint, but as I taught more, I wanted to share more, so hence the evolution in the tutorial style. Drawing starts at the next video below: #15 Drawing a Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette.

Activity 2: #15 Drawing a Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette

Draw this rosette as many times as you need to build up familiarity, confidence & accuracy. The radius doesn't have to be defined as this drawing will not lead to anything further. New Geometers draw larger (e.g. 10cm to 13cm on A3 paper) and try smaller for your further drawings. Repeat as many times as you need.

If there is one thing I want to get across in my teaching it's that you should enjoy the process of drawing by hand. Value it, repeat it, perservere and you'll master it. The video below is a warm up - learning the construction- activity.

Activity 3:

#15.1 Drawing Tiling & Painting Two Arrangements of a Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette

Draw the constuction, draw the two tracings as shown to lead to many different compositions using the two tracings. Follow the processes to either copy the compositions shown or create your own variations. This activity could lead to one, two or many paintings, it's up to you how much or how little you wan to create from it.

There are two main ways I draw fuller Islamic Geometric Patterns with the repeating motif/pattern. This video and activity, shows you the first: Draw & trace the repeating unit and then transfer multiple times to create a fuller pattern for outling, colouring, painting etc. I find this especially useful for when I have less time and also I want to come up with different crops of the repeat unit, in this case the rosette. I've summarised 7 of those variations in the slide show below the video.

Remember that when you do tile the tracings together you have to do so correctly. This part is non negotiable!

1) Hexagonal tiles fit together like honeycomb, no gaps or overlaps!

2) Squares in a grid, side to side, corners meets corners with no gaps or overlaps!

3) The tile lines/corner crosses are not part of the pattern and must be removed in a final pattern.

These are some of the biggest mistakes made time and time again modern day patterns. Never found in the original patterns from centuries ago. So let's consciously be aware of them and avoid them.

I adapted this construction to show the relationship between a square and hexagonal tiling in one drawing. I haven't seen anyone else do this - one construction leading to two tiles (square & hexagon), so I hope you find the relationship between them interesting and secondly a useful tool to create correct painting variation efficiently.

Once you have your tracings there are many possibilities ofr how you add colour, #15.1A Transferring, Tiling & Painting An Hexagonal Arrangement of a Twelvefold Rosette below shows a different outcome.

Activity 4:

#15.2A Drawing & Painting 4 Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosettes in a Square Arrangement

This video has one outcome, four rosettes in a square arrangement to be drawn a the scale, pens & colour of your choice.

It shows the second main way in which I draw fuller Islamic Geometric Patterns - draw everything, erase nothing and enjoy/celebrate the full complexity & repetition of constructing Islamic Geometric Patterns. Drawing all the lines and circles needed requires concentration, patience and accuracy for an extended amount of time. The process & outcome are both very rewarding. I often say if you have anything troubling you or something on your mind, drawing geometric patterns requires so much of you that it forces your troubles out for its duration. An all consuming respite that I often turn to.

Activity 5:

#15.2B: Drawing & Colouring Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette in a Hexagonal Arrangement

This video has one outcome, one rosette in a hexagonal arrangement to be drawn a the scale, pens & colour of your choice.

This is of course more complex than the square arrangement of four in activity 4. I've tried to hold back on too many detailed steps to help you gain confidence, build on your learning so far and think about what you are doing and what you did when drawing the single rosette and activites 1 to 4. One tip which I should have given myself, was to take a break! I lost concentration near the end and doing things logically flew out the window! Notice yourself and your concentration levels, and work through this carefully and slowly with breaks as needed.

Activity 6:

#15.3A: Drawing a Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette

Draw this rosette as many times as you need to build up familiarity, confidence & accuracy. Draw larger to begin with (e.g. 10cm radius on A3 paper) and if you wish try smaller for your further drawings.

This whole family/page of tutorials is about drawing a pattern from Al Nasir Masjid in Cairo. And this tutorial gets us one step closer. If I tell you that the final pattern we’re after is a “ Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette in a Square Arrangement” I hope some of this long-winded terminology may make sense and enable you to visualise the end outcome whilst also knowing there may be related variations of it.

Activity 7:

#15.3B: Drawing, Tracing, Transferring, Tiling & Painting Two Arrangements of a Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette

Draw the constuction & the two tracings to enable you to tile and transfer to watercolour and arrive at different compositions using either the hexagonal or square tile. Either copy the compositions shown in the slide show below or create your own variations. This activity could lead to one, two or many paintings, it's up to you how much or how little you wan to create from it.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are two main ways we’ve drawn fuller Islamic Geometric Patterns with the repeating

motif/pattern: With or without tracing. I’m sure you have a preference, I enjoy them both depending on my mood, how much I want to concentrate, the time I have available and so on. One thing I’ve loved about using tracing paper is that it’s allowed me to find slightly different variations (full rosettes in outer corners) with great ease.

See some of the suggested tilings in the slide show below the video.

Do remember that when you tile the tracings together you have to do so correctly.

1) Hexagonal tiles fit together like honeycomb, no gaps or overlaps!

2) Squares in a grid, side to side corner meets corner with no gaps or overlaps!

3) The tile lines/corner crosses & guide lines are not part of the pattern and must be removed in a final pattern.

These things are the biggest mistakes made time and time again in modern day patterns. Never found in the original patterns from centuries ago. So let's consciously be aware of them and avoid them.

Again note that this two tiles from one construction is my own invention. Firstly to show the relationship between a square and hexagonal tiling in one drawing. Secondly, a useful & practical technique to create correct painting variation efficiently.

Activity 8:

15.4A: Drawing Four Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosettes in a Square Arrangement

This video has one outcome: four stellated rosettes in a square arrangement to be drawn with pens & colours of your choice, at a scale of your choice. As ever I'm going encourage using ink. I hugely benefitted when I was encouraged to do so.

Finally we construct the pattern which kicked of this mini challenge & activity festival: The pattern from the 19th Century Minbar in Al Nasir Masjid in Cairo. I’ve since been told this is a modern reproduction of the Minbar from 14th Century Masjid Altinbugha al-Maridani. This pattern occurs in a few regions and this can sometimes uncover two or more subtle variations. These patterns don’t really exist in isolation; they are part of a wider system/family of patterns with their own vocabulary of shapes and sometimes differing qualities. The quality of the patterns we’ve drawn throughout these activities belong to a family whereby all the petals have 4 equal sides. This relates to other qualities. In this stellated rosette’s case look at the darts, the stellated part of the rosette. The three points are equal. If we find its centre, we can draw a circle that touches each point. Often when we draw, it’s the smallest shapes that reveal the inaccuracies. Now imagine seeing this pattern in the complicated wood work of the minbar where the actual line of the patterns are thick ridged multiple bands of wood work, although the dart shapes become small ivory pieces their regularity is maintained, no distortion. If the shape had any irregularity it would be easily visible in these the smallest of the shapes. These details are really worth noticing it reminds you of the wonder, rigour and brilliance of these geometers & artisans from hundreds of years ago.

I’m so fortunate to be able to have detailed conversations with such brilliant minds about these patterns. Massive thanks to Omniya Abdel Barr, Ameet Hindocha, Rajen Astho, Daud Sutton & Mohammad Al Janabi, who’ve all been so generous with their knowledge and time.

Activity 9: Drawing a fuller tiling of a stellated twelvefold rosette in a hexagonal arrangement .

There is no video for this final challenge & activity, but you can do it! You’ve completed the previous tasks, so this should be something you are able to manage independently, pulling together knowledge from previous constructions.

Moving on from following step by step instructions to thinking about what you need and then doing it yourself is a useful progression in one’s learning and something I’ve always strived to do myself. My teaching hasn’t always made it possible for me to enable this, but with 8 activities done and one final one to go, I hope, with minimal input from me you can draw this week’s pattern.

My three paintings are shown in the slideshow below, you can opt for these arrangements or better still a variation of your own. You may even want to weave this one: TECHNIQUES #1 - Four Ways to Weave - How to draw Islamic Geometry.

HINT 1: Laying out one circle surrounded by six, a hexagonal arrangement for some is a straightforward task, for others more of a head scratcher. You then need to make sure each is divided into 12. Look at the first photo in the slide show below, these are 3 potential outcomes, mathing my three photos above. Try to see if you can figure out how to arrive at slide 2. If not, then slides 3 to 10 are how you get there, again try to think of the next moves and/or what you need to do before looking at the next photo. You can do it!

HINT 2: Regardless of which activity or rosette we’ve drawn, the circle has always been divided into 24. One thing we did differently with the previous activity: 15.4A: Drawing Four Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosettes in a Square Arrangement is we postponed the division of 24 till after we’d drawn the two overlapping hexagons needed for the pattern. The same applies for this fuller tiling of a stellated twelvefold rosette in a hexagonal arrangement. So we divide the circle into 12, draw two overlapping hexagons and then divide the circle into 24. Remember to consider and extend into the spaces in between the circles!

HINT 3: When we have a circle divided into 24 using the two hexagons, all that is left is drawing the proportioning line and circle needed to draw the parallel sides of the rosette’s petals. We are basically drawing the single stellated rosette from #15.3A: Drawing a Stellated Twelvefold Islamic Geometric Rosette six times. Take your time, do it carefully and slowly with breaks as needed for this time consuming and full concentration endeavour!

So there we have it, a final challenge & activity that I hope will make you think, draw on what you’ve learnt and skills you’ve already obtained. Gaining independence builds confidence, is highly satisfying and is based on your practice and perseverance. The fruits of your labour!

Thank you for joining in and if you've not been in touch on social media, feel free to drop me a line with any feedback and how you've got on.