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Design

Geometric Design: Create a Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Geometric Design for Beginners.
Geometric Design: Armenian Knot
Geometric Design: The "Heavenly City" Diagram
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Our geometry lessons have been gradually increasing in complexity and construction time, and today's pattern is the most complex to date—not difficult, but it takes quite a lot of steps, especially if you expand it. It is a beautiful pattern displaying six-, eight- and twelve-pointed stars, and a famous one, from the 14th-century Córdoba Synagogue in Spain.

Panel from the Cordoba Synagogue
Photo by Roylindman at English Wikipedia

For all its intricacy, it is based on the seven-circle grid we are familiar with by now. Grab a large piece of paper and at least two different hard pencils, because there will be a lot of construction lines.

1. Prepare the Seven-Circle Grid

Step 1

Using your hardest pencil, begin the grid with a central circle surrounded by six circles. If you need a refresher, see Working With 6 and 12.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 1

Step 2

Add another ring of circles...

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 2

Step 3

... and the final six that complete the grid. We are working on a limited portion again; you are free to expand the grid to fill the entire surface of your paper, to make it an unlimited pattern.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 3

Step 4

Using the outer intersection points of the grid, add the arcs that are missing. Our aim is to have a full flower inside each circle.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 4

Step 5

The last arcs to be added are the following six. The basic seven-circle-grid is complete.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 5

2. Draw a Grid of Dodecagons

Step 1

Place your ruler as if to connect the two "petal points" shown here, and only mark the section of that line that is inside the petal.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 6

Step 2

Repeat across in the entire grid. It's quicker (and more accurate) to place the ruler between the furthest possible petal points, and draw the line segments across all the petals it crosses.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 7

Step 3

Repeat steps 1-2 by connecting the petal points at a diagonal angle.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 8

Step 4

Repeat once more for the third angle.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 9

Step 5

Now connect all these segments to form dodecagons. You will still find alignments that allow you to do it across the entire grid at once.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 10

3. Prepare and Draw the Six-Pointed Stars

Step 1

Move on to a less hard pencil and mark the following dodecagons to make them stand out—we will need them later.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 11

Step 2

Draw the following sets of diagonals. Note their position inside the dodecagrams: they are the innermost parallels and form a rectangle inside the polygon. If you don't see a correct rectangle (with right angles), you have connected the wrong points.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 12

Step 3

Repeat with the opposite set of diagonals.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 13

Step 4

Finish with the verticals.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 14

Step 5

At every intersection of three pairs of diagonals, a hexagram is formed! Now be careful: Ink the ones that are not inside the highlighted dodecagons. 

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 15

4. Prepare the Other Stars

Step 1

In the first dodecagon, draw three more pairs of diagonals (start with the horizontal pair, and the last two will be evident) to form a 12-pointed star.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 16

Step 2

Repeat in the rest of the dodecagons.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 17

Step 3

Now we're going to connect the dodecagons, using these stars to guide us (no pun intended). Start by drawing the horizontals connecting them together. They shoot out of the points of the inner stars.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 18

Step 4

Similarly, connect the dodecagons with pairs of diagonals.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 19

Step 5

Finally, draw the last pair of connecting diagonals.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 20

5. Draw the Twelve- and Eight-Pointed Stars

Step 1

Let us zoom in on one part of our construction to do some detail work.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 21

Observe the square, near the lower right corner, formed by intersecting pairs of diagonals.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 21b

Step 2

Draw a cross over the square (its centre being the square's centre) by lining up points that are central to the diagonal pair, as shown here.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 22

Step 3

Draw the circle containing the square. All four points of it will be on the circle's periphery.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 23

Step 4

Connect the points where the cross intersects the circle. You now have the basis for an eight-pointed star.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 24

Step 5

Ink the eight-pointed star. Also ink the twelve-pointed star, but be attentive to how it's done below, which creates a central star within the outer one.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 25

Step 6

Repeat steps 1-5 across your entire pattern!

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue step 26

6. Finish and Colour

Step 1

You could keep your field of stars unconnected, but to finish the Cordoba pattern, ink all of the lines between them.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue finished

Step 2

The last step is to colour! The pattern can look greatly different depending on how many colours you use. On the left you see a black and white rendering, while on the right each star has a different colour, and the bands in-between share a hue.

Pattern from the Cordoba Synagogue coloured

That's It!

Congratulations on finishing the pattern. The original pattern is carved in stone with a weave effect; if you want to take it that further step, revise the general method to create an interlace in Knots and Weaves.

Next lesson, we will work with an intriguing diagram said to encode cosmic mathematics...

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