This wonderful dome design of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque in Ispahan,
Iran, is based on a very interesting pattern that shows harmonic growth.
We are going to approximate the pattern itself, that is the almond shapes radiating from the center. The more organic vine decoration can then be added freehand, or substituted for any ornamentation you like.
The construction is not very complicated, but accuracy is more important than ever, so make sure your compass point is sharpened, and take your time to be extra precise when joining points.
1. Draw the First Ring
Draw a circle and the six circles that divide it into six (see Working With 6 and 12).
Divide one of the arcs in two by joining two of the points formed by the intersections of these outer circles. All we actually need is the point on the central circle.
Starting from that point, walk the compass around to draw another six circles.
Find one of the fish-scale-shaped areas that touch the inner circle, and join its four points. A square appears!
Draw all 12 squares around the circle.
2. Draw the Second Ring
Now we're going to draw the next ring of squares. Place the dry point on the point between two squares, and open it to the equivalent point after next, so it embraces two squares. Draw the circle.
Repeat with each of the 12 points. You'll find the fish-scale shape again, larger than in the first ring. Draw the square inside it.
Repeat all around to create a second ring of squares.
3. Draw the Third Ring
To add a ring, repeat the previous few steps: Place the dry point where two squares touch, open to the point after next, and draw a circle.
Repeat all around.
Find the first square.
Draw all the squares around this third ring.
We could stop here and stay with the squares, which form our basic grid. They form a striking arrangement in themselves, particularly when more rings are added.
Filling each square with a motif (geometric or freehand) is time-consuming, but the end result is simply smashing.
We are going to carry on, however, to create the almond shapes seen in our model.
4. Create the Almond Shapes
Now we have to work on one square at a time, so let's zoom in.
The two guidelines that intersect inside the square actually indicate the centre of the square. But if you don't have guidelines for some reason, just draw the diagonals to find that centre.
Draw the circle inscribed in the square.
Repeat all around that ring.
Do the next ring.
Carry on till every square has been done.
All that is left now is to ink the almond shapes as follows. The points always point towards the centre of the original circle—otherwise you get quite a different design!
Complete the inking.
Great Work, You're Done!
You are then free to simply colour it, or add intricate ornaments inside each almond. The finished version below has two additional rings. The more rings, the more impressive the result!
The pattern we just completed is an infinite pattern with a defined centre and rate of growth. Next lesson, we turn to a finite motif that also begins with 12 circles, for a highly intricate result!