Software for Making Escher-Style Tessellation Art

Tessellations can be produced using any drawing package, even quite simple ones. In our 'Do it yourself' section we show how this can be done fairly easily. This is often more satisfying than using purpose built software and the results can be worth it and sometimes unexpected 8-)

However, there are several programs available that can help in the process and most can produce tessellations using all 17 wallpaper types and more. Some are easier to use than others but, if you have a pre-conceived idea of a subject you want, it is much more difficult.

The easiest way to produce tessellations using these programs is to let the software 'suggest' a subject. All of them will produce a mesh outline, or lattice, according to the symmetry rules you set. You then have to push and pull the lines, add and remove corners and points, etc, until you have shapes you recognise. You still have to interpret the results.

Types There are few dedicated stand alone programs. A favourite of mine is 'Tesselmaniac'. Other packages 'plug in' to a main graphics program and use it to produce the actual artwork. A few are covered here - see below. The disadvantage of these is that you need to own the main program - and this can be expensive. Yet another way is by using a specially designed Java applet and producing tessellations directly on line. If you want to use the result, it has to be 'grabbed' off the screen.

Details of some programs follow together with some example tessellations and screenshots from each. The examples include their symmetry types so you can replicate them if you have the program.

tessellation software on the world wide web
stand-alone software to make tessellations
plug in / add on software for making tessellations
  • - an education website's free tessellation program that works through your web browser while you're surfing the Net.

  • NEW: Tesselmaniac - $30 stand alone tessellation creation program for Windows and Mac, first sold in January, 2014

  • Tesselmania - Pretty old stand alone program for Windows and Mac. Check out TesselManiac, from the same author (Kevin Lee), instead.

  • Go offsite to YouTube, to see an iPod/iPhone application called "CirCull". That word's a portmanteau / mash-up word the author invented by combining "circle" with "cull". It's a tessellation game in which you tap adjoining tiles to switch their places. Whenever three adjoining tiles have the same color, your points go up and the tiles disappear. That disappearing is the "cull" in "CirCull". The 2D tessellation plane has been heavily distorted by a fisheye view-- that's the "circle" in "CirCull". The fish-eye lens makes the 2D tessellations look a bit like a circle-limit tessellation.

  • Kali - A set of stand-alone programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux

  • Tess - Stand-alone program
  • NEW: Flexify 2 - a $50 add-on/plug-in for PhotoShop and CorelDraw. It does fast, fun distortions. For example, it easily turns a normal picture into an image that looks like it was reflected in a mirror ball.

  • Tessella - Illustrator plug-in

  • SymmetryWorks - Illustrator plug-in