Dar An-Noor

Islamic Education And Heritage Center

Dar An-Noor

Islamic Education and Heritage Center 

Islamic Geometric Designs & Illumination

Islamic Geometric Patterns

Islamic geometric patterns is the third art developed in the history of Islam. Simple patterns show up all over the world in a variety of cultures, but designers of Islamic patterns created and developed techniques to master the delicacy of practical geometry. The result is a profound discipline that continues to impress strangers and masters alike.

In this course students will develop from basic geometry to more advance geometric designs. Students will progess depending on their individual level of proficiency.

Islamic Illumination Painting Basics.

In this course you will learn:

Three additional pattern template to help you improve your skills.

About Islamic Art

The term Islamic is extremely generic and has been developed by Western scholars to make it slightly easier in looking at the Muslim part of the Eastern world. We use it now out of convenience and because there are mutual elements in the different areas.

Within Islamic art you will find that art and craft is actually intertwined, so there are a few areas of study:

  • Calligraphy
  • Patterns (geometric and biomorphic/floral)
  • Painting miniature
  • Painting illumination
  • Bookbinding
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Pottery
  • Leatherwork
  • Metalwork
  • Woodwork
  • Textile

And the list goes on.

Each area is a whole world of its own and it can be categorized further based on geography, culture, style, ruling dynasty, patron and time period. Reading one book on any of these subjects or watching one YouTube video or taking one short online course would not teach you everything you want or need.

The wealth of Islamic arts and crafts spanned from Indonesia to Spain and took place from the 7th to 18th century and then the whole contemporary world created by Muslim artists or crafters.

Learning one of these areas will require effort and multiple sources. Some people will require more or less effort depending on the outcome they want to achieve. But you cannot learn everything there is to learn about patterns in a few hours or expect too much for minimal effort. Patterns is not something you can just learn quickly. There is so much more to it! The availability of information should encourage us to seek more knowledge and learning.

Learning patterns includes these areas:

  • Learning the geometric construction, which is the basis of biomorphic as well and without it no patterns can be constructed.
  • Understanding the visual language especially if you did not grow up surrounded by this visual expression. This understanding usually comes by tracing and studying original works from the masters of the area you want to focus on.
  • Learning the motifs and this is a big one and cannot be explained quickly because each Islamic time period has its own spin on motifs and a selection of shapes and flowers that is regularly used. For example, Turkish masters use copying motifs that are common in Turkish and Ottoman examples. This is a very popular method of learning in Turkey, where you dedicate the first few days/weeks/months to copying leaves and flowers. The motifs are usually from books and a great book for copying is Motifs in Turkish decorative arts by Inci A Birol (1991-05-04).
  • Choosing and mastering the medium you want to execute patterns on. Is it just painting you want to do? Just watercolor? Or illumination style? Or perhaps you want to carve them in wood or paint them on ceramics.

Therefore, the process of learning Islamic patterns alone is complex and will be very satisfying to human curiosity. It is of course very possible to do all the steps in as little or as much details that you want, but it is an exploration that will take a few months of self study and some various courses if you are serious about this.

Bottomline is that you cannot expect to learn centuries worth of knowledge in one few hours course. Be open and curious and you will fully understand everything in few months/years of practice. Learning patterns and arts is not a race. It is a beautiful process of uncovering ways of connections and learning to go underneath the surface of what you see.

First thing you want to determine is which areas would you want to learn within Islamic art and patterns?

To help you do that, here are some popular areas of study:

  • Arabic calligraphy
  • Patterns (geometric and/or biomorphic) 
  • Illumination
  • Miniature

Each of these areas can be specific to a historic Islamic period or a specific geographic location. Since each of these areas are really big, we are going to focus on the pattern and illumination aspects.

When it comes to patterns, there are two types that are common within the architecture, books and objects of the Islamic lands: geometric patterns and biomorphic. The Islamic geometric patterns are based on a line construction assisted by the use of a compass and a straight edge. There are many mathematical compositions and they are reliant on specific number of stars and shapes.

The second type is biomorphic patterns and they are the organic, free flowing and curved shapes with a big element of hand drawing and welove to draw. Biomorphic patterns also have a geometric grid, but all the florals cover those line and it becomes a really symmetrical hand drawing. These patterns appear on everything from ceramics to little house objects. Our two favorite applications are ceramics and illuminated manuscripts. This type of pattern has gained an insane popularity lately as well.

Starting point for beginners

  • Islamic Illumination Painting Basics
  • Biomorphic Analysis

Building your skills

  • Mamluk Manuscript Elements
  • Uzbekistan Pattern

Portfolio building Projects

  • Manuscript Reproduction
  • Mughal Borders
  • Design Your Own Patterns

Continuing your practice

  • The Dar An-Noor illumination club

Stay tune for more classes and workshops in shaa Allah

Islamic Geometric Designs
Workshops in Progress