Geometric patterns are a collection of shapes, repeating or altered to create a cohesive design. While you have the shape meanings down, you might not know where to start. Here, we’ve listed 40 great examples to help jumpstart your design ideas, with tips on how to apply them.
Let's dive in!
The Psychology of Shapes
Different shapes can evoke different meanings. The most common shapes—rectangles, circles, triangles, rhombuses, and hexagons—can be broken down into something like this:
Rectangles/Squares: Balance and Tradition
Circles: Infinity, Protection, and Femininity
Triangles: Stability, Energy, and Aggression
Rhombus: Vibrant and Contemporary
Hexagon: Unity and Balance
Combining these shapes in different ways can create entirely new meanings. For example, creating something out of rectangles and triangles could emphasize a call to return to tradition.
But maybe you don’t want to do something complex; maybe you’d just like to use shapes here and there to give your site or product a little extra vitality, something that makes it stand out and look more professional. If so, geometric patterns might be for you.
1 Use patterns to create images.
Simple shapes, on their own, can be appealing; using a variety of shapes to create a whole image, however, can work even better. Liam Brazer’s Landshape illustrates this well, using various shapes to create a vibrant landscape. Keep in mind what kind of shapes will work well for your subject, and you can create something spectacular.
2 Play with asymmetry.
Not all geometric patterns have to be symmetrical; sometimes creating something where shapes and lines differ across the board can create a striking effect. This poster illustrates the concept well, including mismatched overlays and triangles across both sides to create something more unique.
3 Combine patterns with photos.
Geometric patterns can be a great, creative way to spice up ordinary photos. For example, Sorry Colour takes a variety of photos and pastes them into shapes. The collage ultimately offers an entirely different, unique experience, giving the images more personality than if they were displayed alone.
4 Use lighting and shadows creatively.
Shadows and highlights can be used to enhance shapes—and sometimes create them, as shown by Seth Nickerson. Test what you can do with shadows in your own patterns, from making an almost 3D shape, to drawing attention to certain parts of the image.
5 Connect shapes in unique ways.
We’ve already explored how shapes can create images; exploring how those shapes connect can create new and interesting effects. For example, Work Hard uses a variety of geometric shapes, and creates a flowing image by connecting them in different ways—for example, connecting the edges of the title and the shape for the individual’s head.
6 Make a collage.
Try making a collage out of different shapes—something that guides viewers and makes your pattern easier on the eyes. Neo Lab, for example, uses diamonds of varying sizes, connected by their sides.
7 Use diagonals.
Diagonals create a clear path for the eye to follow, offering the bonus of a cohesive design. Finnish Summer is a wonderful example, using diagonal patterns to create a beautiful juxtaposition of images and colors.
8 Create isometric patterns.
Isometric patterns—or patterns that appear to be three dimensional—can really make an image pop, if used correctly. Isometric Exhibition offers a great example, using hard colors to create the illusion that the shapes pop off the page. Used sparingly and creatively, this can draw attention to specific items or words.
9 Create patterns with font.
If you want to really stretch your creativity, try using the typeface itself to create your patterns. Next Level, for example, uses a variety of triangles and hard lines to create a jagged, edgy effect. Creating patterns this way can help with whatever tone you might like for your site or product.
10 Play with symmetry.
Create your own geometric designs with this DIY tool.
While asymmetry creates a more free-flowing, fun look, symmetry can be used in geometric patterns to create something more elegant. ICP showcases this perfectly, especially on the cover, where the top half of the image perfectly mirrors the bottom.
11 Use patterns within patterns.
If you want something more complex, including geometric patterns within already existing shapes can be the way to go. The top left and bottom right example are great examples, one using squares to house patterns, the other using circles.
12 Keep it simple.
Conversely, not everything has to be complex—simple shapes can be just as appealing. Astrobrights Thank You Cards are great examples, using only a few shapes and lines to create appealing images.
13 Think about different ways to use lines.
Lines are the most basic elements of any shape; using them creatively can help create new effects, and can create a nice flow between images and information.
Europa is one great example, using simple lines to create a candle—including the melting wax! Planetary Folklore is another, creating a circle within the lines. Experiment with simple lines, and see what you might be able to create.
14 Create a theme.
Patterns on their own are great; patterns used to connect images are even better, especially when those patterns all relate to one another.
Take ADMCi, for example; the images all have a connection through similar colors and patterns that line their borders. Choosing a pattern, and applying it appropriately, can make formerly disparate subjects connected, and can identify products as “yours.”