TurtleArt: Islamic Tiles

If you are interested in step-by-step instructions on programming your own TurtleArt tile designs, consider purchasing my book, The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun, which leads you through the process step by step!

In conjunction with fourth grade art we are going to use TurtleArt to create Islamic-inspired tiles.

We are focusing on making geometric tiles.

Start by creating a procedure that makes the turtle draw a geometric shape. It could be a square, a hexagon, or even an octagon! Use the diamond shaped block under "My Blocks" to name your procedure. I named my hexagon shape "hex."

Next, we need to make a procedure to make the turtle draw a horizontal row of your shape. We use the setxy block to move the turtle around.

Call the procedure that moves the turtle from left to right across the screen "horiz."

In the example above the turtle draws the hexagon shape, moves right 135 steps but does not move on the y axis, then draws another hexagon, repeating until it has drawn 5 hexagons. In this example the hexagon is overlapping the previous hexagon. You might have to experiment with the "x cor + number" combination with your geometric shape.

Now we need a procedure to move the turtle down along the y axis so it can draw its next "horiz" row. Call this procedure "vert."

Depending upon how large your geometric shape is you will need to customize three parts of the "vert" procedure above. First, you may have to repeat more than three times. Second, you will need to customize the "setxy" x values for your figure. Additionally, you will need to customize the "ycor - number" to fit your shape. Play around with the numbers until you are happy with the amount of overlap. The overlapping of the geometric shape and the resulting shapes this creates is part of the beauty of Islamic tile art.

Finally, you need a procedure to make the turtle draw the completed tiles. As you can see in the detail above this turtle is drawing the design twice, once with a wide blue pen and the second time with a slightly narrower grey pen.

The "tile" procedure starts by clearing the screen. It then sets the pen size and color. It moves the turtle to the far top left of the screen (actually, the turtle is off the screen with these settings). It then runs the "horiz" procedure to get the horizontal row, then the "vert" procedure to move the turtle down the screen. The turtle repeats this process with the smaller pen and different color.

Experiment with the code shared here to create tiles. Try using even larger brushes to create more interesting effects. The example below runs the "horiz" and "vert" procedures three times with increasingly smaller brushes.