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How To Arrange Motifs in Creating Pleasing Designs

A motif is a principal or main design in a composition. When the motif appears together with other designs in the composition, it domineers in size as well as the number in relation to the other designs. The motifs are bigger in size and greater in number when compared with the other designs in a composition. The motifs, images or elements can be repeated and organized in several pleasing patterns in a composition. Motifs, images or elements can be repeated according to the following formats.

i. Full drop format

ii. Half drop design

iii. Simple format

iv. All over repeat

v. Positive and negative repeat

vi. Mirror reflection design

Full Drop Repeat: In this arrangement pattern, the full size of the motif or main design appears in all parts of the composition. The motifs either run horizontally or vertically throughout the substrate or material. The full view of the motifs must be seen.

Half Drop Repeat: In this design, the motifs or main designs are dropped by half by the first arrangement so that there will be halves at both ends of the cloth or paper such that when the sides of the paper or cloth are rolled, it would result in full designs.

Simple Repeat: In this arrangement style, the motifs are repeated across the material in a simple pattern. Sometimes, they are placed haphazardly in the composition without any forethought plan. The focus of simple repeat pattern is that the motifs should be repeated in the composition.

All Over Repeat: The all over repeat pattern has the principal designs or motifs appearing or running through all the parts of the material.

Positive and Negative Repeat: This repeat pattern is achieved by alternating the positive and negative areas of the picture area. The positive area or image area rotates in placement with the background which is usually composed of textures to form the repeat pattern. It is also referred to as Counter Change design.

Mirror Reflection Repeat: In this repeat pattern, the main design or motif is repeated in a mirrored manner. This is achieved by placing and alternating side by side the right and left parts of the main motifs or design.

The various repeats can be adopted and used by artists especially textile designers and graphic artists who usually engage in printing. However, a skilled printer must strive very hard to create other repeat formats on his own to meet the specifications of his work. These motif arrangements can be curled from the existing and already accepted formats used by many printers globally.


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