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Easy Digital Art Technique: Symmetrical Abstract Patterns

Updated on June 16, 2016

Abstract symmetry. That's my fancy name for a type of easy digital graphics image that produces symmetrical abstract patterns. The technique is fairly simple, and the end result can be fascinating, even beautiful, if you're lucky.

Here's an example of the type of pictures you can make. As you can see, the term abstract symmetry is quite appropriate. The pictures are definitely symmetrical, abstract and, at least to me, attractive and interesting . The picture below started life as a lotus flower.

Lotus | symmetrical abstract design
Lotus | symmetrical abstract design

The picture below is a detail from a basket of flowers. I've also added in a few graphics shapes that I made myself, such as the diamond shaped objects in the centre. Anything goes, if you think it adds to the image.

Symmetrical abstract flower arrangement
Symmetrical abstract flower arrangement

Although flowers are an obvious subject and result in the most conventionally 'pretty' pictures, there is a lot to be said for going after less obvious subjects. They may not be pretty in the conventional sense, but they can still be striking and fascinating. The picture below is a close-up section of a dragon fly rendered for abstract symmetry. The original is a side view, so only one eye was visible, and that results in four eyes after it's been manipulated with inverted copies added.

Symmetrical abstract of dragon fly face
Symmetrical abstract of dragon fly face

Step by step guide

If you're interested in having a go, you need a camera and some photo editing software capable of reversing images horizontally and vertically. I think most, if not all, can do that as it's a fairly basic operation.

What the technique involves is simply taking a photo of an interesting object or scene, or at least, whatever you think will be interesting once it receives the 'treatment'. The treatment involves making duplicate images, reversing them horizontally and vertically and joining the pictures together.


Step 1 - Take a photo

Take a photo of your subject - or use an existing photo. Use only a photo that you've taken yourself otherwise you won't feel that it's completely your own artistic creation. The more pixels your photo contains, the easier it is to zoom in to the area of the photo that you're going to work with.

Step 2 crop the image (optional)

Having transferred the photo to your computer and opened it in your photo editing software, select the area of the photo that you want to work with. It can be the whole picture if you want, but generally the most suitable and interesting subjects are inside the main photo. Crop your photo to exactly show what you want it to show. Here I've chosen a small area around the goldfish's right eye.

Step 3 - Duplicate and flip horizontally

Duplicate and reverse (flip) the image horizontally. You now have an exact mirror image of the cropped image.

Step 4 Join the images

Join the reversed image to the original. You can choose to join it to the right or the left. Each will give a completely different look. Choose the one that appeals to your artistic taste. Here I've joined the reverse image to the left of the original.

Step 5 - Flip and join vertically

Now make a duplicate of your new picture and reverse (flip) it vertically. Join it to the last picture either above or below as you prefer. Here, I've added it above. The original cropped picture is in the bottom right corner.

Step 6 Rotate and enhance (optional)

The final stage is optional. You can now rotate the image to landscape format as I've done below or leave it in the vertical, (portrait) format. You can also add any other graphics effects if you like, such as colour changes. I generally prefer not to do much with the colour as I feel that the original colour relates to the original subject more naturally. It's really an abstract view of a small part of a goldfish after all - no real justification for turning it blue or purple, etc.

Easy digital art - symmetrical abstract of goldfish
Easy digital art - symmetrical abstract of goldfish | Source


There's nothing to stop you duplicating your final picture as often as you like and tiling them all together to make a repeating pattern. All you need to do is join as many together as you like.There's no need for flipping images anymore as your picture is already fully symmetrical. Obviously, this will increase the file size significantly so you may want to keep that in mind and reduce the final file size to keep it manageable. The example below is another unlikely subject - a blow fly. Not the prettiest of subjects, but quite fascinating when seen this way.

Easy Digital Art | Symmetrical abstract of a blowfly
Easy Digital Art | Symmetrical abstract of a blowfly | Source

Here are some prettier ones to finish off.

Floral patterns - Perspective adjusted for depth effect
Floral patterns - Perspective adjusted for depth effect | Source
Abstract symmetry produced from a Buddhist pagoda with depth perspective added
Abstract symmetry produced from a Buddhist pagoda with depth perspective added | Source
Golden bangles
Golden bangles | Source

I hope you found the symmetrical abstract patterns and the easy digital art techniques interesting, and that you'll be inspired to have a go yourself. Remember, all you need are digital pictures to start with (preferably your own) and a graphics - photo editor, such as Photoshop (which I use) or one of the free ones, such as Gimp, to create some fascinating symmetrical, abstract patterns.

Thanks for reading "Easy Digital Art Technique - Symmetrical Abstract Patterns".


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