square grid

The Complex Geometry of Islamic Design

In Islamic culture, geometry is everywhere. You can find it in mosques, madrasas, palaces and private homes. This tradition began in the 8th century CE during the early history of Islam, when craftsman took preexisting motifs from Roman and Persian cultures and developed them into new forms of visual expression. 

This period of history was a golden age of Islamic culture, during which many achievements of previous civilizations were preserved and further developed, resulting in fundamental advancements in scientific study and mathematics. Accompanying this was an increasingly sophisticated use of abstraction and complex geometry in Islamic art, from intricate floral motifs adorning carpets and textiles, to patterns of tile work that seemed to repeat infinitely, inspiring wonder and contemplation of eternal order.

 Despite the remarkable complexity of these designs, they can be created with just a compass to draw circles and a ruler to make lines within them, and from these simple tools emerges a kaleidoscope multiplicity of patterns. So how does that work? Well, everything starts with a circle. The first major decision is how will you divide it up? Most patterns split the circle into four, five or six equal sections. And each division gives rise to distinctive patterns. 

There’s an easy way to determine whether any pattern is based on fourfold, fivefold, or sixfold symmetry. Most contain stars surrounded by petal shapes. Counting the number of rays on a starburst, or the number of petals around it, tells us what category the pattern falls into. A star with six rays, or surrounded by six petals, belongs in the sixfold category. One with eight petals is part of the fourfold category, and so on. 

There’s another secret ingredient in these designs: an underlying grid. Invisible, but essential to every pattern, the grid helps determine the scale of the composition before work begins, keeps the pattern accurate, and facilitates the invention of incredible new patterns. Let’s look at an example of how these elements come together. 

We’ll start with a circle within a square, and divide it into eight equal parts. We can then draw a pair of criss-crossing lines and overlay them with another two. These lines are called construction lines, and by choosing a set of their segments, we’ll form the basis of our repeating pattern. 

Many different designs are possible from the same construction lines just by picking different segments. And the full pattern finally emerges when we create a grid with many repetitions of this one tile in a process called tessellation.

By choosing a different set of construction lines, we might have created this any of the above patterns. The possibilities are virtually endless.  

We can follow the same steps to create sixfold patterns by drawing construction lines over a circle divided into six parts, and then tessellating it, we can make something like the above.

Here’s another sixfold pattern that has appeared across the centuries and all over the Islamic world, including Marrakesh, Agra, Konya and the Alhambra. 

Fourfold patterns fit in a square grid, and sixfold patterns in a hexagonal grid. 

Fivefold patterns, however, are more challenging to tessellate because pentagons don’t neatly fill a surface, so instead of just creating a pattern in a pentagon, other shapes have to be added to make something that is repeatable, resulting in patterns that may seem confoundingly complex, but are still relatively simple to create. 

This more than 1,000-year-old tradition has wielded basic geometry to produce works that are intricate, decorative and pleasing to the eye. And these craftsman prove just how much is possible with some artistic intuition, creativity, dedication along with a great compass and ruler.

D&D Maps using Spreadsheets

Ever since I first tried DM’ing, I have jumped from one method to another of creating maps for my D&D games. Recently I was using a Google Doc spreadsheet for something and it occured to me that I could use these to make maps.

What it is

I basically set the spreadsheet to be a small squared grid and apply conditional formatting to the entire grid along with a key of what means what. So once it’s set up, if I type a letter ‘T’ in a square, that square turns dark green and now represents ‘Trees’, same as ‘M’ means mountains and turns grey, ‘V’ means village, ‘C’ means city and shows as orange, and so on.

On top of the basic auto-colour coding mentioned above, you can right click any of the squares and ‘insert notes’ which gives you a text box to include any notes you have about that map-space(like a town name and who lives there)

Why it’s awesome

Super simple, hassle free
You can do it anywhere you like without needing any special software or apps (all browsers run google sheets i’m fairly sure). And it’s as easy as typing letters into a spreadsheet.

Can be shared easily
You can share it with friends thanks to the great sharing functions of google, you could even work on it at the same time as someone else(if you’re brave enough to try co-DMing).

Customisable
You can use the same method for world maps, town maps and dungeon maps. You could even make multiple pages of the documents for different levels of a dungeon.

Template/Example

I know not everyone is as into making spreadsheets as me, so below is a link to an example world map and city map (tabs down the bottom for different pages)

Example spreadsheet mapping

You should be able to click ‘File >> Make a copy’ to copy it and edit it yourself.

Other things you could do

- Hyperlink the letter to a google doc or another page in the spreadsheet
- Use symbols instead of letters, works well for dungeons, you could have slashes for up/down stairs etc.

Let me know

If you use this method please let me know how it goes for you, if you find this article confusing i’d love to hear about it so I can fix it up to make it more useful.

Crystal Grid Patterns

Hexagonal grids can be used for any intention because quartz crystal system is also hexagonal it is preferred to use quartz as the center stone around that center stone place your other stones at the 6 around the perimeter of the hexagon by drawing your own template you will be making your grade much stronger you can leave your template under your grid or you can carefully slide it out after you place your crystals it’s totally up to you.

The Flower of Life grid is created by overlapping evenly spaced circles this pattern can also be used for any intention you can simply just place your center stone and then put your other stones around the design wherever you feel the need to but remember to keep it symmetrical.

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The five pointed star is good for protection and purification of the energies in many cultures a five-pointed star helps with higher state of consciousness and deep meditation. Place your center stone and then put your other stones at each point.

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The square grid can add a dimension of stability to your environment and protection again just place your center stone and the grid stones at each point.

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The spiral grid is good for expansion creativity and feminine energy to place the stones in the spiral place your center stone in the middle or at the beginning point of the spiral and read it out loud with the positioning of the other stones. The phi spiral works best.

The infinity symbol grid is used to bring about endless abundance of anything like prosperity love health and wealth among others it is a symbol of unity perfection in the incident and the Earth’s cycles this bread is perfect for bringing about prosperity and abundance in any area of your life your center stone should be placed directly in the intersection and the other stones positioning along the perimeter of the design.

*writen in my own word from notes I made in CRYSTAL GRIDS by HIBISCUS MOON*

Dungeon Design: Guiding Player Movement Part I

This is a guide to influencing your players to go where you want them to go. It’s like railroading, but more calculated and nearly invisible during a game. Here in Part 1 I am talking about purely visual properties and composition of a dungeon map. Throughout this post I am using a map from a previous dungeon my players went through. For context, it’s an ice cavern made into a lair for a clan of frost giants. Hidden somewhere within is a secret entrance to the lost tomb of a hero, which is their goal to find for this floor. Check out Part II here.


Leading the Players

Leading lines are lines that lead the players from one point of the map to another, much like in the composition of a photo or painting. Use them to less-than-subtly direct players in the direction you wish. Strong leading lines start from a large shape and end at a small shape, subconsciously simulating depth. Imagine someone pointing at a faraway object. You start at the person’s body, then arm, then finger, and finally at the direction they are pointing.

In the above image I’ve drawn out the leading lines. They are formed by the lines denoting elevated areas in the northwest room, the barrels in the northern room, the stone pillars in the eastern room, and miscellaneous objects in the southern room.

The stars on the map indicate the end goals that lead to the next level (there were two possible places in case they found one area before the other). The leading lines try to funnel players towards these goals.

Ways to create leading lines:

Actual lines: walls, barriers, elevation changes (marked by a line), floor tiling, rugs, long tables, etc.

Repeating Pattern: repeated objects that form a sequence can create a leading line.

Keep reading

Simple Sigil Creation: A How-To Guide

One of the most common messages I get on Tumblr goes something like this: “What is your process for creating sigils? It can’t be as simple as scrambling up letters, so what’s the real secret?”

The truth is, there isn’t a secret. Making sigils is actually quite simple. Anyone can do it. Even for a complete newcomer, the process should take less time than a coffee break. While there are many, many ways to create sigils — magic squares, automatic drawing, grid overlays — the methods don’t really matter all that much.

In this post, I’m going to show the step-by-step method I used for creating the most recent sigil I’ve published. It came at the request of a young woman who wanted to catch the romantic attentions of another female. It said simply: “She will see me in a romantic way.”

As you can see, I’ve gone with the most basic sigil-creation method here. I’ve written out the text, and I’ve isolated the consonants from the sentence. While there is an “occult” tradition behind this method, I wouldn’t get hung up on thinking that it’s the “right” way to make a sigil. It’s no better than any other method, it’s just easier to explain.

This first step is meant to abstract the coherent words into a less-coherent jumble of letters. The words stop being as meaningful, but the symbols behind the sigil’s intent remain. To keep things simple — and to speed up my next step — I arrange these letters into a grid.

The next step is to abstract the remaining letters even further. Here, I’ve simply started combining elements of the letters together. I generally start by picking two letters from the grid of consonants, and start combining lines, curves, curls, dots, and other pieces of those letters together.

I try to keep these new symbols as simple as possible — four or five pencil strokes at most — because I’ll be further combining them in the next step.

From here, I generally play around with a few ideas, combining elements of symbols as I go. Sometimes these ideas come easily, as seen in the picture, but sometimes it can take pages and pages of sketches to find one I like. In particularly thorny situations, I’ll even start the entire process over from scratch, just to give myself a clean slate.

Once I’ve found a design I like, it’s time to start on the final design. Much like every other stage in the process, there is no one “right” way to do this. This is also the step where most people could happily stop. When the sigil looks and feels “right” to you, it’s done. The sigil is complete, if you want it to be.

In my case, however, I’m also making art for my website and social media. That means creating a version of the sigil that will (hopefully) catch other people’s eyes. There are countless ways to do this — charcoals, crayons, digital painting, markers — and I’ve experimented quite a bit over the years.

I also like to have an excuse to play with ink and brushes, so that’s how this one came together. I like that it’s a little unpredictable — with streaks and globs and splatter — and I’m always thrilled when a happy accident improves the design.

As you can see, I create tons of variations, tinkering with brush sizes, stroke direction, the amount of ink in the brush, and other stuff. While I liked some of these versions, none of them looked quite right. So, I kept going until I found one that did.

A few ink-soaked pages later, and this version was the clear winner. From here, it was just a matter of scanning the image in and doing a few technical things in Photoshop to make it look better in black and white. I add the text, the watermark, and … that’s it.

Here’s the finished version.

As you can see, there’s no great secret to making a sigil. Nor should there be. Sigils are about focusing intent, and even a few pencil scratches on notebook paper can become a perfectly wonderful sigil with the right intent behind it. Yes, some people (like me) like to do a little showing off with things they picked up from art class, but that should never be a barrier to creating your own personal sigils.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or drop me a message.

How to Start a Self-Care Bullet Journal

Hello journalers! This post is going to explain how to begin a bullet journal that will help you take care of yourself and manage your mental/physical health. I will go in depth and share various ideas to add to this kind of journal. 

How To Start: 

1. Like all bullet journals, make sure you have a journal that fits your needs. Dot grid, square grid, blank page, or lined are the options for basically all journals. Pick one that you can see yourself using for a while and that will conform to your needs. 

2. Make an outline on a separate piece of paper of the things you want in your self-care journal. Nothing is more cringe-worthy in my bullet journals is when I get lazy on design and layout. Figure out which lists, trackers, challenges, and calendars you will need. 

3. Start like you would with a normal bullet journal with the index. My rule is that I need to have 3 pages for my index, otherwise I run out of room to keep track of my pages and I get overwhelmed. 

Things To Add:

1. Future Plans/Goals

Pump yourself up for the future! You are going to accomplish many incredible feats during your lifetime, but it helps to take the first step and actually write down your goals and plans. I have two resources for you for this section. [Here] is a post about Goal Oriented Pages. Here is a picture of my bucketlist from my last bullet journal:

2. Fitness Log

If you are ready to get in shape or just be healthy, this is something you really need to stay motivated or keep track of your exercising habits. You can add checklists, hydration logs, running countdowns, etc. 

3. Daily Affirmations

When dealing with stress, mental health, and anything else that can get you feeling less than the amazing person you are, it’s good to remind yourself how truly fantastic you are. Here is a [link] to my 30-Day Affirmation Challenge. 

4. Gratitude Log

Being thankful for what you have will give you so much peace in your life. If you’d like some ideas for yours, click [here] for my 30-Day Gratitude Challenge.

5. Things That Make You Happy

List everything that makes you remotely happy and keep adding things as you go through your life. Below is my first journal that had my “Things I Love” page. It got filled so fast. 

6. Meditation Diary

I honestly loved this idea and used it like crazy. [Here] is a link to how I set my diary up. 

7. Habit Trackers

Keeping track of your actions will always help you feel at peace and there are many different kinds of habit trackers out there: medicine, sleep, reading, exercise, etc. If you’d like to be even more motivated for getting things done, [here] is a link to my Habit Tracker Reward System. 

8. Alternatives to Self-Destructive Acts

Many of us have negative habits that can be more extreme than others. But even the smallest self-destructive act will have a huge negative effect on your life. Here is a list of some ideas to do instead of thinking bad things or hurting yourself: do a puzzle, go exercise, take a nap, listen to music, watch funny videos, watch a movie, write, make lists, color a picture, bake something, etc.

9. When I Feel Triggered…

Anything can make us recall traumatic events, toxic people, or just make us feel anxious. Make a short list of maybe 5-10 things you can do to help yourself calm back down. 

10. All About Me

Writing and doodling things that represent yourself can be very therapeutic. I made a post about this recently that can be found [here].  

11. Self-Care Ideas/Me Time

Sometimes we don’t know how to make ourselves feel better. Write a list of things you could try to do to help yourself become a healthier you. Examples: take a warm bath, go for a walk, drink a glass of water, watch a sad movie, etc. You can also make a page to keep track of how long each task you complete and where you completed it. 

12. A Year In Pixels

I did not come up with this idea, but [here] is a post about where I found it and a picture of my page.

I found a few more ideas, but you can check this [link] for 100 more! 

defendthechibi  asked:

I'm a beginner in Chinese and having a hard time finding out where to start. What would you recommend?

@defendthechibi: mmmmdamn. ok, so Chinese is not a lang I approached on my own, I started in a class, but with that said here’s some combination of how that went down and what I would suggest (if you are a self-learner of Chinese pls do add):

1. Get a fucking fantastic foundation in pinyin and tones. I cannot emphasize this enough—start good habits now or it’ll be really terrible to find out no one understands you because you were like “tone, I’ll come back to that!” Here is a very nice pinyin chart with literally every syllable combination recorded with every tone. Here’s a pinyin practice game. If you can get someone who already speaks Mandarin to help that’s of course ideal, especially for the retroflex sounds, but not essential. Either way make sure you practice speaking aloud. Here’s a funny tone explanation that’s secretly great.

2. Pick a book and stick with it. So this is not Mandarin-specific, but I find that self-learners (myself included) have a habit of starting like three different texts for one language and it’s a mess. Decide if you wanna start with traditional or simplified characters, then pick a textbook, it wont be perfect because nothing is, and maybe just a grammar book for reference. We used Integrated Chinese in class, but I don’t know that I’d recommended it for soloing, Practice Makes Perfect has great other books I’ve used and seems like a better choice. This series is good grammar help, and so is Modern Mandarin Chinese grammar (pdf). When looking for textbooks I recommend reading reviews and also taking into consideration the time/pace you want to work at. Learning a language is a lifetime thing so really you just gotta start somewhere and plow ahead. (also check what the library has!)

2.5 Don’t buy those damn books of character lists. I’m sure you’ve seen them, “memorizing hanzi!” “500 common characters!” whaaaatever. Whatever textbook yr using will tell you what characters you need right then, and if that’s not enough there are plenty of frequency lists online. More importantly, do learn the radicals When it comes to actually getting characters into your brain it’s some combination of mnemonic device (which works better if you make it up, not if some rando writer does anyway) and rote muscle memory—so all you need is paper. Get square/grid paper and pay attention to proportions or if you must get a book, get one that has practice space. Skritter is amazing and wonderful and I cannot praise it enough but also it is not free. But like if yr really serious you’ll probably have to put some money down somewhere. Whatever you do, do not buy Chineasy it is a plague upon our language learning household. (note: some people suggest not learning characters until after awhile of studying spoken. That sounds sort of terrible to me, and it also means you won’t be able to engage with anything Chinese online. But it is a thing, and sites like YablaFluentU, and ChinesePod could be a way to go [and are good anyway])

3. Practice, practice, practice! Ok cool you started doing some stuff! Check you out! If you want to get feedback start posting snippets on Lang-8, you can even meet people to skype with. Or if you want (and have a smart phone) you can get a chat buddy on hellotalk. Maybe there’s a meetup group in your area who knows. Make yourself/download an Anki deck, etc. etc. Just try to always do a little something everyday. I think because of characters Chinese has a particularly steep learning curve—I still can’t open a webpage and just like read it—so it might be better to focus on practicing what you know rather than trying to engage too much with “actual” Chinese. That said….

4. Don’t loose hope, find fun things in Chinese. Even if it’s not actively practicing your language skills, find ways to enjoy Chinese that don’t drain you like too much studying will. Listen to music,  read about idiomswatch movies, or if you’re a nerd like me, read about Chinese linguistics! If you have a hobby, you can find stuff on your hobby in Chinese. e.g. here is a whole cooking channel that is also subbed in English.  DramaFever has, duh, lots of dramas, but is not free. 

I hope that sounds like a setup for success! Here’s some dictionaries: MDGB, HanziCraft, lineDict (let’s you draw characters). If you have a smartphone get Pleco. Here’s a thing that annotates text & has rollover translation: MandarinSpot (maybe get a plug-in if yr into those). Here are general help sites: SayJACK  & Chinese Grammar Wiki. There are so so so many other resources out there, but rather than stockpile them all right now I think it’s better to focus on whatever textbook/system you chose and just start moving. Once you have a little more of a base then look for cool blogs or whatever works well for YOU. 

If there was something more specific you wanted just throw that @ me. If people have suggestions you can send them in and I’ll compile them so we don’t have to reblog this massive thing  くコ:彡  くコ:彡  くコ:彡