Mining beauty in Kaleidoscopia

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a tutorial about creating kaleidoscopic patterns on Digital Photography School. On that same day there was a lecture about symmetry by Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies, on Dutch TV (it’s in Dutch, but very visual, so you may enjoy it even if you don’t understand a word)

Can that be a coincidence? Yes, I guess it can. But it sure is remarkable


To briefly summarize the tutorial: by copying, mirroring and rotating images in Photoshop and by using the Lighten blending mode you can fabricate wonderful symmetrical kaleidoscopic patterns. This short animation shows the principle:


And to briefly summarize Professor Dijkgraaf’s lecture: symmetry occurs in all sorts of ways in nature, from snowflakes to starfishes and from decorative fireworks to our own bodies. Symmetry brings order, regularity and predictability to our lives. Symmetry is therefore also a frequently used principle in art, architecture and music.

Colorful kaleidoscopic symmetric pattern made in Photoshop based on a photograph of a tree with red berries in autumn


It is a pleasant pastime to play with Photoshop on a chilly rainy Sunday afternoon, assembling symmetrical patterns. Soon however, it becomes clear that not every picture lends itself equally well to creating a kaleidoscopy. Sometimes the result is breathtaking, sometimes it is, well, just a bit weird.

Two examples of a kaleidoscopy: a symmetric pattern made by copying, mirroring and rotating a photgraph in Photoshop


To make it easier to see if a picture is suitable for kaleidoscopying, I created a Photoshop action. That is a kind of script that performs a series of operations automatically. I even made a few different actions, in order to be able to generate various patterns from the same picture.

A photograph of an oak tree in autumn transformed into six different kaleidoscopic patterns


When I then had those actions do their thing on a folder with autumn photos, a reservoir of beauty broke open. I was flooded with hundreds of beautiful psychedelic patterns. It felt a bit like mining bitcoins: putting the computer to work to create value from ones and zeroes.


It was my privilege to pick the best ones and to give them names. Eventually I came to a selection of 49 artworks, collected below on a quilt. Or on a wall with tiles, if that’s what you want to see in it.

49 multicolored kaleidoscopic patterns like tiles on a wall

Duvet covers

These patterns are of course very suitable for printing on duvets, towels, curtains and pillows. And that’s great because my webshop at has those items in store. Who would not want to sleep under such a kaleidoscopic duvet cover? Guaranteed to benefit the quality of your sleep or of any other bedroom activities.

Three duvet covers with colorful harmonious symmetric kaleidoscopic patterns printed on them


And where else are the harmony and balance of a symmetrical pattern more appropriate than in a yoga class? Ideal therefore for a print on a yoga mat:

Five yoga mats with colorful harmonious symmetric kaleidoscopic patterns printed on them

Da beach

And although it is early January and a few degrees above zero at the time of writing of this blog post, I nevertheless want to conclude with a few kaleidoscopic beach towels. After all, we are slowly heading back to summer. Add the sand and the sunshine yourself:

Four beach towels with colorful harmonious symmetric kaleidoscopic patterns printed on them

Read more:
Springtime in Kaleidoscopia: Mandalas and Milky Ways
Four Seasons of Botanic Digital Art from Kaleidoscopia

Frans Blok

My work explores the border regions of photography, painting and computer visuals. With my company 3Develop I do work in commission but I use the same techniques, skills and software to make free work. I am originally an architect and I live in Rotterdam; for that reason the architecture of that city is a major (but not the only) source of inspiration. But also travel to countries like Iceland and Britain, or walks in the Netherlands, provide much material. Seeing and showing quality and beauty, that is what my work is about.

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