Greek keys - circular patterns

Index --- style --- turns --- designs --- compare keys --- corners --- 2 dimensional --- modern --- triangular --- circular --- fractal --- copying --- origins

I've already discussed triangular Greek keys. Another idea is to bend the normal pattern round into a circle rather than a square or rectangle.

How to design a circular Greek Key

How do we design such a Greek key? The normal Greek key has vertical lines and horizontal lines. For a circular pattern, you need concentric circles (circles with the same centre) rather than horizontal lines. The vertical lines are replaced by straight lines radiating out from the centre.

The concentric circles are not too hard. Any software which draws pictures should manage this, even the Paint program which comes free with Windows. You will need to make the thickness of the line as big as the gaps between the lines.

The radiating lines need a little more thought. If you don't have enough concentric circles, then you can always draw some more. But the radiating lines go round in a circle, then go back to where they started. If you have 16 radiating lines, and then try to draw a Greek Key with 5 vertical bars, then there will be one unused line left when you have finished! So you must work out how many vertical lines in a single element of your pattern, then make the number of radiating lines a multiple of these. The pattern to the right has 20 radiating lines, at intevals of 18°.

small circular Greek key border

Another problem is the spacing. Normally, the lines along the bottom of the key are as big as the lines along the top. Once you bend the key into a circle, the outside of the border is bigger than the inside, and if you are too close to the centre, it can look a little odd. Generally, the more key elements you have the better, but these will naturally need more radiating lines, at smaller angles. If you want a small number, it might be best to have 5 keys round the circle rather than 4, as the angles are more pleasing than right angles. The examples below demonstrate this. For the alternative small one, since I am using the same 20 radiating lines, I used a simple key design with 4 verticals rather than 5.

medium circular Greek key border small circular Greek key border

large circular Greek key border

Design your own

If you want to make your own designs, then here is the template that I used. You will need to remove the parts of the template that you don't want. Notice that I have added more lines the further out I go. Too many lines near the centre makes the shapes too squashed. Too few lines round the edge make the keys too stretched out.

circular Greek key template

Here is a multi-coloured template which might make it easier. Save it onto your own computer by right-clicking (click on it with the right button of the mouse, then select the Save or Copy option). Then use a Paint program and the Fill option to wipe out the bits you don't want. Then make the rest all one colour.

circular Greek key template - multi-coloured

How to make an oval border

There is also the possibility of oval Greek keys. It is certainly possible to have concentric ovals. I suspect that it would be easier to make a circular Greek key, then 'stretch' it using Paint software. I have done this to the pattern below.

oval Greek key border