How did the leopard get it’s spots?

Complex patterns in nature form from simple rules, repeated over time and space.

Based on Turing’s model of animal fur pattern formation, we created this spots and stripes art project. Here’s a computer model of spots and stripes formation based on Turing’s model. Here’s a variation on the model, spots and stripes with color zones, that produces not only spots and stripes but a pattern of colors as seen on the Side-Blotched Lizard (featured in one of our Beautiful Discovery Boxes). See our page on lizards for more on spots on lizards, including a simple model of the dissolution of spots on certain lizards.

Similar to the Turing model is a reaction-diffusion model, a chemical oscillator, called the B-Z reaction.

We will continue to produce art projects to accompany our game models and pattern puzzles. A theme we pursue both in art and modeling lessons is abstraction, simplification that captures the essence.

Here is a snapshot from Kathy’s  lesson on scaling, enlarging, a pattern. The general idea is to use a photo you like of any natural pattern, zoom in on a section using a grid and copy the contents, cell by cell, to a larger grid.
We also study patterns from the point of view of the artist, taking a very closeup view contrasted with distant view, at different levels of abstraction. Above is Kathy’s paintings of closeup patterns on a flicker and a loon.