Girih tiles consist of five different shapes which can be combined to create the intricate patterns found decorating Islamic architecture. (see In Medieval Architecture, Signs of Advance Math - The New York Times 2007 for interesting article on girih tiles). A mesmerizing animated applet demonstrates the variety of complex designs possible with these tiles.
Geopersia is a fun online (flash) activity that lets you create designs using Girih tiles. Tiles can be quickly colored, sized and created and dragged onto the screen. They can then be easily dragged rotated into position. Although it’s quick and easy, there are no options to save, or to quickly repeat a pattern. It’s more the program you try out a couple of times for a quick sample, and then move on.
Google SketchUp, a free downloadable program, lets users add a 3D effect girih tile designs. Sketchup has the added advantage of letting users repeat areas of the pattern and save their results. Although SketchUp is primarily a 3D program, it shines in making 2D patterns as well. The downloadable PDF teacher and student guides for using girih in sketchup at Bonnie Roskes’ Sketchup Geometry Project of the Month site (see February 2010) provides excellent background information and pattern suggestions.