How to Create a Harlequin Pattern

There is something so elegant about a harlequin pattern. I love creating it on my pieces for a fancy style that compliments a lot of my designs. I’ve tried quite a few techniques when it comes to doing a harlequin pattern on furniture. I have used a ruler and drawn the lines and then painted within by hand. This takes a steady hand and lots of patience. Though I find it meditative to do it this way, I can understand why that may not be a preferred method for you. Yes, there are harlequin stencils you can buy and use. I’ve been asked why don’t I just stencil it?


The benefit of using my harlequin tape or ruler method is that you can customize it to fit the proportions of the surface area you are covering so they don’t look too large or small for the piece. It’s possible to get clean and crisp lines with a stencil, but it takes some practice to do without getting bleed through. Plus, I always get a thrill peeling off the painter’s tape to reveal the diamonds like magic. I find my tape method to be effective and relatively simple on a flat surface. You can do it on a curved surface but it does take some practice to get the tape to lay flat and at the points, you want to meet at each end of the square of a rectangle.


It’s a bit of basic geometry to create a harlequin pattern. You want to imagine a square or the rectangle on the surface of where you are painting the pattern. Depending on whether your surface is more of a square or rectangle the height and width of your diamonds will vary. You want to start with a master line from which all your other lines will use as a marker. The master lines will be from point A to B and from point C to D. You can use a ruler and draw the line or this is where you will tape to create a perfect line that reaches each opposite point.

See how the diamonds have now formed? So when you paint in the untaped spaces it will form the diamond you see. If using a ruler your lines will look like this and you simply will paint in every adjoining diamond going across and vertical thus giving you the harlequin pattern. You will than do step 2 which is taping over the diamonds you just painted after they have dried so you are not painting over them again and instead of the ones adjacent that form a harlequin pattern. After doing step 2 you will have your perfect harlequin pattern.

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