Issue 2005.03    -    Balloon Graphics - 3 Basic Patterns

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One of the simplest, most direct ways to create balloon graphics is to use balloons like colored dots in frameworks laid out in grids of regular shaped openings or "apertures".  While many regular grid patterns are possible, there are just three currently manufactured specifically for balloon graphics.  Each has advantages and disadvantages you should know.

Square Grids Honeycomb (hexagon) Grids Octagon-Square Grids
Square Grids
Which Grid To Use?

Squares have advantages:

Major Axis

  • Squares match commonly available graph  paper for planning. 

  • Squares match bitmap images in computer graphics.

  • Squares work very well for horizontal and vertical lines

Squares have disadvantages:

  • Squares do not match the round shape of most balloons used in balloon graphics. 

  • Squares tend to leave larger gaps between balloons.

  • Square grid frameworks shows more in gaps.

  • Square do not work as well for curved lines

Honeycomb (Hexagon) Grids

Hexagons have advantages:

Major Axis

  • Honeycombs accept round balloons more easily and naturally than squares do. 

  • Honeycombs leave smaller gaps between balloons

  • Honeycombs show less of the framework in gaps.

  • Honeycombs work very well for lines on three axes rather than just two axes.

  • Honeycombs work more easily for curved lines.

Hexagons have disadvantages:

  • Honeycombs pattern graph paper is not so commonly available locally, but it is available for free download off the internet. 

  • Honeycombs require more work to convert computer bitmap images.

  • Honeycombs do not work as well for horizontal and vertical lines within in the same graphic.

Octagon-Square Grids

Octagon-Squares have advantages:

Major Axis

  • Octagon-Squares work very well for horizontal and vertical lines.

  • Octagon-Squares make curved lines more easily than square grids.

  • Octagon-Squares have  built-in apertures for two levels of detail.

    • Use only the octagon apertures to match the detail of square grids or

    • Use  both octagon and square apertures for more coverage, detail and subtlety of design.

  • Octagon-Squares easily accept computer bitmap image conversions.

  • Round balloons fit even more easily and naturally into eight-sided octagons than into four-sided squares or six-sided hexagons. 

  • Octagon-Squares have the smallest gaps between balloons of the three patterns .

  • Octagon-Squares show the least framework in gaps between balloons.

Octagon-Squares have disadvantages:

  • Octagon-Square pattern graph paper is not commonly available, but is available for free download off the internet. 

  • Octagon-Squares require twice as many balloons to fill out the graphic if you take advantage of the small square apertures.


Here are some key steps/questions to determine the best framework for your next balloon graphic:

  1. Try to lay out your design on graph paper matched to a framework you have readily or most economically available.

  2. Then try graph paper for other grid patterns to see if you can improve your results.

  3. Be sure to do the math:

    • What size balloons/apertures work best for your design?

    • How many balloons will it take?

    • How large will the finished design be?

    • How much will it cost?

  4. Is everything you need actually available?

    • Balloons in the right colors & sizes?

    • Framework in the right pattern and aperture size?

    • Equipment and supplies?

  5. Is there help available for unresolved issues?

    • There are advanced techniques available for each of the grid patterns that help overcome disadvantages.  If you cannot figure out how to overcome design problems with you framework of choice, call for help.

  6. lf you still do not have a satisfactory solution, consider a custom framework made just for you.

    • You may be able to assemble a custom framework from sections of different frameworks.

    • You can call on a custom framework specialist to make one for you.

Where Do I Get Them?
  • SQUARE Grids are available from Pioneer Balloon Company and many Pioneer distributors.

  • HONEYCOMB (HEXAGON) Grids are available from Rouse International and some Rouse distributors.

  • OCTAGON-SQUARE Grids are available from Rouse International under the name "ROSA" for Rouse Octagon Square Aperture frameworks.

  • CUSTOM Grids are available from Rouse International.

  • Graph Paper for planning your designs is available:

Betallic Logo in Honeycomb Pattern Framework


First Steps Logo in ROSA Pattern Framework



  Grid Axis Square Circle Triangle