One of the modeling/animation tools in Maya is called MASH. Using a single object (a cube in the examples below), a wide variety of patterns can easily be created. Details such as position, rotation and scale can be adjusted along with individual object colors. These are examples of different patterns using the Maya MASH Network tool. These were created for the Advance Rendering Technique course. Videos on how to create them can be found on the SoID Video Library under the Maya & Visual Effects channel.
The different types of MASH nodes that can be added. Many of them are for animations of patterns.