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How to Make a Mosaic

Let’s talk about art. For the past several weeks I’ve been driven to try something new — transfer a digital image to a hangable piece of mosaic art. I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of stuff, with people using Legos and whatnot, but the process is proving more complicated than originally anticipated. I started with this simple cropped photo of a horse, then reduced it to 40×40 pixels and eight colors:


Eventually I’d like to render the horse in painted wood balls. Or maybe beads if the balls don’t work. This will require a large but still manageable amount of pieces — 1,600 to be exact. At that point what I needed most is a Photoshop plugin that tells you how many pixels of each color an image contains. Far as I know, such a thing doesn’t exist. I’ve also tried various online ASCII art doodads to translate the pixels to text, but those didn’t work out they way I wanted. Finally I ended up enlarging the image to 400×400 pixels (as seen above), overlaying a grid in Photoshop, then printing a screen grab of the gridded horsie (because Photoshop doesn’t allow grids to be printed; see, I told you it was complicated). The next step will be roughly calculating how much of each color I need, then actually doing it. Piece by piece, line by line. Exactly how is something I haven’t quite figured out yet. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I came across a few helpful links during my research. Adam Kempa’s archived weblog post on how he made an awesome bottle cap mosaic really inspired me, since the older Lego mosaic he refers to in the post was one of the original sparks for this project. The post contains many neat links to other mosaic projects. The article on making a Lego mosaic was also very helpful, although it references a piece of software made only for Windows users.

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