Required software: Mosaic Creator
Type: Tutorial
Difficulty: Advanced

How to create real tile mosaic:

What do you need?
  1. Some source picture
  2. Some color or grayscale tiles (plastic, ceramics, glass, etc.)
  3. Time and patience

First, some comments to tiles. You need at least 3 colors (or grayscale) tile types. You can do it with 2 tile colors, but usually the more colors you use, the better result you get. You can use any tiles from plastic, ceramic, glass or stones.

If you want use colorfull source picture, you need more colors. You can use any tiles from plastic, ceramics, glass or stones. For this tutorial was used tiles from Ministeck.

1. Prepare cell images

First we need prepare cell images. Cell images are pictures of your tiles. Each one cell image is one tyle color type. If you don't have your tiles or you have pictures of your tiles, you can skip this step.

Place your tiles to some background and take photo (see picture on the left). Then transfer photo to computer and crop each color from photo. Result will be set of cell images. In our tutorial, result is 12 cell images. For each cell image use file name, that you can understand, for example name of color. When you are finished, compare colors of cell images with real tiles. If there is huge difference, try to correct colors in cell images.

NOTE: Some tile images are available from internet, you don't need to prepare cell images from cropped photo.

2. Prepare source picture

Good selection of source picture is important for good mosaic. Source picture require no details, it means that simple pictures are better than some other with difficult details. Good starting source pictures are photos of single person, some simple well known paintings like Mona Lisa, or animals, flowers, etc. Source picture in our example is not best choice /because there are not contrast shapes and colors are very similar. But this picture can also be used as source picture.

3. Mosaic size

If you want to create real tile mosaic, you need to decide, how large mosaic do you want. If you have already bought some tiles, you are limited with number of tiles. If you have not, you can define your
physical size. You can calculate it manually, or you can use Mosaic Creator calculator. When you use some source image like this one in tutorial, recommended starting size is 50 tiles in row or column.

NOTE: If you want to create really large mosaic, it means many thousands of tiles, you need hours and hours to create it.

4. Calculate mosaic

Start Mosaic Creator and load your source picture and cell images. Set your size for tiles and number of tiles. You can use wizard too. You can correct settings, when wizard finished. You can experiment with number of tiles, number of colors and filling options (page Cell filling). You can get many variations for one source picture. There is
no direct recommendation, how to get the best results, you need to visually evaluate results and decide which one is the best.

There are two filling extremes. The first one is on the picture, shapes with similar colors are filled with single color tiles. This filling is good for some mosaic types like cartoon or cliparts, but not photos. Some random factor is recommended. You can control it with Repetition options and Randomized filling. Interesting option is minimal distance between the same cell images. If you have only few colors, don't use this option, result will be very fuzzy (second extreme). Source image is visible, but without details and mosaic is very colourful.

You can use Filling grid option, to limit mosiac filling into defined area. Don't forget, that number of tile colors may change result of mosaic. Click calculate tile price to display list of cell images. There you can see number of used cells and you can remove anyone of selected tile from mosaic.

NOTE: Use color tiles with colors same as colors in source picture. You can use some other colors, but final mosaic will be like modern art.




Play with Mosaic Creator and try to find your best result. It is better to play few minutes before you start to create your real tile
mosaic. Calculating mosaic takes only minutes, but creating real tile mosaic manually take hours. When you are finished, check number of tiles for each cell color. Some tiles may be used only few times and that is not required. You can remove these colors and render mosaic again. When you are finished with mosaic calculation, you can print result picture mosaic, mosaic filling and number of used cell pictures. Now, if you need to order tiles, this is the right time.

5. Creating real tile mosaic

Nothing else but manual work. Small mosaic in this tutorial was created directly from mosaic picture displayed on monitor. If you want
to create large mosaic, more effective is to print mosaic picture on paper. Mosaic in this tutorial is only 50x53 cells large, but it takes 6 hours to finish it.

Compare result of mosaic calculation (left) and result of tile mosaic (right). You can see small differences on bottom left, there were not used dark grey tiles.

Compare source picture (left) and result tile mosaic (right).

NOTE: There is no limit for tile material. But tiles shape should be one of square or rectangle type.

Tips for tiles

Lego for very limited mosaics
Perler beads
and many ceramics or glass tiles, use Google