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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How to Mosaic Art : Principles of Opus Pixellatum

This a first post of a series dedicated to my Opus Pixellatum Technique © and the many variations it allows. 

join us in our investigation and experimentation of a new mosaic art technique
Investigating Mosaic Art's Opus Pixellatum

This first post describes the original, basic Opus Pixellatum technique as I designed it, and how I came to realize its dramatic potential. I will systematically address the wealth of phenomenal variations allowed by this technique, one at a time, in my next posts on the subject. 

I originally developed Opus Pixellatum in 2015 to be able to quickly realize a set of big mosaics. Cutting the tiles is a very time consuming activity. I had found with Mosaic Art Supply a reliable source of great quality square glass tiles and I wanted to figure out a way to work exclusively with their tiles, without having to cut them.

It took lots of thinking and experiments. I finally came up with a powerful technique that cut by half the time needed to lay a mosaic. 

Basically Opus Pixellatum is a way to do mosaics using a model that pixellizes an original drawing or picture, just like a digital image is pixellized as a great number of cells aligned on horizontal rows and vertical columns. My goal here is not to explain the process that creates a pixellized model from an original graphic document, but to explain how one builds a mosaic from this model. 

From a picture like this one : 

Original eyes picture used to design mosaic self-portrait model
I designed a model after this original picture of Daniel's eyes

I design a model like this : 

Mosaic Art Self Portrait Model of Eyes Opus Pixellatum
Blank model of Daniel's Eyes

The principle is easy : Each number printed on the model corresponds to a color of a grayscale palette. 

Glass mosaic tiles Seven gray shade palette
7 colors - Grayscale.

If one would lay the tiles in the order of the numbers we would have the following progression : 

Black glass tiles laid on mosaic art model.
Black Tiles are laid

Dark Gray glass tiles laid on mosaic art model
Dark Grays are laid, can you guess ?

three colors laid eyes self-portrait mosaic art image appearing
2 nuances of Gray, now you surely see it...

four colors glass moaic tiles make distinct image
4 colors : Black and 3 Grays, there we are.

five colors glass mosaic tiles laid eyes selfportrait detailed image
5 colors laid.

complete mosaic art eyes self-portrait black white seven shades gray
A perfect 7 colors image.

Practically, you lay all colors at the same time and in order to keep a small grouting gap between the tiles  it is better to first mount every other tiles. 

Laying every other tiles allows more precise positionning

When I first started to use Opus Pixellatum, I was pleased of how fast it was to build a really good looking mosaic. One day I decided to wait until I had fully completed laying half the tiles before I’d start laying the next other ones. And here is what I saw...

Mosaic portrait of a young Yezidi refugee is part of a series to raise funds
Half the tiles are laid on this portrait of a Yezidi refugee.

On this portrait of a young Yezidi refugee only half the tiles had been laid.... Our brains can intuit what the whole picture is... That is flabbergasting  ! 

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I found the key to some really cool mosaic art !

I did not know yet where I was going with that, but I sure intended to seriously investigate this unexpected occurrence !

Here are what Daniel's eyes would look like with half the tiles laid : 

I'll design a custom mosaic pattern of your eyes in Opus Pixellatum
Only half the tiles have been laid on this mosaic portrait

Key to the unlocking of Opus Pixellatum's potential is not so much the fact that it works with half the tiles laid, but that it does with half the tiles NOT laid, and that their spots can be used for something else !

The next posts of this Opus Pixellatum series will explore this. I will systematically explore the subject and will expose each variation in a dedicated post.  

In the meantime, enjoy Daniel's and his mosaic's smiles !

i will design a custom mosaic portrait of your loved one for you to build it.
A very happy Daniel shows off his mosaic self portrait.

I am a French mosaic artist  established in Alabama. In 2015 I created a new mosaic technique. I named  it Opus Pixellatum. When I realized this technique allowed for much more than I was expecting I decided to share it with fellow mosaicists.
If you'd like me to create a model of a custom mosaic pattern from one of your picture for you to build it, please contact me by email at 
or by phone at (334) 798 1639 
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