Introduction: DIY Video Game Character Mosaic: Bubble Bobble (w/pics)

Picture of DIY Video Game Character Mosaic: Bubble Bobble (w/pics)

How I was inspired by former street artist "Invader" to realize a mosaic with one of my favorite video game character, the Bubble Bobble litle green dinosaur!
Some capitals such as New York, London or paris, are covered with a beautiful and quite hyper resistant street art project called "Invasion", made by... "Invader". This consit in reproducing pixel-drawings (also named as "sprites" in the video game industry) with mosaic and stick it on the walls, in the streets. invader has a simple technique : he is using a glue that is more solid and resistant than the tiles itself, so any attempt to steal these pieces of street art remain unsuccessful. Quite clever!
Knowing nothing about how to do tiles mosaic and where to by the stuff, I started to do some searchs on google image to find an appropriate drawing to convert into mosaic. With a bit of luck I knew I could find one that will exactly fit my wills : not too small, and not to large. A 25x25 tiles mosaic was my absolute limit as it's already involving 625 tiles.
I finally failed in google images, and before starting to convert a bigger image into a smaller one, I did some extra effort to find an original sprite with the size I wanted (pixel design is so well done that I couldn't expect to get the same quality by myself). I finally found the exact 18x18 pixels image I wanted, in a backup of a nintendo GameBoy Advance cartrige. I had to extract the content and one particular design on a splash screen fitted my needs perfectly. I can't reproduce the drawing here as it's strongly under copyright.

Step 1: Sketching the Mosaic - Tiles Count, Color Selection

Picture of Sketching the Mosaic - Tiles Count, Color Selection

I then reproduced the drawing on my notebook with stabilo pens, adapting the colors to the simple colors possible, as I didn't know at this time the choice of color i will have for the tiles. I ended up with 5 different colors, and one color for the background. I had another version with two different greens but this one was working pretty well so I went for the simplicity. I then decided to ad a 1 tile frame around the drawing and started to count the number of tiles for each color.
For my 18x18 mosaic I needed : 20 orange tiles, 26 yellow tiles, 16 black tiles, 63 green tiles and 36 white tiles. I also needed 162 tiles for the background, for a grand total of 324 tiles.

I then started to look for the material. I did researchs, I found mainly the Briare's tiles in every shop, which are very expensive ($180+ for the tiles), so after a few weeks i put the project in standby. One year later, I finally found the appropriate materials at a decent price.

Step 2: Material - 350+ Tiles for Less Than $17

Picture of Material - 350+ Tiles for Less Than $17

Recently, I found the tiles in a big art store, with a very cool price of 2€ for 100g wich means approximatively 36 pieces for 2€ ($1.7). The choice was pretty large, with almost 5 possible variants per color. i chose a light gray for the background and took the exact quantities I needed, plus 10 tiles by color : the tiles are made of glass, and are very very fragile until they are all sticked together. You have to take many many precaution, such as not throwing them in the plastic bg when you are selecting them in the shop. manipulate with extreme care or you will break a bit of most of them.
I also discovered a great mosaic shop for professionnals and people. The prices were just a bit higher, but I could find there advices on how to fix my mosaic : I bought a plastic net to fix the tiles on and a tube of Neopren glue, which I recommand, especially if you want to put your mosaic in a bathroom or anywhere outdoor.
I also bought this special paper you use while baking, when you don't want your cake to attach! It prevents the glue to attach on the table where you wil fix the mosaic.

But let's forget the net, the glue and the paper and play with the tiles...

Step 3: Assembly the Mosaic

Picture of Assembly the Mosaic

This is the fun part!
I first did the mosaic reversed, tiles upside down, to prepare myself to the work. It was very fun and when it was done, I was quite satisfied with the result. You can see on the first pictures than the side with the stripes is the side that has to be sticked on the wall. The stripes are here to make the glue penetrate better.
One it was done, I now had to stick it on a net. When it's sticked on a net, it is ready to be sealed on a wall: you just put your cement glue on the wall and apply the whole mosaic, net included. The net will disapear in the cement of course. If you have large mosaic, you can prepare them on squares of max. 30x30 tiles and assemble them later.

Let's glue the dino baby!

Step 4: Final Mosaic: the Gluing

Picture of Final Mosaic: the Gluing

Allright, now respect these steps.
1 - place the paper on the table. Don't save it, you'll be able to reuse the leaves.
2 - place the net on the paper
3 - put a bit of glue on a tile (stripped side) and place it on the net, the glue on the net's side.
4 - now for the next tiles, put a bit of glue direclty on the net and gantly place the tiles on the glue drops.
...and repeat 4 until the mosaic is finished ! It will need 12 hours+ to dry completely. After that, the tiles are very very well fixed on the net. You can still remove them to correct a mistake, but it not always that easy.
Also think to work in a big enough space with opened windows.. after 324 tiles, I was quite dizzy with the Neopren vapors, I was giggling silliy :)

Gently place your tiles on the net, helping you with a ruler and the net grid to let litle regular spaces between each tile: it's very important that the glue or cement fill this space when placed on a wall, or the mosaic won't be that much solid and resistant.

Now let's see the final result!

Step 5: Result - the Complete Mosaic

Picture of Result - the Complete Mosaic

Here it is!

I also did myself a Space invader one, just for fun :)

Enjoy, and good work!



sku1l (author)2013-06-22

can tell the name of the store ? :D

cachapa (author)2010-10-20

Hello, do you think its necesary to leave a space between the tiles?, from what Ive seen of Invader mosaics, he doesnt seem to leave any.

An Villain (author)2010-04-10

i've always wondered why bobble was cross eyed.

pipeski (author)2008-02-07

I tiled my entire bathroom with this type of tile - 25 square metres if remember correctly. That's something like 160,000 tiles.

Just at add a few extra snippets of information:...

The tiles can be bought in sheets of 25x25 in most tiling stores. Topps Tiles in the UK have them, as do many of the 'tile warehouse' places. If you're planning to buy a lot, ALWAYS negotiate a discount. If you buy by the sheet you're likely to get a full 225 tiles for the same money as those 36, but you will be limited by the available colours. The sheets I bought were in 5 shades of grey from black to white, so they're ideal for greyscale images. For full-colour images you'll need to buy a mix of sheets.

The tiles are glass. They can be cut if necessary using a 'score and snap' style hand tile cutter - I probably had to cut around 500 individual tiles to fit the various corners of the room, and yes, it took forever, and a lot of blood was shed.

For a bathroom you need a waterproof adhesive that specifically says it's suitable for mosaic tiles. The same goes for the grout. Don't be tempted to use a generic 'fix and grout' product, especially if the tiles area is likely to get wet.

Use a special adhesive spreader designed for mosaic tiles - these have a closer spacing and apply a thinner layer of adhesive. Be very careful not to leave any adhesive 'squished out' between tiles - it tends to dry a darker colour than the grout and looks bad.

Oh, one final piece of advice - don't try to tile a whole room this way, unless you really have a lot of time to spare, or you're stupid like me.

denkbert (author)pipeski2009-08-31

Do you have a homepage or an image gallery online somewhere? I would really like to see how you did the bathroom :)

pipeski (author)denkbert2009-08-31

I didn't incorporate any vieo game characters though :)

pipeski (author)denkbert2009-08-31

Alas! I sold my old house in May, and I didn't have a wide-angle lens for a good picture.

A lot of people have done similar things though. There's an example here and another here.

houdini (author)pipeski2008-02-07

Af funny as useful :) Thank you for the extra info!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-08

Nice job, looks amazing, I would so have to do this if I had tiles for my bathroom.

da rippa (author)2007-09-19

Sound like you're looking for tile spacers. They have a type that very tiny rubber wedges, you could get 1/16 inch spacing with them. You can pick them up at most hardware stores. I was thiniking though, what if at each tile spacing you put nail at your boarder, then ran a approprately thick wire from nail to nail. Then you could have reuseable grid that you could hopefully just drop you tiles into... Great instructable by the way.

houdini (author)da rippa2007-09-19

Thank you. I had spacers, litle crosses made of plastic. I also sometime use some matches to keep spaces straight. But this time the grid was obvious to read in the net, and the glue ws slow enough to adjust over a few minutes. I am in contact with a guy that proposed to cut out a grid from a whole metal leaf with a laser cutter machine. pretty industrial but i am eager to see the result :D take care and thank you a lot for your advices!

alliemommy5 (author)2007-07-01

This is a wonderful idea. My son is a very creative 8 year old and he is into pokemon and nintendo. He is always looking for ways to create his favorite characters. We have just introduced him to polymer clay and that went over well! I am going to have him try this mossaic and see if he takes to it!! Thank you for sharing!! -allie

houdini (author)alliemommy52007-07-01

You are very welcome :) Thank you for your feedback, and feel free to show me your son's work!

chenkerchops (author)2007-02-08

That's awesome. Great for a kid's room. Too bad i don't own a kid. xdoxo

blueroomelectronics (author)2006-11-17

Take a look at the Pixelblocks site, they even have a graphic to pixel converter.


zzZoiDzz (author)2006-10-15

Where did you get the rest of your supplies as well? =D

zzZoiDzz (author)2006-10-15

Hi, love the mosaic. I am currently trying to follow this guide to make my own and was wondering where exactly you got the tiles from? or even better perhaps a company name or model# for those specific cheap ones? The local art shop here wants way to much money so im currently looking online for these. Thanks for sharing your work! Peace

plod (author)2006-08-29

Can I get a copy of the net?

suspicious chicken (author)2006-08-13

I once visited a tile factory and observed the way they made pre-assembled mosaic patterns. Their technique would speed the process considerably. First - fabricate a wood grid to assist in layout and spacing. Basically this is just a sheet of plywood with this strips of wood glued down in a grid to match the desired grout spacing. Strips of wood are shorter than the tile is thick, so they won't protrude. Apply a few coats of wax to the wood grid to make any future glue clean-up easy. Second - layout all the tiles upside down in the grid - the wood strips hold everything in place, perfectly spaced and oriented. Third - put liquid glue in a tray and dip the whole net in it. I am not sure what glue they use, but it was "watery" not too thick. Fourth - lay net on top of upside-down tiles. Fifth - place a sheet of wax paper on top of the glued net, place a board on top of that, and flip the whole thing over. Remove wooden grid from face, make any minor corrections to tile rotation/spacing as desired, set tiles aside to dry. Sixth - use rescued wood layout grid to start over! Goes quickly - you can stack a bunch of mosaics up to dry in no time at all.

linuxdude (author)2006-08-11

You set the wall indoors or outdoors with a white thinset (modified in a bag such as versabond, ultraflex, etc).. Do not use premixed thinset (mastic) unless you want it to come off later easily or even on its own. You then use a modified cement or epoxy grout to fill in the cracks and sponge it, again do not use premixed crap. Go to and then go to the forums if you want ask the experts set tile indoors/outdoors/pools, etc.

linuxdude (author)linuxdude2006-08-11

You might wanna put a little redgard or some other paint on membrane on that concrete wall if you think it might crack...otherwise the crack might transport itself to you mosaic...if you dont think it will crack (old wall no cracks already in it), then you are good with just the thinset. If you want a permanent install that is. 3/16 or 1/4" square notch trowel to put on the thinset.

Cheyyne (author)2006-08-04

Don't know if you'd know or not, but... PURELY ACADEMICALLY, of course... What type of cement / fixative would you use to throw this up outdoors, on a cement wall? Should you frame it or do anything extra in that case?

houdini (author)Cheyyne2006-08-11

This will depend of the place you put this, but basically classics cements will be ok : for example in a bathroom, the cement used for tiles is perfect. To put it outdoor, in a public place, you will chose a kind of cement called "glue", with a very fast fixation. The good thing with this is the glue or cement, once dry, is more solid than the tiles, so any attempt to steal the artwork will fail, the tiles will break one by one. To glue it on a wall, don't frame it : put the cement on the wall and then put the whole artwork on the cement, grid included. remove the extra cement with a sponge. You will then use a different cement for joints (a white one preferably).

houdini (author)2006-07-16

Hi Angry J., pleased that you liked it :) Actually I didn't use any tool to set the space betzeen tiles... I did it by hand because the girl who sold me the net (grid) said I will succeed in it by hand... so I tried and it came out pretty fine. I was just helped by the grid itself. I have to say I am looking for a better technique, because this one work but it's long. I know that proffessional tilers use some litle crosses they put at each intersection. I don't know if some very litle does exist. I will let you know. I just offered this mosaic to a friend who is a gigantic bubble bobble fan. He is trying to buy a house. I guess when he will have found it we will mount it outside on a wall or in the bathroom... I will then add a new step to my instructable :)

Angry J (author)houdini2006-07-18

I showed my wife your work and she was equally impressed. We're now seriously considering our own project inspired by yours. This is truly the coolest thing I've seen all month.

Angry J (author)2006-07-14

That is awesome houdini! How did you keep a uniform space between the tiles? Do you plan to mount your mosaic? Where?

houdini (author)2006-07-11

of course radioeyes :) I can't get rid of it now... I plan to get the original game in it's big box!

fungus amungus (author)2006-07-11

God, I used to love that game.

radioeyes (author)2006-07-10

Let me guess... you had that wonderful bubble-bobble song dancing in your head the whole time!

houdini (author)2006-07-10

Original Design of the Dino for Bubble Bobble. Cuttie isn't it ?

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