Instructables

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

Featured
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.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
sku1l1 year ago
can tell the name of the store ? :D
cachapa4 years ago
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 Villain4 years ago
i've always wondered why bobble was cross eyed.
pipeski6 years ago
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.

Do you have a homepage or an image gallery online somewhere? I would really like to see how you did the bathroom :)
I didn't incorporate any vieo game characters though :)
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)  pipeski6 years ago
Af funny as useful :) Thank you for the extra info!
Nice job, looks amazing, I would so have to do this if I had tiles for my bathroom.
da rippa7 years ago
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 rippa7 years ago
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!
alliemommy57 years ago
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)  alliemommy57 years ago
You are very welcome :) Thank you for your feedback, and feel free to show me your son's work!
That's awesome. Great for a kid's room. Too bad i don't own a kid. xdoxo
Take a look at the Pixelblocks site, they even have a graphic to pixel converter.

Pixelblocks
zzZoiDzz8 years ago
Where did you get the rest of your supplies as well? =D
zzZoiDzz8 years ago
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
plod8 years ago
Can I get a copy of the net?
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.
linuxdude8 years ago
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 johnbridge.com and then go to the forums if you want ask the experts set tile indoors/outdoors/pools, etc.
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.
Cheyyne8 years ago
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)  Cheyyne8 years ago
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) 8 years ago
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 houdini8 years ago
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 J8 years ago
That is awesome houdini! How did you keep a uniform space between the tiles? Do you plan to mount your mosaic? Where?
houdini (author) 8 years ago
of course radioeyes :) I can't get rid of it now... I plan to get the original game in it's big box!
God, I used to love that game.
radioeyes8 years ago
Let me guess... you had that wonderful bubble-bobble song dancing in your head the whole time!
houdini (author) 8 years ago
Original Design of the Dino for Bubble Bobble. Cuttie isn't it ?