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The purpose of this instructable is to show you how to design and layout a mosaic from line art. This will be especially useful for anyone creating larger mosaics. And anyone who is leading a mosaic instruction class can follow the steps to create your own design templates for students.

This step-by-step guide illustrates how to design a mosaic using a scanner, source artwork, and a PC with a printer.
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Step 1: Obtain source image.

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Locate a simple line art image you want to use for creating a mosaic. Make it 8x10 in size, super low resolution is ok in this step.

Step 2: Refine Image and make outlines heavier

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Print your image, then with a pencil first, followed by a heavier pen - create your outlined shape.

Step 3: First Trace

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The outlined shape page is set under a sheet of graph or tracing paper. Then you outline that design in pencil - defining the edges of your outlined shape underneath. Please look at the second photo on this page to view the process!

Step 4: Refine Trace 1 - Outlines

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Now sketch out the tile placement for the outlines only.

At this point I stop, make a photocopy of the image and then from then on I continue working off of the copy. This is primarily because I like to have version control with my drawings, and copying and setting aside the working copy at each major design step has it's advantages.

For example, I like to give a client a few options for design, and this streamlines that process by enabling a very methodical approach to creating multiple copies without needing those to be redrawn from scratch or digitally reproduced and altered in an image editor.

Step 5: Ink Outline

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On a photocopy - outline the tile layout in thin sharpie. After you are done outlining the tiles: photocopy again, and set aside the original.

Now its time to play with lines and color. This is where you go wild with options. Make a few copies and determine the highlights and shadows of your piece. I chose to be very specific about the inside-the-lines tile design. You could be freeform here- and just go ahead with the tiling process if you like.
Erchan4 months ago

so cool, so creative tecnique... very instructable

Lizzie Chi5 years ago
do you think this could be done with a sheep shape as well? I'd love to make a sheep (or dachshund) mosaic. Any tips?
aryana (author)  Lizzie Chi5 years ago
: hi there, thank you for the question. Here is what I would do.
 Look online or at the library for a coloring book that has a nice simple picture of a sheep, or daschound. Let a professional artist do the outline- you will focus on the mosaic part. You can reduce the colors to a few between 5-10 is a good amount.

If you don't know how to reduce colors - there is a great free web based tool that I use- for putting more complex images into and getting a nice palette. It's called Vectormagic, go here: for that.

Start with only an outline, that means that you are going to be interpreting the design, and adding your own creativity to the design.

Good Luck!
Thanks Aryana, I'll let you know if it works!
daniel262b6 years ago
nice result! i have some questions: what did you use to glue it on the fiberglass mesh? is the adhesive strong enough to keep the pieces from falling off the mesh while you set it up on a wall? what did you use to break the pieces to the shape you want? just a hammer, or did you use something else?
aryana (author)  daniel262b6 years ago
Hi Daniel! Mesh is for a few reasons: 1. Ease of transportation to install site. 2. Ability to wrap around a curved surface! 3. In this case I could not do my install for a while, so I wanted a mesh instead of rigid backerboard. With the technique I used, I had to transfer it to a surface. That is why I used the mesh. For a direct technique mosaic you can go straight to a mesh, or onto another base material. About the adhesive, I used tile mastic, which IS good for tiling wall or ceiling tile, but NOT good for flexibility. NOW I recommend that if you are going to use fiberglass mesh to be the backing - use either Titebond flooring glue, or DAP plastics flexible adhesive. About the pieces - I used a hammer and hardie, both with a sharp point, and made the shapes by chipping them between the hammer and hardie. These are handmade Italian tools, I got them for a grecoroman mosaic job. They cost about $125, and are amazing tools, I love mine!
JonH2O6 years ago
Why is it glued onto fiberglass mesh?
filpa7 years ago
Thanks so much! I will have some great creative fun with my grandchildren using these ideas - beginning with cardboard mosaic. Who knows where it will lead? filpa
kaickul7 years ago
Great stuff, With the pieces face down onto the cardboard design how did you attach the backsides of the pieces to the mesh in the last picture? I can only guess at a stone epoxy of some kind that would have to leveled off very carefully and quickly... Hope to see more of your work. Later.
aryana (author)  kaickul7 years ago
Hi - I used tile mastic, which I would not reccomend. Mastic is best for rigid environments, and started to crack along the edges when the fiberglass mesh was bent, some pieces fell off. I recomend using thinset, which is the best universal adhesive for mosaic. You can buy white and add color pigment if concerned about thinset showing through the grout. I don't actually recomend doing a mesh mount for reverse technique unless you simply have to, like in the case of a ceiling. I am now using a product called titebond - a flooring adhesive that dries almost clear and super thin for any mesh mounted mosaic work I do.
Good instructable for if you really like to plan out your moasaic. I also make mosaics, but I prefer to free form the layout of the tiles and only plan out the main outline. I print out a line drawing to the size I want and trace the lines onto my source. Then I just fill each section using color tiles work from the edges to the middle thinking of it kind of like a backward puzzle where I cut the pieces to whatever shape feels right.
aryana (author)  shangrilarcadia7 years ago
That is a very efficient way to do it, especially if you like being in the moment with your art!
piper12347 years ago
very nice, i wonder if u can recommend me where can i find about techniques to make a mosaic like that? :)
aryana (author)  piper12347 years ago
My favorite places: the library, and google. If you like this style, of stone work, then look into ancient mosaics on the floor in from Greece, and the Roman Empire. Contact SAMA here in the US - Society of American Mosaic Artists to find artists near you who might teach. BSP - Stay tuned - I'll be putting up my own mosaic how-to.
MrRedBeard7 years ago
You can also use glass which looks awesome. The easiest is to purchase the glass from hobby lobby (comes in sheets) and use a tile cutter to cut the pieces.
aryana (author)  MrRedBeard7 years ago
Question, are you talking about a manual tile score/cutter (looks like a paper cutter) which goes for $15-30 american, or the motorized tile saw? I have not thought about sawing glass before, I guess a diamond blade would work? Anyone have experience with this?
It looks like a hand sized hedge trimmer but it's made for cutting like 45 degree angles off corners of tile.
aryana (author)  MrRedBeard7 years ago
i see - thanks.
Anything that will cut tile or glass will do the job. Looks awesome by the way. And for anyone else if you're in doubt just wait till the grout is laid it will really bring out the design and colors.
laernmoer7 years ago
I've seen cardboard mosaics done in a similar fashion (mostly for kids to be quick and easy) Using cardboard that's been painted (bucket paint and rollers works best) paint out sheets of cardboard with different colors, then cut them into small pieces, Use the same instructions as above and you can let kids make mosaics. It all depends on their patience and desire, of course, but it's good refrigerator artwork.
aryana (author)  laernmoer7 years ago
I like this idea- especially with the combination of the teacher pre-designing one mosaic, photocopies & handing it out to the class - then they assemble their own custom colored mosaic using the colored pre-cut pieces of board, tile, etc....
boocat7 years ago
Marvelous! Thank you so much.
aryana (author) 7 years ago
Thanks all for the wonderful feedback! I am going to get back into the studio now with instructables in stay tuned for more mosaic related instructables.
Goodhart7 years ago
The explanation is clear and concise and the method is pretty much "do-able" by anyone. Bravo ! Ben compiuta!
uguy7 years ago
Excellent iBle, thanks for sharing.
Lftndbt7 years ago
Nice work! Like the design too! :)
This is really good, I'm planning a mosaic for the garden next year, thanks, I can now get myself organised
Nice Instructable! Thanks for sharing :)
pingeee7 years ago
well done!