Introduction: Mosaic Tile Pixel Art Car

About: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.

This is a great "first art car". Glass mosaic tiles are inexpensive, easy to use and durable.

I was inspired by pixel art in general, the artist Invader, and my own work in pixel art. You can make any classic pattern or pixel art you like with the tiles.

I started out doing just a small panel on the car and then I expanded it later. I really like the look of the mosaic tiles. I live in an area with winter weather & road salt, so I also needed an art style that would last through this.

Step 1: What You Need

Mosaic Tiles

I used 20mm square tiles, which come in about 50 colors. There's other sizes and shapes available.

Some sources:

Silicone Adhesive

Use a 100% Silicone adhesive for outdoor applications. I used "GE Silicone 1 clear for windows". A 300ml tube will cover about 30cm x 30cm tile area. Get at least 1 extra tube just in case. Silicone adhesive lets the metal & glass expand and contract over the seasons, without cracking.

Measuring Tape and Straight Edge

Marking Pen

Flat-blade hobby knife

Lots of paper towels

Step 2: Plan Things Out

Plan your art on a table. Measure how big it is to make sure it will fit. Some of my ideas were too big for the rear panel of the car and will need to wait for the next phase!

You can find lots of pixel art using google image search, an

Step 3: Mark Some Guide Lines

Choose a body panel on the car

Clean & dry the car surface

Guide lines will let you keep the tiles straight as the artwork expands.

Use a marking pen and straight edge to mark some level guide lines on the car body. At first I drew a full grid for the first small section, but you don't need this many lines. Spacing the guide lines about 10cm apart is enough. I also measured where the major elements of the artwork would go and marked the borders to be sure they would fit.

Step 4: Weather

Cool weather will give you a lot more working time with the adhesive. I did the first section in the summer and could only place 4 - 6 tiles before the adhesive would start to form a skin. I finished the rest of the panel in late fall, and was able to place 20 - 30 tiles at a time.

Also, make sure it isn't going to rain in the next 12 hours!

Step 5: De-clutter Car Body

Remove any marketing junk installed by the car manufacturer. It will give you more room for your fabulous art. These things usually are just stuck on, you can pry off and then clean the surface with a kitchen scrubber.

Step 6: Stick on Your Tiles

Apply a fat line of glue to the car body, 10 - 20cm long.

Push the tiles into the glue and press each one down until glue squishes out all 4 sides. To avoid air pockets under the tiles, I used excess glue. Use a lot of glue!

Don't worry about the glue squishing out between the tiles, we'll clean it up after its dry. The work will go a lot slower if you try to use only just enough glue.

Depending on the weather, you'll be able to stick between 5 and 20 tiles before the glue starts to get a "skin".

Apply the tiles in rows.

Step 7: Clean Up the Excess

After the glue is dry, use a flat-blade hobby knife to slice off the excess. You'll need to go over every edge with the knife.

After that, I scrubbed the tile surfaces with a rough kitchen scrubber to remove "silicone fingerprints" i'd left on the tile surfaces.

Step 8: Seal the Edges

Clean up the edges of the mosaic with a hobby knife, then seal around the edges.

Step 9: It's Done!

Step 10: You Can Start Small

At first I only made the small section shown here. I left it on the car for 4 months before I started the full panel mosaic. To add to the existing mosaic, just trim the silicone at the edges down to a fresh clean surface so the new silicone will stick to it.

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