MosaicBlues: April 2017 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

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  ! 

Want to learn more about mosaic art sign for my newsletter.
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 
 You can also subscribe to my   

Monday, April 10, 2017

3 ways to improve your Mosaic Art Models

In March 2017, during our first Mosaic Art Fiesta I introduced Opus Pixellatum to a group of confirmed mosaic artists. They had traveled from all over the USA to the Mosaic Art Supply warehouse in Decatur, Georgia.

In Opus Pixellatum you build your Mosaic exclusively with square tiles of the same dimensions. There is no cutting. The tiles are arranged on pattern of rows and columns in the same manner as the pixels of a digital photography. 

We create custom mosaic models from your picture.
Model of a Yezidi Warrior mosaic eyes portrait.

2 weeks ahead of the seminar the participants had sent me pictures of their faces and I created a model so they could build a mosaic portrait of their eyes during the seminar.

An Opus Pixellatum model looks like a spreadsheet. Each cell bears a number corresponding to a color of a tile to be glued on that spot. Although this sounds a lot like “Mosaic by Number”,  I came to realize through my experimentation with this method during the past 18 month that Opus Pixellatum allows for many dramatic variations.

You can create a mosaic portrait of your eyes, we create the model for you.
Blue Carole, Mosaic Eyes Portrait being built.

With Opus Pixellatum the Mosaic artist can unleash her creativity in ways a more classical Opus Tesselatum approach does not allow. This will be the object of future posts.

While I was generating the models, I realized that the quality of the original picture has a great influence on the final result.

For this seminar, we were working with a grayscale palette composed of 7 nuances : Black, White, and 5 nuances of Gray.

From your picture we create a mosaic art model
Grayscale palette, 8mm elementile tiles from Mosaic Art Supply

I have realized many mosaics with this very accurate palette.

we will create a model or a mosaic portrait of your own eyes from your picture.
Yezidi 37, Opus Pixellatum mosaic portrait of a Yezidi Warrior

So you want your well balanced original to actually display a wide array of grayscale. If the contrast is too high, you might end up with only 2 or 3 nuances of gray. This is acceptable on a smaller mosaic but a bigger piece will look much better with the 5 nuances of gray.

When you create your model, the first operation is to turn the picture from Color to Black and White. Often named “Desaturation” this operation can be performed in many different ways, with different results as you can see here.

Quality of original picture conditions the aesthetic of your custom mosaic model
Original photography & 3 types of desaturation.

A black and white picture cannot be desaturated because it already is. You can alter it in different ways, but you wont have the same array of choices you have when you desaturate yourself. 

Advice # 1 : Start from a color picture.

In order to show all the nuances of your grayscale palette in a balanced way, your original picture should not be too contrasted. It is very easy to boost the contrast of a picture but it is more difficult to decrease it without losing accuracy of the features.

Advice # 2 : Shoot your picture outdoors when the sun is low on the horizon (morning or evening).  An overcast day is perfect. Alternatively, ask a professional photographer to do this for you in a studio.

Format :
The best format to create a model is PNG. Most cameras shoot JPG (or JPEG) pictures. JPG files do not take much storage space but every time you modify a JPG picture, you lose some of its quality. So before you work on the picture first save it as a PNG file. Alternatively if you send me a picture to create a model, please send me the original picture – even a JPG - without editing it.

Advice #3 : Use PNG files

Basically, to get the best possible quality for your model :
  • Shoot your picture outdoor in the morning, evening or with an overcast sky.
  • Send me your original color picture without cropping or editing it. 
  • Send it as a PNG file

From your colored photography we design a custom mosaic model you.
2 different mosaic eyes realized in Atlanta last March

Mosaic sometimes can be intimidating. Opus Pixellatum is the easy door into this wonderful world. It allows beginners to build beautiful first mosaics from the beginning, and confirmed artist to unleash their creativity in amazing ways. If you would like to build a mosaic from your own picture, I'll build for you a kit including a model and the quantities and references of the tiles to order from Mosaic Art Supply in Atlanta, GA.
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 confirmed mosaicists.
If you'd like me to create a model of a custom mosaic pattern from one of your picture, please contact me by email at 
or by phone at (334) 798 1639 
You can also subscribe to my   Mosaic Newsletter

Saturday, April 1, 2017

2017 Spring Mosaic Art Fiesta

The First Mosaic Fiesta was held last March 24, 25 and 26 in Decatur, GA.

The event co-hosted by Joe Moorman and Frederic Lecut, from Mosaic Art Supply and MosaicBlues was attended by confirmed mosaicists from all over the USA.

We all met Friday night in a local restaurant.

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 students at meet and greet dinner in Decatur

And got started Saturday at 10:00 AM.

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 students arrive at Mosaic Art Supply

The goal of the event was to introduce my Opus Pixellatum technique to a group of confirmed mosaicists.

Each participant had send me a picture of their eyes or face 2 weeks ahead of the event and I had prepared a model of their eyes. They would realize an actual mosaic of those eyes during the week end.

Eyes for mosaic art portrait

I had also brought with me all supplies and tools necessary for the work : Grout, Glues, Tweezers, Mounted Backing boards...

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 Materials and Tools at Studio

The tiles were available from Mosaic Art Supply.

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 gorgeous glass tiles at the warehouse

I had previously organized many workshops, community projects and classes so people would discover mosaics. It is a much different feeling to be working with people who have for some of them many years of experience in the trade. They are interested in the matters, and their questions are always pertinent !

Everyone had an idea about the principle of Opus Pixellatum. My goal was to get them to practice, and get a first taste of the many wonderful variations allowed by this dramatic technique. 

Everyone got to work

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 Students lay Tesserae
Daniel Baxley and Sandra Atherton at the beginning.

By laying every other tile... Which allows for a much easier, more accurate laying. 

Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 alternative tesserae tiles laying
Amy Galbavy has laid about 25 % of her tiles.

And later allows the mosaicist to unleash her creativity in many directions...

Once laid half the tiles in grayscale, you realize you already can see the portrait you have been building. So you now can fill up the remaining holes with any color you'd like to use. No matter what you do, the original pattern is already there. 

As we were building eyes portraits, I suggested to use irridescent tiles to highlight the irises of the eyes...


Mosaic Art Fiesta 2017 Student Eyes Self Portrait
A happy Daniel Baxley and his mosaic ready to mount

By the middle of the afternoon, we were ready to glue our mosaics on their supports.

Student applies grout Mosaic Eye Portrait
Daniel Adams, cleaning up the glue.

Everyone went back to their hotels around 6:30 pm, having spent about 7 hours on their mosaics. 

Mosaic Art FIesta 2017 Complete Eyes Mosaic Portrait

Sunday morning, we grouted our pieces.

While the grout was setting I explained how to create an Opus Pixellatum model from a picture. I answered many questions, and finally proposed to build models for those of them who would like me to do so. The offer was appreciated.


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 confirmed mosaicists.

If you'd like to learn more about Opus Pixellatum, or  would like me to create a model of a custom mosaic pattern from one of your picture, please contact me by email at 
or by phone at (334) 798 1639 

You can also subscribe to my  
Mosaic Newsletter