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TurboMosaic Help: Learn to Make Photo Mosaics

by TurboMosaic Team | Last updated Jan. 23, 2017

photo mosaic help

Table of Contents

Quick Start Video (Must Watch)

This video gives a brief overview of TurboMosaic. The video uses Mac OS X software for the demo, but it can be used by Windows users as well because the Windows PC software has similar user interface and functionality.

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Recommendations for Main Picture

An image with intricate patterns, tiny text, many people, or little contrast doesn't work well as the main picture. On the other hand, face closeup’s, simple logos, photos of large objects, and pictures with a lot of color variation work quite well.

Examples of bad main pictures

Bad Source Picture for Photo Mosaic

A picture with multiple people and tiny faces.

Bad Source Picture for Photo Mosaic

An image with very low color contrast.

Examples of suitable main pictures

Good Source Picture for Photo Mosaic

Close-up of a face.

Good Source Picture for Photo Mosaic

A Large bird with good color contrast.

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Recommendations for Tile Pictures

A large number of tile pictures with a broad range of colors work well because this allows better cell mapping with the main image.

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Cell Style

You can select a Rectangular, Hexagonal, Circular, or Diamond cell for your mosaic. Here’s a sample close-up photo of mosaics made using these types of cells.

Photo Mosaic Cell Styles
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How to crop/adjust a picture in its cell

Starting from version 3.6.2 and newer, TurboMosaic allows you to crop a picture in its cell. Follow these steps:

1. Click the cell to select the picture.
2. Use the crop button.

Crop picture in its cell
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Cell Size When Using Rectangular Cells

Rectangular tile cells can have an aspect ratio of 1 : 1 (Square), 4 : 3, 3 : 4, 3 : 2, 2 : 3, 16 : 9, and 9 : 16. Here’s a sample photo mosaic with 3 : 2 cells:

Photo Mosaic with 3:2 Rectangular Cells

Pictures that have a different aspect ratio are automatically center cropped for example the following sample photo shows how a picture will be automatically cropped for a 1 : 1 cell.

Center Cropping Tile Picture
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Number of Tiles

You might like to go for a large number of smaller cells or a small number of bigger cells. You can increase/decrease the number of cells in your mosaic as per your requirement.

In mosaics with Rectangular cells, you can increase/reduce the number of rows and columns. If you’re using Hexagonal or Circular cells, you can straight away increase or decrease the number of cells in your mosaic.

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Tile Spacing & Background

Usually, you’d make a mosaic with no spacing between tiles.

But, you can spice up your mosaic by adding a little spacing with a background color or the main picture to show through this space.

Here’s a sample mosaic using Hexagonal tiles and black background color showing through the space between tiles:

Photo Mosaic with Cell Spacing
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Cell Colorization

We try hard to map the source image with the tile pictures, but our vast experience shows that sometimes it isn’t possible to do this well — this mostly happens when the tile pictures don’t have enough variety in colors for proper cell mapping.

For example, if your tile pictures are all dark in color whereas the main image has predominantly light shades then it would be impossible to map the main picture using those tile pictures. In such scenarios, we recommend using cell colorization to better match cell colors.

Here’s an example of same photo mosaic — the one on the left doesn’t use colorization while the one on the right uses colorization.

Cell Colorization comparison
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Main Photo Overlay

Using this superimposes the original main picture on the output. We don’t recommend using this option because this is the method usually employed by low-quality software/mosaic services that aren’t able to accurately map the tile pictures with the main image.

Using this option results in an “untrue/false” mosaic.

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Cell Mirroring

Cell mirroring allows the tile picture to be flipped horizontally. This option can result in better cell mapping because it gives the cell mapping algorithm more picture options.

For example, given the tile picture on the left, cell mirroring will allow the use of both the pictures in the photo mosaic.

Cell Mirroring in Photo Mosaic

You should not use mirroring when your tile pictures contain text because the text in the mirrored image will turn illegible as shown in the sample pictures below.

Cell Mirroring with pictures containing text
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Duplicate Spacing

Duplicate spacing is the minimum number of tile cells between cells using the same picture. Cells that use mirrored images are also considered as duplicates.

The first example below shows cells with duplicate spacing 0 and the second example shows cells with a duplicate spacing of 3.

Duplicate Spacing in Photo Mosaic

The following figure shows the duplicate spacing of various cells from the blue cell in a hexagonal cell layout:

Duplicate Spacing in Photo Mosaic with Hexagonal Tiles
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Use each tile picture at least once
(available in version 3.0.0 and newer software)

Let's say that you're making a photo mosaic using headshots of students in a school. You'd want to make sure that each tile picture that you've added gets used at least once in the mosaic. "Use Each Tile Picture At least Once" setting ensures that each tile picture is used at least once in your mosaic. Some of the tile pictures might not match well, but they will still be used if you select this setting; this can result in a less than an optimal mosaic. You might like to compare your mosaic with this setting on and off.

If you uncheck this setting, the mosaic algorithm will choose the best matching picture for each cell. In this case, some tile pictures that don't match well with any cell might not get used in your mosaic.

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How to use each picture only once in your mosaic?

Often, you’d want to make a mosaic with no repetition of pictures — where each picture is used only once. In such a case, you’d need at least as many tile pictures as the number of cells in your mosaic. For example, in a mosaic with 25 rows and 30 columns you'd need 25 X 30 = 750 pictures.

You can control the repetition of pictures by changing the duplicate spacing. Increase duplicate spacing to reduce repetition of pictures.

If you want no repetition at all, use a very high value for duplicate spacing. For example, in a mosaic with 25 rows and 30 columns, use a duplicate spacing of 31 — this will ensure that no picture appears more than once.

The mosaic algorithm tries to best match a picture with a cell. Reducing repetition reduces the number of photo choices available for each cell, and this can result in a lower quality mosaic.

We recommend two things for a higher quality mosaic:

1. Add a large number of tile pictures,

2. Instead of forcing zero repetition by using a very high value for duplicate spacing, allow low picture repetition by using a higher value of duplicate spacing. For example, a duplicate spacing of 5 or 6 would work well in a mosaic of 25 rows and 30 columns.

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How to use a customized size for your photo mosaic?

TurboMosaic comes with many default mosaic sizes that you can choose from for your mosaic. But, you might not find the required size among the list of defaults sizes. In such a scenario, you can use a customized size by selecting “Set Custom Size” from the Size drop-down, as shown in the screenshot below:

Make photo mosaic in a customized size
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How to print the created photo mosaic?

To print the created photo mosaic, First, export it as a JPG image. Second, print the JPG image using a local printer or at an online/in-store printing service of your choice - such as at Walgreens, Costco, Staples, Snapfish, Walmart, FedEx etc.

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How to export the generated photo mosaic picture arrangement as a comma-separated value (.csv) file?
(Available in v3.0.22 and newer, for Professional-Plus edition only. Only applicable to Rectangular cell photo mosaics.)

If you're using the Professional-Plus edition and v3.0.22 or newer, you can export the generated mosaic arrangement as a comma-separated value (.csv) file for Rectangular cell photo mosaics. Open File > Export Picture Arrangement... menu to export the layout.

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Have more questions? Please email us to turbomosaic@silkenmermaid.com


How to Make a Mosaic with Circular Tiles How to Make a Mosaic with Hexagonal Tiles How to Make a Photo Mosaic Gift How to Make a Big Picture out of Small Pictures How to Make a Face Mosaic How to Make a Photo Mosaic Jigsaw Puzzle How to Apply the Truman Show Poster Effect to Your Photo? How to Make a Photo Mosaic from a Logo How to Make a Photo Mosaic Video

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