- Fig 1: Assorted pictures
- Fig 2: Keep strips attached on one end
- Fig 3: Be sure to center your key element
- Fig 4: Cut again, making tiny square tiles
- Fig 5: Keep your photo tiles carefully arranged
- Fig 6: Arranged into two big mosaics
- Fig 7: These sticker tabs are the perfect size
- Fig 8: Start in the corner and stick the tiles down
- Fig 9: Try to keep them straight!
- Fig 10: The finished layouts, matted
Sometimes when documenting a big event in a scrapbook, I have more pictures than I can fit in a single layout. When I just can’t whittle the set of pictures down any further, and I still want them all to appear on one layout, I turn to one of my favorite (albeit time-consuming) techniques: the photo mosaic.
The first thing to do is gather together a bunch of photos relating to the same subject (Fig 1). For this layout, I chose pictures of two of my friends who went parasailing. You can choose any pictures you like and they can be of different sizes and shapes. You’ll end up cropping and cutting them like crazy to make them all fit together onto one page.
Next you need to decide on the size of the “tiles” in your mosaic. Bear with me, because this might get math-intensive! You have to remember that your tiles will have a space (like “grout”) between them, so you can’t just use eight 1″ tiles for an 8″ layout, because they won’t all fit on the page. I like to account for this space by just making my tiles 7/8″ square. On an 8″x8″ layout, thats gives me plenty of room to have the mosaic be 8 tiles high and 8 tiles wide, and fit perfectly on the layout. You can choose any size of tile you want, but to avoid having to do any math, just follow my general rule of thumb: make 7/8″ tiles and plan for as many tiles as you have inches of paper. (For a 12″ layout, use twelve 7/8″ tiles. For a 8″ layout, use eight 7/8″ tiles.)
Now it’s time to start cutting those images up into tiny squares! First you’ll cut them in one direction into 7/8″ strips, keeping two things in mind:
First, do not cut all the way to the end of the picture (Fig 2 and 3). If you do, you’ll have a hard time doing the cuts in the opposite direction, because the strips won’t be attached any more and you’ll have to line the strips up carefully before you cut each one into squares.
Second, identify the key element in each picture before you make the first cut. You do not want to cut a person’s face right in half as you cut your tiles, so start your cuts on either side of the key element.
For an example of keeping the key element centered, look at Figure 2. The people on the boat are the key element in this picture, and I have them positioned right between two of the cuts. Figure 3 shows another example, with a person’s face centered in the cuts.
Once you’ve got the strips cut in one direction, put the photo back in your paper trimmer and make cuts in the other direction, resulting in 7/8″ square tiles (Fig 4). As you cut off each row of tiles, be sure to line it up carefully to the side, so you don’t get them out of order or mixed up (Fig 5).
With everything cut, it’s now time to select the photos that you’ll use on the page. My layout was 8″x8″ so I needed a overall mosaic that was 8 tiles wide and 8 tiles high. I started with my favorite image and started scooting other images over next to it, until I had a finished square. As you can see in Figure 6, sometimes you can take away a corner of one picture (see the picture outlined in yellow) to make room for another one (see the picture outlined in red). This allows you to maximize the photos you can use and minimize the “boring” areas of photos. You can even squeeze in tiny images that are only two tiles wide by putting them between larger ones in the layout.
Your layout will of course vary every time you do it, depending on which pictures you select, but eventually you’ll have the squares laid out in a pattern that will fit on your page. Once you’ve gotten this far, congratulate yourself because the hard part is over! Now you just need to keep anyone from bumping the table or opening a window until you get all your tiles attached
To attach the tiles, I like to use little adhesive tabs (Fig 7). They are the perfect size for putting one on each tile. I start with one corner of the layout and adhere one tile at a time, one row at a time (Fig 8). Place each tile a little bit apart (1/8″ or less) from the others, to create the look of grout between the tiles. For the best effect, try your hardest to keep the tiles straight and evenly spaced (Fig 9). If you need help keeping things straight, you can try holding a ruler along the grout line and then putting the tiles against the edge of the ruler to line them up.
When you’re all done, you may need to trim your background paper a bit to make it even on all sides. If doing this makes your page smaller than the size you need for your album, you can mat it with a full-sized sheet of paper, which makes a nice background (Fig 10).
It’s amazing how what was once a pile of disheveled scraps of photos turns into such a nice collage once you get them all attached in straight lines!