Principles of Opus Pixellatum

Basics of grayscale Opus Pixellatum

This a first post of a series dedicated to my Opus Pixellatum Technique © and the many variations it allows. It resshuffles a post created in my first mosaic blog a few years ago…

From a picture like this one :
Original picture used to design an Opus Pixellatum Model
Original picture
I design a model like this :
Blank Opus Pixellatum model of Daniel's eyes
Blank model of Daniel’s eyes

Mosaic by numbers ?

The principle is easy : Each number printed on the model corresponds to a color of a grayscale palette.

Mosaic Art Supplu Grayscale palette
Grayscale Palette


If one would lay the tiles in the order of the numbers we would have the following progression :

Opus Pixellatum - Black only tiles
Black tiles are laid
Opus Pixellatum, 2 colors
Dark Grays are laid, can you guess ?
Opus Pixellatum, 3 layers
2 layers of Gray, now you surely see it
4 colors : Black and 3 Grays, there we are.
Opus Pixellatum, 5 colors laid
5 Colors
Opus Pixellatum, 7 colors laid
A perfect 7 colors image.

Laying all colors at the same time

Practically, you lay all colors at the same time. But in order to keep a small grouting gap between the tiles  it is better to first mount every other tiles.
First laying every other tiles allows greater accuracy

Laying every other tiles

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 other ones. And here is what I saw…

Half the tiles are laid on this portrait of a Yazidi child.

Surprise !

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  !

I had 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 :

Only half the tiles have been laid on this mosaic portrait

Revelation !

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 !

A very happy Daniel shows off his mosaic self portrait.


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How to Mosaic
color palette, grayscale, opus pixellatum
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