Mosaic modules

Modular mosaics

Techniques commonly used in digital drawing can be used in mosaic building.

You can produce and use mosaic modules in a manner very similar to this Copy & Paste digital technique. And you can later assemble these modules to complete a bigger piece.

This is true for geometric as well as figurative mosaics.

Take this 5th century Etruscan Gorgon

Painted Gorgon, Tarquinia, ca 490 BC

I am presently drawing her. I intend to build a mosaic of her, once I open my new studio, but this is an other story…

Her (rather hilarious) face is surrounded by many little snakes.

So when drawing, you can do one of two things :

  1. Draw each one of those individual little snakes one at a time
  2. Draw one snake, and use it as many time as I need.

Option 2 will save you lots of time…

First of all, I traced one of the snakes on top of the Medusa, in a color that contrasts with the original – I find that Teal and Fuchsia come very well on top of Black.

Screenshot of the Gorgon being worked on


Once I had traced a snake, I copied / pasted it into a separate drawing, then edited and saved it individually.

Individual snake saved from the Gorgon drawing


The snake edited.


Next thing I’ll do is copy it and paste it around the Gorgon’s head. I will not have top trace all those little reptiles individually  you won’t have to trace all those individual little reptiles.

And I can also use this snake to create other designs.

Snake frieze


Now you can use exactly the same technique to build actual mosaics.

I used individual mosaic modules to build my Lepus Vexus

(inspired by the Corinium hare mosaic).

8 Trapezoid mosaic modules are used on this piece
Lepus Vexus mosaic


That is the way I actually built the 8 trapezoid parts on the edge of the piece, before I glued them on top of the main field.

mosaic modules used in my Lepus Vexus mosaic
Individual mosaic modules


I learned the trick observing Jean Pierre Soalhat in Southern France several years ago.

I used this mosaic modules system on Lepus Vexus, on my Labyrinth table and on other pieces. It has many advantages :

  • It saves lots of times
  • It allows to work on smaller pieces
  • It allows for smaller working tables
  • It allows to work in different places at the same time.

Because mosaics tesserae are tiny pieces of monochrome materials the mosaicist renders colors in a way closer to the way images are printed on paper or displayed on a TV screen than the way a watercolor painter does.  This is why some techniques used in digital imagery are very useful to him.



I build my mosaic models using 2 softwares :

Both those programs are available for Linux and Windows operating systems and they are free to download and use.

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copy/paste, corinium, design, digital, digital drawing, gorgon, hare, lepus, Medusa, modular design, module, pattern, rabbit, repetitive, snake, vexus
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