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I first used a mosaic application back in 1999 when, as editor of Australian Digital Camera magazine, I constructed an issue’s front cover. The cover showed my (then) 14 year old daughter, holding the (then) new Fujifilm MX-2700 camera. And, IMHO, looked stunning.
The app used was ArcSoft PhotoMontage 2000. It is still available, but only in a Windows version.
Still intrigued by the mosaic concept and wanting to review some software that explores this quirky avenue of digital photography I fell upon Andrea Mosaic, an app that is available for free download and use. Here are some of my experiences.
First image I chose to be transformed was a shot of a shop mannikin, with well-defined, bold subject elements and scaled down in size to 1000×1503 pixels to suit DPS’ display requirements.
I chose 4×3 rectangles as the tile size/shape. As you can see from the screen grab I could also have chosen squares, 3×2 or 16.×9 rectangles.
In the next step, I needed to choose the source folder of the tiles. I had already had assembled a folder of 798 images of various sizes, some ranging up to 4000×3000 pixels. At this point the app showed me a demo of how the final mosaic would look. I hit the button ‘Create Mosaic’ and the dialog box suggested I tick the box marked Tile Duplication. Then there was some mucking around to choose the source folder … this took 80 seconds. The actual ‘stitching’ took only another 30 seconds.
The final size was 3300×4959 pixels. For repro purposes in DPS you are looking at 600×900 pixels. As you can see there was a fair bit of duplication to match the tonal shades in the original image but I was quite happy with the result.
Once again, this time selecting ‘no duplicates’. As you can see the result is far from OK with black tiles filling some spaces.
And again, with the same image but using the original 3056×4592 pixel image. For me, this is the way to go. Very pleasing! It will no doubt look very different on DPS pages due to the rescaling.
Another image: a night shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I selected square tiles and duplication, at the suggestion of the app.
As you can see the result is not an accurate mosaic of the original but is, I figure, an interesting image in its own right.
Try again, with ‘no duplicates.’ Not a happy result.
Another original, a park scene.
Trying variations of tile duplication and spacing this is what I achieved. From my POV it seems you need lots of experimentation to achieve a pleasing result.
I enjoyed Andrea Mosaic and figure it is halfway between a terrible time waster and a magnificent experimental ‘device’! Give it a lot of time and you can expect top results. For what it’s worth, the 40 page PDF manual is detailed and exemplary.
Another facet to this wonder app is its ability to “create video mosaics (Mac/Linux not supported). The final result is a video (AVI file) where each frame is a photo-mosaic. Andrea Mosaic tries to reproduce a still image where each tile is a video clip or a still image. To realise this each video clip must be a relatively static video. The main problem is to get a large collection of short video clips suitable for this use.”
And a final fling, using the knowhow gained from my earlier trials. Simpler subject, fewer tones. Obviously, the way to go! Bold images suit it best.
An interesting sidenote: as a mosaic of an image is created with simplified subject matter (the tiles), reduced JPEG compression has little effect on the image file size.
Windows XP and 7, Vista, 2000, 2003, 98/ME/NT plus Mac OSX and Linux.
More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AndreaMosaic. Wikipedia comment: “Although the software has proved popular and has some powerful features, it has been criticised for not being user-friendly with a confusing and dull interface featuring atrocious grammar but providing an excellent user guide and producing excellent results.”
I have to agree! But! It’s powerful … and free!