Definition: Photomosaic; Mosaic

Definition: Photomosaic; Mosaic  | Glossary entry

Photomosaic; Mosaic

The word ‘Photomosaic’ does not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the word ‘Mosaic’ does appear. The word in its traditional form relates to the creation of pictures or decorative forms created from the arrangement of small pieces of stone, tile, glass, ceramics or hard construction or decorative materials. It is an art form dating back to some of the earliest cultures.

Mosaics have appeared in many different forms. All manor of common items have been used to produce them. So it is no surprise that modern photographers have sought to create mosaics from multiple photographs. In fact there are now many different software systems to create photomozaics from other photographs.

The photomozaic art form can expressed in two main ways.

  • A new composite image is created from a (usually) large number of image files. The composite picture is created by a digital photographic process. The individual digital image files are assembled and downsized by computer. They are normally so small that details can barely be seen. However, the colours/tones of each individual image are then sorted and used almost as if they were each an individual pixel. The samll/tiny individual images each become a colour/tonal element of the new composite image. Each individual image may be visible, but is likely to be difficult to view.
  • A number of images are arranged artfully to create a pleasing pattern from the derivative images. In this case the individual image are usually visible and clear to view. The photomosaic in this case creates a pattern rather than a new composite image. This form of photomosaic is often used by photographers as a method of presenting a group of pictures in one frame in a pleasing way.

Both of the above are, in a sense a photomontage. However, the special case – the creation of a pattern – determines that they are a photomosaic form.

These are not to be confused with a ‘collage‘.

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