Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.comAmazon
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

A better Mosaic Maker

I wanted to introduce an idea of mine. I developed an algorithm that pixelates images such that it uses the same amount of pixels for each grey scale. For Lego's Mosaic Maker with its 48x48 base, this means that one would require 576 bricks for each of the 4 grey scales. Like this, Mosaic Maker could be sold in shops, since the required number of bricks is known in advance. Futhermore, this method leads to the best possible contrast for the pixelated images and hence to great looking images. New images can be build as often as wanted, since all images require the exact same amount of bricks.
I set up a webpage, where you can try out this idea. Upload and legofy your images there. Portraits do work best, but feel free to try out whatever you want.



  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15

    This are examples for a 48x48 base plate. Robert DeNiro has been done with 4 plates.

  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    That is an interesting idea using the same number of parts for all four colours. However, I find the black of the shadows is too dominant.

    You could equally well have a non-uniform distribution of bricks and the idea still works. For example, you could increase the number of pixels associated with mid tones and have less for highlights and shadow. Of course, there would always be a problem if the image had a large amount of single colour background but then that is also true here.

    I wonder how good the test images would look if you went for something like:

    20% white
    35% LBG
    35% DBG
    10% black

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    My experience is, that for pixelated images, it is good to have a strong contrast.  I will try to produce some images according to your suggestions though.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    This is according to your suggestion. Less black and less white. What do you think?

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    Or with a more similar cropping area.

  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    I think it looks fine like that, although you'd need to compare the original and new ones together to see if it was better.

    You might even be able to determine the optimum ratios by running a load of images through it, and working out what the optimal distribution would be for each image, then average.

    I used to make B+W mosaics, but it was frustrating when I didn't have enough of the right parts, so this idea of one fixed set for all is clever.

    (Next step, colour!)

  • benbacardibenbacardi Member Posts: 712
    Andy Worhol-style pop art would be cool, with a limited colour palette giving the same benefits as your grescale idea:

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    No colors. It is difficult to reorder colors. No one would like to build a green face, I guess.

    I actually think the equal distribution is the best representation. In a way, it represents the information of the original image best.

    For the fun of it, I tried the equal distribution with normal images as well. The image above is the original. The images below has equal distribution over the 256 grey levels.

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    and another example

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    Lego is not interested in this idea. I'd like to make this available to people though. I just can't find enough of the bricks I would need. Does anyone know where to get 580 bricks for each of the grey scales?
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    Either bricklink or from LEGO direct. They have a bulk scheme where you can buy more than 200 parts of each (the limit on bricks and pieces) - I think you are allowed to select up to 30 parts. However, it is not cheap.

    1x1 tiles and plates are expensive, even more so if you divide the cost by the area (to get the cost per stud). AFOLs use a lot of them for detailed work, which drives the secondary market cost up. It is one reason that when doing mosaics people often use 1x2, 2x2, 2x4, etc plates - they work out much cheaper per stud. Another reason is that they align easier than a single stud piece as they connect to two or more studs and are also quicker to remove at the end.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    CCC, thank you very much for you help. I'll try to change my algorithm so that it can use bigger brick sizes as well.
  • msandersmsanders Member Posts: 1,017
    CCC said:
    Either bricklink or from LEGO direct. They have a bulk scheme where you can buy more than 200 parts of each (the limit on bricks and pieces) - I think you are allowed to select up to 30 parts. However, it is not cheap.

    Double check but my understanding is that you can order more than 200 of a particular part using their online form (on the Bricks and pieces website), but only if they are not available through the regular Pick a brick service on the main website. If they are on the Pick a brick service you will have to order through that (limit of 999).

    This is very frustrating, for example, when it comes to certain parts, including the 1x1 plates, since for some of them they can be more expensive (I see in some cases in Switzerland they are twice as expensive on PaB vs BnP). 
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    Thanks. This is all very helpful.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    I worked a bit on my algorithm. It turns out that it is in general possible to pixelate images with a brick set with 50 times 1x5, 100 times 1x2 and 150 times 1x1. If you took a black base and hence skip black bricks, one would be able to build any image with as little as 900 bricks.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    edited August 2019
    Do you mean 1x4 instead of 1x5?

    I also find 2x2 and 2x4 can be helpful on many occasions, especially when it comes to price per stud as these are typically as cheap as 1x1 plates but have 4 or 8 times the area.

  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    I have programmed it now with 30 times 1x4, 30 times 2x2, 120 1x2 and 120 times 1x1. It has worked for all images that I uploaded.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    This sounds like it is becoming a useful tool.

    If you really want to make it useful for mosaic builders and make a name for yourself, having it work in colour would be great. Even if you don't use predefined numbers of tiles / plates (so not the same tiles for every picture), having an option where you can turn on/off different sized plates in all the different LEGO colours would be a fantastic improvement over current tools.

    Bricklink used to have mosaick, which could be either B+W or colour. However, you could not exclude certain colours and so the tool was useless if it suggested large areas in expensive colours abd there was no way to turn these expensive tiles off. Having a tool that allows the user to select different sized tiles in different colours and then fit those to a picture would be excellent.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    CCC, would you use flat tiles or the standard ones.

  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,556
    When I do mosaics, I normally use plates (with studs on). Tiles do look good, but are a pain to get off again and more expensive. I occasionally use bricks too, although weight can start to be a problem then.

    But if you are making a tool for it, I don't think it matters. If the user can select the sizes and colours, then if the part doesn't exist in a certain colour, they could just exclude it. That way you could have one tool that works for all 1x1, 1x2, 2x2, etc objects and you don't need to define the object as a tile, plate, brick, etc. The user can do that.
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,119
    It looks great so far!

    There is a need for a versatile mosaic maker as @ccc suggests, so do carry on with development.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton Member Posts: 2,967
    By using larger plates wherever possible (even up to 6x6, 10x2, etc) I find the cost of parts for most mosaics ends up around 60% cheaper, or up to 70% cheaper for simpler subjects like this:
  • FizyxFizyx Member Posts: 1,364
    hneff said:
    CCC, would you use flat tiles or the standard ones.

    If you're already looking at some of the versatility that CCC is talking about, it might be really interesting to let the user use either plates or tiles for automatic generation, but then include a means for them to switch pieces or areas of the mosaic between plates and tiles.  It would allow for some expansion of the texture of the finished piece that you don't often see in mosaics.  I think this picture of Jimi Hendrix is a good example:  Image result for jimi hendrix

    I would love to see that in a color mosaic with tiles for everything except the hair, which would be done in plates.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    I thought that one could generate more grey levels by alternating bricks. The 4 grey levels would allow for 3 extra levels with alternating stones. I think the results look much better. Only here, you could pretty much only use 1x1 bricks.
    DeNiro with 4 base plates.
  • nexandernexander Member Posts: 908
    It does look good and has been said that there is a gap in the mosiac program market.  I find the problem with most current ones is that most try and get colour variation by mixing up different coloured tiles and have trouble with sharp lines.  For example a black line on white often has dark/light bley as well.  I just want black and white for the line.  Its fine for large mosiacs that are viewed at a distance but dont look right for smaller mosiacs.  Currently the wife and i run various different sweeps in whatever software with different colour options,  manually combine them when building then eyeball it to change things that dont look right.  More and more its eyeball, less software.

    We work with standard colours, normaly with designs with lots of solid colours.
  • hneffhneff Member Posts: 15
    I think Lego is too expensive for this kind of project after all. I'll try with fuse beads....
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth Member Posts: 1,430
    A worthy quest, for sure. 
Sign In or Register to comment.

Shopping at or Amazon?

Please use our links: Amazon

Recent discussions Categories Privacy Policy

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. Sign in or register to get started. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the, Inc. Associates Program and the Amazon EU Associates Programme, which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.