Photo Mosaic Art

Studio Artist user Charis Tsevis recently created several photo mosaic portraits for publication in the LA Times based on imagery from the 2008 Olympics. By photo mosaic i mean a picture generated from a collection of smaller photos arranged to represent the larger image. Studio Artist provides many tools that enable you to take traditional rectangular grid photo mosaics to a whole new visual level as can be seen in the adaptive sizing and positioning of the individual sub images in Charis's photo mosaic image shown above.

There are a lot of different approaches an artist can take to creating photo mosaic imagery. In this particular case Charis was working with the theme of creating a portrait from other pictures of the person in the portrait. But there are many different approaches that can be used for building various conceptual themes for your photo mosaic works, depending on the particular image you choose to work with as your main rendered image as well as the collection of sub images that are being used to represent the main image. Imagery can be similar or divergent to a theme, chosen for satirical or ironical reasons, for the quality of texture or color, etc.

There are also several different ways you can go about creating photo mosaic imagery in Studio Artist. The MSG Evolver application that ships with Studio Artist 3.5 has a whole Art Mapper section that allows you to work with databases of images or movies as well as collections of MSG presets. The Art Mapper is an intelligent module that has a wide variety of different editable parameters that can be used to specify how it spatially applies a database of images or movies or MSG presets to build up a larger canvas.

The Studio Artist Paint Synthesizer can also be used to create photo mosaic style imagery. This can be done by using movie brushes. A movie brush is a Quicktime movie that has been loaded into the paint synthesizer as a movie source brush or movie background texture. You can think of this as a paint brush that allows you to paint with the individual frames of the movie. It's easy to use Studio Artist to take a folder of custom images and convert them into a movie file that can then be loaded into Studio Artist as a movie source brush.

Upcoming version 4 of Studio Artist includes a number of new paint synthesizer features that allow most of the MSG Evolver Art Mapper spatial mapping effects to be created directly in the Paint Synthesizer. If the individual images in your movie brush have alpha masks associated with them as an embedded alpha channel in the movie brush then you can build a paint preset that uses the individual alpha masks to specify the shape of the paint brush. So the brush shape could uniquely change based on which movie frame was being painted, as seen in the example image below.

There are a wide variety of different 1D and 2D movie frame indexing parameters that allow you to specify how your individual movie frames are used by the paint synthesizer when creating a mosaic effect. Frames could be indexed so that the best image that represents a given spatial location in the source image is displayed based on color or texture or angular orientation. Or sequential or random frames images could be auto-colorized by the paint synthesizer instead of using intelligent color index mapping.

A 2D indexing can be specified that will allow for multiple movies pasted sequentially in a larger movie file to play back within a paint animation. So you could build a movie mosaic where an image or movie file is rendered using a collection of smaller movies that playback over time in an animation. These individual movies could also be associated with time particle effects in the paint synthesizer. So each moving time particle could have up to 2 different animating movies associated with it.

Recently i've been using photo mosaic effects created with the paint synthesizer as a way to add additional texturing to digital photos. After creating a panorama image from multiple frames of a video pan using the new Temporal Ip Op Scan Tracker, i then make that the source image and then use the paint synthesizer with a graffiti movie brush to render the panorama source image as a graffiti photo mosaic into a second layer. I can then use layer compositing options to subtly or not so subtly add the graffiti texturing into the final image. An example of this kind of effect is shown above.

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