In this tutorial I will demonstrate the basic steps for creating a realistic mosaic tile image in Photoshop. Specifically, of course, the image I am interested in creating is a map. (See this map as a reference.) GIMP users: scroll to the second page of this tutorial and you will find the adjustments needed to make such a map as well (posted by the incomparable RobA).
I consider this a medium difficulty task, and I therefore recommend a beginning PS user follows some basic tutorials on basic PS concepts/processes either before or while using my tutorial. Just do a web search--there are thousands of helps out there for the beginning Photoshopper! (Or check out this thread!)
I will in most cases give pull-down menu commands instead of shortcuts, mainly because they are easier to write! Go ahead and use shortcut keys and buttons if you know how! Oh, and I am currently using Photoshop CS3, but I believe this will work in any CS version--and possibly in older versions as well. I also am a PC user, so you Mac-ies out there will have to remember that when I say "ctrl" you need to "cmd"--or whatever it is you do!
(Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I must also admit I found some rudiments of the process described below in a recent little article in Photoshop Creative (issue 30)--although adapted and adjusted to my maniacal purposes, of course!)
If you have any questions or comments (or improvements!), feel free to chime in or add comments after the tutorial is complete! Here we go!
STEP ONE: CREATING TILES
Although Photoshop has a mosaic filter, the results are far too regular and stale for my tastes. So instead I will create a custom brush in order to "paint on" tiles. So first open a new PS document of the default size and resolution, then choose the Polygonal Lasso tool. Draw a 4 sided polygon slightly out of square. Fill this shape with black. [see image 1]
With the polygon still selected (the "ants marching") go Edit>Define Brush Preset. Give the brush a name, & click OK. You can then delete and to deselect (ctrl-D) the polygon.
Now open Window>Brushes, select your newly-defined brush (it will probably be the last shown), and set the following:
- Brush Tip Shape: Diameter 20 px, spacing 130%
- Shape Dynamics: Size Jitter 20%, Size Jitter Control="Off", Angle Jitter 2%, Angle Jitter Control="Direction"
- Scattering: Scatter 15%
- Color Dynamics: Foreground/Background Jitter 100%
Now you can click the fly-out menu and select New Brush Preset to save that brush [see image 2]. (If you wish, you can also delete the original tile you saved)
Note that you should adjust the brush settings to your preference. Those that I list above will give a somewhat unrefined, ragged look to the map--which fits the archaic style I plan to emulate. If you are creating a refined, polished look, then definitely reduce the jitters and dynamics closer to 0% so your tiles lay perfectly straight!
And that's it! Now when you stroke with this brush you create tiles of slightly varying size and rotation that mix the foreground & background colors [in the second attached image you can see examples of the one I just made!]
NEXT UP: Beginning your map