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How to make a Photo Mosaic in Lightroom and Photoshop

Photo Mosaic are very cool to look at and have become pretty popular lately. Making one is really not that hard if you know a few things about Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. HDR School is here to help you make yourself one today.
The days of gluing dozens of image together to try and make it look like something are long gone. It has become quite easy in fact. However, there is a few things you will need to make it work.

  • Lightroom and Photoshop
  • 100+ images
  • Main Image
  • Hour of time on your hands.

Step 1: Organize Images

Put all the image you want for the Photo Mosaic  is a folder that is easy to get to. I suggest have a nice round number. I used exactly 100 images for mine.
In the example used in this article, I have 100 pictures from Fiji Islands where I lived before and wanted to show the beauty of the Pacific Islands. Most of these are portraits.

Step 2: Import into Lightroom

Once you have started Lightroom, go to Import under File and launch the importing screen. After that, find the folder you need. In my case, it is called Humans of Fiji Islands. It is also recommended that you change the Build Previews under File handling to Standard or 1:1.
Once it is loaded, it should look at this below and this is where the magics starts.

Step 3: Resize images

This is the most important step in the process. If you miss this up, it just won’t work for you.
Select one image and open it in Lightroom. Do to Develop Module on the top on the screen and then before the Histogram is a row of quick options and the first one is Crop Overlay.
Now, you should see a few options. The tool function and the Angle will not be messed with today. However, you do need to make sure that Constrain to Image is NOT checked.
Aspect should have a drop menu and it is critical that you select 1×1 on it. It should resize the image that you are using to crop. The final here is to move the image to crop it how you want it.
If for some reason this is not working, look under tools and make sure that Crop is checked. Another place worth checking is the crop settings under Settings.
Again, this is critical to get right. Nothing works if this is wrong!

Step 4: Sync all the images

There is a few ways to do this. The easiest way is to Select all the images (Ctrl + A) and click the Sync settings button. It should force a popup that you can select the crop options for all the images. It would look like the above. Just make sure to only select crop settings before Synchronizing. If you do this option, you will need to readjust the images afterwards.
I prefer to spend the time to go and manually do them one by one and make sure it is set just how I like it. It does take some extra time but my brain is always smarter than a computer program!
No matter which way you do it, make it when you are done; it is ready for export!

Step 5: Exporting your images

There is a few things that is important to get right in the exporting of the images. This makes things much easier once we get into Photoshop.
The first thing is make sure all the images you selected are being exported. There is two quick ways to check on his screen. In the top header it says “Export 100 files” and under the Export to menu, it is repeated.
The second thing that is important is to make sure you know where it is going and that is an empty folder. In this case, I started a new folder called Fiji people.
The next thing to check is make sure that is exporting Jpeg images in sRGB color space. Having the quality around 50-60 is acceptable.
The final thing before exporting is setting the Image sizing. This is would resize to fit: Long Edge. The pixels size will be 150. This will give you 150×150 squares images. This is what you need.
You are now done with Adobe Lightroom!

Step 6: Automate Contact Sheet in Photoshop

After loading Adobe Photoshop, look under File for Automate and then look for Contact Sheet II. This will open the screen you need to make the Photo Mosaic that will make the pattern for our image.
There is several things that you must get right here. The first of them is make sure folder is selected and then you find the folder the images are in that you exported. In my case, it  is the Fiji people folder.
The second thing is all about math. Remembering that every image is 150 pixels square. You need to figure out how many columns you will have and how many rows. In this case, I want 20 rows that is 150 pixels each. That leaves me with 3,000 pixel wide contact sheet. The five rows of images that the same size will make the image 750 pixels tall.
The next thing is to make sure under Thumbnails, you select across first and check the columns and rows are to what you want to them. I would also suggest checking Auto Spacing.
The final step is to make sure that Use Filename as Caption is NOT checked. After that, just click OK.

Step 7: Make the Photo Mosaic into a Pattern

That that we have the actual image made from the first six steps, we can focus more on doing the blending. The first step to do that is making the image we have into a pattern.
How this is done is by going to Edit > Define Pattern. After doing this, you will get popup that ask you to name it. I will call the one I am going Fiji People. Click OK and we have made a pattern!

Step 8: Add a new image into Photoshop!

This is the photo that will tell the story. Make sure it works with what you are trying to tell people with the pictures. It also needs to be quite large and with a strong DPI as well.
For the image, we are working on, I select an image about a Fiji woman working in a village because it tells the story of the struggle of the Fijian people. It says to people that the country is not all about coconuts and beaches.

Step 9: Add the pattern to the image.

In order to do this, you need to go to Layer > New fill layer and select Pattern. Name it to something you can realize and you will see another popup asking how to size the images.
I normally like to size them around 20% and you can easily change this later if you need. Leave everything else alone and just click OK.

Step 10: Blend the Pattern into the image

In order to do this, it is quite simple and you just have to play with it to make it work to what you want.
All you need to do is look under Layers on the panel with the layers. There is a menu that starts with normal next to Opacity. You need to change the normal with Soft Light to get started.
It is not perfect (yet) but we are getting pretty close now. Here is where we are with the image. Not bad!

Step 11: Change Pattern size and Opacity

To change the size of the small image we made in Lightroom is quite easy. In the layer (see above) is a black box (instead of an image), click that. Now, that same sizing box from step 9 is back and you can change it in real time as needed.

The other thing to do is play with the opacity (and fill) to make the image stronger and weaker in the image. In this case, I have the size at 48% and the opacity is at 63%.

Step 12: Final Touches

To make this Photo Mosaic work, I think some of the features on the skin of the woman need to more strong while the rest of the image needs to stay like it is. This is simple to do in Photoshop!
In order to do this, I will just scale the image up to 200% and select the eraser tool at 54% opacity and traced her skin (not clothing though) and do it until I like the strength of the image.
The final thing I did was add some Vignetting to the image that is set to 60% in Photoshop. Below is the final image we ended up with through the process!

Have you tried a Photo Mosaic before? If so, how did it work out?
For more tutorials like this, check out HDR School on Youtube.

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