Designing a Mosaic- An Example

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Mosaic design is always a balance between practical and artistic choices. What’s your subject going to be? Is it going to be abstract or representative? One has pay attention to image, texture and color. These days mosaics are simplified unlike their earlier counterparts – simplicity is beauty. The goal is to recreate the essence of the image. The design drawing for a mosaic is referred to as a ‘cartoon’.  It should show the major elements of the mosaic as well as the intended flow of the tesserea (mosaic pieces). Ultimately the material will drive the project. But don’t over plan otherwise you will miss the essence of mosaic art.

So the steps are: choose an image, adapt a design, choose the manner of layering, choose your materials and then decide on spacing. Here’s an example below.

Its always a good idea to create pieces in series. Here is an example of the piece I created after a long search for the right image. Once again I started with a crop circle.

Image of a crop circle

I traced the image onto tracing paper and then began to think about how I would convert this to a mosaic. Here are some of my thoughts. You will see that the background lines took up a considerable amount of my time as their placement within the image changes the effect of distance dramatically.

Image I: Process of  Mosaic Design
Image II: Process of  Mosaic Design
Image III: Process of  Mosaic Design

Then came consideration of color choice. This too took some thinking about:

Image IV: Process of Mosaic Design
Image V: Process of Mosaic Design

At this stage I was still struggling with line placement. The final design emerged like this:

Italian Smalti Mosaic by Sarah-Alice Miles
Detail of Italian Smalti Mosaic by Sarah-Alice Miles

The great advantage of taking the time to draw and think about your end product is that the end product is likely to be closer to what you had in your mind and you are more likely to avoid time consuming and costly mistakes. So take your time and enjoy the process of thinking about the final creation.

Happy Art-ing!

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