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Old Apr 22, 2010, 2:31 PM   #1
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Default AndreaMosaic

I'm not sure whether this is the right place for this, but I found a very nice freeware program that other people may be interested in. It is called AndreaMosaic, and can be found at: http://www.andreaplanet.com/andreamosaic/

This software creates images using other images as "pixels." If you've ever seen the photo of Abraham Lincoln made up of small photos, you'll know what this looks like. I was interested in using this program because I have a bunch of photos from last year's vacation that I'm just never going to get around to turning into a video CD -- it takes me forever to write and record a sound track and then process the photos and lay them out on the story board for the video. This seemed like an easy way to get the wife off my back and get the photos out for display.

The program worked very nicely. There are a few things that I learned when working with it that may be of use to others, though. These include:

1. When you inhale the photos you want AndreaMosaic to work with, it will show in the lower left of the main screen how many are portrait and how many are landscpe. AndreaMosaic does not have a good interface for working with photos, and will not allow you to reorient an image that is saved on its side, so do your prep work using a photo editor beforehand. You can make use of the portrait/landscape info to select the parquet pattern to use. For example, if you have 193 P and 102 L, you might use a 2Px1L parquet pattern.

2. I like the original image to be recognizable in the mosaic, so you should keep that image simple and use a fair number of tiles in the mosaic. Each tile should be large enough to be interpretable up-close, but there should be enough of them to create a recognizable pattern. I have had pretty good luck with using about 5000 tiles for a poster of about 2 feet by 3 feet. If you use many more tiles, the mosaic is cleaarer, but the tiles are too small to view. If you use many fewer, the mosaic looks pretty blocky.

3. I allow my tiles to be mirror-imaged, but not turned on their side or upside-down. This lessens the goodness of fit of the tiles to the mosaic, but up-close each tile makes sense. I also do not let the program play too fast and loose with the color. I try to limit it to a 10% range. You should also set the minimum distiance between repeating the same tile to something as large as practical -- at least 5, but 10 would be better if you have enough images.

4. There is an important parameter on the More Options screen -- a check box to force AndreaMosaic to use all the photos you have given it at least once. It does not do this by default, and you will probably want all of them to be used at least once. In my experience this does not materially degrade the mosaic if there are lots of photos.

5. AndreaMosaic will produce a mosaic where the overall effect is a bit compressed in the color scale -- everything looks on the sepia side generally. I find that it materially improves the mosaic without degrading the tiles to adjust contrast/brightness and chrominance using a standard photo editing program on the JPEG that AndreaMosaic outputs for use as the mosaic. Typical software will allow you to adjust these parameters while viewing an image that is, say 10% size. This allows you to see the mosaic instead of each tile and makes it easy to optimize the "gestalt" of the mosaic pattern. The settings within AndreaMosaic may allow you to accomplish the same thing, but if so the controls are much less intuitive than the visual feedback from PhotoShop or PaintShopPro.

6. If you upload the mosaic to a service like SnapFish, don't let them use their high-compression algorithm during the upload -- the photo needs to retain detail in each tile as well as the overall effect of the mosaic.

This program is a lot of fun to play with. Kudos to Andrea!


--Tom Clune

Last edited by tclune; Apr 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM. Reason: edited for formatting
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