Purposely Pixelated

In Art Projects
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You guys know that I’m always playing around with odd projects and lately, it’s no different. The latest fascination in my photography world is to play around with pixelating photos on purpose. The idea came about when my son received a Lego project as his big Christmas gift one year. It was a world map configured solely out of 1 x 1 round lego pieces.

It got me thinking about how I might try to make something like that out of one of my own photos. My first stop was to do a little google sleuthing to see if there were any tutorials available. It turns out that there are quite a few different approaches, but all of them start with overly pixelating an image. The one I decided to go with uses a set of simple steps to add contrast, reduce the number of colors and then downsize a photo before making it larger again in order to create the blocky appearance.

I tried the technique a few times and realized that it would be a lot less time consuming if I created an action in Photoshop to do all the steps for me. My workflow sped up considerably and I was able to try the process out on a variety of different photos to see which ones looked best. In my less than scientific method, I discovered that images that were simple looked much better than images that had very detailed compositions.

Getting the images pixelated was just the first step in the process. I also needed to plan out how I might actually make something into a Lego creation. I decided to base my design off the square technic base plates which have a 16 x 16 stud layout. The pixelated images have color blocks that are made up of 16 pixels, so I set up a guide layout in Photoshop to estimate how many base plates and how many round pieces I need.

After that, it’s just a matter of cropping and fitting the image into an acceptable amount of pieces. I’ve been trying a out a variety of camera related images to see if anything looks fun to try and create for my classroom or my office. It’s been fun to photograph some older cameras that I use as examples in class and pixelate them. Here are a few that I’ve tried out over the last few weeks.

The last step in the process is try to figure out how many of each color tiles I’m going to need and unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do that part besides printing out pages and assigning each color a number in a “paint by number” approach. Any suggestions from readers would be welcomed if you have a better way I should try! Whatever I image I decide to try, I know it will be a commitment. This feels like it will be the perfect project I can tackle over the summer break.

Working in blocks – Angie

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