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Lego Mosaic Programs or Apps

BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
edited March 2012 in Photography/Video
I've used the LEGO Photo app on the iPhone to make nice converted pics but it only does them as 60x40 studs. Is there another existing program or app that is more customizable to make a very large panoramic >250x160 studs (80"x50")?
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Comments

  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    I'm not sure if this fits your requirements, but have you tried Photobricks? I was browsing Toys N Bricks and someone mentioned it in a post. Plus, it is free too! It is on iOS and Mac OS X.
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    Do you want the final images to actually build or just print?

    I use GIMP to create mosaic building instructions for some of the largest custom LEGO mosaics in the world. For smaller scale, easier to use apps, something like PicToBrick is supposed to be good, but I've not used it.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Thanks for that tip, but unfortunately only Windows.

    ^^I'm going to build it, so I just downloaded GIMP and browsing through the tools right now. It sure is a lot of options, how do I convert it?
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    Yes, GIMP is a powerful graphics app with loads of options. If you've not used anything like it before then you do have a bit to learn. I probably should have said that it's not for the faint-hearted.

    Did you not look at PicToBick first?
  • collect_thatcollect_that Kidderminster, EnglandMember Posts: 1,312
    Martin did you design the mosaic at Leicester last year?
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^^Photography and programs are not my niche, so I'll need my GF's help on ramping up GIMP. But I think this is the horsepower I need for my purpose. Was busy building the Townhall yesterday, so will need to take another test drive of GIMP and a spin in PicToBrick for a comparison.

    Another problem I realized and hopefully you have some suggestions for, but how do the super large mosaics get framed or displayed by other builders at the conventions? I won't be able to even transport the final product with a flat bed truck without taking it apart. Not to mention the cost of custom framing something 6 feet wide and 4 feet high.
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    ^^ Yes, and every one built at STEAM, and the DK Star Wars, and the Bob the Builder at LEGOLAND and the JK Rowling at LEGOLAND and one or two of the LEGO Worlds...and...well, quite a few. The largest one ever is yet to come...not long to wait now.
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    @BrickDancer, if you want some help, let me know. A GIMP tutorial is probably out of the question but I can let you have some pointers. I'm sure I did this for some guys in Portugal a while back...I'll take a look.

    GIMP and PicToBrick are in different ballparks. The latter is a lot easier to use simply because it's designed to do one thing...make LEGO mosaics. It just lacks some of the flexibility I need for the giant mosaics I do for events.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    I made my own program to convert arbitrary-sized images into Lego mosaics. It should cope fine with a large 250x160 mosaic if you want to send me something to try?

    I also programmed in a heuristic that tries to use best-value parts where possible. E.g. a single 4x4 plate is much cheaper than sixteen 1x1 plates, so it'll use those wherever possible (generally).

    Using larger plates makes the following black and white 48x48 mosaic of my cat about four times cheaper than if it had been made entirely with 1x1 tiles:

    image

    image
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,205
    MLCad has a mosaic option but it only lets you use up to 2x4 bricks/plates but it will create one for whatever sized (in pixels) image you give it to use. Will also do ones with height to them which looks pretty cool in some of the tests I've done. The one 100x60-ish image i ran just now to test it with what looks like a max height of 5 bricks came out to over 12,000 parts. Think I'll refrain from making that.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^^I made my gf's mosaic as a 60x48 stud in about 8 colors and using varying size plates to make it more economical. In the end, it was not cheap at all. Between $200-$300 in parts, including baseplates. Then another ~$125 to custom frame it, due to it's thickness. Was it worth it cost-wise? Maybe, but my gf & visitors are surely impressed by the final product and I guess that's what really matters. Can't remember how to embed the pic, but here's a link to it on my Flickr if interested. My biggest suggestion before starting any mosaic, be absolutely 100% confident that the pic chosen is worthy as an art piece.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brickdancer/6909593992/
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    That looks pretty cool! Surprised how expensive it was though - the plates for the 48x48 mosaic of my cat was only £46 in the Lego shop. Don't suppose you have a 48x60 PNG version of that picture so I can see what my program does with it? :)
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    ^^ Or you can ask Sean Kenney to do it. ;) For a hefty price tag.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^^Thanks @paul_merton! I was only able to use large plates for the black sections, but most other colors & areas had to use small sized plates like 2x2 corners, 1x3, 1x1, etc. I did this as my first MOC before I learned how to use Bricklink, so parts were gathered by breaking up Creator sets like Highway Transport or Prehistoric Hunters. Definitely wasn't the cost efficient way to do it, but now I know better for the future.

    I'm not familiar with what a 'PNG' version means? I used the iPhone app named Lego Photo to convert the normal pic. It also allows you to choose the type of color scheme of the mosaic, to a limited point. The other restraint is that it is confined to the default grid size I used. So will need to use a different app if you want to make a bigger or smaller sized one. You should give it a spin to see how your app compares in functionality. What I like with yours already out of the gate, is that the sections have division lines between the plates. Another nice function would be if it could spit out a parts list of all the pieces in their desired colors.
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    @paul_merton I would like to make a mosaic of the LEGO logo with an XL baseplate. Any help?
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    @paul_merton I would like to make a mosaic of the LEGO logo with an XL baseplate. Any help?
    Here you go.image

    I had made this when I was making a "GOLF" logo for a mini-golf MOC. I ended up making the GOLF logo 64x64 instead of 48x48.
    image
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    @Sidersdd Thank you! Lets see how much this will cost me...
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    @paul_merton - I'm interested in your program. I've been using PicToBrick, which has been pretty successful so far. Two things I'd like to see improved, and am wondering if your app addresses:

    (1) I'd like easier controls over what palette to use. You can create custom configurations in PicToBrick for this, but it's tedious.

    (2) I'd like an easy way to tweak the results. It doesn't generate the perfect mosaic each time and misses a color here or there when scaling down to smaller sizes when it has to decide one color vs. another. What would be ideal is if I could interact with the generated mosaic from within the program itself, and "override" what it thinks the color should be. Pick the color from my palette and click the squares I think should be that color.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    @LegobrandonCP & @sidersdd, here's my version. It uses 327 parts in total, vs 2304. Buying these tiles from shop.lego.com would cost only £33.43. Doing the same thing with 1x1 plates would cost £138.24!

    image
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    @sidersdd it's still a work in progress, but I've fully automated the process of turning a photo or other image into a reduced colour version, using either all Lego colours, greyscales, or just whatever colours are readily available from the Lego shop. There's no interactivity yet, and I'm not sure there will be, as I only wrote it to produce a layout for myself (it's surprising how productive you can be when you haven't got an internet connection for an evening...)

    It supports plates up to 16x16 in size, but those are only available in a few colours. In the above example, I've restricted the largest square plate to 6x6 anyway. The algorithm does not always produce the cheapest layout (that would be an NP-complete problem in computer science terms), but it's pretty close to the optimal solution, and I think I prefer the irregular "random" layout of tiles to a regular tiled pattern.

    I've since modified it to encode videos into Lego plates layouts. Now that's what I call real Lego Star Wars :)

    It would be awesome to be commissioned to make a huge mosaic of a company's logo, but I suspect there aren't that many interested in having a logo made out of Lego.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    @BrickDancer Unfortunately, I don't have an iPhone so I've never tried that app. My program outputs the parts list in a shopping list format, which is what I used for my first "pick a brick" order a couple of days ago. I thought I'd start off with some black and white images so I can easily make other mosaics from the same 4 "colours" without having to build up a massive collection of plates.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    Looks like my program gave me the correct shopping list! All the plates arrived today, so I made the mosaic of my cat with no parts to spare. Here's a video of the contstruction process:
    youtube.com/watch?v=YAbYIEmJRd0&feature=youtu.be
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    edited July 2012
    I just checked out your video, great job on the program @paul_merton! I'd like to see what you can do with the color version and how realistic the mosaic is. Obvious points that make your app great, the outlines of plates, the control over grid size, the control over color choice, flexibility on resolution. Is it able to give you the parts as a list with quantity?

    I think you should get this app released soon as possible, you may have a good product for the market if its easy enough to use. Question is how to monetize it correctly. Basic version for free and Full version at small price but have all capabilities for adjusting perhaps? Needless to say, I'd like to take your program out for a spin.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    I think I need to work on the user-friendliness bit :) It would probably be easiest (for me) to implement it as a web service that people can upload images to.

    Here's the parts list it generated for my cat (in no particular order). I figured if I stick to black and white stuff for now, then I'll be able to make lots of different things without having to buy too many plates.

    Qty Plate Colour
    28 1x2 Medium stone grey
    11 2x4 Black
    17 1x4 Dark stone grey
    14 2x3 Dark stone grey
    2 1x8 Dark stone grey
    1 2x8 Black
    5 4x4 Black
    4 2x6 Black
    17 1x3 Black
    2 4x4 Medium stone grey
    3 2x6 Medium stone grey
    11 2x2 Black
    45 1x2 Dark stone grey
    6 1x6 Dark stone grey
    1 2x8 Medium stone grey
    1 4x6 Medium stone grey
    71 1x1 Black
    8 2x4 Medium stone grey
    1 2x10 Black
    2 6x6 Black
    3 1x2 White
    7 1x3 Medium stone grey
    14 2x2 Medium stone grey
    1 2x10 Medium stone grey
    11 1x4 Black
    6 2x3 Black
    5 1x6 Black
    1 1x8 Medium stone grey
    3 2x8 Dark stone grey
    5 4x6 Dark stone grey
    38 1x3 Dark stone grey
    9 2x6 Dark stone grey
    4 4x4 Dark stone grey
    24 2x2 Dark stone grey
    107 1x1 Dark stone grey
    16 2x4 Dark stone grey
    30 1x2 Black
    3 6x6 Dark stone grey
    1 1x3 White
    6 1x4 Medium stone grey
    6 2x3 Medium stone grey
    55 1x1 Medium stone grey
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    ^ Also, my cat is black and white and grey, so he was a natural choice of subject :)
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^If that is really the output of your parts list, may I make a suggestion to flip the order to be color/part/quantity with an added column for part ID# before color? It would greatly speed up the purchasing process that follows. I also noticed you didn't have any 2x2 corner plates on the list. Is that part not included as an option or was it just not used in this particular mosaic?
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    I'd love to try out your app @paul_merton. Seems much easier to use and navigate than Briksaic and PicToBrick.
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,353
    Dumb question: What are these mosaics attached to? Are there Lego baseplates that are 48 x 48 or larger?

    Thanks in advance!
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    @Farmer_John the XL Light Bley Baseplate is indeed 48x48. For mine, I did a 64x48 grid using 2 Large Green 32x32 Baseplates with 2 Green 16x8 Baseplates. Covered excess edge with black 1x8 tiles to make a 60x40 mosaic picture.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    edited July 2012
    Double post - please delete
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,353
    Thanks @BrickDancer...I guess I have my next Lego project. :-)
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Oops, I meant to say 32x16 base plates and not 16x8.

  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,353
    ^ I knew what you meant...thanks again. Now I have to find some plates to use...and hit the POB shelf at the local store.
  • maesterjaymaesterjay Member Posts: 71
    @paul_merton I'm really interested in your program. I've been working on coming up with a plan for a mosaic for the last month (as a present for my fiancee) and have had some trouble. First there was learning about the programs, then how to use them, then finding some are only for iphones or macs... I've come up with a couple different ideas from LDraw and Bricksaic, I was wondering if you could test out your program and see what pieces it could come up with to cut down on amount of pieces (as one program I have does studs and the other seems limited in the plates it uses). To avoid blowing up the thread with over sized pictures here's a link to my flickr account where I made a folder of the pics and plans. Thanks in advance for any help or advice.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    Tricky one to work from... here's what I get, restricting it to the colours that are available from the Pick A Brick service (i.e. not many). I've also restricted the largest square plate size to 6x6, as it seems really difficult to push larger plates onto a baseplate without your fingers falling off.

    image

    Total size: 75x54
    Total parts: 955
    Total price: £76.84 (vs £243.00 if it were made from 1x1 plates)

    I've written my program in Java, so it should be able to run on Windows, Linux, Mac, web servers, etc. Perhaps I should find some spare time to polish it up and release it...
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,205
    it seems really difficult to push larger plates onto a baseplate without your fingers falling off.
    That is what a rubber mallet is for =)

  • maesterjaymaesterjay Member Posts: 71
    Tricky one to work from... here's what I get, restricting it to the colours that are available from the Pick A Brick service (i.e. not many). I've also restricted the largest square plate size to 6x6, as it seems really difficult to push larger plates onto a baseplate without your fingers falling off.

    Total size: 75x54
    Total parts: 955
    Total price: £76.84 (vs £243.00 if it were made from 1x1 plates)

    I've written my program in Java, so it should be able to run on Windows, Linux, Mac, web servers, etc. Perhaps I should find some spare time to polish it up and release it...
    @paul_merton wow that is impressive only 955 parts vs the 4050 I was looking at with studs or 2687 parts with plates up to 2 x (X)s... I wish there was an easy way to get that into LDD to mess around with it... i may just need to take the time to plan it out old fashion like on there during my upcoming break. But i really hope you do continue to work on your program because I would really like to make more mosaics and it seems it would help a lot in minimizing costs.

    @graphite good choose on the rubber variety, that way you could honestly say "no Legos were harmed in the production of this mosaic"



  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,899
    seems really difficult to push larger plates onto a baseplate without your fingers falling off.
    I did that for 3 days straight and that is what I felt like at the end of that day pushing in plates for a 115,000+ piece mosaic.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    2x2 plates seem to be the easiest to fit. They go on so easily!
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    Not sure why I didn't think of this before, but I modified my program so it outputs the results in LDR format. This means I can preview them in 3D using LDview, edit them in MLCad, and with a bit of additional tweaking, I can now even generate the full set of instructions and parts list completely via LPub.

    Here's a 64x64 "LEGO" mosaic and a 96x48 Union Flag that I converted automatically from small PNG images, directly to LDR files and PDF instructions!

  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,359
    @paul_merton - love the work. Just got into mosaics and naturally I bit off a bit more than I can chew (144x144). I'm already planning my next one 0 this time studs up.

    Any recos on framing the standard build mosaic?
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    @adammullins I haven't framed any of mine, but if I were to, I'd probably just get an angle thingy and cut my own frame to size. Sticking glass over it would ruin the effect, imho :)
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,789
    With a tiny bit more tweaking, I can now automatically produce 3D stop motion animations of the construction process :)


    sidersddatkinsarmurphquakebluedragonkiki180703
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,359
    I'm currently doing a 3-panel mosaic. Here's the last panel. Ill get. Pictures of the complete mosaic whe it's done.
    BrickDancerCam_n_Stukiki180703
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,359
    Thought I'd update now that my mosaics complete. Just need to frame it now.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Why isn't Mac in the last frame?
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,359
    ^because he got TKO'd, just like every time I fought Tyson in the game. :)
  • dustinmrobertsdustinmroberts Member Posts: 35
    @paul_merton Any news on when we might get to play with this? I've been wanting to build a mosaic for a long time, and this looks like the perfect way to start! I can't wait to try it!
  • murphquakemurphquake Member Posts: 651
    I'm curious about how often it's cheaper to go with plates over bricks in mosaics? especially with all the 1x & 2x bricks of decent length around I'd think it would be cheaper in many instances to go that route than with plates. Having watched huge mosaics go up at NYCC this fall, I think one good thing to do might be to break it down into smaller segments, using large plates then assembling them to the main base. LEGO had theirs set up using white 6x6 plates with the corresponding colors printed on them and numbered on back as to where they went on each mosaic, then they let the crowd put 1x1 bricks down on them to complete it collectively. It might be easier to build 9 16x16 plates then put them all down on a 48x48 baseplate. An added bonus is that by offsetting them a few studs you can link baseplates together easily for larger mosaics. Just (barely) thinking out loud.

    BTW beautiful work @adammullins, i bet @bmwlego will love seeing that, he's hooked on NES mosaics, isn't that right Mr. Beamer?
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