Turning a photograph (or drawing, painting, or illustration) into a mosaic made of LEGO bricks is a very involved process. The main issue is that the bricks are made in a specific range of colors that are not a very good match for the natural colors one finds in a photo.

LEGO bricks are available now in more colors than ever before, but for these colors to be useful to us, we need to obtain large numbers of them in a variety of small sizes. For example, if a nice new shade of green suddenly became available in one of the LEGO kits, it is likely that the number of special green bricks in that kit will be limited, and may be all large bricks. We need a variety of sizes, and especially small ones, in order to simulate curves or diagonal lines (strictly straight horizontal or vertical lines, on the other hand, can be done with larger bricks).

We purchase bricks from people who aggregate colors from these kits. If your mosaic requires unusual colors, this means it may take some time for us to finish it! For example, two recent mosaics we did required small amounts of pink bricks and required about twice as much time as if they had only used more widely available colors. On the other hand, sometimes a common color just doesn't have the same effect!

It is certainly possible to do almost any picture using just five basic LEGO colors: red, blue, green, black, and white. Purple, for example, would be reproduced by interspersing lots of little red and blue bricks. From a distance, this blend appears purple to the eye, although when seen from up-close may look like a pointilist painting!

The size of the final mosaic will also affect color choices. For example, a small mosaic will frequently require more colors than a large mosaic of the same image in order to achieve the same level of quality.

Some people prefer mosaics created using the color-blending method. These mosaics look better from a distance than non-blended mosaics, but because they use more bricks are usually more expensive. The non-blended mosaics have a sort of "illustration" appearance and look as good close up as they do from a distance. Blending is usually required if the source image has many similar shades of color.

Below is a photo and a variety of examples of how it would look as a mosaic using different techniques at different sizes. Also included is the price we would charge to create such a mosaic as a commission. Obviously, these are examples only and are not actually for sale - the intention is to show you approximately how we would turn your photo into a mosaic.

Source Photo
Photo by Jamil Soni Neto licensed under Creative Commons.

 
15" x 15"
Blended Colors
1059 bricks
3 man-hours
$250
  15" x 15"
Solid Colors
793 bricks
2.5 man-hours
$190
  As you can see, the blended color version can show more detail in the subject's face, and the background shows up more accurately. At this size, however, the difference may not be noticable to most people and it would probably make more sense to purchase the solid color version. The background of that version would be manipulated to be a less-distracting solid color.
 
 
30" x 30"
Blended Colors
4067 bricks
12 man-hours
$970
  30" x 30"
Solid Colors
2817 bricks
9 man-hours
$670
  These larger versions are four times the size of the above mosaics. Both allow enhanced detail, especially in the subject's eyes and hand. At two and a half feet along each side, these mosaics are quite impressive on a wall. The blended color version shows much more detail in the subject's face and hair than in the smaller mosaics, and will always look better than the solid color mosaic from across a room. But the solid color mosaic will look better when viewed from up-close.
 

Some people actually prefer the blended color mosaics from up-close, as well. There is a certain magic about viewing something that is hard to discern from nearby, and then having it gradually become clear as you step back. Also, if you want a photo-realistic image on your wall, you probably shouldn't be thinking about having it done using LEGO bricks!

It should be noted that the above mosaics use several of the more expensive colors, including: tan, brown, orange, and dark orange. Flesh tones can actually be created using just by blending the five basic colors of black, white, red, green, and blue. Obviously, such a mosaic won't look as good as the above mosaics, but from a distance the effect can still be very impressive. You can take a look at our GALLERY page for some examples of even small mosaics using limited colors (such as just black, white, and gray) looking quite good. Mosaics that use the most common colors are also less expensive. For example, the following 30 inch blended-color mosaic contains more bricks than any of the above examples (and takes more labor time), but the only colors used are the most basic ones. Because of that, it is actually less expensive than the full-color blended mosaic. In some ways, it is more "authentic" since it only contains the original colors of LEGO bricks, the ones many of us grew up with.

30" x 30"
Blended Colors (Basic 5-Color)
4652 bricks
14 man-hours
$920

A general rule of thumb is that the fewer colors we use, the larger the resulting mosaic needs to be. For this reason, closeup shots of faces work much better than full-body photos. That way, detail can be concentrated where it is most important! We have created mosaics as large as 45 inches by 45 inches, but can create larger ones, if desired.

The example photo above looks good using both solid and blended color methods. Not all photos work out so well. An image will many shades of a single color, for example (like a tight closeup of only a part of a face) will usually never look good using the solid color method and must be done in blended colors. Other images, like the dalmation on our GALLERY page, would receive no benefit from the blending process, and can be done just using solid colors.

When you send us photos to make into mosaics, you don't need to worry about all of the above options. We'll send you simulated images of the mosaic (more accurate than the above images) in different styles, along with prices. You'll just need to choose what you like best. Before we even get that far, though, we'll probably need to edit the color and brightness of different parts of the original image. Sometimes we have been asked to do mosaics of several people. In those cases we sometimes need to combine faces from different photos, or move faces closer together if in the same photo. We frequently need to digitally erase the natural background of the photo and choose a solid color or some type of pattern. None of these manipulations adds to your final price. Our prices are determined merely by the number of bricks needed and the rarity of the colors involved. Our labor time is usually directly related to the number of bricks, and so those costs are reflected in the prices.

You may also want to see the ORDERING page, which includes more information.

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