Friday, April 9, 2010

Winter project’s finished – now to enjoy the summer!

Last thanksgiving, inspired by both a friend’s adventures and an article featured on Lifehacker (original here) I had a stroke of inspiration. What I was not aware of was that this particular project would ultimately take me just about 6 months to complete, but having finished it recently I thought I’d share.

The idea behind the whole thing is to take a photograph or painting, crank down the resolution, and what you’re left with is a pixelated version, which you can then lay out as coloured tiles – in this case paint chips – and recreate the photo low-res but at large scale and without lifting a paintbrush.

n1_rect540 The inspiration

Perhaps influenced by the above picture and associated nostalgia, I thought a fedora-clad Bogart might do well. Some searching brought me to this:


Which yielded to some mile photoshopping:

Spade4  Spade40 Spade50

And then shrunk to a much smaller resolution:

SpadeFinal FinalBlowUp

With my design set, it was then a quest to get raw materials. A trip raiding the local hardware stores yielded a wide selection of paint swatches, and then began the many-month-long process of cutting out hundreds upon hundreds of squares of colour for tiles. Montreal is cold in winter. There’s no need to go outside.


Splitting the photo into three colour zones let me partition the chips, and then began the selection of tiles to fit the photo. Splitting it into zones of 10x10 helped. For example, the crown of the hat:

7 Zone7BlowUp

And laying out the patterns:


And after another long amount of time, all that was done. Laying them all out, we got:


Note the TV show on in the background. Simultaneous other activities is highly recommended.

A bit more work, and it was glued down, and the final product complete.


Yes, not every colour matches the template. I think that makes it better. Yes, there are gaps. I had to face the reality that I can’t consistently cut squares with a ruler and utility knife. I accepted it and just tried to make sure the gaps ended up randomly dispersed, which I mostly accomplished. And yes, it looks a little eerie in the camera flash, but under ambient light it really worked out well.

And now that sucker hangs on my wall. To those who say I have no artistic talent, I have this to say: only when I don’t have a template.