Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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Hi i am new to photography, i have a pic of my friend's which i would like to make it special. I would like to combine his 20 to 30 pics to form his face or any other nice pic of his. What software can i use to do this?

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Take a look at this comparison of mosaicing softwares. I believe you'll need more than 30 pics for the mosaic. –  Esa Paulasto Apr 29 '13 at 7:14

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

The technique is called a photomosiac, where an image in composed of lots of smaller images with different overall colour / brightness such that it resembles the master image when viewed from a distance.

There exist many pieces of software to sort the images and build the mosaic for you. That's not the hard part.

The problem is that if you have, say 20 images, you're only going to be able to represent the face as a 4x5 grid of pixels (unless the software is able to exploit the shapes with an image, and you get extremely lucky with your source images).

This is what a 4 pixel by 5 pixel image looks like:

Could be a pork chop.

If you quadruple the number of images then you get something like this:

Which is at least recognisable as a human face.

But to stand a chance of being able to recognise the image, you need something more like 20x25:

But that's a very famous face, personally I would recommend going a little bit higher, 32x40:

And then everybody knows who the portrait is of. 32x40 requires 1280 images. But that's if there just so happens to be the exact number of each colour/brightness required in the collection. In reality this wont happen so you need to multiply by a factor of 4, or more, meaning realistically you should be looking at 4,000 images. So I think you're going to struggle with 20.

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Perhaps re-using the photos? Though it might not look too good if, for example the background, was all made of the same one photo used over and over again :( –  Esa Paulasto Apr 29 '13 at 8:37
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@EsaPaulasto I've seen some photomosaics attempted with repeated images and they looked very bad, and that was with far more than 20 as a starting point. –  Matt Grum Apr 29 '13 at 8:41
    
Right, thought about so. Thanks for verifying this. –  Esa Paulasto Apr 29 '13 at 8:42
    
That was wonderful explanation.. i have almost thousands of pics then.. but you didnt mention the software to use? which one is better? any suggestions? –  u2425 Apr 29 '13 at 19:47
    
@u2425 - We can't really say which software is best. First; one should have used a few if not all of those softwares to know their abilities, before one could recommend any of them. Second; even if there was a "best" software, tomorrow may be released a new one which mops the floor with all those older softwares. You did visit the software comparison site? And googled for some more, yes? –  Esa Paulasto Apr 30 '13 at 0:53

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