Picture Mosaics

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


FAQ: Answers

1) What is a Picture Mosaic?
A Picture Mosaic is a group of small pictures (cells) arranged in such a way to create a larger picture (source). Examples can be found on the example gallery pages.
2) What is the process of creating a Picture Mosaic?
We create your Picture Mosaic by using pictures that you provide (cells and source), or pictures from our database, your choice. There are 4 main steps in creating your custom mosaic:
Step 1:
First, we must make your source mosaic friendly. We may alter certain details, adjust contrast and brightness, and apply certain digital filters. It can take several revisions to correctly enhance your source image to be completely mosaic friendly and ensure the optimal mosaic outcome.
Step 2:
After your source is enhanced, all of your pictures are fed into an advanced graphic analysis program where they are mapped to your source image. It can take many hours to successfully map your cells to the source. The file size of the picture mosaic will range anywhere from 400MB to 9GB+, with resolutions ranging from 90 megapixels to 400+ megapixels depending on the size of your Picture Mosaic. For comparison, high-end digital cameras have a resolution of about 12 to 15 megapixels. In terms of dpi, our mosaics range from 2800 to 4800+ dpi at full size.
Step 3:
After rendering is complete, we manually enhance your mosaic which may include: cell swapping, digital air brushing, and any unique design requirements requested by our clients
Step 4:
After the mosaic is finalized, we send it to one of our new Epson large format printers to print. We only use the premium quality photo paper (or canvas) and vibrant UltraChrome inks. After printing, we inspect the mosaic for quality and detail, package it, and then ship it off to you.

For a full overview of the mosaic creation process, click here
3) Cell Questions:
What are cells?

Cells are the many images that make up the photo mosaic. When creating a Picture Mosaic, each cell is analyzed and optimally placed into the mosaic as to closely match colors and shapes of the source. For examples, please check out the example pages.

How many pictures will I need?
It is recommended that you send us at least 80 cell images, however, the more images you send, the better your Picture Mosaic will turn out. To create the Picture Mosaic, the total cell count will range from 1500 to 4400, depending on the size you choose (an optimal cell size and cell count will be chosen); therefore, cells may be repeated to fill the Picture Mosaic.
To learn more about sizing and cell counts, click here

Do my pictures need to be digital?
No. We accept both digitalized and non-digitalized cells. If your cells are already digitalized (through use of a digital camera, or a scanner), you may choose to upload them or to send them to us on a CD. If your pictures aren't digitalized, you may send them to us, and we will digitize them for you. Be sure to select the appropriate options on the purchase page. Click here to find out more about sending pictures to Picture Mosaic.

Additional note about digitalized pictures (not required):
~ Digitalized cell pictures should be at least 320 x 240 pixels or at least 75 dpi.
~ The digitalized source picture should be of higher resolution (greater than 640 x 480 pixels or at least 150 dpi).
Are there any guidelines to follow when choosing my cell pictures?
Yes. It is important to follow these guidelines. Click here to view the cell guidelines
Will all my cell pictures that I send be used? Will they be repeated?
Yes, we will attempt to use all of your images in your mosaic at least once. If it is an absolute requirement that all images that you submit be used, please let us know in the comment box during check out.
In most cases we are able to use every cell at least, however there are a few mosaic cases where a few cells may be impossible to map to your source due to colors in that particular picture. Our software uses many different algorithms in attempting to map all of your cells to your source picture.

Most likely, each cell will be repeated many times (that is unless you send us an extremely large amount of cell pictures, i.e. more than 1500). A Picture Mosaic will use 1500 to 4400 cells (depending on the size you choose, an optimal cell size and cell count will be chosen); so therefore, cells will be repeated to fill the Picture Mosaic. For example, if you send us 250 cell pictures, on average each cell would be used 7.7 times. This is an average, and therefore some may be used less and some may be used more. The repeated pictures will be placed as far apart as possible, as to reduce the likelihood of the human eye from realizing duplicates.
To learn more about sizing and cell counts, click here.
Will there be any borders around the cells in my Picture Mosaic?
Unless requested, there will not be any borders around your cell photos. Our raised cell mosaics feature a slight drop shadow to add depth and separation from the background. To see examples, please check out the example gallery pages.
Will the color or tint of my cells change as they are mapped into the mosaic?
If needed, we will use a process called cell colorization.
What is cell colorization?
Definition:
If after all your cell pictures are optimally placed, there still lacks the appropriate detail, colors from the source will be faintly merged into some of the cells. This is usually done for mosaics that lack a wide variety of different colors in the submitted cell photos. We do not use cell colorization unless absolutely needed due to the lack cell color variety.
Will my cell pictures be cropped? If so, how?
If all of your pictures are the exact same size and orientation, then none of your cell pictures will be cropped. If your cell pictures are of different sizes, the average size will be used; all cells that fall outside that average will be centrally cropped.Although, if all your cells are of the same orientation, minimal cropping would be expected. For this reason, it is important that all of your cells be of the orientation of the cell shape that you have selected. Mixing vertical oriented pictures and horizontal oriented pictures may result in undesired cropping. To learn more about undesired cropping please review the cell guidelines.
4) Source Questions:
What is the source?

The source is a single image that will be used as a map to place your cells to create a picture mosaic. For examples, please check out the example gallery pages.
On our end, we will make your source mosaic friendly. We may alter certain details, adjust contrast and brightness, and apply certain digital filters. It can take several revisions to correctly enhance your source image to be completely mosaic friendly and ensure the optimal mosaic outcome.
Does the source need to be digital?
No. We accept both digitalized and non-digitalized source pictures. Click here to find out more about sending pictures to Picture Mosaics.
Are there any guidelines to follow when choosing my source picture?
Yes. It is important to follow these guidelines. Click here to view the source guidelines.
On our end, we will make your source mosaic friendly. We may alter certain details, adjust contrast and brightness, and apply certain digital filters. It can take several revisions to correctly enhance your source image to be completely mosaic friendly and ensure the optimal mosaic outcome.
5) What is the quality of a Picture Mosaic?
We only use state of the art computers, printers, and rendering software. We also only use premium Epson photo paper, premium Epson canvas and Epson UltraChrome ink. See below for further information.

What is the resolution and dpi of a Picture Mosaic?
Your Picture Mosaic may have a resolution ranging from 90 mega pixels to 500 mega pixels depending on the size of your Picture Mosaic (keep in mind that the top digital cameras only have a resolution of about 18 to 24 mega pixels). After the picture is rendered, it will be printed at 2880 to 4800+ dpi (three to six times that of photo-quality).

What kind of printers, paper, and ink are used to create a Picture Mosaic?
After we render your Picture Mosaic, we send it to the new Epson Large format printers to print. We only use the premium Epson photo paper, canvas/vinyl, and ink. The photo paper is heavy weight, 96% Opacity, and 89 ISO brightness. We also only use long lasting (up to 80 years) Epson waterproof, fade-proof vibrant ink. After printing, we inspect the mosaic for quality, do some finalization, and then ship it off to you.
6) How and where do I send my pictures?
Please click here for this information.
What is the turn around time?
From the time we receive your pictures (either through the mail, or upload) to the time we ship is usually ship 5 to 7 business days*. We will ship your mosaic in a protective tube by the method you select during checkout (Overnight, 2-Day, 3-day, standard ground).

We also offer a 2 to 3-day rush design service for an additional fee ($75 to $95); please email for an approval code that will be used during checkout.
8) What if I was able to create a mosaic myself, and have a company like FedEx Office print it for me; or even have another mosaic company create and print my mosaic, would this be similar to what Picture Mosaics provides? Would it be cheaper?
Unfortunately, this will get you no where close to what we offer at Picture Mosaics. Quality and clarity would be far inferior, and your savings would be small to none.

First, we use our in-house state-of-the-art software which feature algorithms that we constantly improving and tweaking. While improving these algorithms, we continue to invent new ones. This software along with our expert knowledge of mosaic design allows us to optimize and customize your mosaic to ensure that all cell pictures are perfectly (and artistically) placed. To date, there we have found nothing on the market that is comparable or allows for a true mosaic design.
After our software is done mapping your images, we manually enhance the mosaic by performing cell swaps and other digital enhancements (only if needed).
When we are completely satisfied (and you are completely satisfied via an email preview) we will finalize the digital mosaic file. The resulting file is so large and detailed that most computers can’t even open or display these large mosaics, let alone print them; thus this is the first problem when trying print a mosaic at a printing/copying store. Next, unlike most printing/copying stores (and mosaic companies), we use the highest quality, heavy weight premium Epson luster photo paper (or premium canvas/vinyl); most of these types of stores use only a standard non-glossy or high glossy large format paper. Additionally, most printing/copy stores (and other mosaic companies) can only print at a maximum of 300 or 600 dpi, which is not near the 2880 to 4800+ dpi that we use at here at Picture Mosaics. The greater the dpi (dots per inch), the greater detail there will be in the small cell images - which in the end really makes the mosaic a masterpiece. Finally, the money you save would be minimal to none (it may even be more expensive); for example most FedEx Office stores charge over $25.00 per square foot for large format printing on most premium media types. In the end, there is really no comparison for custom mosaics we create. We look forward to creating custom photo mosaic today!
9) What if I am unhappy with my Picture Mosaic after I receive it? What is the return policy?
If for any reason you are unhappy with your Picture Mosaic, send it back to us within 10 days of receiving it, and we will issue you a full refund (less the shipping costs).
Important Notes:
9.1) All reprint requests and size changes must go through the reprints page.
9.2) Exchanges for new mosaics (same size) will be accepted for defects and/or design flaws.
9.3) You may always elect to send your mosaic back to us (within 10 days of receiving it) for a full refund less shipping costs.
9.4) In the case there is a delay or issue in submitting your photos, you may to cancel your order within 60 days. After 60 days we are unable to process a credit card refund. You have 2 years to submit your photos to us for use in the mosaic. We are available by email and phone (M-F 9:00-5:30 EST) to aid you in submitting your photos for your mosaic.
9.5) Any extra ordinary processing such as special order print media, rush services, or special design requirements, may only be eligible for a partial refund.
9.6) Requesting a refund will cause your cells, source, and custom mosaic ineligible for future mosaic orders and reprints.
9.7) Jigsaw puzzles, once received, are not eligible for refunds.

Return Address (You must receive an RMA number):
Picture Mosaics
486 Norristown Rd, Suite 132
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Please email orders [at] picturemosaics [dot] com to inform us that you will be returning your Picture Mosaic. You must receive an RMA number to ship your mosaic back to us.
Any additional question or comments can be emailed to: info [at] picturemosaics [dot] com