How to find inexpensive and free mosaic patterns.
Inexpensive and free mosaic patterns1 can be found online,
in ornamental design books or graphic design books such as the
Dover Pictorial Archive Series,
and even in children's coloring books.
Some images in design books can be somewhat complex, depending on the type of book, but it's also very easy to find
images with minimum detail, which will work best for interpreting into a mosaic. Children's coloring books can make
great patterns for mosaics for the following reasons:
- The images have just enough detail, but not too much. The drawing needs to be simple because it's only a map.
The details, shading and texture come when you add the tile. Most importantly, it doesn't make sense to sketch out details that are
smaller than your smallest mosaic tile. Refer to the sketch on the
right. If you were to make a mosaic of a hand, you probably
wouldn't need or want a sketch any more detailed than that.
- Coloring books come in most every theme imaginable: human
figures, historical events, animals, vehicles, ships, mythological
creatures, famous architecture, etc. Why buy a generic pattern
from a stained glass store when you can find more specific images in a
- Coloring books are cheap and available most anywhere.
- You can change the pictures or combine several into one scene.
Customizing a Mosaic Pattern
Visual noise is good! Since you will probably be converting a simple image wtih little detail into a more complex work of art,
it's necessary to add your own elements of depth, dimension and style as you choose tiles for color, texture and shading.
It's all in the details. As you work, remember to "color outside the lines" and don't worry
about fixing every "mistake." A little "visual noise" can make a work of art much more interesting.
- Consider using 2 different colors or shades of the
same color instead of only 1 color to create highlights and shading, giving flat shapes some depth.
- Use bold outlining. Outlines should be clear and dark but not thick. Big thick outlines make images hard to see.
- Incorporate multiple design elements into one work, such as ornamental bordering,
or use multiple designs together to create a central theme.
- Experiment with tiles or stones with varying texture and unexpected color.
- Improvise by modifying the pattern to make it work for you.
Make sure you write and ask for permission if you are using
copyright material, especially if the mosaic is for a commission or public
space. The suggestions on this page are intended primarily for
mosaics for personal use.
Transferring and Enlarging Patterns
Need a larger pattern for your mosaic but can't draw? No
problem. There is a simple technique that is used all the time, even
by people who haven't learned to draw freehand. The solution is to
trace a light grid over the original drawing using a pencil and ruler and
then quickly and easily copy the contents of the grid onto a similar yet
Ex: Let's say we have a small drawing that is 10" x10" and we want to use that drawing as the pattern for a table that is
- Take a ruler and pencil and trace a grid on your original
pattern. For example, draw a line every 1 inch both horizontally
and vertically so that the pattern is covered by a grid of 1 inch
squares. In this example, that would mean 10 columns by 10 rows.
- Take the ruler and pencil and trace a grid with the same number of
lines on the table. But the table is larger. How far apart
should you make the lines? We divide the width of the table by
the number of rows: 24 inches divided by 10 rows = 2.4 inches per
row. That means we trace a line every 2.4 inches on the table.
- Now we have a pattern covered in 100 squares and a table covered in
100 larger squares. Look at the grid on the pattern and notice
that the pattern doesn't look that complicated when divided up into
100 pieces. In fact, each of the 100 squares probably only
contain one simple line.
- Simply copy one square at a time. Notice that it is easy and
fast to copy each of the squares without "drawing" in a
mental sense because you are only making a line or maybe two in each
of the squares.
Links to Mosaic Patterns Online
Mosaic Patterns Online
sells patterns but also features a free mosaic pattern of the month.
Mosaic and Tessellated Patterns
is a book of geometric patterns with instructions on how to create your own.