Create Dramatic Photo Mosaics with Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, I’ll show you how to use mosaic technique in Photoshop to gather together a collection of images, place them all on one document and then blend them into a main image so they show through.

Final Image Preview

Take a look at the image we’ll be creating. You can view the final image preview below or a larger version here.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 1

The first step is to create a folder in which to place all the images you want to use as the background mosaic. make sure you put duplicates of the originals in here. Then we’ll create an action, open up one of the images and then select Window > Actions. Click the action menu at the top right of the palette and select New Action.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 2

When this window appears, click Record and all your movements will now be recorded.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 3

Go to Images > Image Size and uncheck Constrain Proportions, but check Resample Image. Type 1cm in Width an Height fields and make the resolution 200ppi. Click OK and then save the image. Close the window. Now click the gray square at the bottom of the Actions palette to stop recording.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 4

Now turn an action into a droplet. Go to File > Automate and select Create Droplet. Hit the Choose button to set a save destination for the droplet, pick the resizing action you’ve just created from the Action pull-down menu and click OK.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 5

Go back to the file of photos you selected earlier and then highlight them all. Now drag them over to the droplet icon to be converted into 1cm x 1cm squares. It will take a while.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 6

Once the image are all converted, it will be time to put together the background mosaic. This is done using the Contact Sheet II Photoshop plug-in. If you are working in Photoshop CS4, you need to download and install the plug-in. Here are the download link for PC user and mac user. To get it going, pop over to File > Automate > Contact Sheet II.

Contact Sheet II needs to know which photograph to turn into a contact sheet, so hit Browse and navigate to where they are. Once you have selected the photos to be converted, move down to the Document area and type in your measurement. I used 1280px by 800px at 200ppi, but you can set your own. Make sure Flatten All Layers is ticked. Now enter how many columns (across) and rows (down) you need. Because our photos are 1cm squared, this is a straight one-to-one ratio. Tick the Rotate For The Best Fit box and then put 0 in the Vertical and Horizontal areas. This will ensure there are no gaps in the sheet. Hit OK to create the sheet.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 7

Contact Sheet will present a small thumbnail giving you an idea of how its looks. It will also tell you how many photographs you have in your chosen source images folder. If you haven’t enough photos to fill the space, copy and paste a section to fill the document.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Step 8

Open your main image, select all and then copy and paste into your contact sheet. For this project I used an old car under sunset picture that I get from the Stock Exchange. Change the layer mode to Hard Light to allow the thumbnails to show through. And you’ve done.

Final Result

Now you’ve got your own photo mosaics. Click the image below to view the image in actual size. I hope you enjoy this tutorial, please subscribe to Grafisia RSS feed or can also subscribe via e-mail.

photoshop photo effect tutorial create dramatic photo mosaics

Download psd file


  1. Nice tutorials, simple

  2. hi,

    im a newbie.could u pls explain how to create the folder to put all the images?kind of confuse abt it ;p


  3. Im finding it hard to figure out why my contact sheet images have vertical gaps between them. The horizontlas are nice and joined with no gaps but the verticals do. I set the spacing to zero on both but cant figure out how to correct this. Any advise?

    • Your problem is in the Step 6. You should try another number for columns (across) and rows (down) until you get one-to-one ratio, because our photos are 1cm squared. In my example (see on the right side of my screenshot in Step 6) I have image with width 28px (W:28,0 pix) and height 28px (H:28,0 pix), so the width and height ratio is one-to-one. If your ratio isn’t one-to-one you’ll have gaps between columns or rows.

  4. ive gotten to step 4, but theres no option of resize in the drop down box. can somebody help? i did the first bit and the image changed to a 1 by 1cm image, but its just not in the options to choose resize, i dunno what ive missed.

  5. after performing step 4 its says “droplet cant communicate with photoshop!”

  6. this is not working from step 4. after creating the droplet how to drag all my photos to the “untitled.exe”?. If i do so there is no response. i tried many times and once my photoshop cs crashed too.

    Can anyone please help me through this?

    please. i am in need of this very much.


    • Just select all photos in your folder then drag to the droplet. if there is no response or error maybe its because you’re using too many photos and your computer not strong enough to handle the process.

  7. I have been trying this for hours now… I have 1000 different pictures, all resized. I have tried multiple different main images and still get the same result; a dark picture where the contrast is through the roof due to the “hard light” layer and the picture looks like crap. 🙁

    • you can try another layer blend mode, modify your main image using level or curve, or try another main image with nice color compositions.

  8. When i drag all photos in my folder to the droplet icon, it’s said “Windows cannot access the specified device,path,or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item.”
    Can someone help me about this, please? thanks before for your help.

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