How to Draw Mosaic Patterns for a Tile Mosaic Project

By Contributor

How to Draw Mosaic Patterns for a Tile Mosaic Project. Although mosaic tiles are 3D objects affixed to a surface, you must think of mosaic patterns for tile placement from a 2D perspective. These instructions will help you to not only draw basic patterns in 2D for 3D projects, but will also provide you with the foundation to draw larger, more complex designs by hand. Read on to learn how to draw mosaic patterns for a tile mosaic project.

Coloring Book Method

Look at existing basic and complex tile mosaics (DIY and craft store pattern books, museum and church murals, tile floor patterns are good places to look) to help you to better understand how tiles are laid out and how colors combine to take an image from a basic outline to a complex piece of art.

Draw a basic outline-only image similar to the outlined images in a child's coloring book. If you do not have an image in mind or feel that you do not have much artistic ability, pull one or more images (to use separately or combine) that you like from books, magazines, the Internet, coloring books or elsewhere. With your black marker, draw over the exterior lines of the main subject matter that you wish to have appear in your pattern.

Affix tracing paper to your project surface and trace over each part of your outline-only image(s) to copy onto the surface. You now have the necessary pattern to work from. If the image isn't large enough, go to Step 4.

Increase the size of your outlined image(s), if they are not large enough for your project surface, on a copy machine or at a copy/print center and then follow Step 3.

Grid Paper Method

Repeat Step 1 of Section 1.

Choose your tile mosaic project subject matter. Keep in mind that the sky is literally the limit as grid paper allows for larger and more complex patterns and color variability as the final drawn result will look in 2D exactly how the final 3D project should appear. For this example, use a basic grid pattern: three different colored side-by side 1/2 inch wide vertical lines that are 3 inches long followed by a triangle and then 3 more 1/2 inch wide, 3 inch long lines.

Rough sketch your image onto "large block" grid paper using your colored pencils. This step may seem unnecessary, but it will help you to understand how the image looks in 2D as colored block points and how, when this image is eventually reconstructed with tile, some parts of the image may be broken into smaller tiles or may use irregular shape portions of tile to complete.

Look at how the colors are laid out on the blocks where the triangle has been drawn--these are areas where you will have to cut your tiles to fit the pattern.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 of Section 1 once your pattern is complete.


Section 1 describes a popular mosaic pattern design technique that assumes prior knowledge of how tiles break in color when laid over top of an outline. If you have never worked with tiles before or have difficulty laying out your tiles, skip Section 1 and follow the grid paper method outlined in Section 2. Do not skip Step 2 as it provides you with a basic drawing foundation for 2D and 3D art. Without this perspective, you may have difficulty with altering pixels to different colors for any mosaic projects that use paint or mosaic software or drawing scanned to software projects.