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Create photo mosaics with free photo mosaic software: A picture is worth a thousand pictures

Sometimes you need to take a step back to fully appreciate a picture. In this case, you may need to take several steps forward. This is a common requirement for photo mosaics.

Not too long ago, my daughter had her first birthday party. My wife and I put together a DVD slideshow of baby pictures to give to party guests. While the DVDs were fun, the plastic cases were boring. We decided to jazz them up with a photo mosaic.

A photo mosaic is a picture made up of many smaller pictures. For our DVDs, we decided to put a big number "1" on the front of the case, and a birthday cake on the back. It was only when you looked closer at the pictures, you'd see they were made up of hundreds of little photos of a very cute baby.

This specialized graphic is easy to make, and can be created with free photo mosaic software. Here's how to create your own photo mosaics.

Apart from the all-important computer, you'll need a photo of your "big" photo mosaic picture: Using MS Paint (a simple drawing program free with Windows), I drew a birthday cake next to a big number "1". I also had a collection of digital pictures used to create the mosaic, as the Kaiser family has taken about four million digital photos of the baby.

Download and install free photo mosaic software, appropriately named "PhotoMosaic". Another excellent free photo mosaic software program is "Andrea PhotoMosaic", which also allows you to rip images from an AVI file for use in a mosiac.

Next, collect all your digital photos and put them all in one folder on your computer.

If you're using PhotoMosaic, go through its four listed steps: Select your "big" picture, select your collection of small pictures, and pick the size you want for your final mosaic. When you've selected these preferences, click "Start" to create your picture, and "Save" to save it to your computer for later viewing and printing.

Use as many "small" pictures as you can. The more variety of pictures you have, the better the program can match them to your "big" picture. If you're going to print this out, be sure to pick the options needed to size the final picture very large. The bigger the picture, the more detail you can fit, and the better it will look when it's printed.

A photo mosaic programs is pretty impressive. It looks at a small piece of your target "big" picture, and figures out what small picture would best fit. It does this until it's completely replaced every inch of the big picture with similar-looking collections of small pictures.

Sure beats making photo mosaics by hand. I remember doing something similar in grade school, on a much more limited scale. It was messy, and time consuming, and the glue didn't even taste good. Save yourself time and effort – have computers do the cutting and pasting work for you. It's what they're best at. No glue required.