Computational Visual Media

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 33–44 | Cite as

Automated pebble mosaic stylization of images

  • Lars DoyleEmail author
  • Forest Anderson
  • Ehren Choy
  • David Mould
Open Access
Research Article


Digital mosaics have usually used regular tiles, simulating historical tessellated mosaics. In this paper, we present a method for synthesizing pebble mosaics, a historical mosaic style in which the tiles are rounded pebbles. We address both the tiling problem, of distributing pebbles over the image plane so as to approximate the input image content, and the problem of geometry, creating a smooth rounded shape for each pebble. We adopt simple linear iterative clustering (SLIC) to obtain elongated tiles conforming to image content, and smooth the resulting irregular shapes into shapes resembling pebble cross-sections. Then, we create an interior and exterior contour for each pebble and solve a Laplace equation over the region between them to obtain height-field geometry. The resulting pebble set approximates the input image while representing full geometry that can be rendered and textured for a highly detailed representation of a pebble mosaic.


non-photorealistic rendering digital mosaics image stylization segmentation image processing 



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for many insightful comments. We also thank members of the Graphics, Imaging and Games Lab for productive comments and discussions. Funding for this work was provided by NSERC, OGS, and Carleton University.

We used many images from Flickr under a Creative Commons license. Thanks to the numerous photographers who provided material: Douglas Scortegagna (landscape), bDom (b&w portrait), Julio Romero (iguana), Peat Bakke (t-rex), Gábor Lengyel (portrait), Tommie Hansen (canal), Theen Moy (cat), JB Banks (dark woods), Richard Messenger (Yemeni), Greg Myers (tomatoes), sicknotepix (toque).


  1. [1]
    Dunbabin, K. M. D. Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World. Cambridge University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    Ling, R. Ancient Mosaics. British Museum Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    Howarth, M. The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook. Firey Books, 2003.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    Achanta, R.; Shaji, A.; Smith, K.; Lucchi, A.; Fua, P.; Süsstrunk, S. SLIC superpixels compared to state-of-the-art superpixel methods. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence Vol. 34, No. 11, 2274–2282, 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Battiato, S.; di Blasi, G.; Farinella, G. M.; Gallo, G. Digital mosaic frameworks—An overview. Computer Graphics Forum Vol. 26, No. 4, 794–812, 2007.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    Silvers, R. Photomosaics. Henry Holt and Co., Inc., 1997.Google Scholar
  7. [7]
    Haeberli, P. Paint by numbers: Abstract image representations. In: Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 207–214, 1990.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Hausner, A. Simulating decorative mosaics. In: Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 573–580, 2001.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    Secord, A. Weighted Voronoi stippling. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering, 37–43, 2002.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    Hiller, S.; Hellwig, H.; Deussen, O. Beyond stippling—Methods for distributing objects on the plane. Computer Graphics Forum Vol. 22, No. 3, 515–522, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. [11]
    Elber, G.; Wolberg, G. Rendering traditional mosaics. The Visual Computer Vol. 19, No. 1, 67–78, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Di Blasi, G.; Gallo, G. Artificial mosaics. The Visual Computer Vol. 21, No. 6, 373–383, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Liu, Y.; Veksler, O.; Juan, O. Generating classic mosaics with graph cuts. Computer Graphics Forum Vol. 29, No. 8, 2387–2399, 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [14]
    Kim, J.; Pellacini, F. Jigsaw image mosaics. ACM Transactions on Graphics Vol. 21, No. 3, 657–664, 2002.Google Scholar
  15. [15]
    Saputra, R. A.; Kaplan, C. S.; Asente, P.; Měch, R. FLOWPAK: Flow-based ornamental element packing. In: Proceedings of Graphics Interface Conference, 8–15, 2017.Google Scholar
  16. [16]
    Saputra, R. A.; Kaplan, C. S.; Asente, P. RepulsionPak: Deformation-driven element packing with repulsion forces. In: Proceedings of Graphics Interface Conference, 10–17, 2018.Google Scholar
  17. [17]
    Kwan, K. C.; Sinn, L. T.; Han, C.; Wong, T. T.; Fu, C. W. Pyramid of arclength descriptor for generating collage of shapes. ACM Transactions on Graphics Vol. 35, No. 6, Article No. 229, 2016.Google Scholar
  18. [18]
    Smith, K.; Liu, Y.; Klein, A. Animosaics. In: Proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation, 201–208, 2005.Google Scholar
  19. [19]
    Dalal, K.; Klein, A. W.; Liu, Y.; Smith, K. A spectral approach to NPR packing. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering, 71–78, 2006.Google Scholar
  20. [20]
    Kaplan, C. S.; Salesin, D. H. Escherization. In: Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 499–510, 2000.Google Scholar
  21. [21]
    Kaplan, C. S.; Salesin, D. H. Dihedral escherization. In: Proceedings of the Conference on Graphics Interface, 255–262, 2004.Google Scholar
  22. [22]
    Goferman, S.; Tal, A.; Zelnik-Manor, L. Puzzle-like collage. Computer Graphics Forum Vol. 29, No. 2, 459–468, 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. [23]
    Liu, L. J.; Zhang, H. J.; Jing, G. M.; Guo, Y. W.; Chen, Z. G.; Wang, W. P. Correlation-preserving photo collage. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics Vol. 24, No. 6, 1956–1968, 2018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. [24]
    Brox, T.; van den Boomgaard, R.; Lauze, F.; van de Weijer, J.; Weickert, J.; Mrázek, P.; Kornprobst, P. Adaptive structure tensors and their applications. In: Visualization and Processing of Tensor Fields. Mathematics and Visualization. Weickert, J.; Hagen, H. Eds. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 17–47, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. [25]
    Gonzalez, R. C.; Woods, R. E. Digital Image Processing, 3rd edn. Prentice Hall, 2008.Google Scholar
  26. [26]
    Pérez, P.; Gangnet, M.; Blake, A. Poisson image editing. ACM Transactions on Graphics Vol. 22, No. 3, 313–318, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. [27]
    Schlechtweg, S.; Germer, T.; Strothotte, T. RenderBots—Multi-agent systems for direct image generation. Computer Graphics Forum Vol. 24, No. 2, 137–148, 2005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. [28]
    Gatys, L. A.; Ecker, A. S.; Bethge, M. Image style transfer using convolutional neural networks. In: Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition 2414–2423, 2016.Google Scholar
  29. [29]
    Johnson, J.; Alahi, A.; Fei-Fei, L. Perceptual losses for real-time style transfer and super-resolution. In: Computer Vision-ECCV 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 9906. Leibe, B.; Matas, J.; Sebe, N.; Welling, M. Eds. Springer Cham, 694–711, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Other papers from this open access journal are available free of charge from To submit a manuscript, please go to

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Doyle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Forest Anderson
    • 1
  • Ehren Choy
    • 1
  • David Mould
    • 1
  1. 1.Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations