One fine day, totally out of the blue, the Digital Jalebi office received a box overflowing with tiny stock image prints. Turns out we had purchased a few hundred images from a stock images company way back for a client's project, and they had mailed us these prints for promotion.
Such an awesome opportunity simply cannot be allowed to be wasted and I volunteered to put these images to good use. I decided to make a mosaic of 392 images from these totally random 700-800 images(coincidentally, the stock images we bought were also used to make a digital mosaic).
The image selection is extremely important as it should have fewest number of colors while having as little detail and as much contrast as possible. I settled on Joker from The Dark Knight because he has few but easily identifiable colors: green hair, white face, blackened eyes, red mouth and purple coat. So even if I didn't manage to nail the shape, the easily recognized color combination will help convey the image.
Then editing in millimeter units, the joker image was divided into grids with each grid equal to the size of a single image print.
Using a pencil, a matching grid was drawn on a sheet and the rows and columns are numbered for easy indexing. A light outline of the image was sketched on the grid to help in the mosaic making process.
All the images were segregated according to the major colors of Joker, i.e.green, white, black, red and purple.
An image was searched for a grid location by tediously going through all the images in the pile for the color required. The best match was stuck there with the smallest dab of weak glue.
By repeatedly removing, swapping or adding images to find the best combinations, an outline of the target image begins to emerge. There is no perfect arrangement. We can keep improving it and it will keep getting better. I was working on-and-off for months and it kept improving, getting subtle shades, a better nose, gradual color gradients etc.
Once satisfied with the image placement, the images were removed from sheet and re-glued permanently with superglue.
Having never made a mosaic before this, I was informed that the mosaic making process is best left to computers, which can analyze each image, tint them and find the best spot to place them. Neither having such awesome processing power while doing it manually, nor willing to tint my images with markers(nor being an artist), I was told it's not possible. But being an obstinate idiot, I decided to trudge ahead and this project is the result of months of despair, rework, dropping the project, taking it up again, and the eventual euphoria of success.