How To Create a “Fauxsaic” Mosaic Text Effect (Illustrator & Photoshop Tutorial)

How To Create a “Fauxsaic” Mosaic Text Effect (Illustrator & Photoshop Tutorial)
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    Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial.
    Today I'm going to take you through a process I've come up with for creating a mosaic tile
    effect, using a mix of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
    This kind of tiled effect has been quite trendy over recent years, made popular by Nick Misani
    and his 'Fauxsaics' series, where he would produce illustrations of the place names he
    traveled to in the style of the kind of classic mosaic tile art found in hotel foyers and
    subway stations.
    Those Fauxsaics are painstakingly created by hand by drawing each individual tile, but
    my process uses the power of Adobe Illustrator to achieve a similar look.
    We'll then transfer the art over to Photoshop to help boost the realism with texturing and
    the must-have pair of superimposed feet.
    Create a new Illustrator document to get started.
    It can be any size, but make sure to set the units to Pixels to simplify the measurements.
    I think this mosaic effect works best with script type, so lay out your wording with
    a nice flowing typeface.
    I'm using one of my favourites named Smoothy.
    We can't actually use the text element itself, but we can use it for reference to redraw
    the type out of individual paths.
    Reduce the opacity to 50% then lock it to avoid accidentally moving it out of place.
    Grab the Pen tool and switch the default fill to a stroke.
    Begin tracing the shape of the letters by clicking and dragging the bezier handles to
    form a smooth path.
    Whenever you reach a point where your pen stroke would reverse back along itself, instead
    end the path by clicking on some empty space while holding the CMD key (or CTRL key on
    Windows), then start a new path for the next segment.
    Making sure you have Smart Guides enabled under the View menu will make it easy to snap
    to the existing paths.
    Deselect the path at the end of the letter and start a new path for the next letter,
    or letters if several are joined in a continuous cursive stroke.
    When you're done, you'll have the full wording made out of lines.
    Unlock the original text element and delete it.
    Select the Rectangle tool and draw a small square on the artboard about 10px in size.
    Make sure it has just a black fill with no stroke.
    Go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter 1px.
    Give this new shape a lighter grey fill, such as the third lightest swatch in the preset
    folder of grey tones in the Swatches panel.
    Switch over to the Selection tool and draw a selection across the shapes to make sure
    they're both selected, then click the New Brush icon in the Brushes panel.
    Select Pattern Brush.
    Configure the corner setting to Auto-Overlap for both the inner and outer corners, then
    change the Colorization Method to Tints before hitting OK.
    These square graphics can now be deleted.
    Draw a selection across all the paths that form the wording, then click the newly created
    tile brush in the Brushes panel.
    Switch to the Stroke panel and adjust the stroke weight to alter the scaling of the
    I'm using 0.5pt.
    The stacking order of some of the paths can be adjusted to help the stroke flow better.
    Select each one in turn and use the Arrange > Send to Back option to place them underneath
    the subsequent paths.
    Select all the paths again, then change the stroke colour to a cyan blue swatch.
    Head to Object > Path > Offset Path to begin filling out the design with more tiles.
    Turn on the Preview, then increase the offset size until the new outline of tiles aligns
    perfectly with the right spacing.
    Go to Object > Path > Offset Path again and hit OK straight away on the same settings.
    Change the stroke colour of this outline back to black.
    Add 4 or 5 more offset paths of black to outline the text, using the same offset each time.
    You could even continue adding more using different stroke colours and stroke weights
    if you wanted to produce a more intricate design.
    Hold the Shift key and add all the paths with a blue stroke colour to the selection.
    Use the Arrange > Bring to Front command so they're not obscured by the black outlines.
    This Illustrator technique saves loads of time compared to drawing all the tiles by
    hand, but you'll notice it does cause some glitches where there's some acute angles in
    the path.
    These glitches can be fixed by clipping and modifying each path.
    Use the Scissors tool to snip the point that's causing the problem.
    The pattern brush will stop trying to navigate around the sharp corner and will instead end
    at the open points.
    You then need to extend the open end to cover the gap that's left, but it's difficult to
    select the point you want when they're both stacked on top of each other.
    The easiest method I found was to use the Scissors to snip the path a little further
    up too, then delete a small portion.
    You can then select the Pen tool and easily click the point and extend it.
    Look out for the little pen icon with the line that indicates you're continuing an open
    Extend this path so it covers any unsightly areas with a neat tile pattern.
    Wherever there's a glitchy area, there will be multiple points to fix where that path
    has been offset numerous times.
    Work through the entire design and edit the paths of any weird looking tiles.
    When you extend the path, try to follow the curvature of the letter so the tiles run parallel
    with no gaps.
    You can also fill any small gaps with new paths.
    Draw a line, then apply the tile brush and set it to the correct stroke weight.
    Use the CMD+Shift+[ shortcut for Arrange > Send to Back to place these individual paths underneath
    everything else, so they're only visible in the gaps.
    The artwork is now made up of hundreds of tiny mosaic tiles.
    They might not realistically flow like a real mosaic design in some places, but the process
    is much less time consuming than drawing them all by hand.
    They do all look a bit too uniform though, so there's a couple of tweaks that will help
    add some realism.
    Draw a selection around everything, then go to Object > Expand Appearance to convert all
    those tiles into individual shapes.
    Use the Direct Selection tool to select just one black tile, then go to Select > Same > Fill
    Zoom right in to get a close look at the tiles in detail then go to Effect > Distort & Transform
    > Roughen.
    Configure the settings to 3% Size and 10 Detail, with the default Relative and Corner options
    Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and enter 0.25px.
    These effects don't do much for the realism up close, but when zoomed out the irregularities
    help reduce the uniform appearance.
    Use the Direct Selection tool to select a blue tile and use the Select > Same > Fill
    Color menu to select them all, then apply the same Roughen and Round Corners effects.
    Another trick to make the artwork look less computer generated is to mix up the fill colours
    to add some subtle variances.
    To save some time for this next step we'll use a third party script called Random Select,
    which I'll link down in the description.
    To install the script, save and close the document, then navigate to the Application
    files for Adobe Illustrator and head to Presets > Scripts and dump the JSX file in there.
    More detailed guides on how to install a script can be found with a quick Google search.
    Reboot Illustrator when you're done.
    Make a selection of all the black tiles again using the Select > Same > Fill Color menu,
    then go to File > Scripts > Random Select.
    Hit OK on the default value of 50%, which will leave you with a selection of half the
    This script saves you from the tedious task of randomly clicking individual tiles, but
    it can be a bit CPU intensive.
    Sit back and bear the unresponsiveness until it has finished processing.
    You can then choose a slightly lighter or darker fill colour to subtly mix up the tones.
    Do the same with the blue tiles, by selecting one with the Direct Selection tool, then Select
    > Same > Fill Color menu, followed by the Random Select script.
    Double click the fill colour in the toolbar and choose a lighter blue hue in the colour
    We can quickly fill out the background with a simple tile pattern.
    Hexagon tiles look pretty good to help them contrast against the squares.
    Select the Polygon tool and zoom in to the artwork.
    Hold the Shift key to keep the polygon straight, then eyeball its size relative to the other
    Give this shape a lighter grey fill.
    Drag the shape off the artboard into some empty space while we process it into a pattern.
    Start by dragging a copy vertically by holding the ALT key.
    Align it perfectly along the bottom edge.
    To create a gap, go to Object > Transform > Move.
    Enter 0.5px in the Vertical box.
    Select both these shapes and make a duplicate.
    Offset them so the hexagon pattern will tessellate.
    It can be difficult to line them up exactly, so hit CMD+Y to turn on Outline Mode to accurately
    match up the paths, then hit the ENTER key shortcut to bring up the Move command.
    Use 0.5px in the Horizontal box this time.
    Make a duplicate of all four shapes and line them up again to continue the pattern.
    The Smart Guides will get the idea the second time and begin snapping the duplicates to
    help continue the pattern with the correct spacing.
    Once it does this, you can use the CMD+D shortcut for Transform Again to quickly fill out a
    short line.
    Select all the shapes that form the line and duplicate them vertically.
    Use the CMD+D shortcut to extend this pattern into a square.
    Draw a selection around all these shapes and add the Roughen and Round Corners effects
    to distort them slightly, the roughen settings can be reduced to 1% so it doesn't mess up
    the shape too much.
    Use the Random Select script to then change the colour of half the tiles to a slightly
    lighter shade to add some variances in colour.
    This square sample is large enough so it won't show up any obvious repetition when used as
    a pattern.
    To make it seamlessly repeat, duplicate all the shapes to extend the pattern to the right.
    Turn on Rulers via the View menu or CMD+R shortcut and add a guide to identify the point
    between the two groups of shapes.
    Make duplicates of the shapes vertically too, making sure to add a guide between them.
    If the spacing is correct, you shouldn't be able to see where the pattern repeats if it
    wasn't for the guides.
    Draw a selection around all the polygon shapes and go to Object > Expand Appearance.
    Grab the rectangle tool and pick out a recognisable point in the upper left, then snap a rectangle
    to this point and extend it to the same point in the pattern in the upper right, lower left
    and lower right portions.
    Draw a selection around all the shapes again, including this new rectangle, then hit the
    Crop button in the Pathfinder panel.
    Convert this tile into a Pattern swatch under the Object > Pattern Make menu, where you
    can check it repeats seamlessly before hitting the Done button in the header.
    If not, press CMD+Z to undo and try lining up the rectangle again.
    The polygon pattern can now be deleted, because an infinite area can be filled with the same
    pattern by applying the newly created swatch as a fill to any shape.
    Use the Arrange > Send to Back menu to place it underneath the main mosaic artwork.
    Currently the grout colour of the polygon tiles is just the colour of the artboard showing
    through, to customise this, Copy then Paste Behind a duplicate of the shape, then change
    the fill colour.
    That's all the work in Illustrator done.
    Copy and Paste it over to Photoshop for some finishing touches.
    The vector artwork will probably translate to quite a small pixel canvas so use the Crop
    tool to enlarge the document and scale up the pasted graphic.
    The first Photoshop improvement is to add a Gradient adjustment layer, using a simple
    black to white gradient set to flow diagonally across the canvas.
    Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light to add a subtle cast of light.
    Tiled floors in subways are often grubby and grimy, so download and open one of my free
    Dirt Textures from Spoon Graphics.
    Select All, Copy and Paste the texture into the working document, the scale it to size
    using the CMD+T shortcut for Transform.
    Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert so the texture is black on white.
    Change the blending mode to Multiply to allow the artwork to show through the dirty marks.
    Alter the opacity of the texture layer to around 35%.
    A Fauxsaic piece just wouldn't be complete without a pair of feet to make the image look
    like it's a photo that's been taken looking down at a floor.
    Download and open a relevant photograph of some feet.
    There are some freebies available on, but this particular shot is named 'Foot and
    legs seen from above' by Yayha on Shutterstock.
    Open the image and zoom right in, then use the Pen tool to carefully cut out the feet
    and legs from the original background.
    Click and drag the bezier curves to roughly match the outline while staying a few pixels
    within the subject to avoid capturing any of the background in the selection.
    Once you're done, right click and choose Make Selection.
    Adding a little featuring of 0.5-1px helps reduce the hard fake looking edge of a clipped
    Copy and paste the selection into the main document, then transform, scale and position
    the legs within the lower centre.
    Create a new layer below the feet clipping, then hold the CMD or CTRL key and click the
    layer thumbnail of the feet image layer to load its selection.
    Hit ALT+Backspace to fill this selection with black.
    Use the CMD+T shortcut for Transform, then right click and choose Perspective.
    Drag the lowermost handle to the left to extend this black silhouette to represent a shadow.
    Apply a Gaussian Blur of 15px, then reduce the opacity to around 30%.
    The final result is a pretty realistic looking Fauxsaic piece that depicts your own type
    art as a tiled floor, without tediously hand drawing every individual tile by hand!
    Instead, a simple pattern brush in Illustrator creates the basic layout, then it's tidied
    up and modified with various adjustments to eliminate the computer generated appearance
    to make it seem like a dirty old floor in a real photograph.
    So if you enjoyed this tutorial or learnt anything new, be sure to give the video a
    like and subscribe to the Spoon Graphics YouTube channel to stick around for more.
    Have a browse around my Spoon Graphics website for more design inspiration, and join my mailing
    list to get all my free resources in one go and to receive notifications of all my future
    As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you the in the next one.
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