Mosaic Pet Portrait Cali

Cartoon Patterns and Mosaic Pet Portraits

The pattern for a mosaic is sometimes referred to as a cartoon because it is just an outline with no attempt at shading or color. The purpose of the cartoon is merely to map out the major work lines and color fields, and so the cartoon is relatively simple, even for photorealistic work. The texture and color mottling and finer details come from the tile.

Mosaic Pet Portrait Cali WIP2
Mosaic Pet Portrait Cali work-in-progress 2 by artist Donna Van Hooser

Simplified Yet Exact

The cartoon is not required to have all the lines needed to create an image, but what lines it does have should be exact. For example, you shouldn’t try to draw all the flecks of color in the iris of an eye, but you should have that iris drawn exactly where it goes.

When producing photorealistic mosaic portraits, artists rely on a photograph and refer to it continually as they work to get finer transitions of color right. The cartoon drawn on the mosaic backer allows the artist to get completely immersed in the finer details of the model and still make sure everything ends up in the correct place.

Mosaic Pet Portrait Cali WIP1
Mosaic Pet Portrait Cali work-in-progress 1 by artist Donna Van Hooser

But I Can’t Draw!

You do NOT have to be able to draw to make sophisticated patterns for mosaics.

Scan your photograph into the computer and use a program such as Photoshop (or one of the many freeware drawing programs) to trace line over the image. Do this tracing as a separate layer and then delete the layer with the photograph. With minimal effort, you will have produced an exact pattern. This can be done in 5 to 10 minutes.

TIP: If you aren’t familiar with software like Photoshop, remember that most teenagers and twenty-somethings are. There isn’t any reason to struggle or get frustrated.

If you are only using the photograph as a rough starting point and you want to deviate from it, you should read my article How to Make Mosaic Patterns Without Drawing.

I have an article about using carbon transfer paper under a printout of a photograph to Transfer Mosaic Patterns Quickly by Tracing.

If you want to avoid the computer, and you are comfortable using a ruler to a create a grid over the image, you could follow the instructions in my article How to Enlarge a Mosaic Pattern or Drawing Using Only a Ruler. This article includes a specific example with illustrations.

Here is our general page for finding, transferring, and enlarging patterns.

Mosaic Pet Portrait English Bulldog WIP1
Mosaic Pet Portrait English Bulldog as Henry VIII work-in-progress 1 by artist Donna Van Hooser
Mosaic Pet Portrait English Bulldog as Henry VIII
Mosaic Pet Portrait English Bulldog as Henry VIII by artist Donna Van Hooser

Artist Donna Van Hooser

Artist Donna Van Hooser is obviously as skilled a teacher as she is an artist, which is saying quite a bit. You can see this for yourself if you compare her students’ work at her Facebook page for Sundog Mosaics with her own work at her Instagram page for Sundog Mosaics.

Mosaic Pet Portrait Wasabi progression by artist Donna Van Hooser
Mosaic Pet Portrait Wasabi progression by artist Donna Van Hooser

Donna says she draws the “maps” (cartoon patterns) for her students prior to the class and then she has them compare the map to the photo that was used to create it, and they discuss what is important in the photo and where to use artistic license to make the image a better mosaic.

Mosaic Pet Portrait fluffy dog WIP1
Mosaic Pet Portrait fluffy dog work-in-progress 1 by artist Donna Van Hooser

That last point is very important. Never be a slave to the model and always remember that landscape painters routinely move things around to make better compositions.

Pet Memorial Mosaics

Based on what I see, anyone who needs a pet portrait or a memorial mosaic should contact Donna, no matter if you want to commission her to make it or make it yourself in a class with her supervision.

Keep in mind that outdoor mosaics should be mounted on concrete or stone or foam-core tile backer board instead of wood. You can lay up a mosaic over a paper pattern and then pick it up with Mounting Tape using this method. Then the mosaic could be mounted to the appropriate backer using thinset mortar.

Mosaic Pet Portrait Mr. Rico
Mosaic Pet Portrait Mr. Rico by artist Donna Van Hooser



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18 responses to “Cartoon Patterns and Mosaic Pet Portraits”

  1. Candy Avatar

    I look forward to your mosaic posts and find them very helpful. Unfortunately, in today’s post, I am unable to open any of the further readings. I don’t think the problem is on our side because I can open other articles. This particular post is of great interest to me, hope it can be fixed. Thank you for your informative articles!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Candy,
      I’m not sure what the problem was, but it sounds like it was a temporary issue because no one else has reported a problem. Let me know if you still can’t see the rest of the article.

  2. Sandy Staiger Avatar
    Sandy Staiger

    Is this smalti or stain glass? How tiny do you cut these pieces for the dog? Incredible work.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Sandy,
      Donna’s work was made with a type of fusible glass used by bead makers. It isn’t in production any more. I am looking for an alternative.

  3. Suzie Lee Avatar
    Suzie Lee

    This is great! I’m going to try to do a picture of one of my bloodhounds, wish me luck!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Good luck Suzie!

  4. Liz Avatar

    Is paint used to make the freckles on the English bulldog?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Liz,
      No it is a type of speckled fusible glass, which is currently out of production. We are currently working with stained glass manufacturers to hopefully produce something similar by the end of the year.

  5. Susan Avatar

    I’d Love to know if you find a replacement glass for the dog mosaic.
    Thanks for the very useful information!

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Not yet. It may take us a while unfortunately.

  6. Linda Smith Avatar
    Linda Smith

    Any luck finding an alternative tile? These are beautiful!

  7. Nita Avatar

    I just love how these mosaics look. I would like to know what kind of glass these are done with and where I can purchase them?
    I have been doing mosaics for years and I would like to do a memorial of a pet. I have done them with ceramic in the past. Thank you so much.

  8. Do Tooro Avatar
    Do Tooro

    I don’t have the funds to travel to a class, but would love to take a pet portrait class from Donna online. Any idea if something like this is available?

  9. Sheree Avatar

    Do you cut all these tiny pieces?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Yes. Glass tile is easily cut with the Wheeled Mosaic Glass Cutter.

  10. Hilda Wrede Avatar
    Hilda Wrede

    Halo Donna
    Don’t you have an online course in animatie portraits I want to learn thuis too
    GREETINGS Hildalouise wrede Holland

  11. Joan Sherd Avatar
    Joan Sherd

    Do you have a cartoon pattern service? I am happy to pay as I find it hard to get the face right.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Joan,

      Please email us a photo, and we will take a crack at it. Thanks!

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