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DIY Activity – Paint Chip Pixelization Tutorial

One of my favorite displays at last weekend’s Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire was the Paint Chip Pixelization.

This project will show you how to take a traditional piece of art, like Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

… into a modernized, pixelized version like this!


Interested in making your own?  Follow these easy instructions!

1) Download and Install GIMP! (Image editing software available for free at www.gimp.org)

2) Select your desired picture file (.jpeg files work really well for this project)

For this example, I’ll be working with this image of the Pittsburgh skyline:

image via WikiTravel

3) Open the file in GIMP

4) In the “Image” pull-down menu, go to “Mode” and then to “Indexed”

5) In the pop-up box, select “Generate optimum palette” and select the maximum number of colors you’d like to use (the example above used 10 as its selected quantity)

6) Click “Convert”

7) Go to the “Image” pull-down menu, and select “Scale Image”

8) Make sure the width and height are “locked” and set to “pixels” in the pull-down menu to the right.

(Note: The link immediately to the right of the Width/Height measurements show you how you can tell if measurements are “locked,” while the broken link immediately to the right of the X resolution/Y resolution measurements show you what it looks like when measurements are “unlocked.”  It’s important that you make sure you’re working with “locked” measurements here!)

9) Select the width you’d like to use.  Remember that you’re selecting a width measured in pixels; the lower the width, the less detail your finished image will have.

For a point of comparison, here’s what our image looks like with a width of 350 pixels (the original), 150 pixels, and 50 pixels, from top to bottom:

11) After selecting a width, zoom in by going to the “View” pull-down menu, then select “Zoom” and click on the image until you are zoomed in to your content

12) When you’re happy with your pixelization and zoom, save your image.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can print off the image and find matching paint chips from a home improvement store to create a paint chip version of your pixelized art.  Or, you could print it off yourself (or at a print shop) and skip the paint chip step to still enjoy some pixelized art.

With just a few simple steps, you have DIY art and you’re officially a maker!

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