Pixelated Mosaic Edges

This tutorial will show you a way to easily create a pixelated mosaic-type effect for use on edges or borders or whatever you want.

I first noticed this effect with the (animated) launch of the new Iconfactory website. I was later browsing through my normal list of bookmarked sites and noticed that SimpleBits has been doing the same thing for a while now. It’s a pretty neat effect that can be recreated with a few filters and adjustment layers.

Create a new document, whatever size you want, by pressing [Ctrl + N].

Select the Square Marquee tool [M] and draw your square through half of the document.


Press [D] to set your default colors, and then press [Alt + Backspace] to fill with black. Deselect with [Ctrl + D].


Next, run the Wave Filter by going [Filter > Distort > Wave]. Play around with the settings, but you’ll probably want something a little less extreme. I used the following settings:

- Generators : 2
- Wavelength: 10,48
- Amplitude: 5,6
- Sine

Back to the Filter menu, run the Ocean Ripple filter [Filter > Distort > Ocean Ripple]. This distortion will give you an idea of how far your pixel edges will go.

- Size: 5
- Magnitude: 12


Next step is to pixelate our image. Run [Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic]. Choose a [Cell Size] around 5-6 pixels.


Create a new Curves Adjustment layer by going [Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves...] or by using the button at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Adjust your curves to something crazy… like a rollercoaster. You’ll start to see the edges separate a little bit. Just play around with them and watch your image until you see something that might work for you. You can always adjust it again later, thanks to the magic of Adjustment layers.



Create a new Levels Adjustment layer by going [Layer >New Adjustment Layer > Levels...] or, again, by using the shortcut button on the Layers palette. Play with the sliders, moving them closer together until you get the effect you want. This is a personal preference, so do what you think looks good.

Here’s mine:



We’re going to use this as our mask so we can apply some colors.

Go to [Select > Color Range] and click on the black side. Set the Fuzziness to 200.


With your selection, create a new Solid Color Fill layer by going [Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color...]. Choose any color you like.


Create another Solid Color Fill layer and drag it below the Color layer you just made in the Layers Palette [F7]. Fill it with any color you like. I chose something a little complementary.



Keeping with the Iconfactory fashion, I’ll create a new Solid Color Fill layer and fill it with white.


Then add a little shadow by going [Layer > Layer Style > Outer Glow] and adjusting the color to black and the Mode to Normal.


And here’s my finished product:


This effect has a lot of variables so it will almost never come out the same. Play around with it and have fun!

EDIT: Doh! I forgot the Master File Download
Download the Pixelated Mosaic Edges Master PSD (10kb zip). Enjoy!

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  1. July 3, 2009 11:37 pmFilters | Ocean Ripple - Photoshop Gurus Forum

    [...] CS4 has some funny things going on, or I just need a little a guidance…? I was working on Pixelated Mosaic Edges | Effects, Tutorials | Photoshop Lab and once I get to applying the ocean ripple effect it does nothing. I tried a reboot, shut down and [...]

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