Pixelated wall art

Pixelated Wall Art From Recycled Paint Tester Pots

Pixelated Wall Art From Recycled Paint Tester Pots

This pixelated wall art is a painting of my son made from recycled paint tester pots.  A friend of mine recently gave me a big box of the teeny paint sample tins from her house renovation. Lucky me !   Her house is amazing, and would give anyone serious house envy…….Even more lucky me that she had lots of indecision on paint colours (and taste in expensive paints),  so I will have to content myself with 25ml samples of her life for now.Pixelated wall art
Moving my jealousy aside, I deliberated over what to do with these for ages. Then I stumbled on to this amazing picture on Houzz.   Unfortunately I cant find details of the artist anywhere.  The interior designer is Marcelo Brito.
Pixelated wall art Marcello Brito

The colours are amazing, though they dont match the colours that I have to use up, and its more detailed / pixelated than I want….I think something like that would take me 6+ months….but I could definitely do a simple pixelated / mosaic theme with the colours I have in a more family friendly time frame.

This project is very time consuming, but doesn’t really require much painting ability…just an ability to roughly match the colours, and fill in the squares.


  • Large piece of canvas.   (Obv any painting surface / size is fine if scaleable from your original) I used pre primed rolled, as I wanted a specific size.  I usually use the ready mounted canvases, as I can buy them cheaply, but I wanted this to be an exact size.
  • Pencil, tape measure/ruler, paint brushes
  • Variety of paint colours
  • Photo editing software, and printer.


Create a pixelated face to copy

The first thing to do is choose a photo of a face.  Crop from an existing one if necessary, but make sure the resolution is high enough that its not too blurry.  I used this photo of my son as our base photo.Pixelated wall artThe next thing to do is “pixelate” it.  You’ll need photo editing software to do this.  I applied a “pixelation” of 0.30 with no softening.  4-pixelated-photoPrint out the picture, and create a grid system, so that each square on the page has a grid reference.  This isnt essential, but helps you to not lose track when you are working up close on the bigger picture.  My picture ended up with 21 squares horizontally (A-U), and 29 squares vertically.  this should be cropped to the same proportions as the canvas you are painting. 5-pixelated-photo

Prepare The Canvas

Use either piece of canvas to be mounted after painting, or a ready stretched canvas.  If mounting later, leave sufficient margin to wrap on to stretcher bars afterwards.  I used a ready mounted canvas around 1m wide  – so the squares on my painted canvas will be around 4.7cm each.

Mark this grid in pencil on the canvas to give defined boxes to paint within.  These pencil marks will be covered with paint as you fill in the boxes.

Painting The Canvas

Once the grid is defined on the canvas, paint a the outside to the edge of my canvas in black as a border.   This is the colour that will show on the edges of the canvas when it is hung.  Once this is dry, put masking tape over the border and mark the grid numbers and letters on the tape.  This will save a lot of time counting and recounting squares, and less chance of filling the wrong colour in the square.


Then its a case of painting in each square to match as close as possible to the photo grid.  I need two coats of each paint, as I was using house paint.  Better quality acrylic paint may need only 1 coat.Pixelated CanvasZooming in, you can see my lines are not absolutely precise.  If you do want wrist lines, use masking tape between the squares.  Personally I like the hand painted look.  Pixelated Art workI lost count of the number of hours spent on this project.  But I am really happy with the way it turned out….and my son (rather grudgingly) has even admitted he likes it.Pixelated art on a wall

It hangs in our dining room beside the marmite pop art picture I did.  The pixelated wall art looks great with the Ingo Maurer Light fitting too.Pixelated hand painted picture

I had lots of “neutrals” to use up, none were completely right for my squares, so I had to do a lot of mixing.  The mix dried quite quickly, so it was difficult to get lots of continuity.  It would be simpler to work with a pre defined smaller palette of colours, and stick to that, and would look more pop art-ish.

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