How to create a mosaic effect in Illustrator

How to quickly create a mosaic effect in Illustrator CC 2018 2017 (using the crop image tool) - all kinds of interesting mosaics can be created

Create mosaic effect in Illustrator

mosaic and crop effect in Illustrator
  1. Click the crop image (for the vector mosaic effect in Illustrator)

  2. Set rectange for the crop

  3. You can set the PPI to 300 or 2 or 1 etc (set to 1 for a mosaic effect)

  4. Click apply

The mosaic effect can then be manipulated further by using the trace and other tools such as perhaps using the color adjust balance and the color guide tool to recolor the Illustrator mosaic design.


The key thing here is the PPI. You can create an interesting mosaic effect by using PPI to 1. OK, you could also create the mosaic effect in a raster application and then import the design into Illustrator (probably just as easy)


You can then use the image trace feature on the cropped image and use the color mode for the trace.

Resize and crop and mosaic effect image in Illustrator

reduced size mesh effect in Illustrator
  1. File menu

  2. Place image

  3. Click embed

  4. Resize image and make a lot smaller

  5. Crop image

  6. Set PPI to 1

  7. Click apply


You should now have a lot blockier image than if you were just going to use a 3000 x 3000 image (and set to 1).

Re-color mosaic effect image in Illustrator

re-color the mosaic effect in Illustrator cropped
  1. Select the mosaic effect image

  2. Go to the edit menu

  3. Edit colors

  4. Adjust color balance

  5. Preview ON

  6. Set the red and green etc sliders

  7. OK


You can also re-color the design using the adjust color balance tools (as well as other third party plugins etc). So if you want a red or yellow etc design, you can do this in Photoshop beforehand or just apply a color balance effect to the mosaic

How to convert to vector mosaic paths in Illustrator

mosaic effect vector conversion

Tricky but certain it can be done. I have found it fairly difficult to achieve with tools such as the image trace. You could, of course, use the eyedropper tool and then create your own squares using the displayed grid. It can be done. You can also just use squares and create an abstract design loosely based on the colors of the mosaic squares. You could fill them with gradients instead. Using the image trace probably can result in a good result but I have ended up with many different and unusual shaped squares during my tests on converting using the image trace. Another option would be to export the result and then use an online vector conversion tool or something like corelTrace (which also has a mosaic effect)

  1. Select mosaic image

  2. Click image trace

  3. Goto to the image trace panel

  4. Click ignore white

  5. Set noise to minimum

  6. Set corners to less

  7. Set paths to high

  8. Set mode to color

  9. Set palette to document library

  10. Set colors to all

  11. Object menu expand

  12. Object menu ungroup

Crop the image in illustrator using the PPI set to 1 and then use the image trace to create interesting mosaic effects

cropped image and mosaic trace in Illustrator
  1. Select cropped image (after PPI set to 1)

  2. Click image trace

  3. Go to image trace panel

  4. Set mode to color

  5. Set colors to all or document library etc

  6. Change paths etc in the image trace panel such as setting paths very low

  7. Expand

  8. Ungroup

The image trace can be used with the 'mosaic' cropped image in Illustrator. You can use the color mode along with different colors and paths etc and then expand and ungroup and use the cropped paths as abstract designs. You can also use the result with the color guide to create interesting colorful artworks from the cropped images


1. Crop image tool in Illustrator

Sources and references

1. What is new in Illustrator CC at


Return to home page


Commercial use - Royalty free - No time limit, no credit - All by - Secure sales via (c) 1995-2017 Andrew Buckle, Maidstone artist, tel: +44 1622 / 688 375 E-mail: support@ License and usage Privacy Facebook pinterest Twitter Youtube tutorials Instagram Linkedin


The graphic design products are priced in US dollars but they can also be bought in Euros, Yen, UK pounds, etc though please note that there may be additional taxes applicable which will be handled in the secure checkout. If you have any questions or queries about the products, please let us know and I will try and help by e-mail or via youtube etc. You can also add additional products as well as download protection and also purchase a physical CD via the The brushes and patterns etc work in a variety of applications and there are many freebie / samplers available to test them on your system before any purchase but again, if you have any concerns that the brushes etc will work with your favourite application, please let us know. The quickest way is probably to leave a message on our facebook page. The designs can be used as brushes and patterns and shapes etc but they can also be used just as images or layers as well as displacement maps or overlays or masks etc so even if the product is listed as a brush or shape, you can often also use the artwork as a layer and use the layer multiple times in the same project to create all kinds of unique and wonderful designs. The products on this site are copyright of Andrew Buckle but any products and artworks you create with these items are your copyright.