Paint Chip Portrait

As a painter, Hubs had amassed a huge collection of old paint chips and defunct paint decks. I also had a growing collection that I held onto from years of renovating and flipping houses. Curious to see what one could do to recycle paint chips, I did a Pinterest search. I came across a portrait of Marilyn Monroe done completely with paint chips. Such a novel idea! What better way to immortalize Hubs, than with a paint chip portrait of himself?

DISCLAIMER: I already had scads of old paint chips! This entire project was an exercise in upcycling what I already had!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

The blog associated with the Pinterest post didn’t really divulge much so I dove right ain. With a few purchased items and photoshop, I knew I’d be able to figure out a method that worked! It was going to be a labour of love – a.k.a time consuming. But by breaking it down into smaller steps, this time-intensive project was going to be well worth it in the end.

Picture Frame

The first thing I did was to select my picture frame. It had to be large enough so that when I assembled the ‘pixelated’ portrait I’d be able to still see all the detail. I found a great frame at Ikea, sized 19 3/4″ x 27 1/2″.  As an added bonus, I was able to glue my paint chips directly to the hardboard backing. I simply reinserted it back into the frame to complete my project.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Other Materials

I needed something to cut the hundreds of little pieces that make up the portrait. The portable plastic paper cutter below was found at the dollar store. I also found this small one on Amazon (which has replaceable blades to keep it sharp).  If you can find a similar one at the dollar store, you can’t go wrong with the price tag as long as it’s sharp. It’s just the right size for storing after the project is completed. You’ll notice I made some modifications (more about that later).

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

I also needed somewhere to corral all those hundreds of little pieces of paint chips once they were all cut (over 800!). For that, I found this large pill organizer measuring 12 1/4″ x 7 1/2″. The one pictured on the right is from Amazon.com, but I found mine at Walgreens when I was in the U.S.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

The last thing I needed was a glue stick. Once I gathered all my materials, I was ready to start the graphic process.

Photoshop

You can probably achieve the same effect with a free pixelation program, but I used Photoshop. Start with a close-up head shot.

You’re probably not interested in duplicating the one I made of Hubs, right ?? So I’m going to demonstrate the graphic steps with this picture of Lady Gaga at the 73rd Golden Globe awards that I found on Google .

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Using Photoshop I neutralized all the background:

LG_Neutral.jpg

I selected any apparent black pixels that were still peeking through the strands of her hair and used the paint bucket to fill them with the same colour as the background:

Lady Gaga - remove black.jpg

Then I cropped the picture very close:

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Pixelate

Selecting Filter / Pixelate / Mosaic in Photoshop will bring up a slide adjuster you can use to adjust the size of the pixels. I played with this to get a good balance of not too many squares vs. not too much pixelation, keeping in mind the size of the frame and the need to still be able to make out the face when done! The litmus test is to look at the computer screen at a distance to see how well the squares blend.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Sizing

When I did the vertical portrait of hubs I ended up with 25 squares across the width and 33 squares in height.  By cutting each paint chip into 7/8″ squares, the final size ended up filling the dimensions of the Ikea Stromby Frame almost perfectly (I had to fill in a bit of the background colour along the right and left edges). The size of the paint chip will vary according to frame size and number of ‘pixels’ you end up with.

I numbered the bottom horizontal row and also the vertical row on the left of the portrait so I would be able to keep track of each square (I didn’t fill in all the numbers up the side on the example below, but you get the idea!).

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

The portrait above doesn’t really look like it has much detail. But viewed at a distance, the pixels will blend and the face will be totally recognizable. I have reduced the exact same picture shown above to demonstrate this effect. As you can see, it will all come into focus; I love this picture of Lady Gaga!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

The Tedious Way to Do It

Now, you could eyeball the colours and go directly to cutting up your paint chips. Or you could do what I did and painstakingly colour match the RGB value of each pixel to the closest paint colour match.

I took the eyedropper (circled below), clicked on the first square then opened up the colour picker to find out the RGB values.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Open the colour picker in Photoshop to record the RGB values

Once I had the RGB values, I went to a website called EasyRGB. I entered the RGB values as shown below, selected a paint manufacturer, clicked the start button and it gave me the closest four colour matches to the RGB values I input.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

EasyRBG Website allows you to input an RGB value to find the closest paint match

Here are the four colours EasyRGB determined as the closest match to the values I input in the previous example:

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Closest colour matches to RGB

It’s All Relative

When you are colour matching, you need to keep in mind that everything is relative. You will never find a perfect match to the shade you’re trying to find. However, once you assemble all your paint chips, you will get the necessary amount of contrast within what’s available in the particular line of paint you’ve chosen.  For example, the picture below shows a close-up of the paint chips I used to construct hub’s nose.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Close up of assembled paint chips

You wouldn’t think such a wide range of contrasts would work when you’re trying to put together ‘flesh tones’, but when the portrait was complete (and mounted a good distance away from where it will be viewed) it just really worked. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t sweat the small stuff; you’re not looking for perfection with your colour matching!

Since EasyRGB didn’t have all the particular brands of paint I was looking for, I also did a search online for colour-matching apps that many of the paint manufacturers now have. Some are available at a modest fee, but most are free. I was able to literally open up my picture on my IPad, enlarge it and then tap each square to find my paint match.

Use an Excel Spreadsheet

Once I found a match, I needed somewhere to write it down and record it. I made myself an excel spreadsheet with numbered rows and columns to correspond to those I previously added onto the pixelated portrait. Sitting at my desktop computer, I used an Ipad to colour-match, while recording the colour in Excel. Every time I colour matched a square, I would record it on the spread sheet.

When I was ready to cut the paint chips, I duplicated the page. Then I was able to sort one of the sheets so that I would know how many pieces of the same colour I would need to complete the portrait. The spread sheet also acted as a road map (when unsorted) to place each chip in place for assembly purposes.

Cutting

Remember the $3 paper cutter? Here’s how I adapted it to cut my paint chips:

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

View is from underside of paper cutter

I laid two strips of plywood onto the back (I had to shim it to keep it level); I literally just double face taped everything onto the cutter. Then I flipped it over and added a cross piece that was perpendicular and 7/8″ away from the cutting blade (also fastened with heavy duty double face tape). The setup is similar to having  a fence extension on a mitre saw; the strip of plywood acted as a stop edge that kept all my paint chips consistently sized to 7/8″. Once each strip was cut, I turned it 90 degrees and then cut it again for a perfect square.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Paint chip is lined up with plywood edge to keep size consistent

I cut as many pieces of one colour as I needed and then grouped them into stacked piles beside my work space (labeled with the colour number so I could refer back to my excel sheet).

Back to the one I did of Hubs. Once all my pieces were cut, I ordered them – according to my excel sheet – into rows and placed them into the pill organizer. I had more rows than space available in the organizer so I had to double up some of the sections (I put a divider between the stacks and wrote the row number on it so I could keep track).

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Assembling the Paint Chips onto the Backer Board

After all the paint chips are cut and organized, do a dry run on top of the backer board (as shown above) to make sure it will all work out in the width and length. I did a final ‘squint check’ to see if I should replace any odd looking colour chips (better to do it before it’s all glued down!). I swapped out a few of the chips with better colours just by eyeballing it.

Now I was ready to glue. If you don’t have a busy household you could leave the chips on the board until you can glue them all. Realistically though, I knew that wasn’t a good option. So I carefully re-stacked the paint chips and placed them back into the organizer in the same order they were removed.

Starting at the lower left edge, I applied glue stick onto the back of the first paint chip and place it firmly onto the board. I proceeded the same way with the remainder of the row making sure each chip was tightly butted up against the other. It would just snowball if I left any gaps, so I took my time.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Gluing down the paint chips – in progress

Pace Yourself

Whenever I took a break or got bored, I closed the lid of the medicine organizer. I just put the cap on the glue stick until I was ready to start up again. It’s convenient to have a closed container to keep the dust off! That allowed me to plug away sporadically for weeks on end!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Paint chips stored in the medicine organizer

Once everything was glued down to the backer board I simply put it back into the Stromby frame I purchased and added wire onto the back to hang (per Ikea’s assembly instructions).

Hang it Where you Can View at a Distance

Before I finished my craft studio, I had it hanging upstairs in a bedroom. It was hard to get a final picture of my Hubs’ portrait without window glare and reflection from the blinds, so when Hubs built my new craft studio, I moved it. Now I can gaze upon it unfettered by window glare (‘tho I still have spotlights to contend with)!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Relocating it to the craft studio gives me the perfect distance at which to view. The paint chips can blend without ‘pixelation’ from the individual chips. Nothing makes me happier than seeing Hubs’ face smiling back at me when I enter my craft room!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Although I didn’t fabricate it, pictured below is how Lady Gaga’s portrait would look once framed and hung.

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Source picture: IKEA

If this project has inspired you, go ahead and pin one of these to Pinterest or share on Facebook!

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca

Use up those old paint chips to make a paint chip portrait! Upcycled paint chips | Step by step tutorial on how to make your own paint chip portrait | How to upcycle paint chips | Paint chip crafts | pixelated art | upcycle | wall decor ideas | paint chip art | paint chips | mosaic wall art | DIY wall decor | wall decor | Birdz of a Feather | #DIY #Upcycled #upcycle #upcycling #WallArt #Repurposed #Craft #crafts #BirdzofaFeather.ca Follow Birdz of a Feather here to see upcoming DIY & craft projects – both in and around the home. You can also follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Before you go, here’s one more wall decor idea –  Expand Your Horizons: Propel Your Bulkhead into the Spotlight.

C_opening_bulkhead_bof

Featured on Hometalk.com

 

Save

Save

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

22 thoughts on “Paint Chip Portrait

  1. Brilliant! Wow! You did a wonderful job. I don’t think I could do this. But, if I come into some paint chips…I will look you up again! Again, wow! Super impressed! 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Making of a Craft Studio (IV): Progress Report | Birdz of a Feather Home

  3. I love making this type of portrait. I made a portrait using color squares cut from magazine pages rather than paint chips. I glued the paper pieces and used mod podge over the finished picture to protect it. The result was great.

  4. I am wowed by your project and your patience! What a special tribute to you and your husband’s relationship. Thank you for sharing exactly how to do this!!

  5. One problem with using the old paint chips is that they are not made of acid free paper and will start to discolor over time. A better choice of material would have been pieces of acid free scrapbook paper, especially considering the time and love you put into this project. If you want to see what happens to something made from non acid free paper, look at an old newspaper clipping or inside an old hardcover book.

    • I was just re-using what I already had to keep it from the recycling bin. I figure by the time it ages, my husband will have aged too and look much the same – lol. It’s protected with glass so hopefully that will slow down the process.

  6. OMG this is so cool, however, I know I would never be able to do this even with your wonderful tutorial . It’s beautiful . Thank you for sharing.

  7. Pingback: Cubicle Wall Art – How to Print 8″ x 10″ Art Canvasses with a Printer! | Birdz of a Feather Home

  8. Pingback: Take a Seat | Birdz of a Feather Home

  9. Pingback: Paint Stick Pallet | Birdz of a Feather Craft

  10. Pingback: Organizing a Craft Room | Birdz of a Feather Home

  11. Pingback: Yeah Baby! Turn a Headshot Photo Into a Cardboard Portrait | Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab

  12. Pingback: Tarnish Free Jewellery Cabinet Upcycle | Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab

  13. Pingback: Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls – Gluten Free! | Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab

Leave a Reply