Make a Maze in Photoshop


You can make fairly complex patterns in Photoshop by randomly shuffling simpler patterns. This is a Photoshop reprise of material covered for Maya here.


This 'maze' is composed of 4 randomly shuffled tiles.


The tiles are interchangeable. They all connect in the middle of each edge.


Each tile was defined as a pattern and filled as a repeating sheet.

I also made a 16 x 16 image of noise, blew it up 'nearest neighbor - no interpolation' to match the sheet sizes, tone-leveled it and posterized it to 4 values: black, dark gray, light gray, and white.

(click image for a much closer look)

I magic-wanded (non contiguous, with 0 tolerance) each of the 4 gray levels and turned them into layer masks. This caused the tiles to randomly 'shuffle.'


The maze tiles with itself, even if rotated in increments of 90 degrees.

In computer graphics this technique is called texture bombing.


Instead of matching grays to random tiles, I matched them to hand drawn patterns of appropriate values, and create an artistic dither or simple photo mosaic.'


I hand drew symbols of appropriate brightness (using Filters > Blur > Average to gauge the average intensity of the image) My hope was to create a portrait of the model Scar 13 in Hawaiian wardrobe that looked as if it were made from Tapa Cloth.

(click image to see full size)

I used the Threshold tool and a set of known values (in this case of 16 zones I went from from 0/15*255 to 15/15*255 -- see 1:43 video for a rapid spreadsheet solution). I selected, magic wanded, and layer masked ever smaller, brighter areas as I rose level by level through the Photoshop layer stack.

What I ended up with is a bit like overstrike ascii art from the 1970's, which is what this process produces when tile values correspond to mosaic tile values. So if that's something you want, here is a method for 'eyeballing' a custom one just for yourself. (The work is mainly in creating a set of correctly weighted tiles) When I first started playing around with photo mosaics in the early 90's I originally experimented with Chuck Close-style abstract painted targets and swirls. I was reminded a lot of those days while I painted these Tapa cloth tiles. : )

UPDATE 5/28/2009

So I was visiting Filter Forge to see if I could implement this 'maze' pattern and maybe earn myself a free copy of the $300 plugin, when I noticed there was a similar (but simpler) pattern already there called Truchet tiling, which uses only a pair of triangles, or the arc pair tile above. I think I like mine better. :)

UPDATE 6/19/2009

It occurs to me you can use the Photoshop dissolve blend mode to create the random noise patterns.

UPDATE 9/23/2009

I had imagined generalizing this into interlocking tile illustrations for a game or children's mural. I noticed on boingboing tonight that someone was also thinging along those lines.

Makers 5x5 tile game

UPDATE 1/1/2010

While researching Japanese patterns for an upcoming image of mine I came across a NYT article on the repeating Truchet-style patterns of Japanese artist Asao Tokolo. Quite interesting.

The Post-Materialist | A Pattern's Math Magic


hi there,

i was very interested to read you content on the ViewMaster, at:

One thing, when i try to go there with Firefox i get an odd message (see below). Seems to work fine in IE. just thought you might like to know...

The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because it uses an invalid or unsupported form of compression.

* Please contact the web site owners to inform them of this problem.

I wonder would you have any idea what i should do.



Very cool. It's stuff like this that makes me believe that Photoshop is no longer an image editing program but a visual computer programming interface.

This is really cool! Thanks!

Thank You for this blog, Joseph! It's very interesting and original.

I am very happy to have discovered your blog. Each new post is amazing!
There is a dingbat by Luc Devroye that you can use for this kind of maze. You can get it here: --it's called Meikyuu.

Thank you :)

That Meikyuu tile set is great. Thanks for the link.

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This page contains a single entry by published on May 25, 2009 12:43 AM.

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