How to Turn a Photo Into Bead Art

Updated April 17, 2017

What can be better for any artist than to use your own photographs to create that perfect picture in beads? With the wide range of subtle shades, it can be relatively easy to do. Whether you utilise some of the software options available, or try your hand at doing it yourself, it is possible to turn your photos into beaded artwork. Here's some suggestions on how to accomplish this task.

Obtain bead design software. Whether you purchase the incredible Bead Pattern Design software - or experiment with a free download of Bead Tool, software is the easiest way to transform your photos into beaded reality. Both programs are preloaded with bead colours and sizes, along with bead stitches ranging from peyote to brick and everything in between. With a few key strokes and some tweaking you will be able to create a pattern using your favourite photo.

Load your photo into the tool. After importing your photo into the tool, select the stitch you wish to use, and add or delete columns or rows on the grid so that it encompasses that part of the picture you wish to bead. Place the grid over the photo.

Convert your photo to the pattern. Press the "Transfer" button on the tool bar. This will automatically convert the photo into the pattern at the size you decided upon in Step 2.

Shop for beads. If you don't already have them in stock, the bead design software will tell you exactly which beads you need and how many you need for your project. As you can see from the image, the photo is in the background, and on the lower left is the pattern created by the software. Along the right side of the image is the list of beads needed, by colour. This will make shopping for your beads much easier. The software also allows you to change colour palettes. For instance - if Kit decided she wanted to be a red cat instead of a black one, simply change the colour palate to red, and the program will automatically convert your bead list for you.

To convert a photo without using software, you will need to print your photo to the size you wish, and place a fine graph over the photo, giving you the basic pattern graph. Each square on your graph paper will represent a bead, so the smaller the grid on your paper the better your pattern will turn out. You will then need to take your photo to your bead store and pick out beads that match the colours in your photograph.


Use the bead pattern designer software to create needlework patterns as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Photos
  • Beads or availability to a bead store
  • Graph paper
  • Bead design software
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About the Author

Based in Wisconsin, Danita Fausek’s 30-year working career includes jobs in administration, construction, remodeling, teaching quality processes and art classes, and event planning. With a degree in photography, she ran her own business for more than 15 years. In addition, Fausek has immersed herself in various hobbies including gardening, needlecraft and jewelry making. She brings all of this expertise to her writing.