Monday, November 19, 2012

Perler Beads: 3D Companion Cube (Portal)

This project marks my first foray into the realm of 3D perler beads... and woo boy, I can tell already that I will be brainstorming new ideas to take advantage of this new dimension! For this one at least, I must give all the credit to the Instructables step-by-step guide and pattern, who in turn credits Saturnines from Sprite Stitch.

It looks like a little present, waiting for a bow.

3D Portal Companion Cube!

For perspective.
 I only made one (intentional) change - I used light pink instead of regular pink for the hearts/pink lines.

I think if I make another one, I'll modify it more so that the lid doesn't interlock; that way I can lift it off and keep secret surprises inside. Of course, that would mean more precise gluing with the hot glue gun... not my forte, but I'm sure we can make it work. :P Also, if you decide to try that method, I suggest modifying the white corners slightly as well to ensure they interlock well; the pattern as-is left mine a little less secure than I expected. That's normally not a problem since you hot glue them down, but if they aren't fully glued down it might be helpful.

Now that I've recorded those thoughts so that I can refresh my memory next time I return to this pattern... what shall I make next?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chrono Trigger: Lucca Helmet Tutorial

The trickiest part of creating a Lucca costume is the helmet. I enlisted the help of my husband to create mine, and I was shocked that I couldn't find a single tutorial online about how to make one. So hopefully someone else finds my retroactive recreation of the process helpful. :) I apologize in advance that I don't have a ton of "in progress" pictures; hopefully my descriptions and conceptual diagrams will be adequate.

First, the supplies:
- 1 baseball helmet
- hacksaw
- file
- tan craft foam (one large sheet - about 17.5"x11.5")
- gold acrylic paint
- paintbrush (I used a cheap foam one)
- thick-ish wire (color of your choice), thick enough to easily hold its shape but still be bendable by hand
- half an Easter egg (the smaller half), or similar shaped object
- blue Sharpie or other permanent marker
- hemisphere of plastic (like you find in apple clamshells - see picture below)
- dark green fabric (about 1/3 of a yard)
- tiny LED lights
- washers, gears, or other decorations of your choice
- hot glue gun
- scissors

To begin, make sure the baseball helmet fits snugly. If you plan on wearing a wig for your costume, the helmet can be a little loose, but overall it should fit fairly tightly so it doesn't bounce around. Next, use the hacksaw to cut off the left earpiece and the brim of the helmet. You may also need to tear out a little of the foam padding inside when you cut off the earpiece. If there are any poky or sharp edges, file them down.

Cut along the yellow lines. Make sure to cut off the left earpiece, not the right one, if you want to follow the concept art.

Next, paint the helmet with the gold paint. You will not need to paint the whole thing - the top part will be covered in the green fabric, so you only need to worry about the bottom inch or so and the remaining earpiece. (Honestly, the earpiece is the only part you really need to paint, but we found it easier to err on the side of caution.)

All the squiggly bits in orange are where you should paint. 

While the paint dries, cut out the craft foam; you will need one strip that is about 2 inches wide, and one strip that is 3 inches wide (because the back of the helmet goes further down than the front). Cut them long-ways so they are each about 17 inches long. Paint both of these pieces gold as well. You will end up trimming off some of the 2 inch wide piece so that the two pieces don't overlap; however, you will use the scraps from trimming it to make two other small parts of the helmet, so go ahead and paint all of it gold so you don't have to paint more stuff later. While you're painting stuff, you will also need to paint the hemisphere of plastic with gold paint too.

Hemispheres of plastic from an apple tray thing and tan craft foam. We actually used 3 hemispheres glued together so it would be less flimsy.

Depending on how long your paint takes to dry, you may want to start fashioning some of the wire pieces how you want them. I actually used the twist ties that hold toys into their packaging instead of wire, but either one works great - you just need something that is flexible but still holds its shape well. You use the wire in two parts - first, the antenna, and second, the stem for the mouthpiece. Going off the concept art above, shape your wire until you're happy with how it looks for these two parts.

Next, take the smaller, rounder half of the Easter egg. If it's not the right dark blue color, use a blue Sharpie to color it. I also dry brushed a tiny amount of silver paint over it to disguise the Sharpie lines, but that's totally up to you if you want to do that or not; I think it will look fine either way. If the paint is dry on your hemisphere of plastic, then go ahead and hot glue the half-Easter egg to the top part of the hemisphere.

You can see here how the hemisphere of plastic (painted gold) and the half  Easter egg fit together here. We added a small strip of craft foam painted gold around the Easter egg to make it look like a smoother transition to the rest of the piece. 
If needed, you can cut a very narrow strip of craft foam off of one of your painted pieces to glue around the base of the Easter egg where it connects to the hemisphere of plastic. We did this because the hot glue globs from gluing the Easter egg on were very visible and not very aesthetically pleasing.

At this point, you'll probably want to see how your gold painted strips of craft foam fit around your helmet. Without gluing them down yet, test them out and trim off any extra you have off of the 2 inch wide piece.

While your hot glue gun is heated up, go ahead and cut a 1.5 inch x 2 inch piece from the excess gold painted foam. Fold it in half and glue it on the end of your wire for the mouthpiece of the helmet. Then hot glue the mouthpiece to the interior of the helmet (poking it through the hole on the earpiece of the right ear).

The next step is perhaps the trickiest: covering the top of the helmet with fabric. Rather than create a perfect pattern and sewing a helmet cover, I opted for a cheater method... my sister in law helped me make a paper pattern as a rough guide, and then I cut out the fabric and hot glued it to the helmet, tucking the edges under to form a pseudo hem so it didn't fray.

Template for fabric to cover helmet. Dimensions are 30 inches x 8.5 inches.

The template doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be close enough that you don't have tons of excess fabric hanging out getting in the way. I found this general shape worked really well. You can see faint lines on the paper; that's the "seam allowance" essentially, but again, because this method is forgiving, it's not an exact science. Once you have figured out your template with paper, use it to cut out your fabric. Then hot glue the fabric to your helmet, making sure to tuck any raw edges under. (You don't need to tuck under the bottom straight edge though; that should get covered up with the craft foam.) Make sure the bottom edge of the fabric is far enough down that the craft foam will cover it.

Another shot of the fabric covering and how it fits with the craft foam

Once you have secured the fabric to cover the top of the helmet, it's time to glue the craft foam strips on. Start with the 3 inch wide one; it should wrap around the back from ear to ear. Then attach the 2 inch wide one around the front. You may want to taper the 3 inch wide one a bit to smooth the transition in size, but I didn't bother.

You can see where it switches sizes on the side of the helmet here. It's not quite over the ear, but it's relatively close.
Next step is gluing the hemisphere/Easter egg contraption onto the right ear of the helmet. By this time, you should be well versed in wielding your hot glue gun...

Yeah, you've seen this one before...

Make sure to position it so that it disguises both the transition from 3 inch to 2 inch craft foam as well as the hole in the earpiece.

Next, take another scrap of gold craft foam and cut it into the shape of a flattened cone with the top snipped off:

Basic shape of flattened cone

Glue the remaining wire piece (antenna) onto the unpainted (inside) part of this piece of foam, then fold it as best as you can to make it approximately cone shaped. Then glue it again to help maintain this shape, and glue it to the hemisphere of plastic/Easter egg part of the helmet. See picture above to illustrate.

We're almost done! These last steps are all embellishments and are totally customizable. I chose to use tiny LED lights (from Joann's - look in the wedding section; they were about $6 but you can get them a lot cheaper with a coupon) on a thin wire paired with washers. The wire wrapped around once, with some extra that we wrapped around the hemisphere/Easter egg thing. We poked the end that has the switch to turn it on and off through the hole in the earpiece and glued it to the inside of the helmet where it wasn't in the way. Then we hot glued washers to hold the LED string in place, with the actual LEDs shining through the holes in the center of the washers.

Finished product - front view
And you're done!

If you make your own helmet, I would love to see pictures of it! Feel free to link it in the comments. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Halloween Costumes

This year for Halloween Nathan and I decided to go all out and actually dress up in real costumes. This had to do, at least in part, with the fact that my job no longer saps all my creativity and energy, so I could actually DO stuff in the evening to prepare.

So without further ado, I present Chrono and Lucca from ChronoTrigger:

Chrono and Lucca costumes

Chrono preparing to attack

Lucca's helmet lights up, though you can't really tell in the picture.
I sewed the tunics, neck scarves, and blue bags (as well as Chrono's headband thing) with the help of my sister-in-law; Nathan made my awesome helmet, and the rest of the pieces we gathered from various places. Expect forthcoming tutorials on the helmet and tunics at least, and maybe a miscellaneous tutorial of all the other bits.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Perler Beads: Miscellaneous Ducks

The latest batch of perlers we've done has been rather eclectic, but a bunch of them are ducks from various NES games, so we'll call that the predominant theme...

Clockwise: Alucard (from Castlevania), Toad (from Wario's Woods), some guys from Kid Icarus, Duck Hunt ducks, Scrooge McDuck, and Darkwing Duck.
I took Toad to work to encourage me when I accomplish something cool. Now he's stuck to my cubicle wall next to the Minish Cap cats.

Nathan also made some other random sprites for his cubicle at work.

Nyan cat and singing Kirby.
So... I guess ducks weren't that predominant after all... but that's okay. I vote we make a collection of sprites from the Disney line-up on the NES next.

Also: stay tuned for Halloween pictures. I've been slacking off at posting them, but I'm hoping to do a few tutorials on making the costumes as well in case anyone is interested... and also for my own (future) reference.