I don’t usually paint on 3D objects…but when I do it’s usually for a gift. This is a Zelda-themed repaint for my friend Jeremy who has a whole black/white/red setup for his motorcycle & gear. The helmet was pure white with black accents, so I took a few photos and went through a couple of rounds of mockups to figure out the look.
Visualizing on a curved surface is tricky! I considered taking some reference photos and mapping them onto a 3D object so I could spin it around, but (as I often do) opted for the quicker visualization figuring that I’d work out the fine details as I went. These Photoshop mockups just overlay vector masks onto the photo, and I eyeballed the curvature to fit the viewing angle.
Photoshop Test #1 was about establishing the overall placement for the classic Hyrulian crest with a little decoration on the sides. Jeremy wanted to incorporate “It’s dangerous to go alone” on it so he found the phrase in a glyph system designed for the latest game, Breath of the Wild. He also wanted more black along the sides and front, so for Photoshop Test #2 I figured out how to extend it without interfering with the letters (or vents).
Once I was ready to start painting, I knew I wouldn’t be able to mask the fine detail for the glyphs. Instead, I measured the front and printed them out to fit that length. Since it’s a curved surface, I also needed to work out how they would wrap evenly. To get this look, I cut vertical lines between each glyph so I could carefully bend the paper. I taped it over the area to paint them to use as a visual guide, and that worked out pretty well.
The rest I’d masked carefully though I ended up doing a lot of cleanup on the edges. Since I painted it (rather than spraying it) the paint didn’t leave a clean edge on the first pass. I wasn’t ready to invest in the kind of system (and masking, and ventilation) I’d need to do a proper spray, so it’s a good thing this worked! I used Testor’s Paint which seemed to grip pretty well. A final gloss coat by a professional painter helped seal it in. Ready to go!
Here’s the full set of vinyl toys & musician portraits I made for the Hues/Muse artist takeover at Chromatic Coffee last month. A few sold, so for the ones that didn’t I’m looking into either potential retail spots in SJ or online (possibly Etsy?) to hang a shingle & sell the rest. If you see any you’re interested in or if you’d like something in a similar style, let me know!
Here’s a preview of two projects-in-progress that will be for sale! In May I’m joining artist Celeste Young for an artist takeover of Chromatic Coffee. The theme of our show is Hues/Muse, a collection of works organized by the moods of eleven different colors. I’m working on ’em all now and will post both sets once they’re ready.
I’ve been in the mood to do more illustration, so the first set of goods are portraits of musicians. It includes the only suitable choice for purple: Prince.
The second set of goods are a bunch of custom vinyl figures. I’m painting/decorating them in different styles of arts/crafts. The green choice is this Topiary creature. Maybe I should name them!
The opening reception is Thursday May 7th from 6-9pm, and they’ll be shown for the month of May. More details to come on Chromatic Coffee‘s Facebook page!
!Ay Dios Mio! in San Pedro Square Market hosted a sugar skull-making day today, in prep for Dia de Los Muertos. I missed it last year so I was glad to catch it this time. This one is complete with earrings, glasses (kind of), and braces…to correct the overbite, I’m guessing.
The San Jose Glass Institute offers a “Glass Artist for a Day” workshop which I took with my mom a little over a month ago. It’s an introduction to three kinds of glasswork: glass fusing, stained glass, and torchwork.
The process is simple: cut & assemble pieces of glass, fire it once to fuse them together, and fire it again to shape it. The glass is specially made for fusing to ensure that the pieces will all melt at the same temperature; otherwise the pieces might not fuse correctly, or worse, crack or explode during the firing. Cutting the glass involves etching a guideline and then snapping or tapping against the glass to break it along that line. It takes patience, and makes me think there must be additional ways to cut the glass that must be more precise. The glass pre-firing also can look quite different than the fired look, and can turn from near-transparent to a bright solid color. I picked green & blue colors and made this little curved dish (5″x5″). The lime green parts were a bit of a surprise, but I like the result.
This was a straightforward technique for small pieces: line the edges of the glass with a special copper tape, and solder the edges together. The diamond shapes were pre-cut (the hard part!) and I picked some that would look like an optical illusion of two cubes side by side. Soldering is extremely forgiving as the flux is extremely cohesive, and mistakes laying down the flux can be corrected by reheating it.
By far the most challenging! It’s a process of slowly melting the ends of glass rods over a torch. This one was built up by melting one end into a ball, pressing it into a disc while it’s still pliable, and then attaching another rod to the end and slowly stretching and twisting it into a spiral. Imagine holding a pencil and spinning it steadily in one direction, twisting at just the right speed (not too fast, not too slow) to keep the ball from collapsing to one side and keeping it at the right distance from an open flame. And then holding a pencil in each hand and joining them into one even line (also over flame). And then twisting each end at different rates (again: over flame). Tricky! I have newfound respect for people that work with glass and torches.
Was inspired to make this after seeing my friend Dave’s Facebook post this morning: “Apparently I’ve been working too much. I put “Claussen Pixels” on my grocery list.” Good thing I had this pickle jar hanging around for just such an occasion. Here you go, sir!
These “pickles” are made from Pixelblocks, which are a bit like translucent Legos. On the plus side, they have grooves so you can attach them side-by-side. On the minus side, they are rather difficult to separate.
Pixelblocks work well as a medium for building little 2D replicas of old school video game characters, and I do have an Excitebike rider and Katamari King of the Cosmos gracing my living room. I like the idea of life-size replicas, though, so I may try out some other types of food now that I see how pickles turned out.
In a similar vein: years ago I built a few Looney Tunes characters using a bin of Legos. At some point I may use these as reference photos for tinkering around with isometric drawing or noodling around with this app.
Years ago, I got this necklace from my grandparents and it’s been one of my favorites. The animals are Zuni fetishes, protective spirit carvings. These little guys are carved out of different kinds of stone, and are somewhat fragile. I’ve glued four or five back together after accidentally dropping it, or getting swatted at by one of the cats. Mostly fish and birds, too…figures. The last time I wore it I realized I was missing the front half of my alligator. Whatever kind of stone it was, there was a darker vein running right down the middle that kept its rear half attached. But no front!
I decided it would be easier to recreate the front half, rather than find a new fetish and figure out how to remove the welded clasp and successfully re-string it. I’d done a little sculpting with oven-curing plasticky clays like Sculpey or Fimo, though not nearly as much as my sister Tiffany did with her fairies and beaded necklaces. I picked this Polyclay set for the mix of colors.
Three tips if you’re going to work with this stuff. One, wear gloves or you are guaranteed to leave fingerprints. Two, it looks a little darker once it’s baked. And three, don’t leave your nice smooth clay-sculpting tools out at cat-height unless you’re looking for feline dental impressions.
Sculpt time: a leisurely two hours, while watching the Mythbusters demolition special. A light wash of white acrylic paint, and some gloss varnish helped correct the appearance. It wouldn’t be enough to fool someone studying it closely, but is pretty passable as the total alligator. It certainly helps make the necklace whole again.
Okay, so the Maker Faire was a few months back, but I just got around to cleaning through old projects and assembling my little lantern. My work peeps, the Adobe Experience Design (XD) team, hosted a booth to Make Your Own Andon. Go into a lighted tent, move around a bit, and your movements were captured by a camera which fed the best pics into a custom AIR app to create simplified silhouettes. After a little vector assembly of the template in Illustrator, the images were sent to a laser cutter. A few minutes later, voila–laser-etched cardboard bits to assemble a lantern. This uses two watch batteries and a blue LED.
I’m glad I had a chance to make one while helping out that weekend. Earlier that week I helped stress-test the app with the engineers. And by “help”, I mean jumping around, moving forward and back to see if faces could show up if lit (not really), and swinging my hair around to see how quickly it could take the images. I had some good silhouettes from that but ended up crashing the app in the process. Best to work those issues out in advance!