New Perler Bead Art!

Let’s jump right into this!

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First is Hitmonlee from Pokemon Red/Blue. Why Hitmonlee? I don’t really know. I like him as a Pokemon, but I’ve never really used one before. Honestly, I came home from work one day, I was pretty tired, a stream I wanted to watch was just about to start, and I thought an art project would be a good way to unwind and do something productive for a couple of hours. I picked Hitmonlee at random; I honestly just wanted to make something that day.

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Next up is Sandslash from Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. This one was a birthday present for someone, Sandslash being their favorite Pokemon. It was a lot of fun to make, too! I haven’t really used many yellow beads since my Princess Kenny project, and it’s nice to see a little more color in something I made.

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I also made a Wooper from Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. Lucahjin is currently playing through Pokemon HeartGold blind on YouTube, and when she caught a Wooper I was overcome with awe. I forgot how absurdly cute and derpy this little guy is, and I just had to make one.

You know, it’s funny. There are a lot of shades of blue beads but I often find myself never having the right shade. This project was an example of that. It still looks like a Wooper, but I had to make some different choices off the sprite sheet I was using to make it look like this. It looked awkward before because none of the blues were mixing well with each other.

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The first three were my major projects during the past couple of months. Other than that, I’ve been trying to produce smaller pieces to trying selling at flea markets. A lot involved Super Mario Bros. 3; here I have Mario, a super mushroom, Super Mario, a racoon leaf, and Racoon Mario arranged on my fridge.

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I also made Megaman from his NES games. I don’t really have a lot to say about the original Megaman series, except I have little experience and the little experience I have involves dying a lot. I dunno, like the Mario games on NES, the Megaman series was something I never felt completely used to. However, I will say he makes a pretty cool magnet. 😉

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And finally, I wanted to try making some Legend of Zelda magnets, so I chose Link and an Octorok from the first game. I think they came out all right enough, but I was never a big fan of sprites from NES games that didn’t have an outline to them. They kind of come off meh to me. Oh well.

And that about wraps up all my new Perler projects. I wouldn’t expect many new pieces anytime soon, as I’m currently working on a new writing project for NaNoWriMo. This is my first major writing project since last year, and even though I don’t expect to finish it by the end of the month, I’d like to give it my full artistic attention until it’s over. (It’s not even a novel; I’m more or less just using NaNoWriMo as an excuse to work a lot on this project).

Anyway, hope you’re all having a great week! 🙂

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New Perler Bead Art!

Happy New Year, everyone! Don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be out of 2014. It sucked for a lot of people I know, and while I can’t say there’s anything I’m particularly looking forward to in 2015, it’s nice to have that feeling of starting a fresh slate again.

Anyway, I’ve got some new Perler bead stuff to show off! It’s been a while, so let’s get started!

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First off is another gift I made a friend. He’s a big Dragon Ball Z fan, so I wanted to make him something from one of the games. After searching through a bunch of sprite sheets, I decided on Vegeta from a game called Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension, which I don’t think was ever released in America. But who cares? The sprites from that game seemed to be the most high quality I’ve found, so I rolled with it.

Geez! Easily the biggest Perler project I’ve done yet. I’m pretty lucky It came out okay; ironing bigger projects always brings problems, but it wasn’t as bad as, say, my Snorlax. Vegeta here had a lot of convenient “limbs” that fused more quickly and easily. I’ve started to use less pressure when ironing, and I’ve got to say it usually helps somewhat. The ironing paper rarely sticks, which makes the problem of pulling up straggling beads less of an issue. It also helps prevent beads from “bleeding” into each other.

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Next up is my own attempt to show some Christmas spirit. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce The Legend of Zelda: A Link to Christmas Past! I used a sprite of Link from Link to the Past and made some color changes for a Santa outfit. I gave him a cookie shield, which is slightly modified in shape from the Red Shield, and a candy cane “sword,” which I sort of copied from one of the other canes he gets in the game. I put some string through it and put it in my car, trying to remind myself that Christmas can be fun as I drove to work.

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Meta Knight, from Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland. My freshman year of high school holds a lot of memories for me regarding the Game Boy Advance. Games like Metroid Fusion, Megaman Zero, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Pokemon Sapphire, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past found their way into my house one way or another. Whether it was just a good time for Game Boy Advance games, I was lucky regarding Christmas and birthday gifts, or maybe a combination of the two, I found myself playing these games a lot.

Anyway, I have this one particularly strong memory of watching my friend play Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland as we were walking laps around the soccer field during gym one day. There wasn’t anything special about it, just one of those “snapshot” memories that recalls a specific time during your life. This game always reminds me of that time. I don’t know why I don’t revisit it more; this is probably my favorite Kirby game I own, and the fact you can play through the entire game as Meta Knight in a sort of challenge mode is one of the cooler things this series brings.

This one wasn’t too bad to make; the wings, feet, and sword fused mostly fine with only a little difficulty fusing the center area. I honestly didn’t like how it turned out at first, but when I came back to it the next day, I fell in love with it. This might be my new favorite Perler bead piece.

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Here’s Super Sonic from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it in another post, but the Genesis Sonic games played a big part in my childhood. That being said, I really hate Super Sonic. I feel like I’m the only person in the world that thinks this, but for me, Super Sonic is just an obnoxious way to stop hearing the great music that plays through almost every stage. Replacing it with a short loop of an extremely tedious and annoying melody doesn’t seem like much of a reward for collecting all the Chaos Emeralds. I won’t say he’s completely useless, though; I can use him to blaze past the two middle levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which I’m not much of a fan.

Anyway, I made this for a friend from work for covering one of my shifts. It was a day I really wanted covered, and I felt so overjoyed and grateful I just offered to make him something in return, and this is what he chose.

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And finally, here’s Vileplume from Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen. I bought one of those big, 11,000 count containers of beads since I was running a little low on a lot of colors. I ended up having an abundance of reds, so I looked through some sprite sheets that might help me use some up. I settled on this; definitely wasn’t my first pick of things I wanted to recreate from Pokemon, but whatever. It’s not like I hate Vileplume, or anything.

This was probably the most obnoxious project I’ve had to iron. You can probably tell from the photo, but different parts of this ended up fusing at inconsistent rates. This thing just wouldn’t work with me, and by the time it finally fused as one whole piece, it became extremely warped, even after pressing it down with books overnight. Oh well. I think next time I do a big project, I’ll fuse one pegboard worth of beads at a time and then iron them altogether. Maybe that will bring some more luck.

Anyway, hope you guys have enjoyed the first day of the new year. Here’s hoping it’s better than the last! 🙂

How To Make Perler Bead Art

 

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Last year, one of my favorite YouTubers started making video game sprites from Perler beads. My first question was, “what the hell is a Perler bead?” My second question was, “how can I do this?”

Perler beads are fusible beads from my childhood, apparently. You arrange a picture or pattern on a pegboard and iron them together to create art. I certainly don’t remember them. Most of my art projects involved Crayola brand stuff. I didn’t usually go for the projects that required outside assistance, like the use of irons.

But after seeing video game sprites from Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Game Boy games made out of Perler beads, I’m pretty ashamed I never tried this sooner. ESPECIALLY as a kid. I’ve always loved game sprites. I’d even go so far as to say they fascinated me. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because I was a super organized kid, and seeing pixels so perfectly arranged was appealing to me. Maybe it was because sprites were essentially the same as flip books, and if you put them all together they made a moving picture. Maybe it was because I was weird.

Even though I’m not really interested in modern video games, the old stuff still holds a special place in my heart. And after wanting to try making pixel art for a year, I finally bought some Perler beads and a pegboard. So naturally, after a few weeks of making stuff, I feel entitled to provide a tutorial to anyone willing to listen. Lucky you.

First, go get some Perler beads. I got mine at Michael’s. I’d assume any arts and crafts store would have them, but if they don’t, you can also go their website. I got a large pegboard for $15, and a container of 11,000 beads of various colors for another $15. They also sell smaller, interlocking pegboards for cheaper (the large pegboard doesn’t connect to other pegboards, so if I wanted to make something bigger, I’d have to buy a bunch of small ones to snap together), as well as packets of 1,000 beads of individual colors (pick up a packet of black beads if you want to make video game sprites). Also, if it doesn’t come with your pegboard or container, buy some ironing paper (it’s reusable, so you don’t need to buy a lot).

At first I started small, and sifting through the container of unsorted beads wasn’t a big deal. If you’re just trying this out with no goal in mind, this will be okay, but eventually it’s going to get really annoying to look through every bead for a certain color. It’s going to take a while, but if you don’t mind, buy some containers to organize your beads and separate all of them. It’ll really help out in the long run.

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11,000 beads are a lot of beads. This isn’t even half of them.

Next, figure out what you want to make. A lot of people recreate sprites from video games. You don’t have to, though. Go through Google image search and type in something you think you’d want to make in Perler bead form. You’ll probably be able to find something you can copy directly. You can try to find sprite sheets, too. Open them in a program that allows you to zoom in and see if you can eyeball what colors you need to place where. You can also look for different websites that pixelize or place a grid on an existing picture.

After that, just start placing beads down. Depending on what you’re working with, it may be easier to start from the top or side of the picture and work your way over. Sometimes it’s better to make an outline and fill in as you go. Other times, you may just want to work on one section and work your way out. Play around with it and see what works best for you.

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I started making the outline on this one first, mostly because I wasn’t sure if my pegboard was going to be big enough. I wanted to make sure there was enough room to work with.

Be careful not to bump whatever surface you’re working on. Try to work on a flat surface, too. You don’t want your beads popping up and scattering. You can place beads with your fingers, but since you’re working with something so small, you might want to use a pair of tweezers (or nail clippers in my case, because god forbid I can find the tweezers in my house when I actually need them). They also sell this tool for the sole purpose of picking up and moving Perler beads, so you might want to look into that, too.

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I started filling in the rest color by color. If I ever run out, I can make a note of which color to pick up the next time I’m at Michael’s.

Sometimes you might question whether or not your project is working out. I’ve always had this problem with art of any kind. Sometimes I think the head’s too big, or the hands, or whatever else I’m working on. Keep working on it. Sometimes you need to see the whole picture before smaller parts of it start to look right. If you’re really hating it, you can always start over.

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Finally done with Mega Man X! Hard to believe this SNES sprite had four shades of blue in it. You never know how detailed these things are until you look at them up close!

Now it’s time to iron. Ironing can be tricky. This is definitely the one aspect of making Perler bead art that requires the most trial and error. First, heat up your iron to a medium setting. Don’t put water in it. You don’t want steam. We’re just dry ironing here.

Position your ironing paper over your work. One sheet should do, but if you’re working on something really big, you might need more.

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Some people use alternatives to ironing paper, for whatever reason. I’m not sure how well they work out, but ironing paper has always worked fine for me.

Once the iron’s heated up (please don’t put your hand on the iron side to test this; you should be able to feel the heat coming off if your hand’s sort of near it), it’s time to start ironing. Small projects should be easy. Iron in a circular motion over the project for 10-20 seconds and wait for it to cool a little. Bigger ones might need a little more practice. Individual beads tend to stick to the paper more often and come out of the pegboard when you move over to iron another area.

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Ironing’s easier when you’re not holding a camera in one hand. Also, I have no idea why my hand looks so wrinkled here.

Also, put something heavy on top while it’s cooling. These things have the tendency to warp if they don’t remain flat.

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I hope three encyclopedias from the 1960s will be enough.

How long should you wait? It depends on how big your project is. 5-10 minutes usually works for me. The directions that come with the Perler beads don’t mention anything about ironing again, but you might want to go over it another time or two. Sometimes the beads don’t fuse all the way…

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… and then this happens.

You don’t want to have come all this way to find clumps of beads still stuck to the ironing paper when you finally peel it off. If this happens, put your beads back where they’re supposed to be and keep ironing. When you think you’re ready to iron the other side, slowly and carefully peel the ironing paper off. You might want to hold some of the art down while doing this.

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It’s like opening up a treasure chest! So excited! ❤

Okay, the next part’s a little weird. You’re going to want to iron the other side so the beads fuse evenly and prevent any more warping. If you’re working on something small, you can usually flip the art over and fit it back onto the pegboard. The pegboard is great because the beads don’t move. However, I haven’t had any luck getting bigger projects back onto the pegboard. So you’re going to have to put it on the table as is and iron without having both the art and paper sliding around.

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Also, use caution when removing bigger projects from the pegboard. With only one side ironed, they’re still a little flimsy. I feel like they’re ready to fall apart if I’m not careful.

Same procedure for the other side. Iron in circular motions, put something heavy on it to prevent warping, wait for it to cool, repeat until satisfied. If you can’t get it back on the pegboard, the big problem here is keeping everything still. The ironing paper slides around more than you’d think. I tried taping it down, but that didn’t work well. You can try weighing it down with something on the edges. This worked fairly well for me, but I’m still looking for a better way to keep everything still. Don’t get frustrated, keep trying until you finish!

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If I made these when I was a kid, I would literally make every single character from everything and play with them nonstop.

It might take some getting used to, but this is really, really fun. I just put on a movie or some YouTube videos and lose myself all day in making stuff like this. It’s really great if you’re either looking for something to do for a day or wanting to try making more complicated pieces of art out of this unlikely medium. It’s also great for distracting yourself if you’re depressed or anxious and need something to do to take your mind off things.

Here are the other projects I’ve done so far:

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The 1-Up Mushroom from Super Mario World. This was the first one I made. Pretty easy, only needed three colors.

 

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The Fire Flower from the same game. This one’s cool because it looks like it has a shading effect.

 

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One of the Metroids from… Metroid. You can’t tell from the picture, but there was a lot of warping with this one. It’s stuck in this raised state and feels like it’ll break if I bend it. This was before I started putting books down between ironing.

 

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Samus from Super Metroid. This is arguably the most complex one I’ve done so far. There are a lot of different colors, and this is the only piece I’ve done without a black outline.

 

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The ? block from Super Mario World. I made this to warm up before starting the Mega Man X piece.

 

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Link obtaining the Master Sword from it’s pedestal from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. While I used just one picture from Google image search to make the previous projects, I used a few different ones for this. Link’s color scheme differed from image to image, so I mixed and matched until I was satisfied. Also, I don’t think the hilt is this detailed in the actual game. Someone got pretty cool and creative when they originally made this.

 

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My smaller projects, placed next to a CD case for size comparison.

 

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My larger projects, for the same purpose.

So obviously, I didn’t make these from my imagination. For now I’m just recreating game sprites from pictures I find online, put eventually I want to make more complicated pieces. I’d like to make the cover from one of my favorite books (A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore), as well as the hand holding up the soap from the DVD cover of Fight Club.

As to what you can do with these? I’ve seen some people turn these into magnets or keychains. Some other people decorate their walls with them. I don’t know if I want to put everything onto my wall, but we’ll see. Some people got really creative with decorating rooms. Check out Google image search for some ideas. They’re really fun to make, and honestly, that’s the most important thing to me right now. I’m sure I’ll want to find something to do with them once I have a box full of them, though. 🙂