Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mario Art: Painting Tutorial

I'm finally (mostly) finished with my 10-year-old son's vintage video game bedroom!  Woo Hoo!  That poor kid has been waiting quite a while.  I still have a few more small projects I'd like to do for him, but that's for another day.

I'd like to show you how I made these pixel art canvases, because I think many people believe that
painting something themselves is difficult.  I'm here to tell you it's not.  If you've done much painting before, this may be old news for you, but I'm writing this for beginners.
So let's get started, shall we?

About a year ago I bought 12 of these 7 in. square canvases at the Dollar Tree:

Maybe this is your decorating style, but it just doesn't work for me, so I spray painted them.

It took several coats of white primer to cover these things, but it worked great and now I had 12 blank white canvases for $1 each.  Because I had all of the other supplies on hand, this entire project only cost me $12 plus tax.  Sweet!

Now I just needed a pattern.  I knew I wanted pixel art, so I went to The Spriter's Resource and found a wealth of sprites that were pulled off of the original Nintendo games.  I don't really know what that means or how it is done, but basically someone took all of the items, characters, etc. that appear in the game and put them all on one page.  I downloaded some from the Mario Brothers series, and pulled them up in Photoshop.  Since my canvases were 7 in. square, I cropped the sprites to 6.5 in. square.  (tip:  leave the pix./in. field blank or your picture will be too blurry to use)

I printed them out and this is what they looked like: 

My photo isn't blurry, the picture is.  When you blow up a sprite to this size, it will be fuzzy.  No big deal, you just have to keep that in mind when you trace your image.

Speaking of tracing, go get some regular tracing paper:

And trace over your image:

This is the fun part!  You can trace images from the web, coloring books, whatever, and make your own personalized artwork to match your child's room.

Then lay the traced image on top of the canvas:

Now we have to get that image onto the canvas somehow.  For this, you need carbon paper.  Craft carbon paper doesn't leave blue stuff all over everything, so use it rather than business carbon paper (if they even still make that).

My tip is to only trace half your pattern at a time.  This makes it easier to center your image.  So put your hand on one half of your image and slip the carbon paper under the other half.

Trace over the lines with something pointy like a pencil or the end of a paintbrush.  I like to use a stylus if I can find it amongst all my other craft stuff!

When you finish that half, hold down your image again and slip the carbon paper out.  Repeat for the other side.  If your image slips, just line it up with the part you've already traced (that's why I only do half at a time).

Here it is all traced:

I got over-exuberant and started painting before I took a picture.  That leads us to the next step.

I use regular acrylic craft paint:

My tip:  use good quality paint.  You may pay a little more, but it you won't have to use as many coats.  This is what I had on hand so this is what I used and it worked fine.  I will also say that if your paint is many years old (most of mine was), it's probably time to ditch it.  It will either be thick and gummy or thin and runny.  Both are no fun to paint with.

Put a little bit of paint on a paper plate, and grab a small brush.
Another tip:  use good quality brushes.  Get them in the brush section, not the kids' craft aisle.  They will last forever, and won't get all spazzy on you.

And no, that isn't a pile of $100 bills on my counter.  It was an ad in the newspaper.  I wish!

Now you just color inside the lines:

Work slowly and use a little bit of paint at a time.  Angled brushes are great for this because you can get into corners really well.  Don't worry too much if your lines aren't perfect, we'll clean those up in a minute.  Acrylic craft paint dries really fast, so you can paint several coats, if needed, in a short period of time.  If you need to speed things up, you can use a hair dryer.

And here it is:

I went back and touched up a few places that needed another coat.  Then I took a medium-sized black sharpie and traced over all the edges.  Painting purists will say that you need to line your piece with black paint and a tiny liner brush.  I am not a purist.  I like sharpies.  You could also use a black paint pen, but I like how the sharpie makes the edges a little bit shiny.  I even outlined all of the black parts with the sharpie to clean up my lines.  I hadn't done that yet on the outside of the mushroom guy before I took this picture, but I went back later and outlined everything. 

Here they are, again, all finished:

I had soooo much fun with this project, and like I said, it only cost me around $12.  I hope you will be inspired to play around with your own artwork. 

I'm going to be posting more of his vintage video game room, so "follow me" in the sidebar if you don't want to miss it!  We've got Pac-Man, Zelda, and Atari, oh my!

I'm linking up to these great parties this week:

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE those! maybe for me more then the kids. Those were the fun games:) thanks for the ideas


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