I should start out by saying that this is not my idea, it comes from a guy by the name of sWooZie, a while back he posted a video of a pretty awesome sculpture of Ryu from Street Fighter and after looking through his videos, I found this guide on how to make one, and I thought that I was up to the task.
So far I've made multiple sculptures, Ness, Megman, and a 1-UP mushroom.
Before we get into things, I'd like to thank sWooZie for giving me permission to write this up.
Basically, what we will be doing is cutting up some timber into squares, these squares will then be painted and act as individual pixels in your sculpture. I know some of you will ask, "Why not just get a plain slab of timber and draw a grid on it?" the answer is, that doesn't give the same effect and it also makes painting a giant pain. This method gives you a very nice finished product. You're looking at about 2 - 3 days of hard work to finish this, I did mine over a week, very relaxed like.
Step 1: Gather Materials + Tools
Timber - You want to get dressed pine. Look for 1" x 1" timber, but really any size will do, the ratio of height to thickness doesn't even need to be 1:1. I, personally, couldn't find any 1" X 1" timber so I ended up getting 31mm x 18mm.
I would also recommend you get a wide plank of timber to use for a base, I just used some scrap I had in my garage.
On a side note, if you desire, you can get primed timber, this has a coat of primer on it that allows for easier application of paint, the downside to this is that you have to sand off the primer on the edges of your timber when gluing, and this is very time consuming. Primed timber is also slightly more expensive then regular timber.
Glue - Just get regular old PVA wood glue, any brand will do.
Paint - This is the tricky part, there are two ways you can get the colours you need, the first is to just buy tubes of acrylic paint in Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Black and White and then mix your own colours, this is quite cheap.
The alternative is to go to a hardware store or paint shop and ask them to mix your colours for you, I went to Bunning's Warehouse and asked them how much it would cost, they told me $8 per small (100mL) pot, this is very expensive if you are using many colours like in mine, but in some respects makes working easier, because you don't have to worry about running out of your home mixed colours and having to start all over again; this is especially painful when mixing skin tones.
You'll also want to get a few small nails and screws for when you put this on a base, if you're going to put it on a base, that is.
Overall for your materials (if using the cheap paint method) you're looking at around $25 - $70 depending on the type of timber you get, how big a sculpture you're making, and how much paint you use.
Drop-saw - This makes cutting the timber a breeze and is essential unless you want to spend 15 - 20 hours sawing the wood by hand. Not everyone has one, but if you're lucky you might be able to find a friend or neighbour who does and will let you borrow it.
Hammer - Self-explanatory.
Screwdriver - Self-explanatory
Paint brushes - You want to get (if you don't already have one) a brush that is about 1/3 - 1/2 the length of your pieces when cut, any smaller and the paint probably won't go on thick enough with the lighter colours.
Sand Paper - If you get primed timber, this is a must for sanding off the primer so you can glue it, otherwise you probably won't need any, but it's always a good idea to have some garnet paper handy in case you get rough edges on your timber.