When you've played as much Mario as I have you can occasionally get the odd thought that you might actually deserve something for all of your time well spent. Like big game hunters you want to flaunt your prowess with trophies of your best accomplishments, right? Since I've beaten Bowser more times that I can count I figure I need a Bowser trophy, and really, who could blame me?
I started with getting the game model for Bowser from Mario Galaxy, since I thought this was the best 3d version of him. If you open him up in Crafty you get a confusing wire diagram like the one pictured above, but crafty lets you save out in other formats. So Crafty converts my MTL file to a more familiar OBJ.
I opened the OBJ file using Art of Illusion, and you get a nice gray-scale full body of Bowser, which I then set to wire frame because I only need the head, and he's somewhat easier to dissect this way. This was all new to me, and there was a gratuitous use of the "undo" button as I stumbled through. No regrets though.
After removing the body I set it back to the skinned version, just to make sure everything is how I want it. (this is A LOT of trial and error.) Then save him out again. I also took the opportunity at this point to remove his horns and save them out separately for a viking helmet project I may actually work on someday. Multitasking!!
Now you take your head, and open it with Pepakura Designer. This fantastic program (well worth the dough) let's you "flatten" a 3d image and print it out for papercrafts and oddball projects. It's handy on several levels. At this point you can scale the head up to life size. I figured this using Super paper mario, where you see most of the mario characters on screen together and estimated his approximate height. Later I found out there's a Bowser forum with all of this information on it already, but it was far too late and I don't care if it isn't perfect. Who's gonna look at it and say "it's about 3 cm too small isn't it?" right?... Right? Hmm..
Anyway, at this point you can adjust the arrangement on the pages to maximize your paper use and print away. Pepakura has an edge matching utility that numbers your open edges for you. It's a life saver. Use it.
...and now for the time consuming part. I know, right? Carefully cut out and assemble your head with good old Elmer's school glue. This is going to take some time and get frustrating but there is hope! Pepakura has a free downloadable viewer that lets you check your placement off of what you've printed, because long after you've gone cross-eyed figuring this out everything starts to look the same. http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/download/viewer.html
Here's some random pics from along the way. And I've cleaned house since then.
Here's the part where various schools of thought vary. Most applications this way follow through with fiberglass and bondo, smoothing everything out and making it perfect. The thing is, Bowser a video game character. I like the fact he's a little pixelated, or that his polygon count is showing. So I did fiberglass him just enough to realize that I need more practice with fiberglass. and I eventually filled him with expanding foam, since at times he seemed in danger of collapsing under his own weight. I was a messy process, but I learned a lot along the way and that's part of what all of this is about, right?
Next, after some primer and touch-ups comes the fun part. Paint job time.There are more reference photos of Bowser than you can shake a digital stick at, and all of them seemed to be a bit different. So there are now questions like: Is his hair red or orange? what color are his eyes? does he have a visible scale pattern? Am I losing my mind? How much am I going to have to do to make all this up to my wife? Some of these have answers. It also allows for some personal interpretation that lets your trophy really be YOUR trophy.
When it was all said and done I mounted him on a plaque hastily cut out of MDO and coated him a few times with a gloss sealer because shiny is good. I am still "debating" with my wife over where he goes now. I plan on adding a brass tag to the plaque as soon as I teach myself to engrave. And that is that. Good luck!!
Now to do a full size Koopa...