Avid cosplayers such as myself, worldwide, have long been frustrated by the seemingly arcane, gravity-defying hairstyles that many anime and video game characters have. We spend substantial money on wigs, hair products, and on occasion even glue, all in pursuit of that lofty dream we all have of looking just like an artistically stylized human being that has come to life right out of a TV screen. Even more frustrating is the fact that a few cosplayers out there on the web actually have an extraordinary talent for it, and deceptively make cosplaying look easy. I am not one of those people.
But, I was determined. Furiously determined. And when I learned the technique of "papercrafting", I felt as if all my troubles would soon be over...
First of all: What is papercrafting?
In 'the real world', papercrafting is an extremely broad term meaning all crafts that are cut from paper and glued together----for many of us, it probably conjures flashbacks of kindergarten. However, on the internet, and increasingly so within the gaming community, papercrafting refers to the process of creating a 3D model or hacking a video game and extracting the 3D files, flattening the polygons in a special program, printing them out on paper, and then constructing the figure in real life. There are some truly jaw-dropping examples of this photographed in artists' galleries on the net. One could conceivably think of papercrafting as a 'poor man's 3D printer'.
....But, boy, was I wrong. Papercrafting is an extremely difficult hobby-----extremely technical, and utterly time consuming. However, the difference that makes it undoubtedly worthwhile is that "screen accuracy" is an objective, mathematical fact rather than a subjective art.
In this Instructible, I will cover how to turn a 3D character file in .obj format (most basic 3D format there is) into a foam hat that one can wear with a costume instead of a fibrous wig.
Beyond this point, I make mention of some of the programs that I use by name, and provide links to the sites where readers can download them from their developers. For the most part, they are freeware. However, some are shareware, and I have only listed them because they are crucial tools in this process, and, so far as I can tell, are the only programs of their kind. I am not in any way affiliated with these companies. Never have been, and don't intend to be. Simply, without these programs, this amazing artistic process could not exist.
Also, I am not affiliated in any way with the developers of the character model that I use in the demonstration. I do, however, legally own a copy of the game he is from, which means that I'm allowed to do this. Furthermore, because a papercraft template is a much altered form of the original file, it is also legal for me to share the template with other people who want to build it but don't have the skill to design one themselves.
Step 1: Preliminary Phase aka Setup
I will NOT explain the details of this preliminary phase, as I am still extremely new to it, myself. There are forums where one can learn how to do this, but be warned of drowning in a turbulent sea of technobabble! You hear that? A TURBULENT SEA OF TECHNOBABBLE!!!
1) Extract a game's ISO file onto your computer. IT IS ILLEGAL TO DOWNLOAD THIS FROM THE INTERNET! BUY YOUR OWN COPY OF THE GAME!!!
2) Unpack the ISO.
3) Write or download a program that can display and convert (or two separate programs that perform these functions singularly, if necessary) whatever filetype that the character models are in. There are many, many filetypes out there; some yet remain a mystery to the public, therefore not all 3D characters are accessible for papercrafting. One example that has frustrated me personally (and much of the rest of the web, far as I can tell) is the enigmatic .bmd0.
4) Convert the desired character model to .obj format, and the associated texture file to .png image format if one is present.
5) If the desired model has multiple texture files, it may be necessary to regroup them into a single texture file. I for one do not know how to make [my papercrafting program] read multiple texture files at once for a single model; I'm not positive it's capable of it.
....CONTINUE TO NEXT PHASE!