Introduction: Princess Peach Pointillism

1080 980 plastic bottle caps + 16 acrylic paint colors + a couple of Perl scripts + 6 months worth of work =

Step 1: Materials

First, convince your entire family to start collecting plastic bottle caps. To make things even more fun, don't tell them why they are collecting caps.

Select a suitable picture, in my case I selected a 30 x 36 image of Princess Peach. Be sure to select a small image as you're going to need one cap for every pixel.

Once you have collected at least 1080 caps, you're ready to start phase two.

(Note: It's been pointed out that the image is actually 28 x 35 totalling 980 caps. I forgot that I lost a row and and two columns when I  planned out the border. Small oversight on my part, can't believe someone actually counted!)

Step 2: Color Selection

I used some Perl code and ImageMagick to extract the color pallet from the image. For each color in the pallet, I assigned a simplified hexadecimal code:

$cc{"000000"} = "0"; 000000 = 237
$cc{"A85000"} = "1"; A85000 = 6
$cc{"B81018"} = "2"; B81018 = 5
$cc{"D03850"} = "3"; D03850 = 32
$cc{"E86000"} = "4"; E86000 = 47
$cc{"E86050"} = "5"; E86050 = 8
$cc{"E08030"} = "6"; E08030 = 3
$cc{"E88090"} = "7"; E88090 = 29
$cc{"F09058"} = "8"; F09058 = 42
$cc{"F0C830"} = "9"; F0C830 = 9
$cc{"F8A800"} = "A"; F8A800 = 117
$cc{"F8B0D0"} = "B"; F8B0D0 = 40
$cc{"F8B880"} = "C"; F8B880 = 23
$cc{"F8F030"} = "D"; F8F030 = 60
$cc{"F8F8F8"} = "E"; F8F8F8 = 35
$cc{"FFFFFF"} = "F"; FFFFFF = 387

Total = 1080

The program output above shows the color code in hex, its assigned simplified code, and the number of times that particular pixel appears in the image.

I then created a pallet chart and printed it out. When mixing colors, I would first test them against the palette. For me, mixing a large amount of the same color was challenging.



Step 3: Painting the Caps

Using the printed color pallet, I then hand-painted each cap with acrylic paint. For example, I painted 237 black caps, 117 orange, etc. Painting the caps was tedious and time-consuming and I had to “develop” a special tool to help with the painting process. I used a 3/4” wood dowel with painters tape around one end. The caps fit snugly on the end of the cap so they didn't fall off while painting and then easily popped off for drying.

I opted to not spray paint them because I wanted to mix my own colors and ensure an even coat on the surface of the cap. In hindsight, an air brush may have been a better choice.

During the painting process, I made some modifications to the overall design and decided to change the boring white background on the original image to something more visually appealing.

The entire painting process took about 6 months working on and off.

Step 4: Layout

Keep in mind that up to this point, no one had any idea what I was making. We were collecting and painting caps, but the overall image was not clear. Using the color codes assigned in the previous steps and another Perl program, I generated an image showing the location of each color code (like a paint by numbers set):

----000000000011111111112222222222
----012345678901234567890123456789
00: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
01: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF00F0F00FFFFFFF
02: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF0909090FFFFFFF
03: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF0999990FFFFFFF
04: FFFFFFFFFFFFF0000669220FFFFFFF
05: FFFFFFFFFFF00AAA001627000FFFFF
06: FFFFFFFFFF0AAADDAA0000AAA0FFFF
07: FFFFFFFFF0AADDDADDAA0ADDDA0FFF
08: FFFFFFFFF0ADDAA0AADDADDADDA0FF
09: FFFFFFFF0ADDDDAA04ADDDA0ADD00F
10: FFFFFFFF0AAADDAA00044440AAD0D0
11: FFFFFFFF0A0ADAA0558000080ADD0F
12: FFFFF0FF00ADDD050888888880D0FF
13: FFFF0A00AADDAAA08018CCC104AD0F
14: FFFFF0ADDDDA00A001E1CC18004A0F
15: FFFFFF0AADA0C0A08EE0CC080440FF
16: FFFFFFF0ADA08C0A0CE0CC080440FF
17: FFFFFFF0ADA08C8008CCC8C8040FFF
18: FFFFFFF0ADA4088888CCCCC800FFFF
19: FFFFFF0AADDA4000588C22880FFFFF
20: FFFFFFF0AAAAA44405888880FFFFFF
21: FFFFFFF0ADAA44440008880FFFFFFF
22: FFFFFF0ADDA0000003700030FFFFFF
23: FFFFFF0ADA037770007BB000000FFF
24: FFFFF0ADDA037BB7030000300BE0FF
25: FFFFF0ADA03777BB7037770EE0BE0F
26: FFFF0ADDA037B70B7037B0EEEB0B0F
27: FFFF0AAAA0377B707037B0EEEB0B0F
28: FFFF0AAA40337733003770EEEB00FF
29: FFFFF0AA4403300050330EBEB0B0FF
30: FFFFF00AA44033058030EEBB0B0FFF
31: F0FF0AAAAA4400580E0EEEB0BE0FFF
32: 0A00AAAA4AA44400EEEEEB00BE0FFF
33: F0AAAAA444A44030BBEBB0BBEE0FFF
34: FF044444044444070BBB030BBB0FFF
35: FFF00000F00000333000333000FFFF

total caps needed: 1081;

If you squint, you can almost make out the image in the letters and numbers above.

It was at this point that I realized just how big this picture was going to be. Each cap is roughly 31mm in diameter. Given that all caps are a little different, I set the grid to 33mm squares. The final image ended up at 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall! Not exactly something you can keep on your desk.

I cut a piece of melamine large enough to fit the image and a 1 square wide border around it. Using a ruler, I marked out the grid and wrote in the values for each square.

I recruited my kids to help with the initial layout of the image. I had them start with the black caps and asked them to guess what the picture was. Half-way through the process, my fourth daughter shouted out, Peach!

Step 5: Final

When I had almost finished painting caps, we sold our house and moved. I carefully packed up each cap (so they wouldn't be scratched) and crossed my fingers. Luckily, the entire project made it through the move in tact.

The final step was to build a frame. I build a simple wood frame out of pine with half-lathe corners and routed the back for the melamine to fit into. The frame is held together with wood glue and 1/2” brads.

I then carefully glued each cap down to the board using PolySeamSeal All-Purpose Adhesive and Caulk. This was a time-consuming and tedious process.  The caulk went on white and dried clear which made it easier to remove from surfaces where it didn't belong.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result. We took Peach out on the front porch and then went down the street to see how far away the image resolved. It was like having a giant icon on my porch!


Comments

author
belsey (author)2010-12-21

Congratulations on being featured in the magazine Nintendo Power!

author
skeplin (author)belsey2010-12-22

So I went out and bought a copy of Nintendo Power. Thank you so much for pointing that out. My kids think I'm famous. ;^)

author
belsey (author)skeplin2010-12-22

You most definitely are, amongst the 10 year old boy set!

author
skeplin (author)belsey2010-12-22

Wow really? Which issue number? This is news to me!

author
michael63 (author)2013-09-17

This cool

author
tjesse (author)2011-09-09

How could i do this with beer caps? Using the original paint on the cap?

IMAG0386.jpg
author
skeplin (author)tjesse2011-09-10

Check out my other project: https://www.instructables.com/id/Dragon-Scales/

The challenge is getting enough caps with the same or similar colors.

author
sonofspikerr (author)2011-02-17

Saw this in Nintendo Power!!! Awesome!!!!!!

author
Slicerr2 (author)2010-10-04

does any one know where i can just paste my image in and get a layout like in step 4

author
skeplin (author)Slicerr22010-10-05

Someone suggested this below: use Gimp or some other image manipulation program to save the file in XPM format. The result is almost the same.

author
YolksterXD (author)skeplin2011-02-03

This is how i did it with Gimp (and im a total noob too so it took me a while to figure it out):
Paste image into Gimp
Image -> Mode -> Indenxed (dont change the options) -> ok
Windows-> Dockable Dialogues -> Colormap
Windows -> Docable Dialogues-> Histogram

The number of the color on Colormap (ex: color index "x") is equal to "x,x" on the Histogram left and right boxes

author
Kry (author)2010-12-11

awesome

author
Mr. TiKi (author)2010-09-12

How good did the paint hold? Acrylic to plastic in my experience holds very poorly.

author
skeplin (author)Mr. TiKi2010-09-13

The paint holds ok, but it scratches easy. I need a good flat acrylic sealant.

author
BarginsTech (author)skeplin2010-09-20

Couldnt you use a simple glue spray like elmers spary adhesive and let it dry? Or modge podge with a brush?

author
skeplin (author)BarginsTech2010-09-21

What's modge podge? Does it have a glossy or matte finish?

author
Mr. TiKi (author)skeplin2010-09-21

Just goto walmart and get yourself some Krylon crystal clear. They have satin, gloss semi, gloss

author
BarginsTech (author)skeplin2010-09-21

Yes :D

http://www.google.com/products?hl=&rlz=1B3MOZA_enUS359US359&q=modge+podge&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=lkeZTJTOGcH38Ab56IGBAQ&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&ct=title&resnum=3&ved=0CDwQrQQwAg

Its a puzzle saver glue. I noticed Elmers has a "spray adhesive" that might have the same effect. The only problem I can see with the modge podge is it doesnt have a spray form.

author
Mr. TiKi (author)BarginsTech2010-09-21

Mod podge won't stick to plastic. And if you want to spray mod podge you could dilute it and use an air gun. I do that on my acrylic 3d wall art to seal in the paint.

author
BarginsTech (author)Mr. TiKi2010-09-21

maybe Shelac? Just thought of it.  My grandma used it for pumpkins and gourds for holidays. I think any thing thats spray would be okay cause its a thin layer and as long as its not haldled so much it shouldnt chip right? I dont have a spray gun so your idea, though it sounds like its efficient, wouldnt work for me :(

author
BarginsTech (author)Mr. TiKi2010-09-21

ahh good point! didnt thik of that... hmm...

author
Mr. TiKi (author)skeplin2010-09-13

You could try minwax polycrylic. Also you could also try some enamel $1.49 at micheals for a 2oz bottle, problem is they take a few weeks to completely dry.

author
Prometheus (author)Mr. TiKi2010-09-16

Just brush acetone over the surface. The "burn" should roughen the surface enough for most paints to stick. "Model paint" with nail-polish as a primer could work too...

author
Mr. TiKi (author)Prometheus2010-09-17

Thanks for the suggestion, I will give it a shot.

author
Prometheus (author)Mr. TiKi2010-09-17

I should add that if you use nail polish and model paint, to keep it indoors as excessive sunlight (UV) and weather can deteriorate the nail polish quickly. Some plastics are resistant to acetone. If you brush acetone over it and it does not destroy the glossiness, you may need to just use plain coarse sandpaper, something around those cheap orange fingernail-file grit (emery board)...The idea is to remove any glossiness. The more reflective it is, the less it's surface area, and we want to maximize that so paint can get a better hold.

Or :rofl: just use those cheap orange emery board nail files where commercial "teen" cosmetics are sold, with names like "revlon", "maybelline", etc., as well as nail gloss/enamel (same animal, I suggest the clear gloss or the "super-vampire-gothic pitchblack midnight death black"/"heaveanly-angel pure-virgin innocence-white", depending on the topcoat color). "Methylated" or acetone-base is suggested, so try to read the "ingredients" if the packaging will let you do so without buying it first (corporate america disgusts me)...

Roughening the surface increases surface area, giving the "paint" more to grab on to. First rule of painting: "several thin coats are more durable than one thick coat." This especially applies to aerosol paints, should you choose to use them. I had found that rust-inhibiting paint sticks just a little better to plastics than standard aerosol spraypaint. Experiment if you can afford to do so...

author
fvu (author)2010-09-19

Very nice. If you can collect twice as much bottle caps (2000), you might consider creating bottle cap curtains as well, see: http://fvue.nl/wiki/Fly_curtains_made_of_plastic_bottle_caps . There's no painting involved!

wave2.jpg
author
skeplin (author)fvu2010-09-19

Wow those are amazing!

author
smheck (author)2010-09-18

I just showed this to the kids and they LOVED it! You are so VERY creative!!!

author
bgepp1 (author)2010-09-17

i'll bet it looks really cool the farther away you get - nice job at recycling materials too!

author
pokster (author)2010-09-17

awesome!

author
WingDings (author)2010-09-17

Wow - 6 months of work! Well done for keeping going all of that time! :)

It's amazing how quickly the number of points add up as you increase the dimensions. The end result's great.

author
Cabanaman (author)2010-09-09

Could this be done with spray paint? Patience isn't my virtue, unfortunately.

author
skeplin (author)Cabanaman2010-09-17

Spray paint would work so long as you found all of the colors you need.

author
Razzor (author)2010-09-16

I had recently done this but with ceramic tiles and a "Space invader" theme, it turned out quite well but was very costly. I love your idea for using bottlecaps and i think i might have to try this myself.

Great instructable :)

author
tim13211 (author)2010-09-16

Wow, this is very cool! Do the bottle caps have to be the same size/shape, or does it matter?

author
skeplin (author)tim132112010-09-16

I found that for the most part, they are the same width (about 31 - 32mm in diameter.)

Height varies, but it doesn't make a difference when you paint the whole cap. From a distance, you can't even see the height variances.

author
tim13211 (author)skeplin2010-09-16

Ok, thanks!

author
Kaiven (author)2010-09-08

Awesome! But why peach (of all video game characters)?

author
skeplin (author)Kaiven2010-09-09

I got tired of being told, "Your princess is in another castle," so I decided to bring her to mine.

author
Prometheus (author)skeplin2010-09-16

^^comment WIN

author
dermbrian (author)skeplin2010-09-16

Great answer.

author
juliemosaic (author)2010-09-16

You've made this mosaic Artist very happy!
And yes, Princess Peach has always been my avatar. Keep up the good work!

author
myounges (author)2010-09-16

Nice project to do with the kids!
Thanks!

author
bubbelgum56 (author)2010-09-12

this is totally wicked!!!i <3 princess peach and im going to start rite away!!

author
HardCoreHacker (author)2010-09-11

Thats freakin EPIC. maybe mario or luigi???

author
angelabchua (author)2010-09-10

neato burrito!

author
smkoberg (author)2010-09-09

Awesome!
I'll have to check out ImageMagick. I've been wanting to do a similar project using beer bottle caps.

author
skeplin (author)smkoberg2010-09-09
author
rw_grim (author)2010-09-09

You can convert the original image to an XPM and it'll do all the work for you. XPM's are a text based image format. You'll have a color palette at the top of the file where it assigns a character to each color, and below you'll have the grid with the characters that were assigned to each color.

It's essential what you did, but with none of the work :)

author
skeplin (author)rw_grim2010-09-09

Wow thanks for the tip!

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Bio: Mad scientist, woodworker, creative evil, artist, tinkerer, father of five creative hooligans.
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