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):

11: FFFFFFFF0A0ADAA0558000080ADD0F
12: FFFFF0FF00ADDD050888888880D0FF
14: FFFFF0ADDDDA00A001E1CC18004A0F
19: FFFFFF0AADDA4000588C22880FFFFF
22: FFFFFF0ADDA0000003700030FFFFFF
23: FFFFFF0ADA037770007BB000000FFF
24: FFFFF0ADDA037BB7030000300BE0FF
25: FFFFF0ADA03777BB7037770EE0BE0F
26: FFFF0ADDA037B70B7037B0EEEB0B0F
27: FFFF0AAAA0377B707037B0EEEB0B0F
28: FFFF0AAA40337733003770EEEB00FF
29: FFFFF0AA4403300050330EBEB0B0FF
30: FFFFF00AA44033058030EEBB0B0FFF
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!

Congratulations on being featured in the magazine Nintendo Power!
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. ;^)
You most definitely are, amongst the 10 year old boy set!
Wow really? Which issue number? This is news to me!
This cool<br/>
How could i do this with beer caps? Using the original paint on the cap?
Check out my other project: https://www.instructables.com/id/Dragon-Scales/<br><br>The challenge is getting enough caps with the same or similar colors.
Saw this in Nintendo Power!!! Awesome!!!!!!
does any one know where i can just paste my image in and get a layout like in step 4<br>
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.
This is how i did it with Gimp (and im a total noob too so it took me a while to figure it out):<br>Paste image into Gimp<br>Image -&gt; Mode -&gt; Indenxed (dont change the options) -&gt; ok<br>Windows-&gt; Dockable Dialogues -&gt; Colormap<br>Windows -&gt; Docable Dialogues-&gt; Histogram<br><br>The number of the color on Colormap (ex: color index &quot;x&quot;) is equal to &quot;x,x&quot; on the Histogram left and right boxes
How good did the paint hold? Acrylic to plastic in my experience holds very poorly.
The paint holds ok, but it scratches easy. I need a good flat acrylic sealant.
Couldnt you use a simple glue spray like elmers spary adhesive and let it dry? Or modge podge with a brush?
What's modge podge? Does it have a glossy or matte finish?
Just goto walmart and get yourself some Krylon crystal clear. They have satin, gloss semi, gloss
Yes :D<br> <br> http://www.google.com/products?hl=&amp;rlz=1B3MOZA_enUS359US359&amp;q=modge+podge&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;ei=lkeZTJTOGcH38Ab56IGBAQ&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=product_result_group&amp;ct=title&amp;resnum=3&amp;ved=0CDwQrQQwAg<br> <br> Its a puzzle saver glue. I noticed Elmers has a &quot;spray adhesive&quot; that might have the same effect. The only problem I can see with the modge podge is it doesnt have a spray form.<br>
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.
maybe Shelac? Just thought of it.&nbsp; 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 :(<br>
ahh good point! didnt thik of that... hmm...
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.
Just brush acetone over the surface. The &quot;burn&quot; should roughen the surface enough for most paints to stick. &quot;Model paint&quot; with nail-polish as a primer could work too...
Thanks for the suggestion, I will give it a shot.
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.<br> <br> Or :rofl: just use those cheap orange emery board nail files where commercial &quot;teen&quot; cosmetics are sold, with names like &quot;revlon&quot;, &quot;maybelline&quot;, etc., as well as nail gloss/enamel (same animal, I suggest the clear gloss or the &quot;super-vampire-gothic pitchblack midnight death black&quot;/&quot;heaveanly-angel pure-virgin innocence-white&quot;, depending on the topcoat color). &quot;Methylated&quot; or acetone-base is suggested, so try to read the &quot;ingredients&quot; if the packaging will let you do so without buying it first (corporate america disgusts me)...<br> <br> Roughening the surface increases surface area, giving the &quot;paint&quot; more to grab on to. First rule of painting: &quot;several thin coats are more durable than one thick coat.&quot; 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...<br>
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!
Wow those are amazing!
I just showed this to the kids and they LOVED it! You are so VERY creative!!!
i'll bet it looks really cool the farther away you get - nice job at recycling materials too!
Wow - 6 months of work! Well done for keeping going all of that time! :)<br><br>It's amazing how quickly the number of points add up as you increase the dimensions. The end result's great.
Could this be done with spray paint? Patience isn't my virtue, unfortunately.
Spray paint would work so long as you found all of the colors you need.
I had recently done this but with ceramic tiles and a &quot;Space invader&quot; 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.<br><br>Great instructable :)
Wow, this is very cool! Do the bottle caps have to be the same size/shape, or does it matter?
I found that for the most part, they are the same width (about 31 - 32mm in diameter.)<br> <br> 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.
Ok, thanks!<br>
Awesome! But why peach (of all video game characters)?
I got tired of being told, &quot;Your princess is in another castle,&quot; so I decided to bring her to mine.
^^comment WIN
Great answer.
You've made this mosaic Artist very happy! <br>And yes, Princess Peach has always been my avatar. Keep up the good work!
Nice project to do with the kids!<br>Thanks!
this is totally wicked!!!i &lt;3 princess peach and im going to start rite away!!
Thats freakin EPIC. maybe mario or luigi???
neato burrito!
Awesome!<br>I'll have to check out ImageMagick. I've been wanting to do a similar project using beer bottle caps.
Check out my other project: <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Dragon-Scales/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Dragon-Scales/</a>
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.<br><br>It's essential what you did, but with none of the work :)
Wow thanks for the tip!

About This Instructable




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