Introduction: How to Make a 3D Comic Strip

What do you do when you see a really funny comic? Some people cut it out and post it on a wall somewhere, while others just re-tell what was on there. But wouldn't it be great to do something fun and special with it?

This instructable shows you how to take a funny comic strip and make it into a 3D comic strip that you could use as a decoration. What a better way to show and save a funny comic than to make a 3D recreation of it using clay and other materials? This idea just came into my head and I tried it on a Garfield comic strip that I liked. I really liked how it turned out and I now have an extra decoration for my room and I can say I made it! And now in honor of the comic contest I will show you how to do a 3D recreation of your favorite comic strip. And best of all this project is cheap (you will make and use homemade clay) and fun!
If you like this instructable, please vote for it in the comic contest :)

Step 1: Gather Materials

You will need to figure out some of the materials based on the comic strip. I will explain more about this in th next step
Here is a list of what you will need for sure:

>A few photocopies of the comic strip or a saved image that can be edited with Paint on your computer

For making the clay, you will need:
>4 cups whte flour
>1 cup salt
>1.5 cups water
>Food coloring (optional if you have paint)

For decorating, you will need:
>Cookie sheet
>Paint and paintbrush (optional if you have food coloring, but you will need black for sure if you are going to use lacquer, and it looks much better with paint. I used both paint and food coloring)
>Glue gun and glue sticks
>Sand paper
>A regular glue stick
>Different colored construction paper
>Computer and printer
>Permanent marker
>1 piece of Cardstock paper


Step 2: Analyzing Comic Strip

This step is really about planning everything you will do. There are 4 parts of this:

1. Figuring out what parts to throw out
2. Breaking everything down into shapes
3. Analyzing character expressions
4. Figuring out special materials

see picture 2
Simply color in all parts of the comic that you would throw out. Sometimes a comic strip has scenes that can easily be thrown out or put into one. Just shade in all parts that you dont want and divide the comic strip so that the scenes that you will use are neatly boxed so as to not confuse you.

see picture 3
You will need to take all the characters and objects that you plan on making out of clay and divide them into shapes. Don't worry about detail yet, just draw out what the objects look like using shapes. You may need multiple drawings to see different angles. For characters, you can just draw out one picture- that will be your base and from that you can make all the movements.
Be sure to draw out EVERYTHING though. Every object and character. This is like your blueprint for making the figures. Make notes on everything and make sure you have every part of the comic strip covered.

see picture 4
Analyze carefully all the expressions- this will be important for detail. An expression can change the whole scene. For example, what if Garfield looked relaxed when he saw the shark? It would make the comic confusing and it will take away all the humor. That is why it is important to analyze each expression and see what makes it different from the others. Outline the parts that change with expression on the characters, usually eyes and mouth.

see picture 5
This is when you figure out what materials you need other than the ones I already mentioned. This is also where you can make comments on what you might change about the strip based on what materials you do or so not have. For example, in my comic strip i changed the bird baths to white because it will be easier to paint, and I noted that i can use permanent marker or paint for stripes. But more importantly, I noted that a good idea for a birdbath would be to paint it blue inside and then fill with glue from a glue gun. So I will need blue paint and a glue gun (which I already need!)
Some other examples of this might be using plastic wrap for windows or a piece of fabric for a blanket or piping gel with white paint for milk. The possibilities could be endless. Just look at your comic strip and brainstorm!

Step 3: Making Clay

To make the clay you just simply put the materials (4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1.5 cups water) in a big bowl and mix with your hands. Once it is thick you can take it out of the bowl and knead it until you have a clay like consistency.

Then to color the clay, you just break off the amount or clay you need and drop some food coloring in it and then knead it until the color is blended in.

Use gloves when tinting the clay or your hands will get stained like mine did

Step 4: Making the Figures

Before you make the figures, preheat your oven to 300 degrees
With all the planning you have done in step one, this should be easy. First make all the shapes and put them together correctly. Then blend the shapes in a little so it starts to actually look like what you are making. Move the body parts of the characters around to make each of the positions they are in. Then add the facial expressions on the characters, being careful that they look just right.
Add any tiny details from clay.
 KEEP YOUR FIGURES SMALL like up to 3/4 inch thick because if you don't the inside won't get baked.

TIP: keep all of the extra clay whether it is tinted or not- you may still need it to fix possible cracks

Step 5: Baking

Place the figures on a cookie sheet and put inside an oven preheated to 300 degrees.
You will need to bake the figures for about an hour or so depending on size. Flip them over after about half an hour. After an hour has passed, try squishing the biggest piece you have (with an oven mitt of course!) and if it still squishes in then leave it in for longer. If it is hard you can take it out.

TIP: The clay is REALLY hot when you touch it so please use an oven mitt or towel and be REALLY careful!

Step 6: Fixing Cracks and Sanding

Almost always there will be a crack in at least one of the figures. To fix this, fill in the crack using a knife and the clay of the right color (that you saved after making the figures!) Put it back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Some shapes may not come out quite like you wanted them to, or the surface is not real smooth. This is where sand paper comes in handy. Just sand the edges or surfaces that need to be smoothed and your shape will look much better.

Step 7: Painting

For this step squirt out the different colors of paint you will need unto a plastic surface or a piece of cardstock as I used.
Then just take a paint brush and paint all the parts you feel need more vibrant or smooth color. If you didn't use foo coloring you will have to paint everything. I used food coloring and I ended up painting only the bird baths.
You will also need to paint in the eyes of the characters.

NOTE: if you are planning on using lacquer or shellac on the figures, you MUST use paint to color in the eyes and other black parts. Adding lacquer will make the figures more permanent and it gives a finished look. If you do not use lacquer, a possible substitute for painting the eyes and the other black parts is using a permanent marker. (If you try putting lacquer over it, it will run!)

Let the figures dry completely before going on to the next step.

Step 8: Assembling Parts

This is where you put all the pieces you made together. Use the hot glue gun to glue parts together. Add any special materials you are using. This part is pretty easy, you just put everything together like you want it to go EXCEPT for the thought or word bubbles and the background.
At this point, you may want to re coat some parts with paint.

Step 9: Coating With Lacquer

I did not coat my figures with lacquer, but Coating with lacquer will make your creations more permanent and they will be shiny and polished. To get more information on this step go to one of the other instructables I did where I actually did use lacquer >>  <<
I used Valspar Hi-gloss lacquer on that one and it worked great!
Basically though just follow the instructions on the can it has everything you need on there.

Make sure the lacquer is completely dried before proceeding to the next step.

Step 10: Making Thought and Word Bubbles

For this step you will need to use a computer and printer. Open up Microsoft Word. Use the font "Comic Sans" and type all caps if you want the words to look "comic-y"
Just type in all the words or thoughts that you will need to use and space them out. Print on a piece of cardstock. You may want to make two copies of each phrase just in case you mess up.
Then just use a permanent marker and draw a thought or word bubble around the words. Make it thick.
Then cut it out.

Step 11: Making the Backgrounds

OK this part might be a little confusing but it is actually really easy!
You need colored paper, a glue stick or a glue gun, and scissors for this step.

First take one paper and fold it over diagonally. Then cut off the extra strip of paper that sticks out when you fold it diagonally. This will make a square when you unfold it.
Then fold the square diagonally to the other side- this will make a cross shape on your square.
Cut from one of the corners along the line to the middle and stop there.
Now take the two triangular areas that are by the cut and fold one on top of the other. Glue it there.

To make grass, do the same steps with green paper, but instead of folding over and glueing, just cut out each of the triangles and you can glue them to the bottom of four different backgrounds.

Repeat these steps to make as many backgrounds as you need (one for each scene)

After you make all of them cut the pointy tops of each background as far as you wish, just keep them all about the same, and also cut the other corners.

Use the pictures to guide you.

Step 12: Glue Figures Into Scenes

This is pretty self explanatory- just glue all the parts on to the backgrounds.
Glue the thought or word bubbles on the sides of the backgrounds.
Use a glue gun for this.

Step 13: Put Into Order

All you have left to do is to put all the scenes in order and you have your 3D comic strip! Now you have a constant reminder of your favorite comic strip or favorite comic character, and everyone that sees it will have a chuckle on their face. And it sure beats just hanging a comic strip on a wall!

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