Introduction: Turn Your Picture Into Pixel Art With Perler Beads

We love to use Perler Beads and make projects, but we got tired of doing only shapes and suggestions from their catalogs. We decided to branch out and turn one of our favorite Mario Bros. characters into a bead picture, and here's how we did it. You can do this with almost any picture-- just use a tool to help you get started, then use your imagination to sharpen the results.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

To do this project, you will need:

Perler beads in colors that match your project
1 pair tweezers (any style)
Electronic version of your image to manipulate on the computer
Minimum 1 large bead plate
Parchment paper that comes with Perler beads
Computer (for image conversion)

Step 2: Convert Image to Pixel Pattern

First, you will convert the image to a pixel-based pattern.

We downloaded a program that converts images to cross-stitch patterns from here:

Another instructable uses this program, but I have not tried it:

After you download the program and convert the image, you have a pattern for creating the bead version of the picture.

Step 3: Bead!

The large bead plates have 30 pegs across and 30 down.  So, if your pattern exceeds these dimensions, you already know you will need more than one bead plate.  In that case, you will need to either (1) shrink your image and reconvert it to a smaller pattern or (2) buy more bead plates to accommodate the size of your pattern. 

Begin by beading only the first plate.  You will attach the supplemental plates later.

We started with the first 30 pixels across that we could accommodate.  Here, you are seeing Toadette's feet and the bottom of her dress.

Step 4: Finish Pattern

Continue beading until you finish the piece (if it is 30x30 or smaller), or need to add on a plate.  Here you see

1) We've maxed out the initial board
2) We've added on two more boards

Step 5: Tweak the Beaded Pattern

Step back and compare the original image with your beaded image.  Ask yourself,

"Is there detail I would like to fill in?"

"Are the color placements close enough to the original picture or should they be slightly moved?"

"Are the proportions correct?"

We decided that Toadette's vest had to be manually created, by sight only, because it was a critical part of her overall character.  The cross stitch pattern was too vague to distinguish the vest from the dress, so we went back and created it with some tweaking and guesswork. 

We also felt that the right side of her braids needed some extra black filled in.

Step 6: Iron the Project

I highly suggest that if you have never worked with Perler beads before that you don't perform your first ironing attempt on this big of a project. 

I know it may be frustrating, but I suggest you make a few small patterns, iron them, and get a feel for how to iron a piece so it is uniform after being ironed.  It is easy to make one side flatter than the other, and the project will curl up on the edges after the first side is ironed. 

If you are comfortable ironing your project now, set your iron to the Wool setting, and let it warm up for at least 4 minutes.  Go slowly, and be sure that you cover all corners of the project.  Use the tip of the iron, if necessary, to fuse all the beads on the perimeter to the project.  LET THE FIRST IRONED SESSION COOL before proceeding.  DO NOT "RIP" the parchment off the beads, as that will cause curling and may pull a portion of the project off the board while unfused, stray beads remain. 

If all the beads on the "front" side of the project are nicely fused together, flip the whole project over and remove the bead plate.

Repeat the ironing process on the flipped side of the project.  To prevent curling, place something heavy on the beads immediately after ironing, and let the beads cool.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Pixelized Art!

Hang it!  --with string or fish line

Mount it!! -- glue a magnet on the back and attach to metal somewhere (file cabinet, fridge)

Gift it!!  -- give it to someone who will be surprised (and impressed) that you made their favorite character for them in beaded form.  This is something they can't buy!!!!  You can also use it to attach to the top of a package as a decoration.

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