Keep your video games behind glass that keeps playing even after you turn them off! Here’s a way I’ve found to put pixel art on glass. This method should work well on any glass surface normally only seen from one side -- For this Instructable I'll be using the door off a used electronics cabinet bought dirt cheap.
Tools & Supplies: Masking tape, a straight edge, hobby knife or safety razor, computer & printer, small paint brush (foam brush), paint, and the glass you want arted up.
Step 1: 1. Pick a Design
First thing to do is decide what design or image you want. For this door I wanted an adventure/RPG style menu screen. And for me, that means something Zelda inspired.
Now that we know what we want, it’s time to find or build the sprites! There are plenty of places on the web that have ripped and archived sprites, so what you’re looking for shouldn’t be hard to find. Save those puppies on your computer.
Open up your favorite image editing software and build the design you want, arranging sprites, changing colors, etc. Just make sure it’s basic dimensions will fit the glass it’s going on. Got it how you like it? Good.
Now it’s time to resize (save before you do this if you like.) I knew from doing this before that I needed to increase the image size 2100%, or 21 times .It’s important to keep the resizing to whole numbers: 2100%, 2500%, etc. or the image will distort. Set the resize controls to “pixel resize” or equivalent to keep the pixel edges sharp. Resize as you see fit, but the smaller the “pixels” end up on your glass, the (much) more difficult the project will be.
Time to print? Almost, two more things. We need to reverse (mirror) the image. It’s an important step, and even though most printers give you the option to do such things, do it now so you don’t forget! Also, if the image is too large to fit on a single sheet of paper, divide it into smaller images and save.
Print the image(s) at 100%. If the printer tries to "fit to page" or cuts off edges, the image(s) are too large.
It's also helpful to print a copy of the whole design on a single sheet of paper to reference while you work.
[Alternate method: Print pattern out on label paper]
Congratulations, your design now exists as a pattern in the real world! On to the next step.
Step 2: 2. Pattern Assembly and Surface Preparation
If the pattern had to be printed out in pieces now’s the time to tape it together keeping every thing lined up and square.
Lay glass panel on a flat surface at a comfortable working height. Make sure it’s back side up, we’re working on the INSIDE of the panel. Clean the surface of the glass.
Cover the whole side of the glass with masking tape, overlapping slightly.
Tape down the pattern securely over the existing masking tape. Keep the pattern square with the glass, pixels slanting across at an angle would ruin the effect!
[Alternate method: If you used label paper, stick it down on the masking tape.]
Step 3: 3. Cutting and Painting
Decide on the best order to apply the colors in. Here I went with the red first.
Using a hobby knife, carefully cut out the first color from the pattern, going through the paper and masking tape. Too much pressure and you can score or chip the glass. I’d suggest multiple light passes -- there’s a definite drop in “drag” after cutting through the tape, letting you know you’re on the glass. Keep the corners as crisp as possible. A straightedge really helps keep a straight line on multi-pixel stretches.
Peel the masking tape out of the area you just cut around. Rub down the edges of the cut in case any of the remaining masking tape lifted.
Now it’s time to apply paint! I used a small sponge brush and dabbed the paint on, making sure I got color into corners and along edges. Multiple light coats is the rule here. Let the paint dry. One color down, many more to go!
Step 4: 4. the Next Color
Pretty simple: Follow the steps taken for the first color to remove the masking for the next color on your list. The only additional caveat here would be to score back along tape where it contacts the previous color before lifting it to prevent peeling the paint.
Paint color. Let dry.
Repeat process until all colors are finished.
It’s not necessary, but on the final color, I cover all the other colors giving the finished design a cleaner look when the door is opened. It's also a heavier artists' acrylic out of a tube and I think it'll "lock in" the other colors.
Step 5: 5. Finishing
Like we did between colors, take the hobby knife or razor and carefully score the masking tape border all the way around the perimeter of the designs so the sprites don’t peel up with the tape. Working slowly and carefully, pull all the masking off the glass.
Repair any damage or ragged edges you might have best you can.
Flip that glass over, hang it back on the cabinet, whatever, you’re DONE!