Ah Video games.. I mean, seriously.. has there ever been a better past time? Ok, so there has, but no one who's bothered to click on this particular entry hasn't suffered the mind numbing hours it takes to truly and desperately love one game or another, and then go through the pangs of withdrawal once you have to shut down and wander back into our world, where jumping on turtles or blasting everything in sight with a plasma rifle is frowned upon, and no matter how hard you try, you still can't make fire shoot out of any part of your anatomy.
Sucks. I know.
Now there are ways to further that experience. There's always that one thing in game you just can't live without, and lucky for us there are ways to get these things. Of course, not everything out there is available, and that's where this begins.
If you're a bit handy (talkin to you instructables crowd) you have the option of making that stuff yourself.
"But venerable host, how do we do that??" you may ask forlornly. And I would respond "Fear not, my dear friend, I am here to mumble my way through the process with you so we can figure it out together, and later you can show me how it's done."
Step 1: Step the First: So, What Are We Doing?
This may sound like a really bizarre thing to bring up, but it's actually a bit important in this context (probably in other things too, but that's existentialistic, let's focus on the video games) but "WHAT IS IT YOU WANT TO MAKE?"
There are several levels that play into this, such as your tastes, your skill level (never believe yourself on that one) the complexity of your chosen item, and how much your willing to spend financially, time-wise, and emotionally on a project. Sadly, not everything is probable in this. My list of things I WANT to make far outweighs the list of stuff I MAY make, so prioritizing is big. If it's something you just thought was kinda cool but looks really complex, guarantee you're gonna hate it before it's done. If it looks pretty easy, go for it, at least you'll have some experience under your belt. Sometimes, though, there's a magic moment when the stars align and you find that one thing you want to spend forever on. If you're like me, you'll find it, start on it, and a year later, even though you're still madly in love with it, will never get it done in time for an instructables contest entry or to even show pics of it. Maybe someday. For now, let's focus on you.
Step 2: Step the Second: Proper Planning Prevents Problems.. Probably
Picked a Project? Sure about it? Happy with everything so far?
My best advise here is use the internet. Find out if someone else has already done it. See if their version is what you had envisioned.If they've done an instructable on it then see if their method is something that would work for you. Simplicity is a beautiful thing.If someone else has done your footwork, be grateful and fall in line behind them.
If not.. well... time to get to it. The internet is still your most valuable tool unless you just happen to know that Bob down the street has an industrial prop building workshop and is willing to help you. If you know this guy, please tell me about him. I would LOVE to meet him.
Search for reference pics. All of them. Anything that helps you see every angle, every color, every variation, and especially scale. You're gonna need this information. This will also help you figure out what materials you're going to want t use, how it's going to go together, and it helps keep you focused. You don't want to get a week into it and forget what you're doing.
Step 3: Step the Third: Let's Get Techy..
There are people out there who can look at something once and then faithfully copy it flawlessly using a variety of tools, methods, and what I can only assume are dark sorceries birthed in evil places. If you're one of those people, you might as well stop reading now. You should be writing this, not me. For the rest of us:
You are going to need the game file. This is tricky. There are websites devoted to sharing game files. These people are about to become your best friends. Mind you, some of the file formats they use (there are tons) will be unfamiliar and strange, but the majority of the time we can use just about anything available. The beautiful thing about game enthusiasts is they have an in born desire to be as faithful to the game as possible, and that makes for some quality work. If you can find your object of desire there, then we can move on. If you still can't find what you're looking for:
There are programs available for ripping models out of games. 3DRipper DX and 3DVIA Printscreen are both very handy for this, but it is insanely complicated. For the sake of time I suggest you use the same search tool you used for reference pics and look up tutorials on how these particular programs function. You probably won't retain the information any further than the split second it takes for you to accomplish your goal, and that's ok.
Congratulations, you now have a file that would seem to do you no good. Fear not, you're on the downhill slope.
If you type the file extension (the part after the "." ) into a search browser it will let you know what format it's in, and what programs can work with that particular format. Our goal in this entire process is to get it into one of the following:
.obj (my favorite)
If it's not one of these you'll have to find a program that will convert it. I would recommend Art of Illusion (pictured below) or really any software that will do the job. There are many available for free or cheaply if you're not after too many bells and whistles. (hint: you're not) Notice how cute this is now?
Step 4: Step the Fourth: OK, Now What?
Got a 3d file with a usable extension? Yes? WONDERFUL!! I knew you could do it. Next you need a program called Pepakura deisgner. I will brag on this software forever. It's insane fun once you get around the learning curve. It basically takes your 3d image and unfolds it to flat pieces that you can them print out, cut out, and fold together so finally you have a physical representation of a digital object.
First, get the software. http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/
Open it up. Go to "import" and direct it to your file. You will see a very familiar looking object on the left side of the screen.It will ask you some very easy questions like "which end is up?" I leave this to your expertise.
Under the "settings" option you can change the scale of your object. If you're doing something wearable, like a costume piece, you need to be very specific in your measurements. This program, like most, doesn't understand the difference between "precisely 297mm" or "sorta 300mm." This is where those reference pics start to come in handy. Of course, if you're doing something like a Mario character, you can do whatever you want. One word of caution: Bigger is easier to assemble, but costs more to finish.
Step 5: Step the Fifth: Unfolding
Next you wanna push the little button up top that simply says "Unfold." This is a perilous button. It will quickly let you know if your model is gonna be a pain or not. It will split up your project into various pieces and lay them out for you on the right hand side. Each little rectangle on that side represents one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. You can change that too but I'll let you figure that one out.
It's here that problems become apparent. Pieces that cover multiple pages can cause alignment problems, and some pieces won't actually work in the real world. Fortunately, with some time, you can alter that to be more user friendly. This can be quick (if needed at all) or my current model took about 8 hours to unfold (it's 6 feet tall and made with lots of little pieces. More on it at a later date) The Goomba Below needs a little help, so I'll fix him and let you know how long it took and post the corrections. Be right back.
About 30 minutes, apparently. See how everybody's on their own page? Pepakura will also number all of the connecting pieces to make assembling a breeze.... kind of.
Step 6: Step 6: Finally Away From the Computer..
Print that bad boy out.
Cut that bad boy out.
Fold that bad boy.
Glue that bad boy together.
That's Bowser in the pics, by the way, the ultimate bad boy. Oh, you'll notice this parts a little messy. We like mess.. Mess is fun.
Step 7: Finishing Up.
There are many schools of thought on this. Depending on what you plan to do with this. If it's to set on a shelf somewhere. It doesn't need to be very durable and you can probably add some paint and call it done. Hooray!
If you're going to be wearing it, carrying it around, or beating people with it, then you can either go the fiberglass resin route, which there are excellent tutorials on all over the web from people far better than me. I used this method for the battle droid head in the first page picture
Or you can now use your sized paper model as a reference for building your prop out of foam, wood, plastic, bits of rock, whatever suits your fancy.
There's also a casting resin which works with paper since it soaks in well, and make for a good solid piece. This gets extremely messy though. It's still my favorite, like in the Army of 2 mask in the pic, and the mandolorian helmet on the first page.
Step 8: Paintjobs
This is by far my favorite step. It's from here you get the opportunity to cover over little flaws, and to really make your build come alive. There are painting methods for everything from a pristine shiny new look down to paint jobs for something to make it look like it's gone through hell. Those alone are worth their own instructable.
The important thing to remember through all of this is that no matter what it turns out looking like, it's YOURS. You can do it how you want it and when the curtain falls on the end of the build you can look back on it and say "I did that" and that's the most important part. There's something about holding something in your hand that you've handled a thousand times in a game that makes it a better experience, and when it's something that you alone have because you decided you needed it then it's a feeling like no other.
Happy building, and share what you've done!