Intro: Neopixel Giant Light Up Wizard Books
How about having a book that has animated lights to make it special and magical?
Use an arduino to control Neopixel LEDs and bring your book to life.
Don't have a special or magical book to work with, much less a giant book? You can make your own.
This is a great addition to include in any library collection.
Step 1: No Magic Here...
The shell of the giant book is all cardboard finished with some papier mache.
Take any carboard box or carton and piece together a giant book. It is a hollow book that you can fill with anything you want. Turn it into a secret compartment book or use it as a jewelry box.
Make the giant book as big as you can handle.
The book cover is made by connecting two large flat pieces sized a little bigger than the pages of the book. The spine is curved. Layer an inside border edge inside the cover to contain the frame or block that defines the pages.
Double or triple layer all the cardboard surfaces by gluing additional pieces of cardboard thus laminating it to make it stronger.
All the raw edges are finished with papier mache.
Step 2: Have a Cow...
Since this is a "giant" book, and it has two covers, I might as well make it a double book. The first selection is for my niece who is a Harry Potter fan and reflects some of the local flavor of where she is.
I found a Harry Potter style font to use so that I could create the title blocks and lettering for the giant book. Instead of composing it on the computer and then needing to transfer the art to the book surface, I decided to just print it out to size and glue it onto the book.
Once the lettering is glued on to the book cover, go over every character with 3D fabric paint. It is a thickened paint that comes with a needle tip applicator making it perfect to use to highlight the lettering. It doesn't matter what color you use since everything will be painted later.
Any shapes I needed would be cut out of sheet craft foam.
When glued to the book cover it would create a bas-relief kind of embossed detail. Fillet all the edges with glue so the shape flows into the book cover.
Step 3: Paint Your Dragon...
The embossed dragon is pieced together with pieces of sheet craft foam.
You can go with basic South Park shapes or make it more complex.
Keep layering until you get the dragon look you desire. You can cut smaller pieces and really layer up the dragon scales to scale.
I used some 3D paint to embellish the scales with finer detail.
Let dry completely as the 3D paint lines take longer to dry.
You can use glue to fillet all the edges to transition the object to the surface of the book.
You are now ready to start painting your giant book.
Step 4: Winter Is Coming...
I chose red since I wanted some kind of deep burgundy-brown leatherlike cover.
I had some brown paint handy but did not use it. I guess I could have primed the cardboard first for a better paint job but the brown cardboard under seemed to provide a nice dark base to enrich the red I used.
You may need two or more coats of paint to cover the giant book, especially the papier mache areas where the newspaper print bled through.
Approach the painting as many feathered layers with a brush. Use a slightly different shade of color each time to build up the complexity and depth of color. Add a drop of brown or bronze paint to give the red some highlights and character.
The sides of the box that makes up the pages was painted with a base coat of white. The page lines were simulated by brushing lightly with a drop of bronze paint to draw the striations for the pages.
Step 5: It's Getting Old. Food for Thought...
I had space on the spine to add a new title. What's better than getting 3 literary works for the price of one? Someone out there may be able to decode the message.
Since the wizard book is from ancient times, it should look worn and weathered.
The technique for weathering is to use a "dry" brush with the tiniest amount of paint on it and lightly brush it across the object to be weathered. Repeat as often to layer up the color and effect.
You can add the look of dirt and grime with dark colors. Use a pale color to simulate wearing through at spots. Use a lighter or darker shade of the base color to add the look of faded colors. Feather out or blend your brushstrokes to make it look natural. Apply weathering where it would naturally occur like where you normally handle a book. It would get worn around the edges and the spine which gets flexed during use. You can really get more detail by distressing or subjecting it to tears, dings and dents.
Step 6: Catch the Rainbow...
This is a simple setup with an Adafruit Flora arduino and Adafruit Neopixel LEDs.
You can find some great tutorials on their site to get started.
I am driving a Neopixel strip, a Neopixel ring, and two discrete Neopixels.
I had two separate Neopixel elements that were cut out from strips. They went bad on the strip because their pads broke loose from the strip or the solderpoints to connect the strip were damaged. I was able to reuse these Neopixels by soldering directly to them. I used some CAT 5 cable soldered on as extension wires back to the Flora.
If you look closely, the Neopixel strip is actually two segments or remnants that I had from other projects which I soldered together to act as one long strip.
The Neopixels used in the eyes are connected to the same pin as the Neopixel ring so they will light up in sync. It also saves a little bit of extra coding.
Once you have all the hardware together you can code the Neopixels to light up any way you want.
Based on the sample Strandtest neopixel code, I was able to make the strip do a fiery color theater chase and then have the ring do a color fade transition.
I think Neopixels look best when they are diffused a bit in presentation. They are extremely bright and can be harsh.
I made an access hole where the dragon breathing fire from its mouth would be.That area would be covered with some fiberfill batting and a layer of white microfleece. I hot glued it to the giant book.
Use an awl to poke holes for the eyes.
From inside, mount and tape or hot glue the eye Neopixels in place. Diffuse the single neopixel with a bit of fabric to make it look better.
Stuff and reach in to position the Neopixel strip and Neopixel ring into the dragon flame diffuser.
Secure the wires and battery pack.
You can crack open the cover of the giant book to access the on/off switch on the battery pack.
And there you go, make your own giant book with a magical light up cover.