Intro: Retro Game Shadow Box
I saw one of these for the first time at Gen Con a couple years ago and I finally decided to make one of the game I love to hate - Chakan: The Forever Man.
I did a little research on how to do it and found that there isn't very many tutorials on how to make one.
So with a little bit of time and effort you can make one of your favorite game!
Step 1: Items Needed
- 110lb Cardstock
- Xacto Knife
- 8x10 Shadow Box
Step 2: Collect Your Sprites!
You can use www.spriters-resource.com
and download sprite sheets of the game you want. They have thousands of games and you shouldn’t have a problem finding the one you want.
If you are looking for a more obscure game follow these steps to pull sprites:
- ZSNES has a hotkey that toggles off certain layers of the screen which will allow you to print screen the sprite you want.
- Gens will require a mod that will allow you to enter a “debug” mode to turn off layers and then use print screen to pull sprites.
The Mod - https://segaretro.org/Gens_KMod
A good How-To for pulling sprites - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ifmLmSWtsU
Step 3: Quick Photoshop Tutorial
After you have downloaded a sheet or saved a file from
ones you pulled yourself you will want to open them up in Photoshop. (I’m sorry, but I don’t know any other program to do this in)
Once in Photoshop you will want to select your sprites one at a time.
Make a NEW file and change the dimensions to 10.5L x 8.5W inches
I start with the background first so I can get a good frame of reference on how much to scale my other sprites. Once you have selected the sprite hit CTRL-T and you will enter transform mode. Change the interpolation to “Nearest Neighbor” so when the transform is applied you will have a blown up version of your sprite but retain its pixilation. Draw the edges of the background out to the edges of your screen and make note of the percent increase of size.
I use the Quick Select Tool with a size of 1 pixel to select the rest of the sprites, speeds up the process of selecting by just a bit.
Step 4: Print!
If you have a nice printer you can do it at home using
your default print settings and printing from Photoshop for colors.
For those who can’t, save your files to a flash drive and take it to Kinkos or Staples, somewhere that will allow you to print good quality pictures. Print a few extra in case you make a mistake later on.
Step 5: Start the Tedious Process of Cutting!
I’ve seen people use a laser cutter for this portion, but if you don’t have one handy then you need to go about it manually.
No real advice here other than take your time. Make sure you stay on line, take it one pixel at a time, and make two cuts if you need to. You'll probably be squinting the whole time making sure you don't cut into anything you don't want to.
When I finish cutting a sprite I take a Sharpie and lightly color the edges black. This will make it blend a little better to the background but it's entirely your preference.
Step 6: Glue in Place
I used 3mm foam and Barge rubber cement to glue the pieces in place. I have seen some people use plain old Elmer's glue, but I wasn't sure how efficient that would be. I had Barge and foam on hand so that's what I used.
Cut pieces to fit the sprite and layer it how you see fit. The more layers of cardboard or foam you use the more depth it will have. I'm not sure how to explain it, but you may get a feeling of what sprites need to be higher and lower. You can find examples on the internet to get an idea.
Step 7: Assemble!
Once you've glue everything on, it's time to encase your work in the shadow box and you're done! Hang your work and enjoy it! Please experiment! I'm new to this myself and would love to hear your trial and errors!