Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Snowball from Overwatch (Vinyl Sticker)

In my free time, I spend it playing a video game called Overwatch. One of the characters (Mei) has a little helper robot called snowball. I wanted to have an Overwatch sticket, so I thought to make my own! All of the pictures I found all had a fair amount of shading (as is seen in the original picture) and some rough edges. I thought I would use this as an opportunity to use inkscape to manipulate it into what I need it to look like.

Original image

To start, I used a color trace method in inkscape , the result was…less than good. I was able to get 4 layers that gave me the primary shapes, but they were very incomplete and distorted. This was going to require a lot of path and node manipulation.

Color traced image

Exploded image of the layers I got

I needed a way to work on each of these layers without moving them so I could see them and then needing to layer by eye or snaps which did not work great due to the odd shape. So, I actually sent each layer to its own inkscape layer, where I could then hide each layer, or expose while I worked on the paths almost like working with transparency film.

Layering in inkscape used to keep everything aligned but still allowed me to work on each path individually.

From here, it was a lot of splicing paths, joining paths, connecting paths, and switching between node types to get a final image that I felt was a good representation of Snowball, but that had all the right path shapes I needed to be cut.

Final look of the illustration

From there it was time to pick out my colors, I got three out of my four colors from the scraps bin, but for the last I had to buy a foot of vinyl.

I then prepared my material by cleaning with some 99% isopropyl alcohol to make sure everything would stick to itself without issue.

My next hurdle was going to be how to apply these layers so they line up as best as possible, my hands are not steady enough and the material not forgiving enough to do this freehand. So I came up with a method to help me. I started by adding a rectangle around the image that I wanted the cutter to cut (ideally all the way through, but I could not find the right depth, and I did not want to risk damaging the machine). This rectangle was unique because it was referenced to the image, so it would be a constant, fixed, and predictable location for every layer. I would cut each layer, then first peel off the vinyls to the outer rectangle, then cut the square backing to match. 

rectangle around whole image

Then remove the unneeded sections to prepare for layering. For my base layer, I secured it to the table with tape, then I would line up the edges of the backing paper of next layer over top of the base layer. Then I would place my transfer tape on top of all of it, making sure to have enough tape at the top that also grabbed the table. 

Then I would peel back the tape using the top part on the table like a hinge, then remove the backing.

Finally, I would just squeegee the tape back over the base layer, therefore depositing my next layer perfectly placed on top of my base. 

This procedure was repeated for each layer, providing me with the finished product.

Overall, I liked how this came out. I am happy my idea for lining up the layers worked as well as it did. In the future, I would use a more sticky tape to affix the base layer to the table. I used the transfer tape itself which I had to be very careful with because it would want to lift up with each layer application, so I had to keep an eye on it and move slowly.

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Gianni Pezzarossi – Linux Name Tag

Design and Planning:

For my name tag, I wanted to pick something that not only would represent me, but that I could actually use in my day-to-day life. When I’m not in classes, I am a full-time Linux Systems Administrator for the University’s College of Engineering. As such, I was thought I’d make the name tag have something to do with Linux and computers in general. So I had to start by having the Linux mascot on there, so Tux was used to represent my Linux involvement. I then also used my name converted into ASCII binary and placed it underneath my name in regular ASCII. I also wanted to show that not only was I a Linux enthusiast, but I am also an administrator, so a little command line excerpt from Linux to show that I am root also seemed appropriate. That was for the front. for the back, I figured I could try and get fancy. I added the Commodore logo which was the brand of the first computer I ever used. I also included a QR code that would correspond to a vcard with my contact information. This still seemed to simplistic for me, and I had work-provided name tags that were no real different. So I thought, what if I had it hold my business cards that was I can take it to conferences and have them at the ready! and my idea was born! Finally, I decided to use the same font that is used on most computer terminals, and I downloaded the custom font pack and chose one I liked.

Construction:

To accomplish the ability to hold business cards, I decided to try a three piece construction, a front and back, with a spacer to give room for ~10 cards. The back had a cutout to allow the top edge of the cards to be seen, as well as a finger cutout to make it easier to pull out a card. Earlier ideas had the slot for the cards on the side, but without complicating the design further, it was going to be too easy for the cards to fall out, as such I opted to use gravity to my advantage.

Final set of pieces cut out of 1/8″ clear acrylic on the Universal Laser. Since gluing acrylic can be tricky and I decided to use a mechanical means of fastening the three pieces. This then would also make it such that I could print multiple backs and fronts and swap them out depending on the occasion. Since the software would be far more precise than I could be with a drill, I opted to have the laser vector out the holes for the screws.

In doing this, I did discover that sometimes (either by my hand or a bug with inkscape) my drawing has been nudged by ~1/64″ and since I was working at a precision of 1/32″ I needed to correct this. So a lot of fine detail work and use of inkscape’s snapping tools helped me make sure the three pieces were as identical as I could make them.

Reflection:

Overall, I am quite happy with how it turned out. things I would need to address if I could do it again would be to find a way to give the rasters more contrast since they can be a bit hard to see. Also, my QR code ended up not working, I think due to the contrast issue described. Otherwise, my meticulousness with the measurements was fruitful, everything fit together great, the slot for the cards fits like a glove, yet allows them to be pulled out easily. Furthermore, it was functional as I was able to wear it!

I did add a piece of orange paper (go Illini) to the front to help with contrast. I tried to use paint pens and sharpie to color in the rasters, but I could not get it to look right, so I wiped it all off. Furthermore, printing it in a mirrored manner so that the rasters are actually on the bottom/inside instead of the outside would eliminate the shadowing effect which might make it easier to read.

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