TURN that colour inkjet printer (or colour laser, if you have one) into a quick, cheap and fun holiday machine for the kids.
Use it for something other than spitting out family photos and homework sheets.
Here are three fun projects for the family to do without too much fuss or mess.
Tools you'll need:
- Steel ruler
- Utility knife
- Cutting mat
- All-purpose glue
- Stiff plastic card
- Transparent sticker paper
- White sticker paper
- White heavy weight paper (180 to 250g/m2)
- 2mm to 3mm thick acrylic (white, clear or colour of your choice)
- Fixative (optional)
You may need to hunt around for the transparent vinyl type of stickers. A package of five sheets of the matte polyester type can be found for less than $20.
But, typically, all the materials and tools needed are available from the art supply shops such as Art Friend at Bras Basah complex and Standard Stationart at Funan DigitaLife Mall.
Software to download
- GIMP: http://www.gimp.org/
- Pixia: http://park18.wakwak.com /~pixia/
- DrawPlus 4:
- http://www.freeserifsoftware.com/ software/DrawPlus/ default.asp
For a 30-day trial:
- Xara Xtreme/Pro:
- Microsoft Expression Design 2:
- http://expression.microsoft.com/ en-us/cc136523.aspx
Skin a gadget
SKINS, so popular now, are a great way to personalise your gadgets and devices. Ready-made skins for notebooks, cellphones, PlayStation Portables and Nintendo DS are easily bought from IT shops, but they aren't personal. With some slight of hand, you'll be able to skin your own notebook or gadget.
Find a suitable digital photo, illustration or design of your own. Pixel editing software like Gimp or Pixia will give you a softer and maybe pixellated look unless you work at a very high pixel resolution. Vector-drawing software (or mathematical-based) programs like DrawPlus will achieve sharp solid lines but may not be photo-realistic.
For this project, I used the logo of Digital Life printed on a transparent sticker. This is best because it is made of acetate, acrylic or polyester. So, when it is time to remove the sticker from the notebook, it won't leave paper and sticker glue behind.
Caution: Test and ensure the device you intend to place the sticker on is not painted. The adhesive of the sticker will most likely lift the paint off the device especially if left on for an extended time.
Print your graphic onto the transparent skin and let it dry. It will take about an hour longer to dry than paper.
Once dry, protect the dried ink from water, perspiration and the elements.. Spray it with a fixative, which covers the water-soluble ink to prevent it from running. The fixative is not required if you use a colour laser printer because the laser toner is like a wax or plastic that is fused to the paper. In the absence of the fixative, use one of the transparent stickers as a laminate on top of the printed sticker.
Trim the sticker to size or, if you need to cover an area larger than an A4 sheet, print your graphic across two pieces of paper with some overlap. Clean the surface area you plan to stick your custom logo on and carefully peel away part of the backing paper.
Position and stick the edge of the sticker. Now, use a stiff plastic card (a credit card works well if you don't have anything else) at a 45-degree angle. Gently rub down the sticker a little at a time to avoid trapped air pockets. Take your time - a little patience goes a long way to eliminate trapped air pockets.
You can skin anything with a flat surface. Avoid areas with curves because the sticker paper does not bend or conform well.
Make a mousepad
FOLLOW the steps for making the skin. But instead of applying the skin to a gadget or device, apply to a piece of acrylic. The acrylic is available at artist supply stores or acrylic specialist shops. Choose a colour or transparent piece that suits your inspired graphic.
Cutting the acrylic to size is the most difficult unless you have a an electric jigsaw. Or, if you bought the acrylic from a specialist shop, the folks can custom-cut the piece for a price. For a touch of class, round the corners of the mousepad.
The sticker size is limited to an A4 sheet of paper so your mousepad design and size should not be bigger than that. The other reason for this is the mouse pad surface cannot have any bumps or ridges that would occur if you tried to overlap two halves of a graphic to make a larger pad.
Create a model
WHY spend on plastic models or eco-unfriendly toys when you can make your own? They can be anything from tourist icons to animals.
Printer websites provide a huge resource. For instance, they have models of landmark buildings from around the world, like the Taj Mahal of India and the Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia. Digital Life decided on the Merlion.
It took the better of two hours to complete as indicated on Epson's website.
Three popular printer maker sites:
- Canon: http://cp.c-ij.com/English/ 3D-papercraft/index.html
- Epson: http://www.epson.com.sg/ ideas/papercraft/index.htm
- HP: http://h50012.www5.hp.com /activity_centre.asp
Those who like cute and fun toys, from robots to characters like Mario, check out http://www.cubecraft.com. All the models are free and the author creates a new model at least once a week.
For more realistic models, visit PaperInside at http://www.paperinside.com.
By Chester Chen, a PC enthusiast and freelance writer
This article was first published in The Straits Times, Digital Life on 3 June 2008.