Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Tips, tricks and methods for crafting bead sprites.

Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Doctor Octoroc on Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:17 pm

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I was thinking of just taking some video of me ironing...it's near impossible to explain something like this - it just comes from lots and lots of practice.
Forget timing yourself, forget reading manufacturer's instructions. You have to eye it and feel it out.

I can only offer a few pointers...although rather detailed, you still have to feel it out.


1) Always start at one end, working one ironing sheet at a time. Choose carefully which sections you iron and in what order you iron them. Consider everything you know already about how the beads curl and contract when deciding this. Iron each section well and forget about consistancy - it's near impossible to iron a large sprite evenly the way you can with small ones.

2) Once you iron the first section, wait until the ironing paper removes itself on its own accord. Don't pull it up or any beads near the edges that haven't fully fused will pull out of place. Once you can safely remove the sheet, find the beads along the edges that have undoubtedly lifted from the pegboard - press these back down into place. Some smaller sections of beads will break from their original fusing. Don't fret. You are, in a matter of speaking, distributing thesee portions in the space between what has been ironed and what has yet to be ironed. Once you have these portions pressed back into their approximate positions, place your ironing sheet over your next section, being sure the paper overlaps a good portion of the previously ironed section, including those portions you re-distributed.

3) Iron your next section, beginning with the very edge that was created from the previous section ironed. Once these portions appear to be fused properly, move on to the rest of that section. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you are finished, then move on to step 4. However, consider the following:

As you get further along in your large sprite, you need to do one of two things: 1) remove pegboards from 2-3 previous sections ironed or 2) place large flat objects on top of the aforementioned sections (college textbooks work great!). The reason for this is, as you probably know, the sprite contracts. This is inevitable. Heat melts and expands while cold solidifies and contracts. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that your sprite has many holes, still occupied by pegs on the board. They begin to tug on the sprite, pulling on it in all manner of unwantedness (not proper english, but necessary to convey this principle). So, as stated, you need to either remove the problem (literally removing the pegboards), or counteract it (create opposing force...like heavy, lengthly, otherwise useless educational material).

4) Once you have finished ironing all of the sprite, wait until it cools just enough so you don't burn yourself. Remove all pegboards one at a time from the bottom, keeping the sprite relatively flat and level. Once you do this, let it sit. At this point you do not need to place books on top to keep it flat unless it is curling a lot but, as stated, still being on the pegboards is what causes it to curl most, so since you removed the pegboards, this should not be necessary. Plus, you will iron the other side, so it will be heated and become relatively floppy again, allowing you to correct its 'posture' once more.

5) Once it has cooled enough to become relatively stiff, carefully flip it over. Do not wait too long or it will be too stiff and may break under its own weight and size. Then iron the backside in sections, this time placing Calculus, Physics and History on top of each section as you go along. Also, make sure you are working on a large flat surface, or your front side will become uneven, as it will also heat up and take to the shape of anything below it. Once you finish your final section, place Biology on top and let it sit for a good hour. If you want, for the sake of perfectionists-like-me, use a large flat object in between the Bead Sprite and the books, for more consistancy.

Etc) Feel free to iron the back like there is no tomorrow - only be sure to iron it somewhat evenly if you intend to mount or convert the Bead Sprite into something useful, like a giant magnet or placement, what-have you. You will notice over time that the more you iron the back and the more the front heats up via transfered heat through the sprite, the flatter the front will be - however, I have experience dimples in the front of some sprites due to a crumb on the table or overheating (whereby a melted bead on the front side heats up so much, the layer of plastic that initially melted over a hole becomes too thin and breaks, leaving a hole).


Well, there are my personal tips for ironing big-ass-mother-fuckin-sprites (pardon my french, but is there any better name for em?).
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby rgcainmd on Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:00 pm

This tutorial is EXCELLENT but I'd love an accompanying video, as this process is such a visual one that doesn't lend itself to words as well as your other tutorial subjects do... :smile:
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby MissGoldenweek on Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:49 pm

A video would be really handy! I ironed a really big piece a couple days ago and...it was SOOOOOO frustrating!!! I had to fix it countless times and remove beads that somehow went on its side and melted into a big flat blob :mad: Your wealth of experience and knowledge would greatly be appreciated and the stars will forever proclaim to the wonder that is Doctor Octoroc...have I buttered you up enough to make the video? :razz:
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby xstatic on Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:45 pm

Once it has cooled enough to become relatively stiff, carefully flip it over. Do not wait too long or it will be too stiff and may break under its own weight and size.
I have found this not to be the case... I can take my large pieces and literally swing them around. They're quite flexible when they're only ironed on one side. I carry mine around and kinda toss them about to the carpet. (lol - bead abuse)
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby DropDaBead on Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:05 am

Doctor Octoroc wrote:As you get further along in your large sprite, you need to do one of two things: 1) remove pegboards from 2-3 previous sections ironed or 2) place large flat objects on top of the aforementioned sections (college textbooks work great!). The reason for this is, as you probably know, the sprite contracts. This is inevitable. Heat melts and expands while cold solidifies and contracts. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that your sprite has many holes, still occupied by pegs on the board. They begin to tug on the sprite, pulling on it in all manner of unwantedness (not proper english, but necessary to convey this principle). So, as stated, you need to either remove the problem (literally removing the pegboards), or counteract it (create opposing force...like heavy, lengthly, otherwise useless educational material).

4) Once you have finished ironing all of the sprite, wait until it cools just enough so you don't burn yourself. Remove all pegboards one at a time from the bottom, keeping the sprite relatively flat and level. Once you do this, let it sit. At this point you do not need to place books on top to keep it flat unless it is curling a lot but, as stated, still being on the pegboards is what causes it to curl most, so since you removed the pegboards, this should not be necessary. Plus, you will iron the other side, so it will be heated and become relatively floppy again, allowing you to correct its 'posture' once more.


I'm a bit confused......how do you remove the pegboards from UNDER the sprite that you're ironing? When it's a small sprite, I just flip the whole thing over (or use the paper to pry the beads from the board while they're still hot and soft). I can't imagine doing that to a large project.

I am thinking of getting 2 large sheets of thin MDF the size of my Joker project (one of which will end up as the backing to it when I mount it in a frame). I was thinking sandwiching the bead project inbetween them after ironing, just so that I'm guaranteed a nice large flat surface on both sides. Do you have any experience with this?
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Doctor Octoroc on Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:14 pm

There are a few ways I remove the pegboards from under the sprite - it can get tricky since the boards interlock, but if you have all of your boards facing the same orientation for interlocking (ie: all "male" ends on the top and right sides) then those boards under others can fall out from under the bead sprite if you slide it to the edge of the table and hold the sprite up while the boards fall to the floor. If you're removing boards from above others, then lift the sprite up from the board and lift the board up to pull it out.

It sounds like maybe you iron your sprites more than I do, so they sort of "stick" to the pegboards. If this is the case, then go with the "opposing force" method by placing books on the ironed portions to hold them in place while you iron the rest.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Shelly on Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:36 am

This metod solves most of the problems:
http://parlkonst.se/tips/etape.aspx
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby BonusStage on Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:17 am

This may or not be helpful to some people, but I tend to use the iron on the center of my image first, attempting to fuse them only slightly before moving to the next section, once each section has fused slightly I then begin to move the iron in circles around the whole of the bead sprite. I myself try to close the holes as much as possible while I am ironing so I tend to leave it on there a bit longer then I should probably. I do hope this helps someone.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby littleangel13 on Sun May 09, 2010 9:51 am

This was so helpful to me. Today was my first time ironing a piece that was 6 pegboards(small in comparison to some lol) and I wasn't sure how I should go about doing it. Thanks!
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Funkymunky on Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:30 pm

Hi all,

I am ironing roughly a 16 pegboard (total) Minnie Mouse and I am having trouble understanding about ironing it. (its the biggest one I have done) I was wondering when you iron both sides, wouldn't it make it really thin? I know when I am ironing, I try to only iron to the extent of the beads holding on (barely) so I can move it to the table for easier ironing as well as flatter. However, it is not going as expected and I might actually iron both sides but I don't want the beads to be messed up because some of them are like that already, and I have to cut them out :facepalm: . Sometimes the project looks better one side ironed so it gives it a more pixely look lol :grinbig: But, I have beads that I need to cut out, but I'm not sure what is the best way to do it other than with an exacto knife and that doesnt seem to be cutting all the way through. I just don't know what to do to fix the situation, any help would be apprechiated.

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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby werty on Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:08 pm

I'll be trying it.. but I think yes a video is really needed. it would be of great help specially in the proper way of doing it.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby basda on Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:04 pm

A personal finding: instead of using the "official" ironing paper (which is way too small for this kind of pieces) you can use "greaseproof paper". Ok, I had to translate it from catalan, and I don't know if it's exactly the kind of paper I'm trying to tell you. We buy it at the market, it's a paper used to bake pizzas and something like that, extremely resistant to high temperatures and the beads doesn't stick to it. Best of all, I buy it for around 2€ a box, and there's around 2-2.5 meters in it. You can cut it at your convenience.

Hope this is of help for someone... if he knows what the hell I'm saying. Uhg :cry:

PS. Just checked the box, but it has no English translation on it. It has a German translation, however, and Google tells me it means "anti adherent backing paper". Should that help you :P
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby TheRonin on Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:45 pm

Yeah, that's what we call parchment paper over here. It's normally used for baking. Basically it's paper with a silicon coating
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby basda on Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:55 am

Sort of, but I don't know if mine has any silicon coating.

I see you knew that trick :D it's cheaper than the official hama paper, that's for sure. And works better...
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby SerenaAzureth on Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:26 pm

Yep, I LOVE Parchment Paper. I've gone through so many rolls of it now that it helps save me money by buying it in super bulk from Sam's Club or Costco. I would never have been able to do all the big projects I've done over this last year without it. ^.^
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Katinkha on Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:25 pm

I thought I'd ask here without creating a new thread.

I've been toying with the idea of making a larger piece for a while, I just was (and still am) a bit afraid of starting on a big project and then messing it up in the process.

The one I have in mind, is made of 3 different pieces, roughly the same size for all of them, the biggets one being 205x208 pixels. I don't have enough pegboards to make an entiere piece (though if that's the only solution, I can get the missing ones), so I was wondering how viable it is to divide each subject in smaller pieces and then iron them together.

I have never done it, so if anyone has any suggestions or if it's something you wouldn't recommend doing, let me know :grinbig:
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby basda on Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:39 pm

I made it with some large pieces for my wife and it works great. Just uron the parts very lowly, just to get the beads sticked. Then proceed to make the next part and repeat the process. Then put the parts finished two at a time on the board and iron very carefully the union. Repeat with the other parts until everything is joined and then iron out of the board the whole piece to add consistency and get the finish you want (I tend to fuse the beads until the holes are gone and a little in the back to extra resistence).

And that's all. I suggest trying with a little piece first to check how it works for you.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby TheRonin on Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:00 pm

I've had pretty good luck joining pieces by adding a row of throw away beads (usually glitter beads) to the edge that needs to be joined, and breaking or cutting them off before I join the two parts together so that you don't get that funky wide line where the beads have mushroomed.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby basda on Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:55 am

That's a good idea, too. But because I usually use my "pixel ninja technique" to make my pieces something more like the original ones in the game, I don't care about that line, as it is hidden usually in the back of the piece (I join the parts reversed) and it's not visible from the front.

I'm just that cool :cool: Or something.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby batts456 on Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:24 am

Thanks for the guide doc, this is gonna help me out loads when i get onto ironing the piece i have planned after christmas. :grinbig:
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Rekanize420 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:43 pm

I would love you for an eternity if you made a video of this. :D :D :D Amazing though. I read it all and will many more
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby TheRonin on Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:07 am

Unfortunately Doc liquidated all his beads a few months back. He's moved on to doing mostly animation now.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Rekanize420 on Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:42 pm

Oh well D: I still used this thread and it helped tremendously , woot! :birthday:
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Femoral on Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:19 pm

Sigh i tried my first large sprite and lifting up the paper to try and move it to the other side of the sprite destroyed it. Some parts were fused and some parts wernt and then started warping immediately. i wasted 8000 beads it was the worst experience of my life lol i dont have the heart yet to try it again.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Rekanize420 on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:04 pm

I feel your pain.. Practice makes perfect like he said. Maybe next time try the masking tape methods !You will still get to salvage your beads if anythings does happen to go wrong. I did the same thing nearly, a day ago with 2k beads but remade it. I hope you give it another go eventually ! :D
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Femoral on Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:11 pm

I dont htink the masking tape method will work wiht a portrait though.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Rekanize420 on Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:18 pm

Funny you mention that.. That's exactly what I messed up too, was a 2k portrait. Had to rebuild it all. It was a perfect rectangle.If you watch Synbios' video I think you'd be able to do it :) You tape portions and then bring them together.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4138
Last edited by Rekanize420 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Synbios16 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:21 pm

lol, Synbios not symbiosis.

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Tape method all the way. Works on huge projects and portraits, too. I'll post something in the next week or so that should blow some minds, and it used tape method.
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Rekanize420 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:27 pm

Lol WHOOPS ! :facepalm: I know how to read!! I swear

Your Haunter was distracting :paranoid: and I can't wait !
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby Femoral on Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:51 pm

when doing a portrait wouldnt you have to bead it out as a mirrored image?
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby kmezz on Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:44 am

The tutorial was wonderful, I grasped everything without need for a video. Thanks!
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Re: Ironing Very Large Sprites - by Doctor Octoroc

Postby phurst00 on Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:57 pm

Thank you so much for this guide - I just ironed my first large sprite and I was SO nervous... but it turned out great! Until today I've been doing sprites that only take up 1 pegboard; today I made my first 5 pegboard commission of a Megaman boss and it ironed out almost perfectly. I did have a very small section where the beads sunk a bit, but you can't tell unless you're about an inch away from the piece.

I think it helped that the parchment paper I bought from the store is 15" wide... so I was able to just use one big piece of paper to iron the whole thing, and then used a large cookie sheet to flip it.

Thanks again!
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