I don’t really remember why, but for some reason I decided to create some vector artwork of a stormtrooper last weekend. I grabbed an image of a helmet and then did some tracing and editing to get a pretty good silhouette of a stormtrooper helmet. When it was done I was very happy with the results and needed to figure out what to do with it. It turns out that once you’ve got some simple vector art you can do a lot with it.
I started out by cutting a piece of cardstock with the Craft Robo paper cutter to make sure that all the contours were closed, etc. I took the resulting piece of paper and stuck it on a little 15-watt keyboard amp just to butch it up a bit. Since the paper I chose was white it looks best against a black background and the amp fit the bill.
Next I used the vector art to cut a screen-printing mask from adhesive-backed vinyl. That plus some yellow screen printing ink applied with a gentle uneven pressure on the screen gave me a T-Shirt with a distressed looking stormtrooper on the front.
The final project I did was something I’ve been thinking of for a while. It’s actually just the first prototype of a more ambitious project that involves motion and some electronics, but first I wanted to verify if the visual effect was what I had imagined. What I did was take the vector image and cut it into strips using geometrics operations in Corel Draw. These strips were then cut from 3mm thick acrylic on the laser cutter. Finally, I cut a base and frame from birch plywood and clear acrylic. The birch got 6 layers of finish and some final polishing so it took a week to complete the project. You can see a few views of it below.
The individual white acrylic slices can be rearranged in the holes at different depths, but I found that it’s best to have adjacent strips no more than one row distant from each other. Otherwise, perspective effects from the difference in distance distort things too much unless you’re very far away. I finished up with a Galactic Empire logo cut from black vinyl on the base. The display looks fairly abstract from most angles and then snaps into a stormtrooper when you square-off right in front of it.