DIY Pixelated Art for The Playroom

After months of painting nearly every room on the first floor of our new house, I decided to take a breather and craft some art for the kids' loft. For my sanity, I needed a creative project that could be done in a day or two- tops.

Something that represented my kids’ current stages and interests. This is my favorite kind of project. I just love making something for them that you can’t buy in a store somewhere! Something unique, just like them.

They are obsessed with a little game called Minecraft. If you just rolled your eyes a bit, I’m guessing your kids/ nieces and nephews/ neighbors/ 3rd cousins/ every child in your town is enthralled with this game, too.

If your kids haven’t discovered it yet, I’m jealous. MIne walk around explaining the complexity of the battles with the Ender Dragon, fretting over eating raw meat to stay alive (WTF?), and play in fear of the Endermen and Zombies at all times. It’s not just a hobby to them, it’s a way of life.

So obviously, I did what any good, cheap Mom does- I embraced it and decided to give them something that they would love, even though I’m sick to death of hearing about how a certain youngest sister "mined out" part of a house without permission.

Here’s what I came up with:

 

And this. Because good things come in pairs:

 

This art set really finishes off their awesome loft in our new house. (Hopefully, I’ll be posting on that project soon.)

I’ll show you how to make the cupcake step by step, but really, the cookie was made in the same way, simply with different colors of paper.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a piece of pixelated block art:

 

I’ll start with really short, basic directions for those of you who are looking for an overview.

For those of you looking for really detailed directions and help fixing common problems that arise with the project, continue on to the All the Details section.

The Short and Sweet

1. Choose 3 colors for your subject (this subject has two parts, so that’s 6 colors) and 3 colors for your background.

2. Cut card stock into 2 inch squares.

3. Mod Podge them onto a blank canvas.

4. Congratulate yourself on making fun art for your children. They are so lucky!

 

All the Details

Plan and Gather Materials

1. Decide on a subject and background, and then choose a main color for each, as well as two other shades (1 lighter and 1 darker) for each.

Cut the Paper

2. Take your paper and cut 2 inch strips,

 

3. And then cut each strip into 2 inch squares.

 

4. Something to keep in mind- it’s REALLY important to cut the squares as precisely as possible because you will have very large gaps or very noticeably off horizontal and vertical lines when the squares are all together. That’s bad. It will detract from the viewer’s experience. So check as you go that the squares are as precisely cut as possible. One way to do so by using the grid lines on a paper cutter.

 

5. The other way to check for preciseness is by taking a group of squares and checking to see if the edges line up.

 

6. If not, you can trim them. (You may or may not want to save a few of these scraps for later.)

 

7. I started with the main background color, then cut the darker accent background, followed by the lighter and darker background colors. I cut about 40 squares of the main color, 6 squares of the dark color, and 12 of the light color.

 

8. Then I cut the paper that would be the cupcake wrapper. 6 squares each of the light and dark yellow shades.

 

9. Next up was the 3 shades of pink for the frosting. 10 squares of the medium tone, and 4 each of the dark and light colors.

 

10. And last was the sprinkles. I only cut 4 of each color and I wanted them to look small, as sprinkles do, so I cut them into 1 inch squares instead of 2 inch squares like the rest of the paper.

 

Decide on an Arrangement

11. Starting in the top left corner of the canvas, lay out the background colors. Using mostly the main color, with just one or two of the light and dark colors. We’re just placing here, not using adhesive. We want to be able to change our minds before we commit.

 

12. You can go in any order, but I found it easiest to place the bottom row next. The method of moving from the outside in made the most sense because I didn’t know exactly how I was going to make the cupcake yet.

 

13. After that, I filled in the second row from the top, the second row from the bottom, and the columns on both the left and the right. As I was placing I aimed to try and make the placement of the light and dark tones look random and asymmetrical.

 

14. Next, I though it might be easier to start with the wrapper instead of the frosting, so I placed those pieces in alternating stripes.

 

15. Then came the part I was most excited for- the frosting! I played around with it a few times and decided this was the shape that was most similar to a cupcake swirl. (Although, now when I look  at it, I wish I had not placed 2 dark pinks in the bottom row of frosting. But what are ya gonna go.)

 

16. Next came filling in the rest of the background.

 

17. And finally, the sprinkles! The really make it come alive, don’t they?! (Snap a quick pic on your phone so you remember their placement and put them to the side.)

 

Mod Podge It, Baby!

18. Starting in the upper left hand corner, working from left to right, pick up each of the squares in order.

 

19. At the end of a row, go to the left of the canvas and pick up the next row from left to right.

 

20. You want a nice neat stack of squares that you can just paste on, one at a time, in the order you already decided on.

 

21. Poor a little Mod Podge into a paint cup (or as I have here, a beverage cup).

 

22. Dip your foam paint square brush thing into it. It may take a few dips and gently pushing down to load it up. You want just enough to saturate the foam, but not too much that it’s dripping off.

 

23. Starting in that upper left hand corner once more, paint on the Mod Podge just a little bigger than the size of your paper squares.

 

24. The place the top square from your stack right on it.

 

25. And use your foam brush to flatten it down. At first, you may need to re-dip in the Mod Podge to get it coated, but as you go on you probably won’t need to add any extra when going over the top of the paper squares.

 

26. You want to work from left to right so that you are pasting them on in the order you decided on. That way you don’t have to think about it too much and the adhering goes pretty quickly. Try to lay them so that they are right next to each other and as straight as possible so things don’t get out of alignment later.

 

27. As you go along you will see that some pieces will wrinkle and some of the corners are pulling up. The wrinkling will most likely flatten out on it’s own when the Mod Podge dries. Just give it a nice, gentle rub with your finger. But lifted corners need to be addressed.

 

28. Use the corner of your foam brush to get some Mod Podge underneath the corner of the paper that has lifted up.

 

29. Push it down with your finger. If you can, reach around to the back side of the canvas with your other hand and apply pressure to both sides of the canvas when you do this.

 

30. Then just brush off the excess Mod Podge with your foam brush. If that pesky corner comes up again, it just means you need more adhesive, so repeat until it stays down.

 

31. When every square piece of paper from the stack is on your canvas, go back and put those sprinkles on there, using the same technique with the paste and brush.

 

32. Let the Mod Podge dry before going on to the next step. (Oh, and rinse out your paint cup, too.)

Paint It

33. Place the scrap wood blocks underneath the canvas to lift it off your work surface.

 

34. Pour some paint that is similar to the background color into the paint cup. (I had two shades of blue that I mixed together.)

 

35. Take your small paint brush and paint around the edges of the canvas, taking care to get right up to the edges of the paper.

 

36. No matter how carefully you placed and pasted each square, you are still going to have small gaps between your squares of paper. Take a  paint scraper tool and fill in those spaces with paint.(If you have really large gaps, here is where those skinny scraps come into play. You can trim them with scissors and mod podge them right on.)

 

37. If you get too much on your scraper and it spills onto the squares of paper, just use a dry finger to wipe it off. (This is why it’s important to let the Mod Podge dry completely. If it’s not dry, the paint will stick and it will look sloppy.) Allow it to dry before moving it or hanging it.

 

Tad-Dah! Look how fun and vibrant and thematic it is!

 

For a little symmetry in the room, I made a cookie to go along with it. Same method, just different colors of paper. I can’t decide which one I like better:

 

Here’s about what I spent on each piece of art:

 

You really can’t beat that price, can you?! I should note that I was able to spend so little because I bought the canvases as a set, with a coupon. Same thing with the card stock. I always by my solid card stock in bulk packages.

Well, there you have it. Are you making any art for your kids playrooms or rooms? If you are, I would LOVE to see them! And if you make your own pixelated  block art, I especially want to see! Please tag me on your instagram posts or email me.

 

Happy cutting and pasting, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!

 

Here's a few other projects you might enjoy: