The Planning Phase

For ideas, you can simply google “Nintendo perler”, and we’ll see you back here in a couple of days.

Oh, you’ve returned!

Perler Bead Metal Man

My Perler Metal Man in process, circa 2001.

So, now you see that there’s a ton of people out there that have made every character conceivable. This is great news because years ago when I was in college and doing this, it was a lot more DIYIMAFBY (Do It Yourself and I Mean All the F**k By Yourself). So, back then I had to download a character sprite, open it in Photoshop (or MS Paint!), enlarge it and draw a grid on it. Now, you’re able to find most characters online already made, which means you simply have to follow their lead and count the beads as you lay yours down.

Luckily, however, there’s giant communities of people doing this now. Simply scour Flickr and find a character you’d like (use a search string like “perler Nintendo”) and then load up the largest version of the picture that they offer.

Also, there’s a website called MyPixelPal.com – it’s supposed to let you load a picture and then show you which colors you need and where they go. I’ve never been able to get it to work correctly though, so the eyeball method above might work better for you.

Making Your Sprite

Once you’ve got your pattern and can refer back to it either on your computer, phone or hard copy (ew, what is this, the 90’s?), it’s all about patience. You simply choose a direction and start putting beads down. I like to work from either the top-down or bottom-up, but some people like to make an outline and then fill in. I prefer to mutter to myself “okay, four brown across, then six brown across under that,” while my son asks “what, daddy? Did you say snacks and treats?”

If you’ve been blessed with sausage-fingers like I was, you can use your tweezers or employ your kid. There’s nothing worse (well, in this project at least) than having one bead fall over, then knocking 10 others out of place as you try to dig down for the first one.

Also, here’s a cute idea that requires you to have a metric ton of M&Ms on-hand (and I do, so…): you can make a basic “diagram” first in M&Ms and let your kid eat one for every bead he puts in place. This only works on smaller characters because if you give your kid like 90 M&Ms and then blame me for it, I’m going to pretend we never met.

Here’s a video of someone making some Mega Man crafts with Perler beads (though on a bigger scale than I’d suggest you start with:

(In comparison, this guy’s Mega Man took up five pegboards, while mine – below – took up one.)

Want to go crazy-wafers with this? You can start playing with the color palettes. There are glow-in-the-dark beads you can use for parts of your sprites, or you can use the colored-semi-translucent ones for effects, such as making an awesome Fire Mario or glowing invincibility star. Ooh, shoulda told you that back in the buying-phase. Sorry ‘bout that.

So somewhere between these two paragraphs, you (and/or your kid) finished your pixelated Perler creation. Congrats!

Once you’ve finished, admire it – but my god, man, don’t touch it! You’re going to want to set this somewhere high while you help your kid finish his own project if he was working on one independently from yours. Once you’re both done and ready, start heating up your iron to medium heat and go have that snack, if you didn’t already feed your kid 90 M&Ms.

Put the perler board onto your ironing board, put the ironing paper on top of it, and sit the iron on top of that. Apply, as they say, “gentle, even pressure” for a minute or so. You can peek to see if the beads are fusing together, but please make sure you’re careful of that iron because your grabby kid will be next to you saying “CAN I SEE CAN I SEE CAN I SEE CAN I SEE CAN I SEE” and if the iron gets bumped off the table and falls on (in order of importance) your kid, the couch, the floor or you, it will not be a happy craft day.