(Christopher Belmont vs. Ji・Zi-)
I've been wanting to make a papercraft diorama of a video game screen for a long time, utilizing two-dimensional sprites and background tiles, and, at long last, I finally scrounged up the ambition to actually get it done.
I took separate screenshots of the background tiles and sprite layers, using an emulator, and then further separated and edited the individual graphical components utilizing various art programs (Microsoft Paint, IrfanView, and GIMP). I also doubled the resolution of everything (i.e., anything that was 16 pixels tall on the game screen, is 32 pixels tall in my diorama). This is the final PNG sheet, containing all the graphics that I needed, or felt I might need, to construct my papercraft diorama (feel free to save/print it and use it yourself if you like):
My plan from the beginning was to make the diorama's geometry separate, out of cardboard, and then apply the game's artwork, like decals, to those finished objects, which is why I didn't orientate all the images so that they could simply be cut out and folded up as-is. That approach has the benefit of allowing me to squeeze more stuff onto a sheet (remember: miser), because objects that will touch one another in the finished product don't have to be physically connected to one another on the printout.
Please note that I didn't actually use everything printed on the sheet. Some of the stuff is just there as extras in case I made mistakes or had accidents (which I did, and I always do).
Here's a rundown of the diorama's construction:
I decided to begin by making the two masonry elements. This is the layout for the left wall, prior to folding.
The left wall folded, but unglued.
The left wall fully assembled and glued.
The left wall with the game graphics applied. The difference is striking.
Next, I made the rope that hangs down from the left wall. Rather than a hollow geometric shape, the rope is a solid construct, which I achieved by gluing four strips of cardboard together, one on top of the other, to make it approximately as thick as it is wide.
The four segments cut out, prior to gluing.
The finished rope with the game's graphics applied. The unadorned end is the part that goes inside the hole that I made in the left wall.
The rope inserted into the left wall structure.
Test shot on the background. Everything looked good, so, it was time to move on to the next component of my diorama.
The layout for the stairs-like platform, prior to folding.
Folded, but unglued, stairs pattern.
Stairs component fully assembled and glued together.
Game graphics applied to the cardboard structure. Again, it's amazing how different it looked afterwards.
The two masonry structures posed together. And that's dried red paint up in the corner, not blood, if you're wondering.
Test shot with the background again. Things are really starting to come together now!
Here are the three main elements of the tree: the foreground and background foliage and the trunk. While I could have taken the easy route, a flat trunk just didn't look good to me, so, I made a papier mache cylinder, out of newsprint, and then glued the trunk graphics around that to create the rounded, 3-dimensional surface that you see. And, I must say, cutting all those leafy edges on the two foliage elements was tedious work!
Here's the background leaf layer added to the diorama. At this point, I also made a "cover" that goes over the top and right side of the foliage, concealing the inner, three-layered assembly of the tree. Originally, I had intended to put the entire diorama inside of a square-shaped box, but I ended up changing my mind, wanting to leave it more "open" in nature, so, I had never planned to make said cover piece. As such, I didn't have game graphics printed out for that addition and couldn't just go out and print some, because it was Sunday, and the library was closed, so, I just covered it with a gray-scale newsprint photo instead, which, while not ideal, at least somewhat matches the color/tone of the rest of the foliage.
Here we have the tree and its foliage fully integrated into the diorama. All that was left to do was add the figures [Christopher Belmont, the whip-wielding protagonist, and a Ji・Zi- (that's what their titled, ジ・ズィー, in the original Japanese instruction manual, but, hell if I know what that means), which are small, vulture-like humanoid enemies], candle, timer, score, and life bar. Here's the finished product:
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