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The Making of a Glowing Centipede Costume

The movie Pixels included a variety of classic arcade game characters like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Centipede. Inspired by that film and wanting to make an 8-bit costume, Andrew Harbeck came up with a design for a wearable Centipede costume that glows thanks to color-changing LEDs. He began by making a 3D model in Maya. He initially wanted to use a 3D printer, but instead, since the thickness of the 28 layers of the costume matched the thickness of insulation foam, he used that instead.

He built a hotwire cutter to cut the foam patterns out. Then he had a little more polishing to do before assembly:

Once all the slices were cut out, I started sanding and sanding and sanding! Having 55 foam slices to sand really added up time-wise, especially with so many edges. The sanding wasn’t going to be perfectly smooth, but I smoothed out as much of the imperfections along the cut edges as possible. This step was a bit tricky because the foam is very fragile and it was a tough balance of sanding out imperfections vs. adding new ones.

Once all the slices were cut and sanded, it was time to glue and assemble the 3D puzzle laid out before me. I then used a combination of the hotwire cutter and a hot blade to carve in the grooves that run between each of the blocks. This gave a more detailed impression of the pixels and blocks.

See a few in progress photos below and get complete details at Make.


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