Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY: Hogwarts Express Sign

Earlier this month I threw a party to celebrate the release of the special edition Harry Potter Wizard's Collection box set containing all the movies and special features and a few extra special goodies. By "threw a party" I mean "rented a beach house for a whole weekend and spent weeks prepping decor and menu items." I'm what you call a casual fan (haha).

One of the first of the many little projects I created was a Hogwarts Express sign. I found Michael's had inexpensive boards close enough to the size I needed so I grabbed one and bottle of gold acrylic craft paint and brought it home, all the while this image from the movie planted firmly in my brain:

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

I have a bunch of art paints of varying types tucked away in my garage, so I grabbed some red and a sort of terra cotta color (to help soften/mute the intensity of the red I was using) of the acrylic variety and mixed up a color that seemed about right. The board got two coats of the red color. I let it dry between coats, of course.

Then I taped off a border and painted that border gold. (I have no pictures of these initial steps, because I didn't think of taking pictures until after the border was finished.)

I wanted as much accuracy in the font as possible, so I found a high-ish resolution version of the sign and after altering the contrast in Photoshop in to make the letters and background as disparate as possible (black and white, as opposed to red and gold), I brought it into Illustrator and used the trace tool to make them vector objects. Then I sized the text on a rectangle scaled to be the same size as my board until it looked about right.

I printed the words on normal paper and taped them in place to see how it looked.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

Excellent.

Then I untaped the images and using a soft pencil, scribbled all over the back of the printed paper.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

Once the paper was good and scribbled all over the opposite side as the printed text, I taped the papers back in place and traced over the letters, making sure to press very firmly as I went.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

This causes the pencil that is scribbled all over the back to transfer onto the board, making the painting job much easier than regular free-handing it. It's an old trick but a goody, for sure.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

It took 2-3 coats of gold paint for the letters to be opaque enough. Painting letters is a painstakingly slow process, especially when you need multiple coats.

A regular cereal bowl from my cupboard was the perfect size to trace for making the circle around the 9 3/4.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

I filled that in with 2 coats of white, followed the same scribble-transfer process for the the numbers once the white had dried. Then I painted the numbers with black acrylic paint and free-handed the black outlining the circle. Altogether I spent about two evenings time on the sign since I work all day and had to allow time for the paint to dry between coats.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. It was a lovely way to welcome guests to the beach house at the start of the party and also let them know they were at the right house!

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

After all had arrived, the sign moved closer to the food table to join the party and face inside, away from the bright sunshine.

Hogwarts Express 9 3/4 Sign

The sign was a lot of work, but I had a blast creating it. If you want your own Hogwarts Express sign, but the thought of creating one on your own sounds daunting, you can always buy this licensed one instead. But it is a little more spendy than the $10ish (or less, I can't remember exactly) it cost to make my own.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Can't wait to try it out! Can you put a link or something for the words and 9 3/4?

    ReplyDelete