Rasterbating with Dr. Gordon Freeman

Statistically speaking, most people have walls. What really sets us apart is what you have on those walls.

Posters are expensive, and sometimes, they’re just not big enough. Often, you won’t be able to find a poster with a picture you really want. Thankfully, there’s this cool little thing called Tiled-Printing. Something that has been made very easy and accessible over at The Sect of Homokaasu, under the title of “Rasterbation”. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s really quite acceptable, even in public.

The Rasterbator creates huge, rasterized images from any picture. Upload an image, print the resulting multi-page pdf file and assemble the pages into extremely cool looking poster up to 20 meters in size.

Sweet. There are a number of different ways to rasterbate, ranging in price from free to upwards of 40-50 bucks. You could use a school printer, for example, in black and white, neither mounting or trimming the prints for a quick and easy poster. With all the stops pulled, my particular project cost about $30.

25 Color prints (Kinko’s) @ 0.59
4 Elmer’s Foamboards @ 2.86
Sticky Tape @ 2.48
Spray Glue @ 2.96

You’ll also possibly need a ruler, exacto knife, and a few good albums. (TV is not recommended while using said knife).

Getting Started

The picture you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be in high resolution – that’s what the rasterization is for. My original image was less than 400 pixels wide, and it looks just fine stretched to 5 feet on my wall.  Take a look at the gallery for some good ideas. Save the picture you’re using to your computer.

Homosaaku’s site features an online version of the rasterbator, but this will go slower and has size restrictions. For anything but smaller projects, go ahead and download the actual program. Linux/Mac OS X Version of The Rasterbator

Making the PDF

HPIM487301 Start up the program and direct it to your picture. 02 Typical printer paper is US Letter. 03 The next step asks you to choose how big this rasterbation is going to be. Keep in mind that if leaving space between the tiles like I did, you’re going to have to account for the added dimensions. 04 At this point you have a few options. Check the outline box if you’re planning on razor-blading the tiles for an exact fit. You can also choose between Black, a single palette color, or full-color rasterbation. Finally, the dot size in mm. It defaults at 10, although this setting seems to be a bit to big. My 5×5 sheet poster looks good with 6mm dots. You may want to experiment with this, although it is an annoying process to go through all the settings multiple times. 05 Choose your saving location and create the PDF file. Smaller dots and bigger pictures will take a longer time. The end result will be a .pdf containing each individual page.

Printing

hpim4877

With your PDF in hand, it’s time to decide how to go about printing your pages. If you want to go through your own ink or your school’s, that’s fine. I didn’t want to deal with it so I wound up making a trip to Fed-Ex Kinko’s. I threw the PDF onto a thumb drive and asked them to print it. They have multiple options ranging in price – from black and white to color on cardstock. I went with color prints on paper, which were 59 cents each. Meh.

At this point you can just tape/overlay/stick all of the pages together and be done with it, or skip the next step if you were able to do borderless printing.

Trimming

I wanted to individually mount my pages, so I went through the tedious process of trimming all 25 prints. This is where good music comes in handy, and you can have a few hours of zen time. Remember your ruler.

Tiling

hpim4906

Sticking anything on foam-board makes it look better, and the stylishly-spaced-tiled effect really makes for some attractive wall rasterbations. I could fit 6 normal sized pages on each foam board, although it wasn’t a very efficient use of space. The spray glue was nice to use here. It didn’t show through the paper and gave me nice easy sticking. You will need a ventilated space however. It also gets a little messy and doesn’t seem to adhere as tightly as I would like. But aerosol cans are always fun, and the ozone layer won’t take it personally.

Keep in mind you can always remove blank tiles from the project, saving time and space.

Bring out your trusty ruler once again and slice that foam board. Cutting this stuff is an art, but with a sharp knife you should be able to get a clean slice. Once you get through the top and middle layers, try folding the board back and slicing down the indentation.

Mounting

hpim4913

You should now have a big satisfying stack of tiles, hopefully not sticking to eachother. The tiles should be quite light, double sided tape may work but I picked up a role of sticky foam at Wal-Mart. This stuff is designed for hanging picture frames, so only tiny squares are necessary, probably 1/4 the size I used. I’ll be pulling off paint if I want to take Gordon down anytime soon. Leaving a little bit of space (like 1 cm) between the tiles looks good, I left a little too much. It’s also important to line them up! If you don’t give yourself lines to follow, continually move back and make sure you’re not traveling astray.

Bam! Gigantic wall display. Probably way cooler than a poster. And you made it. But no…

You rasterbated it.

Tell everyone.

Leave a Reply