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Thread: Tutorials on How-To Customize: Post them HERE.

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    I'm World Famous. Kraft's Avatar
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    Default Tutorials on How-To Customize: Post them HERE.

    So I've done my share of painting and what-not but I was wondering how people do these custom faceplates. Anyone up for including a simple how-to on how they created certain plates? I'm not for ripping off ideas and stuff but maybe a little instruction would encourage people to try and branch off and start making their own creations.

  2. #2

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    I started these forums with a couple of hopes in mind. One would be that it would bring a fragmented collecting community together where they could help each other complete their collections. The other was the bring the customizing community together so they should share ideas, helpful hints, and to also help people make some of their own creations.

    Artistpavel has a video up on YouTube that shows a little bit about his process. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbEeA7CG79Q

    I have been taking some pictures of the process and will be writing a basic tutorial for how I do it. The few people I've talked to who make customs all have their own way of doing things, so it's best to experiment a little bit and find out what works for you. I'll see if I can find some time today to get something posted.
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  3. #3
    The first halo is BEST! FlawIe55's Avatar
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    Here is a fairly simple tutorial on how I create some of my custom faceplates:

    First I get ahold of a SILVER microsoft brand faceplate. I say microsoft brand because the first time I ever got a custom faceplate it was a "TSZ" branded faceplate and the bottom usb door broke off right when I took it out of the package, and I dont want that to happen to A: something that I spent so much time and effort painting, and B: something I am going to sell to someone.

    alright, the reason I use silver is because when sanding it down, it becomes a surface which is pretty close to white. I use 3M fine 180 grit sandpaper. When sanding I try to go in a circular motion so as not to get long indented streaks or gouges in the plastic.

    Before actually getting in and painting on the plate, I try to do some sketches on paper of what I want the plate to look like. These pre paint sketches help alot because they help me realize when a design isn't going to look as good as I thought.

    Now I personally haven't primed the surface on a plate I've done yet because I use acrylic paints for handpainting the surface of the plate, and I like how the paint bonds to the rough surface of the plastic after sanding.
    or I use krylon fusion spraypaint(made for plastic), thus meaning the paint shouldn't eat at the surface of the plastic faceplate. (a nod to Spaceghost for letting me know that Non-plastic friendly spray paints could eat at the surface of the plastic)

    For the handpainted plates I use a pencil to outline what I want to paint to make it much easier on myself when painting.

    I always let the paint cure for at least a day or two when using acrylic paints.

    after that, I use two coats of "decoart triple thick brilliant gloss glaze" to seal it up and protect it. I haven't tried flat clear coat yet because it doesn't seem thick enough and Im afraid to ruin something that took 10 hrs to paint.

    the can says the clear coat is dry in 24 hrs, but I like to let it cure for a week, to make sure its good and strong.

    Hope this little tutorial helps. Thats my little piece of the custom faceplate world.
    Last edited by FlawIe55; 12-12-2007 at 06:36 PM.

  4. #4

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    Here are my two cents. Sorry about the sucky pics. New camera is in the mail.

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    How to make a custom Xbox 360 faceplate.

    THE PLATE



    First thing you have to do is get a plate. What plate you use is entirely up to you. You can pay more and use a first party Microsoft plate. You can go cheap and get a third party plate. If you get real lucky, you can get a first party plate on clearance. Or you can shop around and try lucking out at an online auction.

    When I first started doing this only a few months ago, I found Microsoft faceplates on clearance at Toys R Us for $5.99 or $6.99 depending on the store. That was a deal at the time because none of them had been marked down anywhere else. They were all still $19.99. Since then, they have dropped to $14.99, and then down to $9.99. I’ve even seen them for $6.99 but I don’t know if that was a new low price or a clearance price. Anyway, if you want first party, don’t spend more than $9.99 because there’s no reason for it.

    If using third party plates doesn’t bother you, Gamestop’s last couple of shipments have had the Pelican TSZ plates for only $1.99. My local manager (my boss at the time) emailed the corporate people and they sent ten plates instead of the regular one or two. They haven’t gotten anymore in since then. He’s going to send another email and try to get fifty of them, but he’s on vacation this week, proposing to his girlfriend on some secluded beach. Ah, l’amour.

    Two issues I’ve had with the TSZ plates are this… for one, the logo is apparently affixed to the plate with a heat process, and even if you sand the logo completely off, there will still be an uneven area after even four coats of paint. The other thing is that the camo plates have a high petroleum content in them and neither primer nor paint will adhere to the plate, so don’t even bother.

    GameStop carried a few plates that were acceptable and cheap. They had the Pelican plates branded with the Gamestop logo and sold as a two-pack, which I have picked up for as little as $7.99. They’ve also had the Superman Returns two-pack for $9.99. I know from experience that stores are horrible at maintaining prices changes, so just have them scan everything for you. It could help make your decision easier for you.

    Kmart had their first party faceplates on clearance for as little as $1.60. It was worth a drive all over the state to get some of those and I think I’ve pretty much cleaned out Central California from Madera to Bakersfield. The more Podunk your local K, the better chance you’ll find some, and possibly a whole BUNCH.

    (This is a good time to throw this in here – if you like custom plates, even if you have no desire to make your own, buy every one of these plates that you can find. You can use them to barter for someone to make you a plate, or you can just sell them to a customizer and get a couple extra bucks out of it for the hassle.)

    Last, is eBay. I’ve purchased “lots” (not a bunch, a “lot”) of faceplates and gotten them for about $2.50 each including shipping. Others I’ve paid up to $5.50 but those were first party plates.

    OK, I guess that isn’t last. This is. Don’t worry too much about what’s on the plate unless you know for sure that you want some part of the design of the plate to be incorporated into the final design. For instance, I used the Tropical plate from Gamestop/Pelican as a backdrop for a Lilo and Stitch plate. I’ve also used the first party silver plates for Silver Surfer, and I’ve purchase (and paid a LOT more for) clear plates that needed to be seen for the final effect. You can even use something like the Saint’s Row, Full Auto or Tropicana Twister plates. Buy one for the collection and paint the rest.
    Last edited by SpaceGhost2K; 11-19-2007 at 10:49 PM.
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  5. #5

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    THE DESIGN

    OK, so now you’ve got a plate. La la la, there’s a plate. It’s kinda like writer’s block. There’s a blank page or a blank plate, staring at you, begging you to be creative.



    Some common themes among requests for my plates include favorite bands, favorite games, favorite TV shows, favorite movies, pop media from their childhood, or in my case, toys and action figures. I’ve seen a font and it made me think of a plate (a stencil font became the A-Team). I’ve heard things that became sayings on plates (“This IS my job” and “My girlfriend kicked my ass at Halo.”) Some of them are inspired by a gamertag or nickname. Or it could be simply an image or emotion. I painted something as a kid that I’m going to incorporate into a plate. It was called “Foggy Day Schedule” and it was swirls of gray and purple.

    Once you’ve an idea for what you want on the plate, you have to figure out how you’re going to implement it. I’ve had ideas that just died because I couldn’t find figures I wanted or the figures were too big to use.



    In my case, my secret weapon is the sticker guy who cuts vinyl stickers from my jpgs that I use as a spray mask. Honestly, it’s a “poor man’s” way around not owning, or knowing how to use an airbrush. Others draw with Sharpee’s or use oils or acrylic paints. For all I know, you could use nail polish. I’m sure some of you guys have some. Probably black.



    I know from watching Pavel’s video that he sketches a design onto the faceplate with pencil before painting it. I make stickers, some times in an assortment of sizes, then I can move them around to find a good layout before I stick them down on the plate. The easiest way is to take a standard people of paper (keeping in mind that it’s just a little shorter than an actual faceplate), trace around a faceplate, and use that as a homemade template. Just be flexible enough that if you have to move/stretch something a little bit that it can be done. I bought some mini figures to attach to a plate and then found out that there was just simply no way to attach them without getting in the way of the DVD door or the mem card ports. Anyway, make sure when you’re doing your design that you don’t inhibit the functionality of the plate, or that you are “okay” with any functionality that might be lost.
    Last edited by SpaceGhost2K; 11-20-2007 at 12:09 AM.
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  6. #6

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    MAKING THE PLATE

    Now you’re ready to begin. Chances are, your plate has something as a top coat that will keep paint from sticking to it as-is. You need to do some prep work.



    First, I would recommend removing the i/r button. Trim or Dremel off the back part of the plate where the purple plastic is secured to the plate and it will slide or pop out. Next, you have to address the power button. Hello, power button. You can remove it by trimming or Dremelling the part that holds the center part of the button in place. Another option is to cover the clear ring of light and the center of the button with some kind of sticker mask to keep the paint off so light can pass through them later.

    In some cases, you may even want to remove the mem card doors, but be SUPER careful. Springs will go “sproing,” and never be found again. The extremely tiny rod where the spring lives can break easier than you’ll ever believe, especially trying to put them back on. In the case of the USB door, putting it back on sufficiently is almost impossible so I wouldn’t recommend removing it.



    The next step is to sand the plate. I like to use 400 grit and take my time. The larger the grit, the faster the top coat comes off but the more likely you are to leave scratches. You don’t need to take the paint off all the way down to bare plastic. All you have to do is sand it down enough that it is no longer shiny. Once it has a “matte” finish, your primer will adhere to it.



    I use American Traditions Plastic Primer but there are other primers out there. I like this one because it goes on clear with just a slight haze to it. That’s important if I’m using a clear plate as a base or if I need the color or design to show through. In most cases you can get away with a white plastic primer, but for me, the one I tried didn’t stick that well and it tool a lot longer to dry before I could go to the next step.

    Make sure you use a PLASTIC primer. Using a regular spray primer, or painting directly onto the plate will not turn out good. The petroleum products in the paint will react with the petroleum products in your plastic faceplate. In some cases you’ll end up with a tacky faceplate that never dries. In extreme cases, you could end up with a gooey puddle of plastic. The PLASTIC primer not only gives the paint something to grab onto, but it creates a barrier between your paint and your plate. There are plastic-friendly paints that you can use, but they’re much more limited in colors and I’d still recommend using a primer.



    Once you’ve primered the plate, you can use pretty much any paint you want, at least in my experience. I’m sure there’s something out there that isn’t a good choice, but I haven’t found it yet. One thing I will suggest is trying to stay with one brand of paint, or two, as much as possible. The more paint brands you use, the more likely you’re going to find a couple that react negatively to each other.

    Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when painting:

    - Well ventilated area.
    - Stay away from ignition sources.
    - Use a spray mask so you won’t breath the paint particles. A paper mask will block the paint but allow the fumes. A regular paint mask will stop fumes as well.
    - Wear safety glasses. Don’t ruin your eyes or your glasses.
    - Use the least amount of paint you can. Too much paint will run. Too much paint on one layer will cause it to shrivel if you add any other paint on top of that.
    - Let it dry longer than you think it needs to.
    - Use flat paints as much as possible. Additional coats don’t like to stick to layers of glossy paint. If you have to use glossy, make it the last layer.
    - If you use stickers like I do, or if you use masking tape to block off areas of the plate, make TRIPLE SURE that all of the adhesive is off the plate before painting or sealing, or you will not end up with a smooth plate. Even if you think you got it all, check again. Use a piece of tape and dab at it. Don’t use a chemical like GooGone.
    Last edited by SpaceGhost2K; 11-19-2007 at 11:53 PM.
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  7. #7

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    SEAL THE DEAL



    Use of the faceplate will affect the paintjob over time. A way to minimize this is to seal the paint. I use a couple of different polyurethanes depending on whether I want it shiny or partially shiny. Someone recommended spar urethane to me but I havent’ tried it out yet. If you have an airbrush you can use a regular clearcoat. They don’t make them in “flat” or “matte” that I’m aware of, but Testor’s makes this stuff called “Dullcote.” You can spray it over the sealer and it will remove the shine.

    Use a couple of coats, don’t over do it, let it dry good between coats.

    Once it’s good and dry, reattach the i/r port and power buttons with super glue, and if you’re not convinced of their sturdiness, once it’s dry add some Shoe Goo or Goop over that. One thing to know about Super Glue. It’s a chemical called cyanoacrylite and it works by bonding the water molecules in two items together. The item has to have some sort or porous-ness to it or it won’t work. And hey, if you get some on your hand like I did yesterday, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING or you might find yourself like a kid with his tongue stuck to a flagpole. I literally had super glue running down one finger. I simply turned on a faucet (with my other hand, dur) and stuck my hand (the other other hand, dur) under the running water. Once the glue had its fill of water, I knew my fingers wouldn’t stick to anything. True, they had this nasty, crusty white stuff on them that I picked off for a whole day… but a guy needs something to do, right?

    DON’T PLAY WITH IT

    One way to make your plate truly different from the myriad of corporate plates available in your local game store is to think in 3D.



    The easiest way to do this is to simply attach a toy or figure directly to the plate. Work that into your theme when you design the plate and have the toy ahead of time so that you know it’ll work. Don’t attach your toy until the plate is completely done. The best option is to drill a small hole into the toy and into the plate, then run a short plastic rod through both. If you attach the toy to the power button, make sure there’s enough clearance that it can be pressed in to activate the Xbox.



    Use the green light to your advantage wherever possible as it adds an additional “whoa” effect to your plate. Sadly, you can’t turn one base color (in this case, green) into another color because adding a filter simply blocks out ALL the light. What I mean is, if you’ve got a green light and you use a blue filter, the way a blue filter works is that it only allows blue light to pass through it. Since you don’t HAVE any blue light (it’s green), you get NO light. Don’t get any grand ideas to do” this thing where there’s this cool red light, and…”

    Keep in mind that this forum is all about faceplates and everything is supposed to be entirely faceplate self-contained. Maybe – MAYBE – if there’s some way to utilize the USB on the front as a power source to run another light that might be different, but modding your Xbox just to change the light shouldn’t be an option.

    - Modding not only voids your warranty where MS won’t fix it for free if it breaks, they won’t touch it AT ALL. If your Xbox dies you are on your own to find someone who will re-open your box and accept the risk for something that YOU might have done to it.
    - Modding, even an LED, can get you a permanent boot from Xbox LIVE. They can monitor performance changes in your system that can only be affected by altering the original hardware.
    - Modding can get you electrocuted if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even with it unplugged. Wiki “capacitors.”
    - Modding will prevent you from ever being able to trade your console into a game store.
    - Unless you’re going to go to someone’s house to do the mod too, you can’t make a faceplate for someone else that requires a hardware mod to make it work properly.



    Another way to go 3D is sculpting. There are putties that you can squeeze from a tube like toothpaste and work into a rough shape and placement. Once it’s dry, go back and sand/file/Dremel/chip/carve/sculpt/paint, whatever. There are also Epoxy putties that are like clay instead of toothpaste. Two clays react together to get rock hard. I know a guy who used some to fix a crack in his glass espresso carafe. Tuff stuff. If you use something like this, again I would recommend drilling some holes in your plate where the sculpt will go, pock a couple of acrylic or styrene rods through the holes, and then attach the clay to them while it’s still soft. That gives the clay something extra to grab hold of so it won’t pop off the front of the plate. To be extra strong, alter the angle the plastic rods stick out of the plate and don’t make them all the pointing the same direction.

    Keep in mind if you’re adding anything beyond paint to a faceplate, attaching the plate to a 360 requires it to be able to bend and warp just a little bit or it won’t snap on. If you render your plate totally inflexible, you won’t be able to do anything with it except hang it on your wall.
    Last edited by SpaceGhost2K; 11-20-2007 at 12:12 AM.
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    RETURN TO SENDER



    If you mail a faceplate to someone, pack it with at least 2 inches of protection on all sides. Anything less and it won’t matter if you’ve got it insured or not. The carrier will blame it on poor packing and refuse the claim. In the end, it’s not about getting a claim anyway, it’s about getting the plate there in one piece. If you have 3D effects on your plate, make sure the plate is immobile inside its shipping carton, so that it can’t move and break something off. If you’re buying a plate from someone, insist that they follow the same procedure when shipping your plate. You’re paying for shipping and handling, make them actually DO their part and pack it with care. Let them know ahead of time, if they never pack a plate like that for anyone else, that’s fine, but if they want good feedback and want you for a return customer, they’ll EARN it.
    Last edited by SpaceGhost2K; 11-19-2007 at 11:52 PM.
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    I had two more toy pictures I took that I couldn't like, you know, NOT use. So, here.



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    The first halo is BEST! FlawIe55's Avatar
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    Space, I recieved the awesome customizing power button stickers today, they didnt get lost like I thought they would. So yea, thanks. gets me in the mood to make my next plate. btw...you dont happen to like anime do you? also...does your wife let you decorate the house with all that manga awesomeness?????

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlawIe55 View Post
    Space, I recieved the awesome customizing power button stickers today, they didnt get lost like I thought they would. So yea, thanks. gets me in the mood to make my next plate. btw...you dont happen to like anime do you? also...does your wife let you decorate the house with all that manga awesomeness?????
    My wife and I seperated almost two years ago. Not divorced yet but I live 70 miles away. It's one of those things where we just haven't done the paperwork. She liked cartoons but never did like anime. My kids love it though. I didn't start collecting the Gashapon/Anime Trading Figures until arter we seperated. I've got a couple thousand Star Wars figures as well. It's taken me 30 years to get them, though.
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    Registered User Elite-Concepts's Avatar
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    Default Thanks Alot

    Thanks Alot for the tutorial SpaceGhost it really helpped me, i have ordered a silver microsoft plate from ebay hopefully it will come soon so i can experiment with some of these ideas i have in my head

    ~EC

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    The first halo is BEST! FlawIe55's Avatar
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    Sorry space.....Sigh, didnt mean to bring that up......I feel like a jerk now.

  14. #14
    The Game Is Not Over!!! Nato King's Avatar
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    Nice thread. But I will leave all that to you guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpaceGhost2K View Post
    My wife and I seperated almost two years ago. Not divorced yet but I live 70 miles away. It's one of those things where we just haven't done the paperwork. She liked cartoons but never did like anime. My kids love it though. I didn't start collecting the Gashapon/Anime Trading Figures until arter we seperated. I've got a couple thousand Star Wars figures as well. It's taken me 30 years to get them, though.
    You should send her an anime figurine every year for your anniversary, just to keep her blood boiling.

    You still get to see your kids?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conchord View Post
    You should send her an anime figurine every year for your anniversary, just to keep her blood boiling.

    You still get to see your kids?
    Oh yeah.
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    Good to hear. If she tries to take them from you, give me her address.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conchord View Post
    Good to hear. If she tries to take them from you, give me her address.
    It's a little more complicated than that. My mom is her best friend and we're still paying all her bills. She doesn't want to move so the kids can graduate with their friends.
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  19. #19

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    I take it you two don't get along all that well? How old are the kids?

  20. #20

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    12 and 16. My son only has one year to go in HS, and we own the house she and the kids live in, so nobody's going anywhere. She's going to be here off and on all week next week because she's taking a class over the first week of vacation. Joy.
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