First I feel I should start with a little background. I am a single dad, separated from my son’s mum, but we have a good relationship. I have my boy every weekend, so finding activities that occupy himself, and satisfy my nerd tendencies is what I’m all about. I’m a self-confessed nerd – I read comics, I watch superhero films,I collect Batman memorabilia. All my t-shirts are superhero related. For some reason it is socially acceptable to read heat magazine and collect stuffed toy meerkats, but people find it strange that an adult reads comics! I’m here to tell you comics are cool and it means I have a massive interest I share with my boy, so that’s a winner as well.
On one of my various trawls through the internet, looking at pictures of Batman to distract my brain from thinking about cleaning, bills or other boring adult things, I came across a picture of a Batman made from a toilet paper tube. Ah hah! I thought to myself, a project that his Highness and I can do that doesn’t involve spending a fortune or having to socialise with other people’s children! We dutifully sat down one morning and, between the two us, using some coloured paper and sticky tape, knocked these out together:
Superman and Batman Wolverine
Here’s a really helpful tip. If you are planning on making some of these, and the character requires black paper/card, for the love of God, buy some black paper or at the very least a black felt tip. I cannot tell you how long it took me to colour enough paper in with a black Biro in order to make Batman.
So last weekend, we decided to expand our range to include some more superheros that his lordship had requested. This time, in preparation, we popped off to a pound shop to pick up some coloured paper and card. Highly recommended, this was a masterstroke, also being out = distracted child. Double winner! Back we came, fortunately I knew that the empty toilet paper tubes ‘hang around’ the bathroom for about a month or so until they are distributed around the house and ultimately binned, so we had a few to crack on with.
The good thing about superheroes, from a crafting point of view, is that they all use primary colours on their costumes, which is easy to replicate (this is similar for general cartoon characters, Disney etc so you could easily make these figures as well). Annoyingly, there were no good examples online, at all, of any of the characters we wanted to make, so we had to freehand all of them. I used a standard picture online of whichever character I wanted to make, took the basics from their costumes from the bulk of covering the tube, and added smaller details where needed (the ‘R’ on Robin’s costume, the lightning bolt on the flash’s costume etc), and just drew on eyes/mouths where appropriate.
We actually had a good time making these, although it’s fair to say I did the bulk of the cutting and sticking. I’m not saying we invented these, but as I’m sure you can see from the results, we seem to have damn near perfected it! I would highly recommend having a go at this, after all, who doesn’t have toilet paper tubes, coloured paper and an irritable child hanging around?!
*additional note – wonder woman, the flash and the Joker were created solely by me. His master’s voice requested that I made these three characters last Saturday night after he had gone to bed. Being a dutiful father, nerd, and quite frankly having no better plans on a Saturday night, I made them. Wonder woman took me three hours. That may well be more of a reflection on me than the task, but be warned nonetheless.
For fans of lists, here is a step by step guide to making these guys!
Step 1: find a picture of the character you want to make. (I told his holiness we would be making another to show people how we do it, with a step by step guide. He decided we should do Bizzaro, a kind of backwards Superman. Obviously not the most well known choice, but the boy knows what he likes. Other superheroes are available)
Step 2: Get all the things you will need, here we have gone for a toilet paper tube, blue, purple and yellow coloured paper (the colours of Bizzaro, as per the picture), scissors, sticky tape, glue stick and pencils/pens.
Step 3: wrap the coloured paper you will be using for a base colour around the toilet paper tube, so that it goes around the whole thing, but leave 3-4 cm at the top uncovered for the face. Keep it held in place by attaching with sticky tape along the join. This will be the back.
Step 4: if you are using two colours for the base, as we have done here for Bizzaro reflecting his blue/purple motif, follow step 3 again but leaving the gap at the top for the face, and a gap at the bottom for the colour you have already attached.
Step 5: to make the belt, cut a strip of yellow coloured paper about 1cm in height, that will wrap all the way round and attach as per step 3 & 4.
Step 6: using a pen or pencil, add facial features. I had only been adding eyes and small lines for mouths on previous incarnations, but to clarify that this is Bizzaro, we added a silly mouth (as we also did with the Joker).
Step 7: for any additional details, such as the backwards ‘S’ on Bizzaro’s costume, we cut out the appropriate shape from the yellow paper, then drew on the backwards S with purple pencil, and stick it down using glue stick. We also drew on the hair at this stage.
Step 8: cut a square of coloured paper into a square covering about two thirds of the way round, cut out a small curve from the bottom so that either corner of the cape will flick out when it is standing up, stick it down with sticky tape.
Step 9: take your finished creation and your child outside for photo evidence, where the soft natural light will be a lot kinder to your artistry. Upload to social media. Sit back and enjoy all the likes!!
Enjoy nerd crafting!
By Brendan King