Computer with image-editing
If you have kids, chances are at
some point you’ve cut a couple of 1. MAKE AND PRIN T THE TEXTURES
Once you decide what you’re going to build,
holes in an upside-down cardboard poke around the web for appropriate “texture”
images. A couple of handy sites are Mayang’s
box and called it a “tunnel” for the Free Texture Library ( mayang.com/textures) and
train set, or a “house” for a doll family. Image*After ( imageafter.com).
Although kids seem to love them, these After you find a texture you like, you’ll probably need to manipulate the file a bit before printing
impromptu structures tend to be pretty it out to use on your project. At least you’ll need
forgettable. I’ve found that with some to resize the image to fit your printer paper, but
chances are you’ll also want to tile the image to
inkjet prints and spray adhesive, you can fill the page.
turn these quickie buildings into toys Typical file preparation involves the following steps:
that, while still ephemeral, will hold • Open a new document in your image-editing
software and set document size to 8. 5× 11 at
your child’s attention for months rather 150 dpi.
than hours. • Open your texture image, choose “Select All,” and
At our house, Playmobil knights and copy the contents of the image to the clipboard.
• Paste the image into your new file. Repeat as
Photography by Steve Lodefink
vikings are all the rage, and while the many times as necessary to fill the page with the
Playmobil castle and fortress sets are texture, butting the tiles against one another in
thoughtfully designed and constructed, a neat grid. • Print out as many sheets as you need.
they are also pretty expensive for what There are simple techniques for creating seam-
will certainly be a short-lived obsession. less tiled images using Photoshop or other image-
editing programs, but simply copying and pasting
By the time our cardboard fortress wears the image to fill the page usually suffices.
out, we’ll be on to the next thing. If Using 8. 5× 11 plain paper, our fortress required
not, we’ll just whip up another one about 10 sheets of the main body stone, 6 sheets
of the upper stone, and 4 sheets of “wood floor”
for pennies on the dollar compared to texture for the decks. The bigger your building,
commercial sets. the more prints you’ll need.
Steve Lodefink makes web pages and knickknacks in
TIP: Printing lighter-colored textures will be easier
on your ink cartridges than dark, saturated ones.