Happy Easter: Don't Paint Your Eggs, Paint Your Sphero

28 Mar 2013

This Easter, forget the vinegar and food dye. Paint your Sphero instead! If you’ve been hanging around our Facebook page over the last few months, you’ve probably seen a hand-painted Sphero rolling around. Every now and then we’ll give away a custom ball as a prize, say for the Show Us Your Balls or SpaceParty contests, or for a special event like Nyan Cat City NYC. Read on to find out how we create them, and how you can make your own this weekend.

First off, you’ll need a professional background in custom painting Harley Davidsons. Just kidding. But that is how our team member, Kyle, spent his time before joining our team at Orbotix. With the skills he learned custom airbrushing motorcycles and cars for big name brands like Ford, Kyle is now customizing smaller gadgets – balls, to be specific. This self-taught airbrush guru walks you through the steps below to make a custom Sphero*.

Kyle explains that there are infinite possibilities for getting your paint on with Sphero. You can work with transparent kandys that will let Sphero’s LED shine through (like the pink ball above) or go with a pearlescent finish that masks Sphero’s glow (like the blue and silver balls). You can add sparkly flakes, overlay airbrush techniques and kandys, or go for the gold and work in a combination of all of the above. Here’s how the SpaceParty rainbow Sphero was created using supplies you can find at your local hardware store.

  1. First, tie fishing line around the seam in Sphero’s shell and hang it so that the ball is elevated from the table.
  2. Get your shells ready for paint! Scuff them with a Red Scotch-Brite pad, then apply a plastic adhesion promoter. Make sure to wipe your shells down with an ammonia-free glass cleaner before applying the adhesion promoter.
  3. Spray the shells with a clear base coat, and you’re ready to roll. If clear base isn't available, you can start painting with your foundation color.
  4. From here you have options. To make outlines such as the “Nyan Cat” logo, print your masks from a computer. You can also get spray masks for more intricate designs. Paint over these masks. You’ll pull them off later to reveal the design.
  5. Spray on your desired colors or patterns as you wish. To create straight lines, you’ll need a stretchy tape for masking called “blue 3M fineline”. This will allow you to make creative custom designs and ensure both sides of the ball match perfectly.
  6. You can add sparkle with a “metaflake” paint to get the same effect as the SpaceParty Sphero. Layer and play with different effects until it’s just right.
  7. Apply your final automotive-grade polyurethane clear coat for UV and scuff protection, and then let Sphero dry for a day.

If you have any questions while painting your Sphero this Easter, get in touch with the master himself via our Facebook page. Be sure to send us photos of your project. Rather stick with old-fashioned eggs? Stay posted, we may be giving another custom Sphero away in the future!

*Note that if you custom paint your Sphero, you will no longer be able to use Augmented Reality apps.

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