39: When Lavos Wins

A shot of the engraving before it was cut out. Flat type.

A shot of the engraving before it was cut out. Flat type.

Chrono Trigger is a classic, a great example of what can happen when you get a bunch of incredible talent in the same room and say “make something cool.” One of the best elements of the game is the abundance of endings available based on how and when you take on the game’s final challenge, and if you’re too cocky and get blown away, one of the endings even shows you when happens when the villain wins. The result of that bad end is above: a wrecked planet identical to the one you tried so hard to prevent. In the end, the future refused to change.

What refused to change?

What refused to change?

If you don’t hear the blood-curdling scream of the SNES S-SMP audio chip when you see the image above, pehaps you never lost. I did, and sometimes intentionally; it can be fun exploring exactly how the world ends if the hero fails to save the day.

What did the future do?

What did the future do?

I wanted to pay homage to the game over screen and set out to recreate the original rectangular pixel source image in a vector format. The defeated planet was simple enough to run through a few filters, but the letters had to be hand drawn. I wasn’t able to find an exact match while searching for a font out there, but you might know! Drop me a line if you do. While recreating the text, I tried my best to keep the spirit and shape of the letter forms, but I didn’t have any qualms about fixing kerning issues. The line leading, tracking, and the text’s relation to the planet are otherwise identical to the source material, just given a coat of vector goodness and mercilessly cut into acrylic.

Depth was added by cutting the letters twice and gluing them together.

Depth was added by cutting the letters twice and gluing them together.

It was 1/8″ thick black acrylic with a white cap layer, so the engraving ate away the white to reveal the black underneath. A halftone pattern gave the planet its bleak shades of grey, and a second set of letters cut out of the same acrylic were glued into place by hand rather haphazardously. Maybe you can’t tell in the pictures, but I sure can see it and should work more on using transfer tape to get more exact applications.

A close shot of the engraving's halftone texture.

A close shot of the engraving’s halftone texture.

The final piece is 23.5″ wide and about 11″ tall. It’s not tiny! It’ll find a resting place somewhere near my desk, possibly near where the black wind howls…

7 thoughts on “39: When Lavos Wins

  1. Peter says:

    I came across your blog today, searching for something I since have forgotten… (I’ve read all of your posts.)

    I love your style of writing and your seemingly carefree approach to laser engraving and cutting. I’ve been a laser owner for 3 years now and I’m still hungry for new techniques and ideas, and you seem to have a lot of unconventional ones… 😉 There’s one thing that puzzled me and that’s the fact that you haven’t mentioned the one big NO NO when using a laser, and that’s using anything containing pvc as a potential material… You even mentioned trying vinyl in “24: TRANSFER TAPE”.

    Don’t do it!!!

    Any material containing PVC will have a potential of ruining your machine and causing death! This may sound over the top cautious, but better safe than sorry!

    There’s a lot of confusion on this subject, but my stand is to avoid pvc at all costs. If you do a search on “lasering pvc” you’ll get enough info to make an educated guess for your self.

    At some point there will probably be some “non-pvc vinyl” out there, and I’ll be kiss-cutting the most intricate designs on them.

    I wish you the best for your future and I’m looking forward to your next update.. 😉

    • Jen says:

      Hello Peter! You’re right, we haven’t mentioned the fact that you shouldn’t use PVC in the laser, which does cut out a lot of fun stuff, like most vinyls, records, even moleskin covers. This is probably because we are focusing more on the things you can do, but it should be mentioned, for safety’s safe.

      We actually haven’t cut vinyl, because as far as I can tell, non PVC vinyl doesn’t exist. I’ll adjust the post on week 24 to clarify that! And thanks for the feedback!

  2. Peter says:

    Hi Jen.

    I’m not surprised that you’ve been warned about pvc, most manufacturers have that warning on page 2 of the manual… 😉

    Oracal has some products that are made of Polyester/Polyolefin and they are most likely safe for laser use. The downside is that the number of colors are limited, to say the least.
    Oracal 1720/1740 are Eco Print films available in white or transparent. Oracal 351/52 are metallised polyester films and Oracal 383 is a metallised cast alkyd resin film embossed in chrome and glossy gold with a matt surface.

    You can also use diverse kinds of Oratape application tapes as stencil material, they don’t have pvc in them and the high tack type could possibly be moved/applied with a low tack type. The transparent type may also be useful for a “frosted effect” on glass..
    (Dont use the ORATAPE® MT80P, it’s pvc based.)

    The major downside to the transfer tape is
    that it isn’t supplied with a backing material…

    When you did the sublimation cutting,
    was that via film or printed directly on the substrate?

    Good luck!

  3. Ryan says:

    Hey, Peter!

    I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the somewhat off-the-cuff style of our projects. Jen and I needed an outlet for some more creative ideas compared to our usual laser printing jobs, and these scheduled projects have been filling that role nicely this year so far, whether my week-to-week schedule likes it or not!

    About PVC, I guess I just assumed I would be able to source laser-safe vinyl when I wrote that. Obviously we haven’t been around to that yet, but I’ve read enough horror stories about people laser cutting old vinyl records to know to avoid the scary stuff.

    The art on the sublimated hardboard was transferred via heat press from a reverse print using sublimation ink and paper. I don’t have the hardware or supplies for this in our home studio, but I have access to them where I work.

    Thanks for bringing up kiss-cutting. I’ve done it exactly once and have meant to try again, but had no idea what the process was called. Sometimes I regret my lacking laser vocabulary. 🙂

  4. Shinma says:

    Oh neat. You don’t happen to still have the original work files for this project (and would be willing to share them) would you?

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Shinma! I do still have the files, but I’d like to hear more about your project before making them available. Drop me a line via email and let me know what you have in mind. Thanks!


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