I thought it would be fun to make a couple of windows and then style them in different ways using different techniques. We see a lot of different windows in cases today and it is hard work trying to keep your rig original. Our own custom made designed window however is something you do not have to share with anyone. Your imagination sets the boundaries and with the tricks I have lined up you don’t even have to be very artistic – If you can fill in a line you can do these modifications…

I thought it would be fun to make a couple of windows and then style them in different ways using different techniques. We see a lot of different windows in cases today and it is hard work trying to keep your rig original. Our own custom made designed window however is something you do not have to share with anyone. Your imagination sets the boundaries and with the tricks I have lined up you don’t even have to be very artistic – If you can fill in a line you can do these modifications.

What do we need?

Basically you need sheets of acrylic plastic and some tools. You’ll need a few things more if you want to create the window from scratch and then mount it in your case but there must be somewhere around 15000 tutorials on how to make your own window posted around the Internet so I think we can skip that bit and throw ourselves into the actual styling process. Deal? OK… Lets play!

I currently don’t have any case with a window in it so I had to make or buy some windows in order to realize this guide. I decided to make a couple of windows by cutting three 280x280mm squares of some acrylic plastic I “relived from duty” at work. I used an industrial sized band saw to cut mine but it would have been just as easy to use an ordinary power saw. Don’t forget to pad the saw with some adhesive tape or something so the saw don’t scuff the surface of the soon-to-be window – and don’t linger with the saw too much or you’ll melt the plastic.

I thought we could do the following motifs with the following techniques:

1. – A rugged warrior resting in some ruins ~ Let’s try an engraver for this intricate image.
2. – The word ‘Unreal’ using the Unreal Tournament font ~ We will use the dremel in order to get real deep with this one.
3. – A cryo effect making it look like we know how to keep our case cool in both regards of the word. We’ll use sandpaper for this one.


Tools used – note the coffee

Three 280x280mm sheets of acrylic plastic

If you are going to try this I urge you to use protective eyewear, I didn’t and I’m still picking bits of plastic debris out of my eyes.


Let’s start with the most time consuming of the three motifs – The rugged warrior. The image of the warrior is concept art from the Unreal Tournament series done by a fellow named Shawn Caudle. I could (and probably should) have chosen an easier image to start with but I couldn’t help myself – I wanted this picture on the first window.

Make sure you remove any protective coatings before you start. We don’t want that coating to tangle up in our machines while we are working. Print a copy of the image you want to transfer to your window and place it on your workspace. Then place the window on top of the picture like on the image below. When the motif is in wanted position you should fixate both paper and plastic so nothing moves while we carve. Some strips of ordinary tape will do the trick – don’t use any “supertape” that will tarnish the window with gluey residue.


Make sure you remove any protective coating before you start.

Place the window on top of your image like this and fixate them to your workspace.

Working with the engraver

You would think that the engraver would be easiest tools to use when it comes to “drawing”. This was not the case. It weighed about 10 kilos and was impossible to use for more than five minutes at the time. I don’t know the first thing about the properties of engravers so I can’t tell you if there are any smaller, better ones out there – but there probably are.

When you have fixated you window you’ll have to select and mount a suitable drill-bit for the engraver. When you feel comfortable you can start filling in the contours. If you make the windows yourself you’ll be wise to save a left-over piece or two so you can make a couple of practice runs before you begin.


Fill in the contours with an appropriate bit mounted in the engraver.

Stay within the lines – just like in kinder garden 😉

The image used here is very gloomy and dark with few lines which makes it quite hard to imitate using only lines. The original plan was to copy every scratch and line but that would have taken too long and the engraver wasn’t very easy to work with. Instead of this we’re going to try to fill in the whole figure using a different drill-bit that’s less like a pencil and more like a grinder. At this point the engraving didn’t look to hot and the outcome was uncertain.
It took approximately 2 hours to fill in the whole image and every detail wasn’t covered. The original image was only used long enough to get the contours of the warrior and the stone gates. The original was then removed and the remainder of the carving was done freehand – One of the main reasons for this was that the table where this work was done acted as a resonance box and made the whole house tremble. Unfortunately the digital camera used to take these pictures didn’t work to well so it is hard to demonstrate or depict the result in a way that gives the window proper credit. To make things worse no light or mounting scenario was at our disposal. We’re going to try to light the windows later on so we can see that illuminated effect you get by using bright diodes to light the plastic. You can get a pretty fair idea of what the window looks like when held in contrast to the gloomy swedish summer sky. I neglected to take any pictures during the making of this one simply because I forget. Sorry!


This is believe it or not the best picture I have of the first window.

It will be nice to see this sucker with some cool lighting.

After showing you the pictures I’d might as well admit. Some cheating took place here. The engraver was unbearable to work with so when no one was watching it was replaced with the dremel – less noise, deeper cuts and everything went faster.
Lets continue with the next motif, next technique and next window.


As you might have gathered by now Unreal Tournament is sort of a theme here. This next window is in some ways going against the actual purpose of this article – the Unreal Tournament logo is not exactly rare in modding situations. But since this will be done freehand I’m pretty sure the result will come out quite unique.

With this next motif we are going to go completely freehand and basically draw without anything to copy right of. Well, that was not exactly true since the one carving the window has many long nights of playing Unreal Tournament under his belt. What’s that you say? You can’t draw freehand? Hmmm…Ok, try this little trick! Take the text/image/logo or whatever you are going to depict and print a copy onto paper. Now take a lead pencil and draw a grid over this image – use a ruler, it’s important to make neat and straight lines. Make the grid somewhere around 10×10 mm. Now take the ruler and ever so gently draw that same grid onto your window – be sure to use a water soluble pen that don’t stain the window. Now start carving square by square – You’ll find that it’s much easier to depict something with this technique.

This unreal-motif was easier to create than the first one. This was on account of a number of things. For one, freehand drawing is done without ‘rules’. Second the tools and materials were starting to feel familiar and then of course, this motif is smaller than the first. And even though cheating took place with the last window this one was constructed completely by dremel – Much more comfortable.

A fanbus mod (constructed from an older article) was removed and used as a light source to light this window up and let me tell you – The result was pleasing. It looks real nice except we would have wanted to see it mounted in a case. Too bad the camera couldn’t handle darkness very well. The pictures of the first window lit didn’t turn out right – pitch black. What? …Do it again!? Remove fanbus and balance sheet while… no way! 😉


Window held up against the sky for better contrast

Even though this image is of poor quality it gives a hint of what it would look like in a case

 


The last window is a personal favorite – The idea derive from a mod found over at metku.net, a windowed mouse with some lego in it, the cryomouse – Priceless! That guy should get the nobel prize for excellent achievements in the field of modding… If we had such a prize! 😉

Originally this motif or styling was going to be made using sandpaper and nothing more. The idea was to make the window look like it was covered in frost. Talk about efficient cooling when your window is frosting up so you cant see through it. 😉

There are another motif with this motif as well – Have you ever seen how some windows show to much? We don’t want to see the sides of the CD-players, PSU’s and hdd-racks, that’s not very popular. So you could use this technique to cover up unwanted elements of your computers ‘guts’ that you don’t want to be visible through the window. And again – The camera doesn’t show the true nature of the window here either. The frosty cryo-effect is much more legible in real life. It looks very realistic.

This feature was made by using sandpaper. Be sure to move the sandpaper in circular motions and do it on both sides of the window. A tip is to make the pattern overlap on one side in order to get a 3d-vibe to the frost pattern. The particular paper used for this window is meant for metal so the plastic gave up its shine pretty quick – 20 minutes and you’re done. And the result was quite satisfying and the more time you spend sanding away, the more you get that cloudy smooth surface we want. Since I couldn’t find a place to mount this window it looked kind of naked. To make it a bit more presentable for this article it so it was decided it should be graced with a NordicHardware motif. I took a piece of paper and sketched up the text ‘NordicHardware.com’ just to get a feel for the letters – As you see from the pictures below the ‘.com’-part had to be sacrificed to keep the balance of the motif. The letters has sort of a nordic ‘vibe’ to them, don’t you think? I think it turned out ok!


Holding this one up to the sky doesn’t do justice to the frost effect at all

The “frost” is not this white in real life – I tried to bring out the effect… and failed.

Well, we can rap this up by saying that these was probably not the last etchings I did. They were all relatively easy to make and it didn’t take that long to do them either. Of course, timeframe will vary heavy depending on what you want to depict on your window. Certain elements of these motifs is is created easier if you have some experience with a pen or brush. But you don’t need to redo the Sistine Chapel, that wasn’t the idea. Our main goal is to keep things original and you have a better chance of doing that if you really suck at this! 😉

To bad the camera didn’t work to well and it would have been fun to be able to present the windows in all their glory – mounted and lit.

If you like this article let me know through the forum cause I have an idea or two still that we could try out here and maybe next time I’ll have a better camera and somewhere to put the windows. And speaking of windows… what do you get if you place it on the ground and pee an ‘x’ over it? You got it…windows X-Pee. Get it? 😉

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