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Unread 04-08-2007, 07:21 PM   #1
D-holla-J
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Building Demyx's Sitar - A Picture Tutorial

There's been a lot of people asking lately how to build Demyx's sitar from Kingdom Hearts II. I decided to post this tutorial in the hopes that some or all of it could be used to help others build this awesome prop as well.

There are a lot of pictures in this tutorial, and I'm sorry if that bugs you, but I made them all links for the dial-up users. I wanted to get every angle in, so people weren't left wondering. There might be a couple steps I don't have pictures of, but I'll explain as fully as I can.

There's actually three posts in this tutorial, so keep going when you reach the end of the first!

Here are three good reference pictures that I used:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...es/kh2uc05.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...Reference1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...ones/Demyx.jpg

And here's what we're going to build:



Materials are about $150 total, an estimate, which isn't too bad considering the size of the prop. This does not include a couple of small power tools that I already had on hand, but neither of those tools are over $20, I believe. Building time was about two months, working every evening on the weekdays, so if you're really determined you could probably get the sitar finished with this method in about 40 days, give or take.

The first thing you should know: SANDING. This monster takes an IMMENSE amount of sanding. You're going to get some serious biceps from sanding. Buy a LOT of the little hand sanding pads, of all different kinds. You'll use them all. But there is an easier way to sand all the larger surfaces of the sitar without making you want to cut off your arm- a little tool called a Mouse. It can be bought at hardware stores or home improvement stores, and it looks like a miniature iron. You buy refills of sanding sheets that attach to the bottom of the mouse, flip to the on switch, and the vibrations do all the sanding for you. Be careful with it, though- if you press too hard, you can do damage to the prop. The tool is quite handy, though, and saves a lot of manual work.

The first materials you'll need are a ruler, a black marker, tons of wood glue, and a couple large sheets of insulation foam. I used the blue insulation foam, but I've heard the pink is the same thing.

Now, why wood glue instead of the ever-useful gorilla glue? Simple- gorilla glue expands like crazy. Foam is light, and any foam you glue together with gorilla glue may well shift as the glue expands. Wood glue holds just as well, and you don't have to worry about it expanding. I found it to be a better alternative.

Also, I would highly recommend a hot wire to carve the insulation foam. A hot wire can be bought at home improvement stores, it's inexpensive, and it will save you HOURS of hand carving foam. It's an item that you'll fall in love with, I guarantee it.

The size of the sitar is subjective. I decided from the reference pictures that Demyx is about the same height as his sitar, so I took my height, plus the inch or so added by my boots, plus the height added by my wig. My sitar comes out to about 5'6. (Yes, I'm short.) Fair warning: at 5'6, and using the materials I did, the sitar came out to about 24 pounds. If you make it bigger to match your height, it's going to be a bit heavier. I would recommend, if you're building it full size, to start lifting weights now. I'm glad I lift weights as a hobby, otherwise carrying the sitar around for three days would've been quite a challenge.

Now that that's out of the way, I'll tell you how to start! I started by laying out a piece of the insulation foam that was nearly as tall as the sitar's finished height. It's ideal to be able to sketch out the sitar on one solid piece, so if you can do that, do it. As it was, I spent two days gluing together two pieces vertically to make a piece big enough to sketch out the sitar on.

The sketch doesn't have to be exact yet, unless you skip the next step, which is optional but definitely a good idea. In order to add extra strength and reinforcement to the full length of the sitar, I used a knife to carve a "U" shape into the back of the sitar, all the way from the top to the base. Be careful not to carve too deep- but also carve deep enough to lay a dowel rod inside the "U".

This step will take you a few days, but it's worth it for the stability it adds to the prop. Once you've laid the dowel rod in the "U", you're going to need a LOT of wood glue. The purpose of this is to make a solid core for the prop. Put wood glue in until you fill up that "U", and give it 24 hours to dry, maybe more. Since the glue will settle, you might have to add more after a day or two. And you might have to add more a third time. This is worth all the trouble- foam can crack and break, even with a protective layer on the outside, but if it has the strong center, there's a good chance that even if the foam cracks it won't break completely.

Also, another optional yet recommended move: put in a dowel rod horizontally across the top, too, to support the two spikes that stick out to the sides. More work, but more reinforcement. I used a drill to do that part, so I could carve down the tips of the spikes out of wood instead of foam, but if you don't have a drill then use the same technique as with the longer dowel rod.

Here are some progress pictures up until this point (And yes, those are cans of dog food holding the dowel rods down while the first layer of glue dries.):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0145.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0146.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0148.jpg

And here's the progress shots after all the glue dries and the sitar is ready for the next step:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0150.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0151.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0162.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0167.jpg

Now's the point where you want to go through and double check all your measurements. The base and the spikes on the top should be about the same width across- I would recommend going through with a straight edge/ruler and making sure that all the points match up symmetrically on either side. The more measurements you take, the more accurate it's going to be. Later on in the tutorial, I'll have pictures of the nearly finished sitar with a ruler, close ups of various shots that should give you the dimensions of how mine came out if you want a guide to work off of.

Once you're sure the measurements are where you want them to be, use the hot wire (or a knife) to carve out the shape of the sitar. If you use a hot wire, you shouldn't need to sand afterwards- if you cut it out by hand, sand the edges after you're done. Should look something like this, where I have about half of it carved out (I have pieces of foam holding the sitar off the table- those aren't actually attached to it):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0155.jpg
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Unread 04-08-2007, 07:22 PM   #2
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The next step is to add the bowl shape to the back of the base. This part is fairly simply, it's just a lot of tedious work (you should add the new layers of the base on the side you inserted the dowel rod into). First, carve out a piece of insulation foam in the exact shape of the base (use the measurements you took earlier!) and carve it a bit, to give it a gradual slope. Don't try to get it perfect yet. It took us three and a half layers of insulation foam, gluing then carving after each one. (Hint: use an old paintbrush to cover the entire surface with wood glue before attaching each layer.) After all that, lots and lots of sanding. If you have a Mouse, don't use it here unless you're very good at keeping a light touch- the Mouse could damage the foam if you slip up.

Here are some pictures of the process:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0158.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0161.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0165.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0166.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0181.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0182.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0191.jpg

Notice that at the top of the base, there's a noticeable curve down to the shaft. Don't forget that part!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0193.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0196.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0198.jpg

If you want to do the curve on the back of the shaft, now's a great time to do so. This is more creative carving! We made it to go all the way up to the top of the shaft, then made a seperate, smaller piece to glue to the back of the top to get that curve in as well. It ends up like this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0195.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0210.jpg

You'll need to do a little carving out the shaft itself after you add that piece. If you just slap that piece on and leave it, the shaft itself will be too thick, so try to slim it down. Just go by your reference pictures, or take a look at later tutorial pictures to see how mine carved down.

Now it's time to carve the top. This is mostly your artistic liscense, how you interpret the reference pictures; It's not that hard to carve the spikes, just be careful not to carve too much off. You can fix it if you leave too much, but if you take too much off, you'll be doing a lot of filling and shaping with other materials later. No pictures of this step in particular, but you can see the changes to the top in the other pictures I've taken.

The next step involves something called vinyl spackling. It's usually used to seal walls for painting, but it works just as well for sitars, as I found out. You'll need a paint scraper to spread the stuff, or an old knife, as it's fairly thick. You'll see two kinds of it being used in my pictures; one goes on grey and dries grey, the other goes on hot pink and turns white as it dries. There's not really a difference, I just ran out of one kind and switched to the other. To cover the entire sitar top to bottom, you'll need two or three small tubs of the stuff.

If you want a VERY smooth surface, here's how to do this: do one layer on the whole thing. It doesn't take long to dry, maybe twelve hours unless you put it on thick, which you shouldn't due to weight issues. Then, add more to the places where there are blemishes. Once those spots dry, you can sand them down, either with hand sanding pads or your Mouse. If you do that, you should have a smooth surface to paint over. Here's a few pictures of this process.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0200.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0217.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0229.jpg

In some of these pictures, you'll see that I added a layer of plaster wrap before putting the vinyl spackling on. This is entirely optional- I just did it as a precaution, for more strength. If you DO use plaster wrap, make sure it is completely smoothed out and sanded lightly before you add the vinyl spackling.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0243.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0245.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0250.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0252.jpg

And here's a picture of the Mouse in action.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0255.jpg


The next step is entirely optional, and does require the use of a saw. I carved out a faceplate for the sitar, which can be seen in the reference shots (this was my one big mistake in this project- I didn't make the faceplate big enough). This raised area can be done with vinyl spackling, too, or if you want to try something else, go for it! Don't attach the faceplate yet, though. Patience.

Here's the faceplate:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0254.jpg
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Unread 04-08-2007, 07:24 PM   #3
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The entire main body of your sitar should be done! Here are those measurement pictures I promise, plus a few full shots of the progress (please ignore my ugly mug in those pictures, I'd been sanding it all day and I was covered in dust for the pics, and I'd been wearing sanding goggles that left funny marks on my face). Remember- your measurements may be slightly different if you decide to build a larger or smaller sitar!

Side view:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0273.jpg

Back view:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0274.jpg

Front view:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0276.jpg

Measurements (I've labeled the ones that may not be clear. If you have a question about one, tell me and I'll label it too):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0277.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0278.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0287.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0279.jpg

The narrowest part of the shaft:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0280.jpg

Width of the base of the shaft:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0281.jpg

Width of the joint between the base and the shaft:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0282.jpg

Width of the top of the base:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0283.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0284.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0285.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0286.jpg

The depth of the slimmest part of the shaft:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0288.jpg

The depth of the top of the base:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0291.jpg

The depth of the deepest part of the base:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0292.jpg

Hopefully that helps if you wanted a proportional guide! Now, on to the rest of the project. There isn't much more to do that you can't figure out on your own- just some tips!

I made the ridges on the front of the shaft out of a light wood, cut with a saw. I would recommend buying at least a small hand saw, measuring the ridges against the faceplate, and marking off where they need to be cut. I marked them off, numbered them, then kept them in order as I painted them.

They have yet to be cut in this picture, but they're marked to size and positioned along the faceplate:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0269.jpg

And here's a few progress pics (I painted them with a white primer first, but that's optional):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0322.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0327.jpg

Remember, your paint will cover up however you marked them. Keep them in order, so you'll know which size ridge goes where on the faceplate.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0342.jpg

The bridge at the bottom and the bridge just at the top of the base can be made out of hardwood or foam. We chose hardwood, just for durability. Either way, I recommend that you carve small notches in both for the strings to fall in, so the strings will stay in place.

We didn't attach the second bridge till later in the process, but here's the first, attached and ready:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0346.jpg

The tuning pegs on the side and the string pegs at the top and bottom can be made out of hardwood or foam, but I HIGHLY recommend some kind of wood. They will break VERY easily if you make them out of foam. Here's a trick- many stores such as Wal Mart sell oversized golf tees that are gag gifts. These tees are the PERFECT size and shape for the string pegs. If you can't find those, hobby lobby and other craft stores have a full aisle of ornamental wooden pieces in various shapes- this was where I found the wooden pieces to modify into tuning pegs.

I drilled holes directly into the sitar to add those pieces- the golf tees can actually be hammered in, as they come to a point on the bottom. Attach them however you can, using that trusty wood glue. If you have a drill, use it! It's best to have these pieces with an anchor inside the sitar, so if they're hit they won't break off.

Progress pics:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0227.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0233.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0319.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/IMG_0321.jpg

Once everything's attached, all that's left to do is paint! I'd recommend buying some rolls of painters' tape, as well as the painters' tape with plastic attached- that way you can tape the area off, then unroll the plastic attached to the tape to protect the rest of the sitar while you work.

Don't forget the design on the back of the base! Too many people forget that neat design.

One tricky part about the painting- you'l notice on the back of the shaft, there's a gradual fade from the mid-tone blue to the light blue. No, you don't need an airbrush to do this. Grab your can of spray paint, hold it at the bottom of the back of the shaft, and spray lightly. The paint will naturally fall heavier closer to the can, so you can slowly work your way up without spraying up too high and create a faded effect up toward the top. Practice the technique on scrap pieces of foam before you try it on the sitar!

One final touch- the strings! I got my strings at a fabric store. I noticed in the reference pictures that they look white and thicker than normal guitar strings, so I got white nylon string. Once you tie the strings in place, I recommend using 20 minute or 5 minute epoxy to glue them to both bridges, and to glue the knots once they're tied to the pegs.

Epoxy is expensive, and you have to be careful with it, but it can make quick repairs! I take it to every convention, and can fix many problems with it in 20 minutes. It's saved me quite a few times. (Tip: do NOT use epoxy inside without a window open! Open the window, or take it outside to repair. The fumes can make you sick.)

That's really all there is to it!

Here are finished pictures of the sitar and myself, full costume:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...s/WX9O2045.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...LPWFrDHVfp.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...IMG_0437-1.jpg

As far as durability goes, this prop held up through shipping, a three day convention, and more shipping already. A couple dents here and there, but nothing that can't be fixed. All the same, BE CAREFUL. Your sitar can and will be damaged if you're not careful.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask here. I hope this tutorial can apply to other props as well. If you found this useful, please comment and let me know! And post pics of props you make using these techniques! I love knowing I did something useful!

Good luck!
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Unread 04-08-2007, 09:11 PM   #4
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I have a recommendation. I'm not entirely sure if you covered it in the tutorial.

On my sitar, which ALSO came out to be heavy - I cheated. I ended up digging out the base of it. I scored the foam so it left two inch thick walls, then dug out the entireity of the middle so the weight dropped.

But I do have a wooden front, so it hid the gouging.
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Unread 04-08-2007, 09:28 PM   #5
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I actually thought about doing that, but I figured that most of the weight was the hardwood parts anyway, and I didn't want to make the base any weaker by making it hollow.

I'm just glad I lift weights, so I didn't have a problem carrying it around, besides it being bulky and awkward!

But that's a good suggestion for anyone who needs to drop the weight some, really.
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Unread 04-08-2007, 09:43 PM   #6
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you should add your sitar tutorial to the tutorial list if you haven't already
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Unread 04-08-2007, 09:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol Shadow1 View Post
you should add your sitar tutorial to the tutorial list if you haven't already
Thanks for the reminder! I've added it now.
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Unread 04-08-2007, 11:10 PM   #8
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hehe... the magical sitar always speaks the truth!

That is one beast of a tutorial.
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Unread 04-08-2007, 11:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VII Fangirl View Post
hehe... the magical sitar always speaks the truth!

That is one beast of a tutorial.
Yeah, it is, isn't it? I just wanted to cover everything in one go. I don't do things unless I plan on doing them right, after all!

I just have had a lot of people ask me how I made my sitar, so I figured I'd make a tutorial so that I could just start pointing them here rather than trying to explain it multiple times. Plus, there've been at least four or five posts in the past couple months asking how to make this prop, so I figured I'd help out by making something to refer them to.

I'm so glad it's done. It was awful to write up and link to everything!
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Unread 04-09-2007, 12:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-holla-J View Post
I actually thought about doing that, but I figured that most of the weight was the hardwood parts anyway, and I didn't want to make the base any weaker by making it hollow.
2nded on the wood being whats so heavy. Add to that also that its just dead weight in an akward shape so it probably feels heavier than it really is when walking around...

Thanks for the tutorial, I'll be adding it to the resources thread as soon as I get a chance to seriously start searching again.
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Unread 04-09-2007, 02:26 PM   #11
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Thanks so much, this is a major help! But what exactly is that blue foam that you got called, and where can you buy it? I found slabs of blue foam stuff at Lowe's today but I think it was more styrafoamish and it wasn't as thick. I didn't see any kind of insulation foam except pink rolls of it but it was part fiberglass and toxic xD
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Unread 04-09-2007, 02:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua's Rhapsody View Post
Thanks so much, this is a major help! But what exactly is that blue foam that you got called, and where can you buy it? I found slabs of blue foam stuff at Lowe's today but I think it was more styrafoamish and it wasn't as thick. I didn't see any kind of insulation foam except pink rolls of it but it was part fiberglass and toxic xD
I answered your question via PM. ^__^ Got it there first.

But in case anyone else has the same question, I'll answer it here too.

The stuff is literally called blue insulation foam. It comes in large sheets about 6-10 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide, and a few inches thick. I would recommend taking a large vehicle to buy some, but if that's not an option, the people at Lowe's will cut it for you.

It is a foam, so it's not going to feel very heavy- that's why it's good for building large props.

Ask a Lowe's employee to show you to the sheets of blue insulation foam- they'll know what you're referring to.

Here's a picture, so you know what you're looking for: http://users.stratuswave.net/~wd8jik...ter/tippi5.jpg

The sheets might come in pink, so if you find the same thing in pink, that will work just as well.

For those who don't have a Lowe's nearby, any large home improvement store should carry it.
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Unread 04-23-2007, 09:55 PM   #13
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I'm trying to construct a keyblade out of foam (the metal chocobo), is it possible to put holes like the Chocobo has through the foam without it falling apart? I've never worked with this stuff before so I have no idea what it's like... (Here's a pic for reference to the holes)
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Unread 04-26-2007, 09:05 PM   #14
NetBelleAnie
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Gaahh, the Home Depots here don't HAVE the pink or blue and I got the white instead and it makes those little styrofoam balls ;_;

At least it seems to work though @_@

Oh, and make sure the cans of Alpo arnt on the recall list
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Unread 04-27-2007, 01:32 PM   #15
D-holla-J
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zib_redlektab View Post
I'm trying to construct a keyblade out of foam (the metal chocobo), is it possible to put holes like the Chocobo has through the foam without it falling apart? I've never worked with this stuff before so I have no idea what it's like... (Here's a pic for reference to the holes)

I wouldn't use foam for something that thin. It would break in a heartbeat! I would use wood or wonderflex, really. I've never seen a keyblade made out of foam that lasted long. (Not saying they can't ever, but I've never seen it.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by NetBelleAnie View Post
Gaahh, the Home Depots here don't HAVE the pink or blue and I got the white instead and it makes those little styrofoam balls ;_;

At least it seems to work though @_@

Oh, and make sure the cans of Alpo arnt on the recall list
Oh, yeah. The second that recall came out, we went through every can of dog food we have. But all our puppies are fine, thank goodness!
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