Now that we have editable copies of the original art, we set to work adapting it and adding our own creations.
The control panel’s original background, a tiled pattern of tiny X-Men logos, is serviceable but leaves plenty of room for improvement. Deciding that the villains deserve some representation, Isaac drafts a Sentinel mounting a formidable attack on the players:
Next, Jason Lewis lends a hand with the line art and color, illustrating the character in a hand-drawn, comic book style similar to the existing hero art:
The control panel combines the original X-Men hero artwork with a custom background featuring an array of attacking Sentinels. Taking advantage of our vectorized source material, we scale up the hero characters and position them amongst the controls for each player, then composite them over the Sentinel background, now colorized with the purples and muted blues of comic book printing:
Applying such a large piece of artwork is tricky: The oversized stickers must be perfectly aligned, and applied cleanly to avoid any of the visible bumps caused by trapping air bubbles or dirt beneath the surface.
First, we align the artwork, then secure one end using mini clamps and a blank marquee cover:
Then, we partially remove the sticker backing from the opposite end, tacking the surface as we go. Pulling the backing produces a static charge that attracts dirt to the adhesive; once it’s exposed, it’s important to work quickly.
Now that the opposite end is secure, we remove the backing bit by bit, carefully smoothing the artwork onto the surface with a plastic scraper to avoid trapping any air bubbles underneath. A few bubbles turn up anyway; to remove these, we prick them with a push pin, then smooth the air out of them.
To protect the artwork, we cover it with a sheet of Lexan cut By our friends at TAP Plastics to match the control layout:
Reducing the rear cabinet’s Storm and Wolverine artwork to fit the new “slimline” cabinet is tough, but necessary: Whether we scale it or crop it, something has to give. Shrinking everything to fit produces a tiny image out of proportion with the other heroes pictured on the front cabinet, so we opt to keep the artwork mostly full size and crop it carefully, showing enough of the heroes to make them recognizable while producing a “larger than life” effect. A cropped, oversize “X” at the top of each side completes the look:
Update: We’ve received requests from several arcade fans to make our custom artwork available for them to restore their own X-Men cabinets. We’re working on that, and will let you know when it’s ready!