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Categories: 6 Days Of X-Men

X-Men, Part Four: Creating Custom Artwork

dazzlerNow 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:

isaac-sentinel

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:

jason-sentinal-lines

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:

control-panel-custom-artwork

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:

clamping-artwork

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.

laying-out-artwork control-panel-applying-artwork

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.

Trimming the artwork to the control panel's edges with a razor blade.

Trimming the artwork to the control panel's edges with a razor blade.

To protect the artwork, we cover it with a sheet of Lexan cut By our friends at TAP Plastics to match the control layout:

control-panel-lexan control-panel-covered

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:

tall-sides-cropped

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!

  1. I own 1 too. I would love to get some of the art work for mine

    Tom Lukefahr
  2. Would also love to buy the art work for the unit. Please email me if it’s available thanks

    Brad
  3. I own 1 too. Please let me know when its available. Yours look awesome!!

    Tom Lukefahr