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Categories: 6 Days Of X-Men

X-Men, Part Three: Restoring The Original Artwork

11/29/14 Update! Some of our reproductions of the original artwork are now available for download. Files are in PDF format and ready to print.

After searching for suitable artwork online and coming up empty, we decide to capture the artwork on our cabinet and digitally restore it ourselves. We start by trying the flatbed scanning technique outlined in excellent detail at Jeff Rothe’s blog.

Unfortunately, our scanner adds a bizarre RGB diffraction effect to the image (its LED light source is the likely culprit), making the scans unusable. Next, we try photographing sections of the art as squarely as possible with a high-definition digital camera, correcting the images for lens distortion, and stitching them together.


Front cabinet side panel art, composited from multiple high-resolution digital photos.

Next, we touch up the scratches and scuffs:

After digital touch-up.

After digital touch-up.

Looking good! The pixel resolution isn’t high enough to use this image as-is, though; if we want to print it at full size without a lot of blocky artifacts, we’ll have to “vectorize,” or trace, it.

To prepare for vectorizing, we isolate the outlines by removing color and maximizing the black-to-white contrast:

Next, we use Adoble Illustrator’s “AutoTrace” feature (and a lot of post-trace cleanup; thanks, Isaac!) to generate matching line art:


Finally, we re-color the image by creating solid shapes with the appropriate Pantone values:


The finished product:

The finished artwork, fully scalable, with continuous lines and color tone.

The finished artwork is fully scalable and has continuous lines and color tone.

After applying this process to the artwork on the top, sides, and front of the cabinet, we can perfectly reproduce the originals. Having built a custom cabinet, though, we decide to go one step further and customize the look as well…

On to Part 4: Creating Custom Artwork

  1. Damn. Nice work on this part. Isaac probably deserves a high-five.

  2. This is pretty sweet! wish I lived near you guys so I could try it out!! Also, do you have somewhere posted the other artwork? other than the six characters and the control panel sides??