Last year Michigan State punched Michigan in the mouth. They literally punched them in the mouth. After being called for 13 penalties (6 of them of the 15 yard variety) Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi famously said, “That’s what we try to do. Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness. I’m just happy it didn’t get called on every snap.”
State has clearly been the more physical team of late and their boundary pushing gameplans have paid off to the tune of four straight wins in the rivalry. This wallpaper was inspired by their bold and reckless tactics. I picture the Michigan State coaching staff handing out stacks of flash cards like those used to teach sight words to kindergarteners. Yes, this is a dig at the level of intelligence required to gain acceptance to the state university. Yes, I attended a state university (not that state university) so I am licensed to dig.
The 2011 Notre Dame game brought us Michigan Stadium’s first (football) night game, a crazy last-minute game-winning touchdown drive and the awesome Facepalm Guy. Don’t know about Facepalm Guy? Let’s remedy that shall we?
This week’s wallpaper is a remix of my 2010 Touchdown Jesus Says “No Good” artwork. It seems appropriate for Touchdown Jesus to assume the facepalm pose in light of three straight Notre Dame losses on late fourth quarter Michigan scores.
Update: I’ve posted new wallpapers with the correct schedule.
I didn’t expect a win against Alabama but I’d hoped for something a little less embarrassing. I needed a wallpaper palate cleanser so I disassembled last week’s wood-themed wallpaper and used the scraps to build this schedule with retro-ized opponent helmets rendered in my 3D stadium.
I hope this will get you through a couple of weeks. I’m going to disappear for awhile but will return with new artwork for one or two of the rivalry games. I have some fun things planned including that ambitious project I mentioned at the end of last season.
Recently a friend of mine (a software developer) was talking to his 11 year-old son about working on an iPad app together. My friend said to his son, “You know what skills you’re going to need to learn if we do this, don’t you?” To which his son replied, “Arts & crafts like Mr. Jeremy?” We had a good laugh about it but the truth is that I do find myself chasing arts & crafts projects as a changeup to the day-to-day work in my design & software business. So joke’s on you, 11 year-old kid, I take that as a compliment!
I’ve been working for a few years on a Michigan football-related craft project: a wooden puzzle where the laser-cut pieces are hand painted to represent each B10 team and can be arranged in the order of the current league standings. I designed the helmets to match the two-bar face mask style from my 80′s sticker books (and used by Steve Largent forever) because they are rad looking and because they will not be mistaken for a youth hockey helmet or space explorer headgear (unlike some contemporary football helmet styles). I’ll probably never finish the puzzle project so I was happy to find a use for my original helmet and field illustrations. I added the stadium and Allen screws to lend structure, depth and detail to the image.
How it was made
The artwork was created in Illustrator (vector graphics) and Cinema 4d (3D extrusions, layout) with some help from Photoshop (wood textures, blur effects, color correction).
If you read only one wallpaper explanation this year I hope it’s this one because this time I have an offering AND a request.
In between family events and having my throwing motion critiqued by Al Borges at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I scraped together a little time during our Christmas visit to Ann Arbor to create this Sugar Bowl wallpaper. I’ve never been to Louisiana but I have been on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride at Disneyland more than once so I know a little something about how a sleepy, firefly-occupied swamp is supposed to look. One of my girls is Princess Tiana-crazed at the moment so I was also inspired by the bayou color palette from Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’. Conveniently, it turns out that nighttime ambiance in the Louisiana swampland adheres strictly to the athletic department’s brand guidelines – even the fireflies know that the split Block M is no longer welcome in these parts.
I have received kind comments, emails and tweets from many of you over the last two seasons. I create Michigan football-inspired artwork to satisfy a personal creative need and as a way to participate in the fan community so your enjoyment of my work is very gratifying. Some of you have asked if you can donate money to say thanks or pay royalties for hanging prints of my artwork on your walls. Beyond getting me into trouble (again) with the University’s legal representation, money exchanging hands doesn’t feel right given the spirit of my work.
So, if you’re looking for a tangible way to tell me “thanks” I have a non-monetary idea that could be really fun. For the last decade I’ve coached local youth flag football, and for the last 5 years my family and I have coached and supported the teams at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa, Arizona. Sunshine Acres takes in children whose parents cannot or will not care for them. I think this year’s flag football team will be covered on the budget front so I have an idea that I think will have a way bigger impact on our kids than your dollars anyway. Here’s how you can help:
1. Become a virtual fan by liking the Acres Football Facebook page. The page is pretty sparse at the moment but will be updated as the season goes on. Our first game is Saturday, January 14.
2. Check the Facebook page during the season for game recaps and to post an encouraging comment or two for our players. I’d love to have a few fun comments from out-of-town fans to share with the kids each week.
During most seasons we only have a fraction of the fans that our opponents bring to the field, so we invite our friends and families to act as partisan seat fillers. Fans have a noticeable positive impact on our kids’ energy and excitement and it would be pretty cool to be able to tell our players that they have fans all over the country following them on Facebook. Last season was the first where we had enough people for a postgame arm tunnel and, after several seasons of going “feated” (the exact opposite of undefeated) both of our teams made their respective Super Bowls with our 6-8 year old team winning the big trophy for the first time. You can see that championship squad in the image on the left (yes, I am just as crazy about my Acres football team as I am about Michigan).
The teams we play against are made up of kids who (for the most part) are playing with the specific goal of developing into better football players. While we usually have a few players with strong athletic ability, many of them are raw first-time players without much experience and all of them have burdens much heavier than any child should carry. The chips, as they say, are stacked in an orientation not to our favor, but our players fight on and learn great things about themselves in the process.
Go Acres! Go Blue!
I started working on this season’s Ohio State wallpaper several months ago. The concept was more fun than anything I’ve worked on (other than the Denard Robinson Action Figures) and soon it grew into my most ambitious project to-date. Nothing even comes close with regard to the skills required to pull it off and the number of hours I’d require to finish it.
In case it’s not obvious to you already, this is not that wallpaper. Two things changed my mind about releasing it now: first, I realized that my concept had nothing to do with Ohio State and would work better as a pro-Michigan season theme; second, the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal provided the first true opportunity to poke fun at Ohio State in nearly a decade.
As I write this explanation I’m reminded of the classic line by rock greats Tenacious D: “This is not The Greatest Song in the World, no. This is just a tribute.” Next August I’ll publish “The Greatest Wallpaper in the World” for the 2012 season to massive disappointment now that I’ve stupidly overhyped the thing to the five people who actually read these explanations. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy this artwork inspired by Ohio State’s fall (and Fall).
How it was made
The Riddell Revo Speed helmets were illustrated in Illustrator (they really nailed the naming of that product) and then superimposed on the forearm photograph in Photoshop. I used a dash of Gaussian blur, a mix of blending modes and a smidge of smudge tool action to make the color boundaries look more tattoo-ish. If you look closely you can see a little red around the edges of the tattoo that gives the skin the “I was at one time in the past punctured over and over by needles” look. I toyed with a much more elaborate tattoo that used a blackletter font (and went so far as to design an ambigram for the word “game”) but in the end I decided on simplicity; I used a type treatment consistent with this season’s Notre Dame and Michigan State wallpapers.
Michigan State will be wearing Nike Pro Combat uniforms for their game against Michigan this weekend. I actually think the uniforms look great and I’m probably not as offended as I should be about Nike’s use of military words and pictures to market to teenage athletes.
Most Nike Pro Combat uniforms pay homage to great teams from the past, echo traditional uniform elements or employ locale-specific themes; I like to think that a total lack of options required Michigan State to go all the way back through their history to ancient Sparta for design elements worth repeating.
I laughed when I read the original press release in September as I imagined how the uniform would look if they really wanted to dress up their football team like Spartans. Nike could use dye sublimation to print 300-esque physiques on the jersey and pants and add blood spatter numbers and branding to reinforce the whole “Prepare for Combat” message. Nike isn’t afraid of introducing new technology in their uniforms, so why not a partnership with Vibram to combine the natural feel of FiveFingers with the traction of Vapor cleats?
Here’s what Nike’s official press release would say about my version of Michigan State’s Spartan throwback uniform:
Like the ferocious Spartan warriors of ancient Greece, the Michigan State University football team views every game as a battle of attrition, requiring the right equipment, body oil and attitude to die to the last man. Accordingly, the Spartans have been chosen to wear the innovative Nike Pro Combat system of dress-up for the 2011 season. When the gates lift for their battle against archrival Michigan on Oct. 15, the Spartans will sport a design with dye-sublimated physiques printed from full body scans to perfectly match each player’s skin and muscle tone. Bronze helmets honor the heroic armor of their historic namesake and an intimidating detachable plume will be worn during pregame warmups. Realistic skin effects are visible throughout the uniform, adding the authentic skimpy durability synonymous with the Spartan name.
The uniform’s overall innovation starts with the skin tight baselayer, as strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones help minimize chafing and optimize protective coverage. It features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate textured and painted to look like genuine leather. This symbolically mirrors that of the Spartan body armor, which consisted of leather briefs and sash with a small amount of padding on the shield arm shoulder.
An exclusive partnership with Vibram brings natural running technology to the gridiron for the very first time. Like their ancient counterparts, these Spartans will battle barefoot, or as close to it as NCAA rules allow. For the first time, football players are able to experience the sensation and freedom of barefoot running with the protection and sure-footed grip of Nike’s new Talon cleat technology.
Echoing the cry of King Leonidas, the back of the collar is inscribed with the words “Molon Labe,” the Spartans’ defiant challenge to the competition (and to fans clamoring for officially licensed gear) to “come and get them!” Flayed, blood-spattered numbers and branding compete the traditional Spartan post-combat look. Armed with intensity and determination, and realistic leather accessories, MSU will fight on the battlefield until the last team is standing.
How it was made
I needed a solid white uniform to pull this off and was lucky to find a decent image from a previous version of LSU’s Pro Combat uniform. As you can see in the video, I painted over the existing numbers and logos and then superimposed the muscles and other effects. If you’re up for several minutes of uncomfortable closeups with bare-chested warriors being manipulated digitally then this making-of video is for you.
Like many of you I couldn’t sleep after the crazy comeback win against Notre Dame on Saturday night. I had to do something with all that excess energy so here’s your season schedule wallpaper.
Like last year’s Heisman Candidate Edition, the Night Game Victors Edition Denard Robinson Action Figure project was an audible. I wasn’t planning to create another wallpaper until the Michigan State game (and definitely was NOT going to revisit the action figure since it almost killed me last time) but with the last minute heroics and surprisingly-great-looking-on-the-team-as-apposed-to-at-M-Den legacy uniforms it didn’t feel like I had a choice. Seconds after the game ended I raised an eyebrow at my wife and she said, “I figured. Go ahead, I’m heading to bed.”
My daughter offered some enthusiastic support as I was wrapping this up on Sunday (she was drawing pictures of Denard at her little desk next to mine) and my wife helped with choices for some of the details like the small parts warning and edition number.
How it was made
I started with my original Denard Robinson action figure and modified it (in Photoshop) to match the Adidas legacy uniforms. The original was based on a Tom Brady action figure and got me into a funny legal situation with some lawyers who thought I was manufacturing them. I wasn’t and I don’t intend to despite the protestations of my children. “Kids, that would be illegal and besides, our home-based factory is not yet fully operational.”
I screen captured the action figure modifications and box creation but it turns out that my usually dependable software has an obscure bug that cost me 75% of what I had recorded. At some time in the future (or in the past if I can get the DeLorean running) I will go back and record the layer build for both versions of the action figure. It won’t be as good as seeing the whole process but it will be better than nothing.
This disclaimer works 50% of the time all of the time
There is no actual action figure for sale. The action figure does not exist; it was created digitally. I’m offering free downloads of the artwork for your personal use.
So you’ve probably heard by now that I won’t be producing weekly schedule wallpapers this season, and some have taken that to mean that I won’t be producing any wallpapers at all. However, as I was considering semi-retirement in the face of my grown-up-adult-9-to-5-then-kids-bedtime-sleep-is-important responsibilities, I set aside time to design a few rivalry game wallpapers. The Ohio State game is a given (and probably Michigan State too) and I couldn’t pass up the historic night game at The Big House.
Last year I made Touchdown Jesus say “No Good”, prompting concern from my young daughter over God’s feelings about mocking Jesus. “No sweetie, I’m not mocking Jesus, I’m mocking Notre Dame. God enjoys this kind of thing.” Several other promising and less-blasphemous ideas were left to rot in the pages of my sketchbook, including a few inspired by the saying “All that glitters is not gold.” I pictured everything from a rainbow with a pot of fools good to a Notre Dame helmet peeling to reveal a rusted shell.
Like The Game, the first night game at Michigan Stadium calls for a dramatic rather than humorous image. Where Ohio State was represented by the decaying side of a planet, Notre Dame’s gold is shown as a thin, blistering and cracking layer of paint.
I wrestled over whether to make the centerpiece of the image helmets or logos (you can see the back and forth in the making-of video), but I heard from several people that one of their favorite images from last season was the lump of coal block M so I tried for something similar here. I designed the block M to match the front of Michigan’s legacy jerseys, while Notre Dame’s legacy helmet gets a nod with the shamrock treatment similar to my vine-wrapped block M.
Some other people you should know about
The stadium photo in the background was generously provided by Scott Maez. It would have been extremely difficult to get just the right look from an illustration or a low resolution image, but Scott’s photo was shot the perfect angle (and he was kind enough to share the high resolution file with me). You should check out some of Scott’s other Michigan photography. He has a nice mix of games and other events going back to 2002.
I also want to point you in the direction of MGoBlog users cjm and Blue Indy who have picked up the proverbial ball where I have proverbially dropped it. Both are doing awesome work so if you need a dose of wallpaper goodness between now and my next caffeine-fueled Michigan football design binge they’re your guys.
How it was made
I recorded the screen while I wiggled my mouse around and hoped for a miracle. Lucky for you I sped up the footage to condense a wasted weekend into just a few minutes of video. If you want to see me ruin a nice wallpaper with a happy little shamrock watch this video.
The Good: The 2011 football season is only 6 days away.
The Bad: I’m not going to be able to post weekly wallpapers like I did last season and I’m probably more disappointed about that than you are. I hope to squeeze in special wallpapers for one or two rivalry games but can’t make any promises. Thanks everyone who enjoyed the artwork last year. I hope to be able to resume the weekly wallpapers during some future season when life isn’t so busy.
Like the football team, I’ll be making a brief appearance this off-season before disappearing again until Fall.
The theme of the coaching search and press conferences over the last several months has centered around the idea that it’s time to return the program to “Michigan Football” (demonstrative finger quotes here). Whether or not you believe that such a thing as “Michigan Football” exists and that the program has indeed drifted from that thing, the message is clear – moving forward, the team and the style of play will look different under Brady Hoke than it did under Rich Rodriguez. The question is, given our personnel (specifically a player whose name rhymes with Denard Robinson) how different will it look this year? Just how far back will Coach Hoke and his staff turn the clock? Will they force Denard into a scheme where he feels out of place, or will they shift their offensive philosophy to take advantage of his considerable talents?
I found an archival photo of Fielding H. Yost’s first Michigan football team and thought it would be a great counterpoint to the “return to Michigan football” theme. Yost’s 1901 team was dominant (11-0 record, 550 points scored – 0 points against) and depended on fast, efficient players to execute a “hurry up” offense to perfection. Stylistically, that sounds more like the offense we saw under Rich Rodriguez than what we should expect from new offensive coordinator Al Borges. Denard Robinson’s style of play would have been a perfect fit for Yost’s first “Point-a-Minute” team.
If Coach Hoke and Denard Robinson jumped into a DeLorean and turned the clock back to 1901, this modified team photo is what you might see hanging in Schembechler Hall today.
It’s hard to believe that the 2010 season is almost over. It feels like yesterday that I was designing the season’s first wallpaper to share with my wife and one other friend. That first wallpaper, entitled “Husky Puppy Piddles in Fear,” was a simple image of a dog that required very little Photoshop work; I added some snow and some yellow spots and got an excellent response from my kids. I like the symmetry in ending the season with another simple image of a dog.
The Mississippi State University official athletic web site provides some background on the bulldog mascot: “The official school mascot is an American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the inherited title of ‘Bully’…references to school teams and athletes as Bulldogs actually go back to early in the century, and this nickname was used almost interchangeably with both Aggies and Maroons, since at least 1905.”
I like that you can read expectation, submission and awe in the dog’s posture; he’s looking up at the Block M with what my oldest child referred to as “crying eyes.” All that was missing from the original image was an owner’s tag so I added one in Photoshop. I wanted the tag to indicate that this dog was owned by Michigan football and (by extension of the metaphor) that Michigan is going to own Mississippi State on January 1; the simplest way to convey that was to etch the Block M on the tag.
Thanks for taking an interest in my art; your feedback and encouragement have helped me through quite a few long nights and creative blocks. I’m hoping to find time to produce a few more wallpapers this off-season, and then use the summer to get a head start on next year’s opponent wallpapers.
If you were Santa Claus would the Michigan football program be on your Naughty list or your Nice list this year? How about Coach Rich Rodriguez? Do you approve of the behavior of Athletic Director Dave Brandon? Whatever your position, I have a Christmas gift for you. I’ve created two holiday-themed wallpapers so that you can choose the one that best represents your spirit this football season. If you had Santa’s freakish ability to squeeze down chimneys (and his immunity from breaking and entering charges) would you deliver a lump of coal or a tasty gingerbread treat?
Feel free to regift.
How it was made
The lump of coal for the Naughty image came together rather painlessly but as you can see from the video I really struggled with the Nice image. If you watch closely you’ll see several discarded concepts including a gift box with a bow (looked too tacky) and a candy cane (colors were too Ohio State-ish) so I landed on the gingerbread house (which is arguably more tacky than the gift, but you get what you get and you don’t get upset). I sped up the footage to condense several life-wastingly long design sessions into a little under 3 minutes of video. If you’re looking for an alcohol-free way to numb your emotional distress this holiday season this video is for you.
In late October I stumbled across a fantastic high resolution Tron Legacy publicity image showing off the new light cycles. The combination of colors (blue and gold) and the futuristic protective gear made me think of Michigan’s modern, high speed offense and Denard Robinson at the controls. After his record setting season, Denard Robinson has laid the foundation for a Michigan football legacy sure to last.
Man, this is super nerdy but I like it.
This is the second in a series of wallpapers leading up to the 2011 Gator Bowl. According to the Mississippi State University official athletic web site, “the most unique and certainly the most resounding symbol of Mississippi State University tradition is the cowbell. Despite decades of attempts by opponents and authorities to banish it from scenes of competition, diehard State fans still celebrate Bulldog victories loudly and proudly with the distinctive sound of ringing cowbells.”
Bulldogs fans have been bringing their answer to the Vuvuzela to football games since the late 1930s and you can bet that the world’s second most annoying noisemakers will be freshly painted and nerve-gratingly loud at the Gator Bowl. Tip: if you’re planning on attending the game, halt your New Year’s Eve celebration a few glasses shy of a next-day headache.
On the spectrum of college football tradition awesomeness, the Mississippi State cowbell lands somewhere between “not at all awesome” and “yeah, right – what is your REAL most resounding traditional symbol?” This tradition deficiency is extra glaring in a conference that boasts ‘Between the Hedges’ (Georgia) and ‘War Eagle’ (Auburn) among others.
There are few things in this world which I genuinely hate; among them are people who hurt kids, wisdom tooth extraction and cowbells. A cowbell-themed wallpaper was a foregone conclusion, but I just couldn’t get my heart into anything that involved showing an actual cowbell. So in the spirit of maximizing opponent mockingness, I offer a visual pun of dubious humor by combining the pillar of Mississippi State football tradition with the symbol of Southern beauty and femininity: the Southern Belle. This also reveals the range of my comedic abilities. On the spectrum of humor awesomeness, I land somewhere between “not at all humorously awesome” and “wait – are puns of dubious humor REALLY your only comedic angle?”
How it was made
I captured the creation of this artwork and sped up the footage to condense a little over 3 hours of design time into a little under 2 minutes of video. If you’re looking to improve your consumptive ratio of “time wasting garbage” to “meaningful and enlightening” media, you should not for any reason watch this video.
This is the first in a series of wallpapers leading up to the 2011 Gator Bowl. I wanted to have a basic name-of-the-bowl-game-themed wallpaper in place while I work on the opponent-specific graphics over the next few weeks. I also might produce a state-of-the-program commentary and will hopefully finish that Denard Robinson Action Figure behind-the-scenes article I’ve been promising. If there’s time left after all of that I’d like to write a less-hyphenated version of this paragraph.
After the bowl destination and opponent were announced yesterday I did some superficial research on Mississippi State and was surprised at how close they played some of their highly ranked opponents (they only lost to Auburn by 3 and Arkansas by 7 in double overtime). I realize that the W-L column and game scores are statistically less significant than other data sure to appear over the next month in the writings of football minds much greater than mine, but I didn’t have room for a grid of opponent points per possession adjusted for field position, strength of schedule and coach seat hotness so all you’re getting on this wallpaper are the basics.
Last night Denard Robinson was named the 2010 BigTen Offensive Player of the Year. Coaches and members of the media agreed that one of the nation’s most explosive players was worthy of the conference’s top offensive honor.
Earlier this season I created the Denard Robinson Action Figure, Heisman Candidate Edition (but not really real, lawyers). I made some modifications to the original artwork to give the action figure a “legendary” feel and to commemorate Denard Robinson’s stellar season; the modifications include sepia tone on the cardboard packaging, a platinum football and special edition text.
As happy as I was with the Ohio State wallpaper, after another embarrassing loss in The Game I’d much rather see this on my desktop until the bowl game destination and opponent are announced. Once I know to which sunny location Michigan is headed (and who they’ll be facing) I’ll get started on a series of wallpapers for the lead-up to the game.
Turkey and football are two pillars of the American Thanksgiving tradition, so I’ve combined the two into one disgusting image that I sincerely hope does not spoil your Thanksgiving appetite.
On my list of things that are worthy of giving thanks, there are many things that come before Michigan football. But not that many things. After two losing seasons, and in the midst of infighting amongst fans, it’s easy to overlook the positives and forget about what we love about Michigan football. Now, I won’t find seven or eight wins acceptable in any future season, but this is one example of something that is worth being thankful for given the current state of the program: a winning season. Here’s the rest of my 2010 Michigan Football Thanksgiving list of thankful giving of thanks:
An explosive offense.
Cease & desist letters for fake action figures that are not followed by lawsuits.
Tiny receivers who block like linemen.
Huge receivers who turn 50-50 jump balls into touchdowns.
Roy Roundtree’s dependability.
My daughter’s winged helmet beanie.
A ‘scrappy’ backup quarterback (with wings on his helmet and everything).
Having not one, but two Michigan games to look forward to after Thanksgiving.
Watching Michigan vs Ohio State with friends and family.
The ability, time and venue to share my art with fellow fans.
How it was made
I’ve captured the creation of this special edition Thanksgiving wallpaper artwork and sped up the footage to condense a little over 2 hours of design time into just under 2 minutes of video. Watching this video is a little like watching Martha Stewart prepare a meal, but without Martha Stewart, without the food and without a purpose.
What’s on your 2010 Michigan Football ‘thankful for’ list?
The greatest rivalry in college football? It certainly hasn’t felt like it for the last decade as Ohio State has dominated Michigan, winning 8 of 10 games since 2000.
This week’s wallpaper is an artistic expression of the questions I’m asking as a Michigan fan. Will the darkness cast by the dominance of our bitter rival continue to spread, lending credibility to the sentiment that the program is eroding, or is the growth we’ve seen this year a genuine indicator of a future return to glory? I’m a defensive optimist at heart, so this season I’ve maintained realistic expectations while believing that better days are ahead.
I wanted the artwork for ‘The Game’ to capture the epic feel of the rivalry. My initial concept called for colliding planets, but I like the simplicity of one planet where the battle is fought over the same land. I also wanted the artwork to have an otherworldly feel, like how the rivalry would look if it was interpreted as a photo-real animated film where the good guys are represented by light and life and growth, and the bad guys are all shadow and concrete and harsh technology. I’m not sure if the message is any stronger here than it is with some of my simpler artwork (i.e. Maize is Blue) but I enjoyed the challenge of creating something with a high level of depth and detail.
How it was made
I’ve captured the creation of this week’s wallpaper artwork and sped up the footage to condense a whole bunch of hours (more than I care to admit) into a little under 5 minutes of video. If you like edge-of-your-seat action and nonstop excitement, then you probably shouldn’t bother to watch this video.
Wisconsin is cheese and football and funny accents, so I had considered several images for this week’s wallpaper including a moldy wedge of cheese, some appropriately mocking phrases with Wisconsonese phonetic spelling or a play on the mining roots of the “Badgers” nickname. I wasn’t sure until very late what stereotypical Wisconsin imagery I would use, but I knew from the beginning that the image would be rendered as a cross stitch because you can probably walk into any home in Wisconsin and find a framed cross stitch on the wall. Most cross stitch art is tacky and cliché, so I’ve created a tacky and cliché image of a Wisconsin football player with a literal cheesehead.
How it was made – Sorry, no video this week
As usual the artwork is all digital, though somewhere along the way I started to wonder whether it would have been faster to actually cross stitch the thing and photograph it. Probably not, but after copying and positioning hundreds of individual thread images I may have a full-blown case of stitcher’s hand. I captured the creation of this week’s wallpaper on video but unfortunately I had some unresolvable issues and won’t be able to share it with you. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to resume the video demos with next week’s Ohio State artwork.
Update: A reader at MGoBlog asked me if the title of this week’s wallpaper was a reference to Michigan Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson’s last press conference as head coach at Syracuse. The reference was purely accidental. I had completely forgotten about that press conference, but take a look at the video clip starting at about the 0:50 mark; funny coincidence. Or is it? (It is.)
According to the official Purdue Athletics web site, “Over the years, Purdue teams had been called grangers, pumpkin-shuckers, railsplitters, cornfield sailors, blacksmiths, foundry hands and, finally, boilermakers. That last one stuck.” I’m more than just a little broken up that history stole from me the opportunity to design a “pumpkin-shuckers” wallpaper. Sigh. Instead, a replica of a Victorian-era locomotive became the official mascot of the Boilermakers in 1930 “to exemplify the engineering and agrarian heritage of Purdue.” Because nothing says “intimidation” like agrarian symbolism.
For the last two seasons Michigan fans have seen “easy wins” against Purdue devolve into soul-crushing defeats. As I anticipate next weekend’s contest, I see in my mind’s eye a damsel draped in maize, tied to train tracks, terror in her eyes. A whistle echoes from the depths of a tunnel. The tracks rumble. A small light flashes in the darkness. The damsel turns away and closes her eyes. Where is her hero? Has she no defender? No, like our 2010 team, she is defenseless. What will emerge from the tunnel? Will it be a full-size freight train that rips her into a thousand pieces, or a miniature model train that bounces harmlessly off her rope-bound body?
How it was made
I used screen capture software to record the creation of this week’s wallpaper artwork and sped up the footage to condense 4 hours of design time into just over 4 minutes of video. If you like watching paint dry, or if you want to see the Photoshop equivalent of Bob Ross ruining a perfectly good painting with a giant foreground tree, then this video is for you.
I’ve been mostly successful this season at keeping my editorial voice out of the weekly wallpapers. However, this week poses several challenges in the “making fun of the opponent” category: a team with a Native American nickname and a program with no discernible traditions. Combine that with my utter disgust after Saturday’s game and this is what you get. Actually, I had already finalized the concept for this Illinois wallpaper BEFORE the Penn State game and the original title was “They Be Illin’” but now it is me and you, fellow Michigan fan, who are doin’ the illin’. I’ve changed the title to reflect how I feel at this point in the season; I was so disappointed after the loss at Happy Valley that I almost posted a completely blank wallpaper with the vow to continue posting blank wallpapers until the next win but, after three consecutive losses, designing these wallpapers is the one thing that helps me to move on emotionally (like art therapy).
That said, I haven’t completely abandoned hope that this team can meet my original pre-season expectation of 7 wins and I’m firmly in the “let’s wait until the last game is played before we cry for firings and lynchings and the like” camp. Here’s to hoping that by late on Saturday afternoon we will all have moved on from illin’ to celebratin’ 6 wins and bowl eligibility.
I had several versions of this wallpaper bouncing around my head last week: everything from tackle twill letters on a retro track jacket to a blinged-out gold chain with diamond-encrusted letters ala Run DMC. I like where this ended up much better; the hoodie and lettering feel appropriately distressed and it gave me a very natural way to turn the last “I” into an apostrophe.
I wanted to design a special edition Halloween wallpaper and we’re playing Penn State this week, so a JoePa Halloween costume was the natural choice. All I had to do was add a plastic nose and some bushy eyebrows to the slightly more respectful 2010 Penn State game wallpaper that I released on Monday.
Update: I’ve designed Halloween special edition version of the Penn State game wallpaper. Get the Halloween 2010 JoePa Costume wallpaper.
My road to Michigan fandom was long and twisty. Some of you would refer to my children as Mudbloods (my wife is from Ann Arbor and has claim to “pure blood” status where I do not) and to me as a Muggle (my lack of magical powers kept me from attending
Hogwarts the University of Michigan). Actually, after reading what I just wrote I’m pretty sure that you’re more likely to refer to me as a “huge nerd” but whatever.
When I was little my grandmother lived in Pennsylvania so she showered me and my brother with Penn State gear every Christmas. We wore this gear. We rooted for Penn State on the rare occasions when their games were televised out West. We loved Coach Paterno and his crazy thick glasses. Like the rings of a tree, the edges of his lenses marched outward with each advancing year. My friend and I used to joke that the glasses were so thick, and the lenses so curved, that his eyebrows actually appeared below his eyes thanks to extreme refraction.
Although my allegiance was shifted to the boys in the winged helmets once I reached the age of accountability, I still have a deep respect for Joe Paterno and can’t imagine college football without him. I was pained to learn last year that he had surgery to correct his vision. Beyond being totally freaked out at how small and beady (and upright) his eyes looked, it felt wrong for the signature glasses to be benched. I’m relieved that he has continued to wear glasses on the sideline, however thin and superficial.
This week’s wallpaper is a nod to the stark simplicity of Penn State’s uniforms and the throwback style of their legendary coach. I tried to imagine what JoePa’s vision was like before his surgery and blurred the text accordingly. The glasses frames were inspired by the style he wore in 1969. You can see the reference photo to the left.
Close your eyes (not literally because then you’ll have to stop reading) and picture a typical Iowa family sitting down for dinner. There’s a plate full of charred animal flesh and a pile of home-grown corn. Dad sits down at the table. He offers thanks for the meal. He picks up a piece of corn. He takes a bite. He cracks an incisor in half on a little Michigan helmet! Yeah!
Come on scientists! We can land a man on the moon but we can’t inject a chemical that grows little Michigan helmets into Iowa corn crops?
My “little” brother is now several inches taller than me (and carries several more pounds of muscle) but when we were kids I owned him at nerf basketball, knee football, one-glove boxing, living room wiffle ball and any number of other outdoor sports that we adapted for indoor play during our scorching Arizona summers. The release of Nintendo games like 10 Yard Fight, Tecmo Bowl and Double Dribble gave us a new outlet for our never ending competitive battles, and here was another arena in which I was seldom defeated. Seldom. Mostly I experienced victory, but those of you who grew up with little brothers know how aggravating it was to be defeated by them. Losing to a little brother felt very different than losing to a peer, and on the rare occasions when I experienced back-to-back defeats it changed my amused, condescending attitude toward our “rivalry” into unquenchable competitive fire and I could not rest until I had regained my crown.
That’s way more of an introduction than this deserves, but replace me with Michigan and my brother with Michigan State and the story above is a pretty good description of how I feel right now about the Michigan/Michigan State football rivalry. Yes, we have more than twice the number of wins in the rivalry and there’s the national championships and the Heismans and all of that, but after two consecutive losses it’s not enough to have dominated them in the past.
Fast forward several decades and my brother is a strapping fire fighter and I am a pale and balding desk jockey. We rarely play video games anymore but when we do, the same competitive edge returns and suddenly we’re 9 and 12 year olds again. I bet it’s the same for many of you. I’ve couched (wait for it) this homage to brotherly competitive fire (yes, I see what I did there) in video game imagery as a memorial to the veterans of 8-bit battlefields and their modern-day counterparts.
There is debate about what the word "Hoosier" actually means, but about this there is no debate: Indiana is known for being good at basketball and tragically bad at football. This week's graphic explores the idea that after all these years, the University of Indiana is still just trying to figure out football. I love the idea of an Indiana shooting guard about to be trucked by a Michigan running back.
How it was made
This image was created using parts of 9 different photos: a closeup of a red cushion, a scrapbook that was stretched to fill the screen, a vintage photo frame, a Life image of the 1955 Michigan vs. Army football game, an Army football helmet cut out of a different photo from the same game, a basketball player from an unidentified school, an old photo with water spots and other features to give the base photo a distressed appearance and two scans of watercolor brush strokes that were sampled and repeated to form the Michigan and Indiana logos. I made color and contrast adjustments to just about every element to accomplish the final look.
This one was fun; a little more subtle than the artwork for the first three games. It is hard to create an image that communicates distaste for an opponent for whom I do not harbor distaste. My solution? A mascot vs. mascot throwdown. I like how the wolverine looks more interested in sharpening his teeth than in his friend the falcon (or what's left of him).
I had planned to release this during the bye week but couldn’t wait…
When I started this weekly project I decided that I would not create any images that show players or that focus on conventional Michigan imagery. There are already several really nice collections of that variety online and I wanted to try something a little different.
In spite of my best efforts, I managed to get swept up in the excitement about Denard Robinson after last week’s Notre Dame game. As an outlet for my excess fan energy, I started last Sunday on a concept for a new take on the “artwork as hero worship” phenomena.
So, I offer the Denard Robinson action figure “Heisman Candidate Edition” with “New! Rocket Arm Throwing Action” and lifelike, “Laces Untied.”
How it was made
I’m pretty tired from several late nights obsessing over every little detail (Exactly how much tape shows over Denard’s left sock? Is his left or right wristband blue? How many little holes are in his chin strap?) so I don’t have time now for a full behind-the-scenes feature but I can tell those of you who are interested that the action figure is based on a digital photo of a store-bought and modified Tom Brady, that the dreads came from a photo of a Troy Palamalu action figure, that all of the modifications were done in Photoshop and that someday (probably the bye week) I hope to publish a step-by-step blog post that shows the makeover in unnecessarily and obsessively fine detail.
Is there an actual action figure for sale?
No. The action figure does not exist; it was created digitally. I’m offering free downloads of the artwork for your personal use.
Like many big-time college football programs, our beloved Wolverines have paid an FCS “cupcake” (UMass) lots of money ($550,000) to sacrifice themselves on the altar of massive gate receipts. The problem is that this season there have been more than a few upsets by FCS teams over their benevolent hosts and there was “the game which shall not be named” a few years ago at the Big House. I couldn’t bring myself to make fun of UMass as directly as I have with previous opponents so this week’s image can be interpreted as a good-natured dig at both teams.
This is the artwork that started it all. I wanted to set the tone for the season with a simple, stunning image with a tinge of humor. Also, I wanted to get my wife and daughters on-board with the project. From all accounts, this week’s image tested well with wives, girlfriends and small children.