Topps Star Wars Masterwork 2018

Star Wars Masterwork from Topps is a premium set of trading cards that comes out every year, for the past four years. I’ve had the pleasure of creating sketch cards for the last three of these products, and I feel that this year’s is my best work yet (See previous year’s work here)!

Star Wars Masterwork sketch card booklet by matt stewart
My one Booklet sketch card

One of the reasons why I love working on Star Wars Masterwork is that it allows me to draw from the entire film and TV universe of Star Wars. There’s other sets (like Galactic Files Reborn) that also allow for all of the Star Wars universe to be drawn from, but this one provides me thicker, higher quality sketch cards to work off of. If you were buying a top loader or one-touch protector for these cards they’d be 100pt, as opposed to regular thin trading cards from other sets. This project also has unique booklet cards, of which I was invited to draw on one of them -they are especially rare!

Mediums Used

As per usual, I utilized a few different techniques for creating my sketch cards. For some of them I used pen and ink with copic marker. This produces a comic book like style that I greatly enjoy and has been my mainstay ever since I begin drawing sketch cards. I also used my more recent method of marrying copic markers with polychromous pencil crayons, which gives the image a richer and more realistic appearance.

sketch cards by matt stewart for star wars masterwork trading cards sketch cards by matt stewart for star wars masterwork trading cards sketch cards by matt stewart for star wars masterwork trading cards

New to this project was my usage of water colours and acrylic paints. For the water colours I also used a little bit of gouache. I wanted my pencils to be visible and the water colours to be simple washes. The paper wasn’t too great for it but I think the images still look good. Unfortunately, my scanner didn’t pick up the water colours too well. They look much better in person and I now have a new scanner so future projects with water colour work will be displayed even better!

star wars masterwork sketch cards by matt stewart
Pack Inserted cards painted with water colour /gouache

Earlier this year I began dabbling with acrylic paints on my sketch cards. I’ve been inspired by other artists like Kris Penix & Jay Marchand, who create their sketch cards exclusively in acrylic paint. Painting with acrylics is an incredibly so process so I decided to do only a small batch of my cards in this medium. I feel that with every project my acrylic work is getting better and I’m definitely going to be continuing to use it! I even kept a handful of these as my artist proofs!

sketch cards by matt stewart for star wars masterwork trading cards
Examples of my sketch cards painted with acrylic paints and inserted into packs! The Ahsoka on the bottom left has already been pulled and listed on ebay.
Artist Proof Sketch Cards

I have six artist proof sketch cards available to sell from this project. The Yoda, Fett & AT-AT Driver are all painted in acrylic. The Jyn and Rey have acrylic painted backgrounds and copic/ pencil crayon portrait foregrounds. The Galen is all copic /pencil crayon.

sketch cards by matt stewart for star wars masterwork trading cards
Artist Proof Sketch Cards

Please contact me if you are interested in buying one or more of my artists!

In Places Between 2018 Book Cover

For the third year in a row I’ve been invited to create artwork for the Imaginative Fiction Writer’s Association’s annual anthology book, In Places Between: The Very Best Short Fiction of When Words Collide. This year I created the front cover illustration and the back cover graphics. I absolute love these projects and from what I heard, my illustration was very well received!
 
My concept for this year’s cover was to create an old, well lived in space that had elements of the fantastical. At the centre of this warm space is a young woman engrossed reading her book. I’m also infatuated with art nouveau, so included that type of stained glass in the background. I used a mixed media of Copic markers, polychromous pencil crayons, and gouache paint on warm press water colour paper. Some edits in Photoshop were added as well.
 
in places between book cover illustration by matt stewart
Scan of the original illustration

Back cover design for In Places Between 2018 that includes a picture frame and wallpaper.
Back cover design for In Places Between 2018
Final book cover for In Places Between 2018 book, with digital edits and artwork by matt stewart
Final book cover for In Places Between 2018 book, with digital edits and artwork by matt stewart
Check out the IFWA website to find out more about this fantastic local writer’s group!

New Sketch Cards in MLB Series 2!

Late last year I had the fantastic opportunity to create sketch cards for the 2018 Baseball Series 1 from Topps. I still need to post examples of my artwork from that set here but I’ve been so darn busy! Case in point, Series 2 from the 2018 Topps Baseball set was released about a month ago and I had, again, sketch cards in it!

I have a mix of styles in the set and tried to draw a player from every team but I think I accidentally forgot about one or two. I also had the chance to draw a few retired players, going all the back to Honus Wagner! One of my favourite retired players was also in the mix, a Mr. Ozzie Smith!

These sketches are incredibly rare to find in the packs of cards. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the odds of finding one is about one per every 2 or 3 cases of cards! That’s not packs, or boxes, but cases!

Own It!

Check out what I have listed on ebay and if you don’t see it there, contact me here and commission an original from me! I often have a month or two long waiting list, so please make sure to contact me early for commissions. I also have some blank official artist proofs from companies like Leaf available, but they may not be available for long!

What’s Next?

Up next for my project release calendar is Topps 2018 MLB Museum Collection. This was released in the last week of June. Coming up in July is a horror trading card set for MNS Cards and Lost in Space series 2 from Rittenhouse. I have a few commissions and other non sketch card projects I’m working on this month that I am also excited about sharing! Hoping to have much of that posted on Twitter and Instagram, so make sure to follow me there!

Google Analytics Course

I love SEO and I’ve greatly enjoyed analyzing Google Analytics.  I’ve completed courses on website SEO, but until just recently I had never taken the Google Analytics course that Google itself offers.

After completing the online course I received a certificate for the Beginner and Advanced courses I took. I’m thinking next month, in June, I’ll take some of the Facebook marketing courses they offer and perhaps some more SEO courses from other websites. Never stop learning!

advanced google analytics certificate

Read and Hear My Interviews on Sketch Cards and Collecting

These past few weeks I’ve been playing catch-up on pretty much everything, including posting on my website. One thing I’ve been meaning to post about is that I was interviewed twice recently about my sketch card artwork. I was both surprised and flattered that I was asked for such interviews. I was also happy that I could show off some of my artwork to  a few new eyeballs!

I often have blinders on when I get busy, such as the past few months where all I do is focus on meeting art deadlines. It amazes me that people out there like my art and collect it. It’s something I never really expected to have happen five or so years ago and I truly appreciate hearing from people who collect this or that drawing I made!

The first interview was on That Sports Card Podcast back in October of last year. This interview was really cool as I was able to talk about a few different topics that ranged from who I am personally, what I collect, and about the artwork I create. Hopefully I came across OK on the podcast and at some level am interesting to listen to!

The second interview came from the online magazine, Collection Connections. I was sent a few questions which again were about my sketch card artwork and my own collecting hobby. I’m not sure how many other artists collect but I am a big card collector (mainly hockey) along with Lego and comic books. Again, this interview was  a lot of fun to do. Like most people, it’s hard not to enjoy talking about yourself and what you do.

Another cool bit of news is that Steve over at the Star Wars Everything website has been kind enough to highlight some of the sketch card artists on new Star Wars trading card sets produced from Topps. Myself and a handful of other artists have been able to post examples of our sketch cards on his website, where he also talks more in depth about that particular Star Wars trading card product that is coming up. Really appreciate an opportunity to post some more of my artwork!

 


 

If you would like to ask me a question directly or interview me for your website or podcast, please drop me a line here!

Learning Powerful 3D Modelling in Sketchup

Since the new year I’ve been playing with SketchUp. This software allows one to create 3D models that can be used in videos, 3D printings, and print or digital designs. The program has been used in a number of fields, most notably architecture for designing homes and their surroundings.

One of the nice things about SketchUp is that there is a free version. This free version allows one to create 3D models and geo-locate models (which is really cool as your models can be integrated into google maps for a geo-reference). However, the latest free version of SketchUp does has many downgrades from the Pro, or paid version. The paid version of SketchUp allows you to physically download the program, create 2D models, export animation videos, create construction drawings, licensed for commercial use, and to utilize actions, components and groups. Those last abilities are what I am currently working on, in addition to playing with a rendering software you can import into SketchUp, called VRay.

At first glance, SketchUp seems like it is very similar to Photoshop. This similarity quickly disappears after diving deeper into the program. These differences are also a downside in that SketchUp is not entirely intuitive to use. Tools that react different from how you would expect them too, moving objects in a 3 dimensional space is definitely something that takes awhile to wrap your head around, and the software is frequently glitchy.

Despite the downsides to SketchUp and its $695USD price tag, it is a very powerful program and one that I hope to continue to become better at. I’ve put up some examples of what I’ve been doing in SketchUp below. These are all basic designs of house exteriors and interiors. From here I want to continuing improving my skills with structures and creating better environments, and then start playing with my own designs for small objects that can be printed.

Structures Created in SketchUp

Let me know if you’ve ever used SketchUp and what your thoughts are on this program. Is there another 3D modelling program you prefer over SketchUp? Would love to know!

Eye Catching Infographics Created in Adobe Illustrator

I recently created an infographic for a client. The concept was that he needed to display time passing in three phases with some explanatory text next to each phase. As per my design process, I sketched out a few initial ideas on scrap paper and then began turning those doodles into digital designs through Illustrator (check out other examples of my digital designs here).

The first design I created had some icons at each stage and the three stages represented as almost a chutes and ladders game viewed at in a 1-point perspective. I still love the idea of using mile-post markers and looking at the infographic in perspective, but I just couldn’t get it to work where the information was readable. Since I’m not happy with it at all, and it has some elements that are client specific, I’ve decided to not share it here. The other two graphics I made are shown below but the text is replaced with Lorem Ipsum.

Besides jotting down initial notes and making doodles on scrap paper, I also did some cursory online research. I only had a few hours to complete a design and while my first concept with the infographic in perspective was original, I didn’t have the time to make it work. I needed to come up with a well thought out design that would immediately win the day, or at least one that would only need a minor revision here or there.

With some ideas in my head from my doodling and researching, I immediately started creating them in Illustrator. When it comes to graphics, Illustrator is my go-to tool. I love the precision, the intuitiveness of the program, the wide range of tools it offers, and I’m a little biased in that I’ve been using it for a long time now.

Second Infographic

 

The second design I had was that of a ribbon folded three times. This is similar to something else I had seen online, but I made the image more flat and went with a triadic colour scheme to make the three phases pop off one another. I used angular corners with drop shadows to emphasize the strong lines in order to add a bit of dynamism to the design. For the typography I wanted something clean and business looking. I made the date text bolder and clear white against the coloured background. The accompanying text to the right of the dates is made a little smaller and I used a light grey-tinged colour so it doesn’t compete with the date text.

Third Infographic

 

The third graphic I created is based off a more traditional timeline design. However, I tried to make it a bit more modern looking with a grey and bright yellow-green colour combination. I then added a drop shadow on the image to give it a bit of flat design feel. The typography went after the same principle I had in the second graphic but this time the block text was a lot more work. I wanted it to sit nicely within the rounded corner rectangles I had them in but use a justified paragraph alignment which meant playing with the kerning a lot to avoid rivers. The first of the three paragraphs still doesn’t quite work as well as I would like but the client was happy.

Let Me Know!

Let me know what you think of my two designs- do you have a favourite? If you’ve created an infographic yourself, pop a link to it in the comments below!