I had an idea of incorporating an autographed trading card into one of my paintings. I’ve seen collectors do something similar before, where they removed a sticker autograph from one trading card and placed it on a card they printed which features a different character that actor portrayed. I’ve also seen collectors use larger photos of a character, let’s say Obi-Wan Kenobi, but used an autograph from the actor who passed away, like Alec Guinness, and placed the full size autograph underneath the new photo and have a small window cut out in the new photo to show the autograph. I loved this idea as it elevates an autographed trading card, allows for someone to have an autographed image that otherwise would not be available, and it creates something very unique for someone’s collection!
My idea, riffing off what I had previously seen, was to create an original painting of someone who doesn’t currently or rarely has a licensed autograph of a particular character they’ve portrayed. As a big fan of the Mandalorian TV show, I realized that the actor who played Axe Woves doesn’t have an official Star Wars autograph but has previously signed James Bond trading cards as he was in Quantum of Solace.
The painting is 4×6″ and I used Copic markers, polychromous pencil crayons, acryla gouache, and designer gouache. The main portrait and the smaller figure in the top two-thirds of the image were painted with designer gouache and the background with the portion of Woves’ Mandalorian helmet was done in acryla gouache. I chose acryla for that background because it has deeper and darker colours that helped set it apart from the portrait painting. I also used the acryla on the Mandalorian logo, again because the paint’s blacks are darker than anything else I could achieve with the other mediums. The painting was then coated in a gouache varnish that prevents it from scratching or fading.
I cut out a small window to show the autograph but was careful so as only the autograph from the card would be showing. I hand wrote the actor’s name and character’s name below the window, which I think looks pretty good but will likely do it differently in future paintings.
I attached my COA sticker, which I signed, on the back of the painting. The autographed card is in a penny sleeve to give it some protection, but also as a means to attach it to the painting without damaging the trading card as I placed my COA sticker on top of it, securing the autograph to the painting and making sure it won’t move around. It’s not shown in the photo but I also used some masking tape to further secure the trading card.
Add it to your star wars collection!
The painting and signed card all fit nicely into a 4×6″ plastic top loader, making it look a little bit like an oversized trading card. As is, this painting can sit nicely on any display shelf or be taken out and framed. If you’d like to add this to your collection ($200US) please contact me through the form below to see if it is still available or to ask about commissioning something similar!
Earlier this year Cryptozoic released their third and final Rick & Morty trading card set. It was so much fun returning to draw these crazy cartoon characters as I had previously worked on the first series. I also created a 9×10″ painting of Rick & Morty that I turned into a print last year!
There was a set list of characters I could draw from the third season of the show and that list was pretty expansive. A few characters, like Rick, Morty, & Pickle Rick got a little extra attention because they’re the stars /so iconic.
The artwork I produced for the project (above) was all created with copic markers, ink, and some pencil crayons. The paper stock had a glossy coating to it that the Season 1 project didn’t have, resulting in a slightly different look to these cards. For instance, if you look at the big blocks of colour in the background you’ll see that the colour is a little streaky.
From this project I have ten artist proofs for sale. For more information on what an artist proof is, please check out my previous post explaining how artwork for trading card projects work!
own your own original drawings
All of my artist proofs from this project have already been drawn on, featuring characters like Pickle Rick. I have listed some for sale on ebay but I also have a store where some may also be posted. If you’re interested in adding some of my Rick & Morty artwork to your collection, please either visit my store or contact me below to ask about a commission /what I have available! Also, as long as supplies last I will include a copy of my mini Rick & Morty print when you add one of my artist proofs to your collection!
I’ve been creating sketch cards for licensed trading card companies for over four years now. I’ve been creating sketch cards for fun and commissions for much longer than that. However, even though I’ve been drawing and collecting trading cards since I was a kid in the 80s, and despite sketch cards existing since sometime in the 90s and being picked up by trading card companies in the early 2000s, I only discovered them in the late 2000s.
Many people that I’ve met online or at conventions do not know what sketch cards are. That group of people, who are the collectors of art, comic, and everything else geeky, often really like sketch cards once they find out about them. I think the appeal is found in the wide range of subject matter, the oftentimes affordability, and that their unusually small size allows people to easily build a collection of them without sacrificing a room in your house to store them in.
What are Sketch Cards?
A sketch card is a surface that measures 2.5″x3.5”* and is used to create an original, one-of-a-kind piece of art upon.
I purposefully tried to make that definition as broad as possible as really the defining features of a sketch card is its size and its originality; however, size receives an Asterix as explained later. Some artists and collectors may disagree with me, but to me these are the defining characteristic and then you can have a multitude of sub categories after that. For instance, painted or penciled or licensed or personal sketch cards.
There are no restrictions on what medium or style can be used to create a sketch card, much like how there is also no restriction on what material the sketch card is made out of. One trading card company, Upper-Deck, has recently been making some of their sketch cards on sheets of chrome and acetate! I have seen artists use paper collages, spray paint stencils, oil paints, acrylics, and simple 2b graphite pencils to create sketch cards. These aspects of sketch cards seem limitless, like any other arena within the art world!
Origin of Sketch Cards
I may not be entirely correct, but it is my understanding that sketch cards began as ACEO’s, or Artist Cards, Editions and Originals. These were traded between fellow artists and given out to non-artists as a form of exposure. There was a strong emphasis on them not being sold, but rather an exercise in free art. ACEO’s are still common, and are still commonly freely traded, but ever since their inclusion in packs of trading cards, their
Sketch Cards and Trading Card Companies
In 1993 the first trading card product included sketch cards. These ‘Art De Bart’ cards were rare, chase cards with only 400 produced. These cards were all drawn by the show’s creator Matt Groening, but in subsequent trading card sets a variety of artists would be used. It was a mixed bag on who the artists were too. Some were experienced published professionals and some were people working on their first paid art project. This definitely produced cards of wildly differing levels of quality, but it also allowed for collectors to obtain artwork from rising stars and for said rising star artists to obtain a modicum of experience.
Throughout the 90s and exploding in the 2000s, sketch cards began appearing in numerous non-sports trading card sets. Sets based on movies and cartoons used the sketch cards as an incentive or chase in the product. Oftentimes the sketch card would be exceedingly rare even if there were tons created. What I mean by that is that thousands of sketch cards would be created but 10 or 100 times that many boxes of cards would be produced.
The sketch cards created right up to the late 2000’s were largely simple and quick sketches done on paper trading cards. In some cases, artists were tasked to draw 1000 or more sketch cards for one project. There was no way an artist can do more than simple pencil sketches when such quantities are so high! Sometime around 2010 this all changed and sketch cards gradually became more and more detailed. Some artists were using oils, some water colours, and some markers. Bottom line though, is that sketch cards were often being done in colour and to a higher degree of detail and quality.
Trading card companies in the late 2000’s also started changing sketch cards by altering their sizes and materials. Some companies introduced Box Topper Sketch Cards that were 2, 3 or 4 times the size of a normal sketch card. Booklet sketch cards were also being introduced, where multiple regular sketch cards were attached in a way that they could be folded on top of one another to fit into a pack of cards. Different materials like plastics and metals were also introduced. The moral of the story is that not only have the artists continually changed in what they were producing but the companies also changed the types of sketch cards, ultimately enlarging the original definition of what a sketch card is.
What’s in it for the Sketch Card Artist?
Fame and glory is not something a sketch card artist receives. Every so often a sketch card artist might obtain an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have had. An example is of an artist I saw online who created sketch cards for a project was then invited by the company that owns the license to the property he was working on to then illustrate a poster for that company. That is absolutely the exception. More often, sketch card artists work on these projects for a little bit of exposure with people who may commission them for more work, to say they worked on a licensed product and to build up their portfolios.
Sketch card artists are paid for their work but it isn’t exactly life changing bags of cash. Instead, a small handful of sketch cards are provided back to the artist that they can resell. These are called either Artist Returns or Artist Proofs, frequently listed as just AR or AP’s. The images the artist draws on these cards are all licensed by that franchise like Star Wars or Marvel Comics. The artists receive only a small number of AP’s in comparison to the number of cards the produced for the project; often the ratio is 1:10.
Some companies create their artist returns differently. Topps (one of my artist returns is pictured above), does not make their artist returns look any different from the regular sketch cards. Sometimes an artist (like myself) will write AP or Artist Return on the back of the card, but otherwise it will be indistinguishable from what one can pull from a pack of cards. Some companies, like Upper-Deck will stamp their Artist Proofs with an AP on the front (see below) and other companies like Cryptozoic have stickers for the back of the cards that say AP.
Sometimes particular types of cards will not be offered as a return at all. This is common with the more unusual sketch cards such as booklets.
Check out some of the sketch card projects I’ve worked on:
Inktober is a challenge to artists of all levels to create one inked drawing a day for the entire month of October. There are other iterations of this challenge, such as Drawlloween, where the theme is based on Halloween imagery but the challenge is basically the same. The point of it all is to encourage people to draw more frequently, for practice is the absolute key to improving one’s drawing abilities.
There can be any theme, or no theme at all for Inktober. I chose a prompt list I saw another artist post that listed various monsters from books and film. I stuck fairly closely to this list but at times deviated when a character didn’t interest me or I had a better idea, such as drawing Hellboy, a Victorian type ghost, and Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas.
During the month of October I was also working on several other projects and went on a quick vacation at the end of the month. This meant that some of the drawings were more rushed than others, however I went into this with the intention of only spending 30 minutes to an hour for each drawing. My intention was to do fairly quick sketches that may or may not be perfect, but challenged me more on creating an interesting concept /design.
Some artists create digital works for their Inktober sketches, while others work in traditional mediums. The amount of time and type of materials people use for these varies but for mediums I wanted to stick with a more traditional approach. I drew each of these in a spiral bound 7×10″ 98lb mixed media sketch book. The pages are nice and thick, holding ink well and providing a nice tooth in the paper to create texture in the inking. On some of them, like Godzilla, I felt that a splash of red would work well. I didn’t want to use full colour but rather one colour to make a certain element pop.
Inktober Sketches for 2017
All of my Inktober sketches are for sale. I didn’t necessarily create these or do the Inktober challenge to sell artwork, but I did feel I should make them available in case someone liked a particular drawing I did.
If you are interested in purchasing one of my sketches, I am offering them at $20 each if you live in Canada or $25 if you live in the States, plus whatever you feel the drawing is worth. The $20 or $25 covers the shipping and materials of the drawing, and the extra money will help me buy new art supplies but figured I would leave that amount up to you, the person supporting my art. Send me a message here if you are interested in purchasing, just tell me which one and how much you would like to pay for it!
I’ve always been fascinated with space, NASA, and those that pushed through the impossible to explore the unknown. Eugene Cernan was born in 1934. He was an American astronaut, naval aviator, electrical engineer, aeronautical engineer and fighter pilot. In 1972, the last and final NASA mission to the moon took place, with Cernan, his third trip to space, as commander of Apollo 17. This final lunar landing was to have Cernan be the eleventh person to ever walk on the moon and be the last man to re-enter the Lunar Module.
This sketch of Mr. Cernan was done on 8 3/4″ x 6″ illustration paper. I used a black #14 Kuretake brush pen and white acrylic paint. The NASA emblem was coloured with copic marker and then edited in Photoshop to give it a grainy texture and added the white splash marks overtop of it.
Milt Schmidt was born in Kitchener Ontario, March 5, 1918 and passed away this year at the age of 98.
Milt was a WWII veteran in the Canadian military and a Boston Bruins legend, playing from 1937 to 1942 and 1946 to 1955. He won two Stanley Cups, coached the Bruins from 1955 to 1966, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.
This sketch of Mr. Schmidt was done on 8 3/4″ x 6″ illustration paper. I used a black #14 Kuretake brush pen for inking the pencil sketch. Grey markers were used in places on the portrait and a yellow marker with a white grease pencil overlain overtop was used for the background.