I painted four artist proofs for the Topps 2021 Museum Collection set that I will be putting up for sale. These are original paintings, done in traditional gouache and oil based pencil crayons. On the backside of the cards, I’ve signed it, hand-written the player’s name and “Artist Proof”. This type of sketch card can ONLY be obtained direct from an artist like myself who worked on these projects!
I also have copies of my reprinted artwork that was included in this year’s Museum Collection set. Please check out my previous post that features the Canvas Collection cards of bob Gibson, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rizzo!
I have more blank artist proof sketch cards from this project that I will be using for other portraits soon. Contact me to find out what I’ll be doing for my next Artist Proof and how you can pick-up one of the above, already finished, Artist Proofs!
I was invited to contribute artwork to the 2020 Star Wars Holocron trading card set from Topps last year. The set came out right around Christmas of last year but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to post the artwork I did for the set!
The majority of the illustrations I did for this set were painted either in acrylic or designer gouache. I stuck mainly to just drawing characters and scenes from the prequels, Empire Strikes Back (as it was the anniversary of the movie), and from the final season of the Clone Wars animated series, as that had just been released on Disney+ when I was working on this project. This is the strategy I usually use when working on a trading card set too; I focus on a theme or a couple of movies /TV shows. For Star Wars it’s pretty easy to do as there is so much material out there. From the number of movies and TV shows to the deep cast of characters! There’s always something new to draw from the Star Wars universe!
There’s always something new to draw from the Star Wars universe. Like the paintings above that I created, there’s fan favourite droids and aliens like Gronk and Yak Face. Plus, even the names are super fun!
There’s also different styles of the same characters I can draw from. There’s the differences in age or the actors that portrayed them, like with Obi-Wan Kenobi. There’s also differences when the characters pop up in the animated series, like my Yoda painting shown above that features the character from the Clone Wars animated series!
Holocron was the second trading card set where I was allowed to draw characters from Season 1 of the Mandalorian (the first was Women of Star Wars). Although the Mandalorian Season 1 trading card set was released before Holocron, I actually did the art for Holocron before the Mando Season 1 cards.
Since I knew that there was going to be a Mando Season 1 set coming up soon, I didn’t draw too much from the show for Holocron. The Mando set would be limited to only drawing characters from that show, so I didn’t want to burn through drawing my favourite scenes or drawing the same character too many times in Holocron before starting the Mando Season 1 set. Instead, I focused on drawing a few cards of the Mandalorian and a few of baby yoda, with most of those being reserved as artist proofs. The two painted baby yoda’s (in the cockpit and with the bowl) were both artist proofs that have already sold.
BIG sketch card
For the first time on a Star Wars trading card set that I worked on, I was asked to draw an image across four sketch cards. I’ve done puzzle sketch cards before, but never specifically asked to do one for a set! Since I was feeling inspired by the Mandalorian, I chose this iconic scene where Mando first meets the Child. This was painted in acrylic and as far as I know, it has yet to be found in the packs!
All but one of my artist proofs from this project have already sold (Ahsoka & Bo Katan shown here). The remaining AP sketch card is $150US including shipping, but if you’re looking for a particular character or scene from Star Wars I do have blank AP sketch cards from other sets I can use for commissions. I can also create a larger illustration of your favourite character! Please use the form below to contact me about purchasing this AP or to ask about a commission:
A few more sketch cards I painted
Make sure to follow me on Twitter or Instagram to see the rest of the sketch cards I did for this set! Comment here or on one of my posts to let me know which is your favourite and what you’d like to see me draw next!
Back in 2019 I contributed artwork to the Bettie Page trading card set. This set was produced by Dynamite Entertainment, which is best known as a comic book publisher. Some of their comics you may have read are Vampirella and Red Sonja, both of which had trading card sets I also worked on!
Bettie Page was one of the most famous and original pinup girls, rising to fame in the 1950s era. A cultural icon who has continued to garner fans and produce new works about her. The NYT obituary said this about her:
In her trademark raven bangs, spike heels and killer curves, Ms. Page was the most famous pinup girl of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million locker doors and garage walls. She was also a major influence in the fashion industry and a target of Senator Estes Kefauver’s anti-pornography investigators.
For artists like myself her ‘girl next door’ type face is very fun to draw. She has equal parts warmth and fierceness though, making her extremely dynamic. I hope that a little bit of that was conveyed in my tiny little drawings!
I contributed 50 different drawings to this project, which is quite a bit more than I usually do! Most of the drawings are of close up portraits, showing just her face. There are a few full or bust drawings of Bettie that I drew, but I decided to not draw backgrounds to save time (I’m not as fast as some artists so I’d rather spend my limited time drawing the figure or portrait).
For art materials, I used a pentel pocket brush pen, a felt pen, copic markers, and pencil crayons for creating these drawings. The pentel pocket brush pens are great for creating lines of varying widths, especially super fine lines that look great for inking hair. These pens also have replaceable tubes of ink, so they’re fairly inexpensive.
For a few of the cards, like the one below, I drew only the face and had the hair become a negative image. Just recently these types of drawings have become super popular as comic covers. I’m thinking I should do some more artwork like this since people are getting really into it. Plus, these were a few of my favourite drawings!
Commission your own
I have quite a few blank sketch cards from this project I can use for commissions. They are $95 each and that includes shipping within North America. If you’re interested, use the form below and I can have one (or more) done for you within the next month or two!
In 2020 I contributed artwork to the Topps MLB Museum Collection, Flagship series 1 and series 2, and Gallery. I’ve previously posted about all of those projects except for 2020 Update, which I’m doing so now! This was also the third year of me working on Topps MLB products and sometime soon I’ll be posting about my contributions to their 2021 products!
Pack inserted original artwork
I used a mix of inked, comicbook style drawings and mixed media portraits. Most of the comicbook style ones are action shots and I gave them either action style lines radiating from the borders to the player or Kirby dots. For the portraits, I cut off the body from the shoulders down and used acrylic paint to give it a bold colour. I also gave the portraits a white halo to make them pop a bit more from the background.
One of the other, more simpler things I did on this project was to colour the border icons. It’s not the most imaginative thing I could’ve done but I liked the idea of giving the border design that was printed on the cards a little bit of colour. The colours I chose were also one of the player’s team colours.
Contact me about commissions
I have blank artist proof sketch cards from this and other official baseball trading card projects I’ve worked on. To find out more about sketch cards please see my earlier post and use the form below to contact me about a commission! Prices start at $125US.
Topps MLB Museum Collection is easily my favourite of all baseball trading card sets to work on. I’ve previously worked on the 2018 to 2020 sets and the 2021 set but that won’t be released until June. What makes this set great to work on every year is that the paper quality is the best of any project. The cards are thick and the paper has good tooth for drawing on. The thickness of the cards allows for different mediums like water based acrylics, water colours, and gouache to be used, but also dry mediums like markers. The design of the cards is always nice and the subject matter is broader than other baseball sets as I am allowed to draw both active and retired stars of the game.
Another great aspect of working on Museum Collection is that sometimes my artwork will be chosen to be reprinted as part of the Canvas Collection. I’ve had my work reprinted in the 2018 and 2019 sets, and again for the 2020 set. For the 2020 set I had two of my paintings reprinted: Albert Pujols and Ryne Sandberg.
Above are the two Canvas Collection cards that feature my artwork. On the backside of the card my name is printed at the bottom. Topps provided me with 25 copies of each of these cards and I have numbered the backs along with writing “artist copy” on them. To add one of these to you collection, please contact me via the form at the bottom of the post.
Pack inserted artwork
I tend to do quite a few sketch cards for Museum Collection every year. For the 2020 set I originally created 50 sketch cards and then was asked to create additional cards. All of the sketch cards were in colour, and most were painted in gouache.
In addition to the standard rectangular, 2.5×3.5″ dimension sketch card, I also worked on shaped sketch cards. These were much more limited in number and besides the difference in shape, were the same as the regular sketch cards.
Below are a few of my artist proofs from this set. I also have a few blank AP sketch cards I can use for commission.
RRParks cards has produced a multitude of different trading card sets, from the niche and strange to the far more mainstream that the average collector is familiar with. That range of subject material is one of the reasons why as an artist it’s so much fun to work on their projects!
Previously, I’ve worked on Old Man Like Ron, Zorro, Sharknado, and more! Each of these projects involved me making ten sketch cards that were randomly inserted into the packs.
Who is ultraman?
Ultraman is a Japanese character that first appeared on TV in 1966. He is an alien who fought alongside his human host, Shin Hayata. The original series ran for one year, with 39 episodes airing. It is this original series that I focused on for my sketch cards.
Ultraman has continued on with numerous subsequent TV shows, movies, toys, and comics. Just last year Marvel comics published their first Ultraman mini-series! Even though the show is over 50 years old, it has remained just as popular as the day it first aired and has become a pop culture hero across the world!
If you’re unfamiliar with Ultraman, check out the first episode of the original series below!
Ultraman Sketch Cards
I created ten original sketch cards for the Ultraman set. Some of these were inked in the style of a comic book and others were coloured more softly, giving them a more realistic appearance.
The below three were done a little bit different than the above six. These three had painted backgrounds that are reminiscent of the graphics used in the opening credits to the TV show. The far right image of Ide has also been reproduced for one of the promo cards! This card will be given out through the Kickstarter campaign, at comic-cons, and I’ll have some copies to give away /sell at a later date!
Buy Ultraman trading cards
Now that you’ve seen some of the artwork I created for this series, go visit the RRPArks Kickstarter Campaign to score a box of these cards! There are tons of awesome perks in the campaign and actors from the original series have signed some of the cards!
Last month I posted a conversation I had with trading card collector Chris Mixer and today I am posting one with fellow trading card artist, Jim Dickson. Both Jim and myself hail from Canada and met on social media channels through our mutual line of work. We’ve both actively shared one another’s work on Twitter and Instagram, but I wanted to take it a step further by doing up a blog post on my website about his fantastic artwork, what he enjoys about the sketch card medium, and how being a Canadian influences his artwork.
A Conversation with a Canadian Trading Card Artist
How would you describe yourself and your artwork?
I’m an easy going eastern Canadian who says “sorry”, “thank-you” and “please”. For my artwork, I do my best work (realistic) when I have a reference to work from because I mainly do “fanart”.
How long have you been creating art? As in, constantly creating artwork where every week or month you would draw something? Or, perhaps, are you not that type of artist and instead draw only when asked to do so?
I have been creating art my whole life but creating consistently, and frequently, since 2016 when I started drawing on McDonalds napkins on my lunch break at work.
What was the first and most recent sketch card set you’ve worked on? Do you notice any differences in the projects and the artwork that you create for these projects?
First set was either Walking Dead – Road to Alexandria or Star Wars – a New Hope: Black and White, but I started official sets in 2017. Currently I am working on Topps Star Wars – Chrome Galaxy, Topps Baseball 2021 Series 2, Upper-Deck 2020 Marvel Premiere and a couple more on the way. Differences are really just based on cardstock quality and the ease of reference.
What mediums do you prefer to use in your art? Any medium or styles that you are currently experimenting with or want to work on?
I primarily use alcohol markers and colour pencil. What I’d like to use is my airbrush, which is here at my desk and is never used. lol.
Where do you see your art going in the future? A particular trading card license or set you would like to work on, or is there something different you want to work on like a comic book or perhaps a gallery showing?
As far as the future is concerned I’d like to develop my skills and find myself doing official work on licensed prints/posters or even comic book covers. I’m enjoying the baseball, Star Wars and Marvel licenses, to be honest.
Is there anything you would like to see changed in trading card art? Perhaps different types of projects or materials provided to artists?
There isn’t much I would change… maybe use a base pay/card a tad higher than the current average between companies. Plus, maybe a more consistent stock quality. As a collector myself, I’d also like to see cheaper retail prices… hey a guy can dream. 🙂
When you create your artwork, is there something or someone that inspires you?
I listen to music while creating art or the Sorting Tray podcast, Star Wars Card Collectors FB group plug intended. Artists who inspire me would be my fellow Topps artists and the usual suspects like Drew Struzan, Boris Valejo, Frank Frazetta and the great comic artists like Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Travis Charest and Marc Silvestri.
when I’m drawing I always have something playing in the background. It might be a tv show I’m binging, a movie, music, or a podcast. What do you have going on in the background when your drawing? Any recommendations for background noise?
I build my own playlists on Spotify. I’m a blues/rock guy and lately been listening to “super groups” like The Dead Daisies, Black Country Communion and Chickenfoot. Above all, my usual “go to’s” are The Black Keys or Alice in Chains.
Do you feel that there is something in your artwork that makes it uniquely Canadian? Could you describe, even if you don’t see it in your own artwork, something unique about Canadian art?
I can’t honestly think of anything about my work that would suggest it was done by a Canadian. I mean my art is pulled from pop culture references, but in general I guess we have a large cultural pool to draw from. Indigenous art being a main influence I suppose.
How can people reach you for projects or to follow you to see new artwork you are creating?
People can follow me on Instagram at /lunchdoodlejames or on Facebook at /lunchdoodlejamesart
Bonus question: What’s a question you want to ask the person reading this?
Hello reader!! I’d like to know about what YOU like about sketch cards? How many do you have? 🙂
Contact & Follow Jim Dickson for more of his artwork!