Gunsmoke Control Panel Sticker Artwork

Gunsmoke isn’t a game that would have normally hit my radar, but over the past six months I had two different people inquiring about reproducing the sticker artwork for this Capcom game. A couple of weeks ago I finalized a deal with one of the interested parties and got to work on the artwork. Now it’s finished and the intention is for Brian Jones to print up some copies. Here is the artwork.

Gunsmoke artwork style is interesting…

I can’t say I have seen anything quite like this piece of artwork. The cowboys on the Gunsmoke instructions sticker in particular are interesting. The line work feels more rough than finished, and it felt like the original artist didn’t truly have a good sense of accurate, or for that matter, exaggerated lighting on the human face / body. This piece is marked by thick shadows and bold lines and doesn’t look anything like a clean crisp piece of Atari artwork and that is probably what makes it so distinctive.

Gunsmoke Control Panel Artwork

You’ll notice when you look at this file that, first, you won’t really be able to tell that it was vectorized. At this size all of the details kind of get muddled. The other thing, I did not color match the final output, so the colors are approximate and converted from a CMYK color space to RGB for export to a .jpg. That basically means that the reds and yellows are more intense than they will actually be.

The Gunsmoke artwork has a fair amount of detail

I estimated time on this piece and was way off for development time. I figured for sure that I would be able to trace the guns and bullets fairly quickly, in way under an hour. It was the sign and the two cowboy characters on this Gun smoke artwork that I was unsure of. I knew with some of the small details that come with vectorizing a piece like this that I would come in somewhere around 3 hours, but in fact the whole piece took just under 5 hours of work to complete!

I don’t know if that is slow or not compared to other Illustrator junkies, I really don’t care. I will redraw lines if I am unhappy with them at the micro level, and will go back and adjust the curve handles to make the lines flow better, picking at the piece until it is a nice balance between saving the collector money and time and giving them an accurate reproduction.

There were a couple of decisions I made when I worked on this piece that should be made note of. They may change before printing, that will be up to the other guys. Whenever I work on a piece of artwork I ask myself these two questions;

  • What was the intention of the artist for output on this piece?
  • Will changes made affect the composition / iconic feel for a piece of arcade artwork?
Rampant Mis-registration

For Gunsmoke there was some major misregistration on the original print in the lower left corner. Some artists will use surrounding colors on an object as highlights that follow the contours of the shape. This is a pretty common technique. Take a look at this detail shot.

Gunsmoke Face Color Registration Detail

If you see, the white on the hat pretty much follow the contour of the lip and the top of the bill. However the ‘tell’ here is look at the highlight on the bill on the left. You can see where the red goes vertical where it should have been registered as the side of the hat. At this point I knew that the red should have been solid throughout the hat and that is the choice I made.

There were no other accent highlights throughout the rest of the piece to use as a base rule, this helped my decision as well. The ‘intent’ was for it to be registered correctly. Nothing is permanent, this is an easy adjustment in Illustrator, a couple nudges and you can make it look closer to the original.

The second interesting note was again, concerning registration, and this decision was harder to make. If you take a look at just about every piece of the artwork you can see a very faint white highlight. Just take a look at the Gunsmoke bullets that would be located below the joystick.

Gunsmoke White Registration Detail

There is a white highlight, but it isn’t consistent in light source, thickness or direction. My thought was that they may have originally screen printed this but not added a bleed to the yellow to account for a misregistration of the black. I don’t think you’d barely even be able to see this white in person, at 300 DPI you can see everything even some things the eye cannot.

However, if I outlined the artwork in white, and not consistent throughout the piece you would see the white on a digital print as best I can tell, and I think it would look funny. Plus, again, I don’t think this was the original intention of Capcom or whoever actually made this Gunsmoke artwork. So I left the white highlights out. This again is a simple enough addition before printing if desired.

The final piece that I made a modification to was the original Gunsmoke instruction text and checkered panel. See this detail?

Gunsmoke Information Crooked

Hopefully you can see that this text and board are crooked. I thought, well, maybe by having the board off kitler it adds a little interest, a little bit of dynamic. But the text and the board were the same degree of turn. Hmmm, this one is tougher. This is not a mis-registration thing, this is an artist thing that may or may not have done this correctly.

If it was just the board I would have left it. But I have to believe that the artist did not mean for the text to be crooked, not at all. So I made the lines on the instructions and the bullets board horizontal and level. Here is a small screen of that, you will notice that the bullets are generally the same and repeated.

Gunsmoke Information Straight

I am sure you may not agree

That is the beauty of being the artist, and I believe my job to make some of these decisions, especially in the case of the white where you wouldn’t even see it on the print and the text, at the size of print you probably wouldn’t be able to tell crookedness or not.

I know when Rich Lint started to print the Agent X artwork, he noticed that some of the colors were not printed right. Rich Ford came to the Klov forums and asked everyone what they thought.

I think his situation is similar to this. What do you do? Keep the art absolutely completely original, or make it the best possible when the original arcade manufacturer didn’t intend for that mistake. I always lean towards the latter, and you will always have people on both sides of the fence.

Voice your opinion

So, what I am asking is for the guy who is going to have this printed, put in your vote. Do you think these decisions were right? Or do you think they should be changed? I know there are Gunsmoke fans out there that would like a set of these printed themselves.

Leave a comment here. You can discuss it in the forums but that adds no value to anyone who finds this post in Google and wants to know what everyone thinks because everyone knows that these posts come up in the results before Klov and BYOAC.

Here are some similar arcade posts

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I provided the artwork, however the scan credit goes to nocashvalue on klov forums, I have since aquired my own NOS set(s) of the control panel stickers and would also like to see the side art reproduced as well. Also it would be cool for someone to reproduce the generic overlay Romstar for the control panels this game was mainly brown romstar overlays, but i have seen grey… just like the blue one used for arkanoid along with many romstar games. I think that quality is good, but always strive for accuracy

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This wasn’t the same file for Gunsmoke that you emailed me. It may have been the same scan from nocashvalue, but I got the scan at 300DPI used for this go around from the collector who contracted.

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Thanks for the post. I’ve struggled with these same kind of mis-registration issues in artwork that I’ve vectorized. Good to see that others struggle with it too. I would have made the same decisions you made on this one.

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They are some tough decisions. However, for what you are doing – vectorizing all of the arcade bezels ever made for the Mame project, I would think the decisions would be a little different, venture *duck* easier because the intended audience is different. I would think the people playing Mame wouldn’t be as picky as long as they had high quality artwork. They aren’t paying for the bezel art….or contracting to have it reproduced. But either way, they are tough decisions when it comes to how to remain faithful in intention to the original piece of artwork.

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Plus a computer monitor, TV or arcade monitor, even a 1080p HDTV is a little more forgiving then paper/vinyl prints. Regardless, glad to know others have made the same decision when faced with similar vectorizing issues.

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What piece of bezel artwork are you currently working on vectorizing? I haven’t been out to the Mame artwork forums in a little while…

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@ Jeff

Centipede bezel. You can find the WIP here: http://tiny.cc/IBcxh

The frame/text is all my work. The insects are left over from a file floating around on the web/localarcade. I’m in the process of re-doing those. Lots of little detail that makes my eyes and wrist hurt!

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Thanks for the great post. It really gives us something meaty to chew on.

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@Hot Boys:

Appreciate the comment.

Seems like I have been working on a lot of reproduction control panel artwork lately. Hope to have an article up soon on another piece of artwork I just finished and talking about some of those unique decisions when vectorizing, as well as a post on how to correctly measure a full control panel even with the curves and bends of the artwork.

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So much detail on that Centipede bezel artwork…

You guys don’t do separations on that artwork as well do you? What about physical dimensions? Do you have notes on sizing for those pieces even if not included in the Mame downloads…

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Is this still available?

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Matt ยป Get with Preston at NoCashValue.info and see if he printed up any extras!

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