Once I had created a few 1955 Topps-style All-American football cards some years back, I naturally began to wonder whether I had the chops to break out of that format and work in a different genre.
My first experiment was the creation of a 1952 Bowman-style card. I was only a year old when the 1952 Bowman cards were issued, but as a youngster I inherited shoebox hoards from older kids and traded with others in the neighborhood, and more than a few 1952 Bowman football made their way into my holdings. Those artwork cards have always appealed to me because of the set’s mix of college and NFL players, as well as the varied backgrounds behind the player art … some were representations of football fields and locker rooms, some were merely color abstractions.
In contemplating the checklist for my own football card creations, I knew that any college set of mine would need a Roger Staubach card. While photos of Staubach as a Navy quarterback are available, I’ve always had a special attraction to the artwork portrait that appeared on the cover of Time magazine’s Oct. 18, 1963, edition. (Coincidentally, an action color photo of Staubach was scheduled to appear on the cover of Life magazine’s Nov. 29, 1963, issue, but was pulled following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Only a few copies of the Staubach-cover issue are known … it would also make a good football card.)
After deciding to do my Staubach in the 1952 Bowman style, I scoured eBay and found a copy for about $15. My next decision was whether to do my card in the large or the small size in which Bowman made its football set in 1952. I chose the large (21/2-by-33/4-inch) size because not only did it offer a larger display for my creation, but as a kid I do not remember ever owning he 1952 Bowman cards in the smaller (21/8-by-31/8-inch) format.
I thought putting the Time portrait art on a card would be an easy job, but the proportions didn’t exactly translate between the two formats. To give myself enough room to display the name banner and the Navy logo without obscuring some of what I felt were the more important details of the portrait, I had to add a little bit to the length of the picture. I was still rather new to Photoshop Elements at the time, so I’m sure I made the job more complicated than necessary, but by judicious application of the graphic program’s pattern function, I was able to add a little bit of wrist, jersey and jersey number to the portrait and create what I think is a pleasing arrangement of the design elements.
For the background of my card (on the magazine cover Staubach appears against a light-blue sky), I used that which had appeared on the 1952 Bowman George Halas card.
Another difference I quickly discovered between making a 1955 Topps-style card and a 1952 Bowman-style is that the latter offered much more room for a biographical summary, so I was able to tell much more of Staubach’s story.
Over the years I’ve created a handful of other Bowman artwork-style football cards, including two different versions of a Brett Favre, which I’ll share here some day.
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One of the earlier creations in my second series of 1955 All-American style custom football cards was Ricky Williams. I created the card shortly after Ricky announced his retirement in August 2004.
His first retirement was related to a pending suspension for using marijuana, and I noted something to that effect in the biography I wrote for the back of my card.
Williams, of course, returned to the NFL for the 2005 season, then played 2006 in the Canadian league while he sat out an NFL drug-related suspension. He played one game in 2007 before being injured. He was a productive running back for the Dolphins the past two seasons.
In light of the fact that Williams has rehabilitated himself – at least to a degree of compliance with NFL standards – I have to give some thought to whether or not to rewrite the biography on the back of my card.
This comes up because I just sent off the last of my original Ricky Williams custom cards to a collector who is going to meet with Williams and wants to get it autographed. (I know of the existence of one other autographed example of the card.)
Since I need to replenish my inventory of this card, in fairness to Ricky, it would seem only right to expunge the last sentence from the original version when I go back to press. However, that smart-ass remark has made my Williams card one of the most popular among my custom creations. What do you think?
When I do reprint the card, I’m going to lighten up the player photo a bit, since my Photoshop technique has improved some since I created the initial version. The photo I used came from the back of a “real” Ricky Williams football card from one of the major manufacturers.
Back in 2004, I was working the SCD booth at the George Johnson autumn Sun-Times card show in Chicago when a youngster of 7-8 years of age stopped by the booth. He was wearing a replica Ricky Williams Dolphins jersey. I asked him if he was still a Ricky Williams fan. He said he was, so I gave him one of my cards. I told him he was the only other person in the world to have that card, and he seemed truly appreciative.
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