I recently had the pleasure of designing the Heroes Convention 2013 t-shirt for my boss Shelton Drum. As we’ve done for the past few years we wanted to use a creator-owned character. Using The Rocketeer let us give back to a charity on Dave Stevens behalf and use a character who is beloved by both the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find staff and fans of the comics and the 1991 movie.
Once we settled on the Rocketeer we started looking at our guest list for someone who would be a perfect match with this neo-classic character. If you’ve seen the HeroesCon 2013 guest list, you know this was a hard choice! Thankfully when we asked Lee Weeks, he agreed to illustrate the shirt for us!
To get things going I sent Lee jpg showing some inspirational Rocketeer images including some other t-shirt designs featuring the character. I also let Lee know I’d like to use a limited palette of about 5 colors and included a thumbnail of what I was thinking. The thumbnail was included not only for color but to show that I’d like to have the character interacting with the Heroes logo in some way.
Lee sent back 4 sketches and the choice between 2 and 4 was a tough one. Ultimately we went with the last sketch with a change. Shelton thought the logo should be top and center on the chest of the t-shirt and I agreed. I sent Lee a color version of the sketch we going to use and shifted the Rocketeer below the logo and flipped his smoke trail. Lee sent us finished pencil art and links soon after we approoved that.
I got to work placing the logo into the illustration and using that limited palette to color the logo and Lee’s art. Sometimes I’ll use a zip-a-tone effect in my coloring work for fun but this is where a halftone screen serves a function! I used the red/brown color to shade the helmet without becoming muddy and let the shirt show through for shading on the figure and to make the white of the smoke trail look gray.
Once the final art was finished (the 1st image in this set) I sent it of to Carsten and Audrey at Contagious Graphics. They let me know if I screwed up or if anything looks like it won’t print correctly. After they take a look, if everything looks good it off to get printed. This year Dane Abernathy snapped a few photos for us during the screen printing process. I thought the shirts came out beautifully. I love seeing process stuff like this and I hope you aren’t bored to tears.
The shirts were a big hit at the show, maybe too much of a hit, we were sold out of most sizes by the end of the show Friday. The Dave Stevens Estate has given us permission to print more for anyone who missed out at the show or was unable to attend. A portion of each shirt sale will go to the Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation in the name of Dave Stevens. We’ve opened up pre-orders on the Heroes site so if you want one, let us know and we will get it printed for you!