Currently on display at Gallery iam8bit in Los Angeles, California, I present to you the ‘Backlit Apocalyptic Mega Man NES’! This is a very unique collaborative art piece. I teamed up with artists Noel McEwen and Gary Bedell to bring this one to life.
Read on for more photos and information about the project!
Gary is a legendary illustrator who, among other companies and projects, has done work for Disney and Nickelodeon. He came up with a wonderful battle scene where Mega Man is protecting Roll while fighting an assortment of the Robot Masters. If you look closely, you can even see Protoman in the distance.
Noel is a phenomenal airbrush artist who paints motorcycles, cars, helmets, and sometimes video game systems. He did the paint job and created all the awesome artificial rust and battle damage on the system to help give it a very worn look.
Gary, Noel, and myself all grew up playing the NES, so we have a lot of nostalgia for the system and the specific games we played in our childhood. Of all those games, Mega Man really stood out as a series that made an impact on us, and so we thought it was only fitting to create a one-of-a-kind tribute to the Blue Bomber and all his adventures.
Gary and I went over several design concepts and decided that a more ‘realistic’ feel would be something new that people hopefully hadn’t seen done on an NES before. If you step back and think about it, the world of Mega Man is incredibly war torn, so we thought that doing an apocalyptic theme would feel very appropriate. As we sketched out the different ideas we had, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a fun collaboration!
Since we were trying to create a more ‘realistic’ look, we thought about different ways to make the case look and feel more like an actual metal robot (body) instead of just a plastic box. In my own humble opinion, it’s important to keep the original feel of the NES system itself while customizing it or you will loose the sense of familiarity and thus the feeling of nostalgia. So we wanted to make some modifications but still retain the overall look and feel of the classic NES. In the end, we decided that having some bolt heads sticking out would be a good addition, and having some small areas lit up with yellow LEDs could look similar to the yellow meter on Mega Man’s arm canon. Different, yet still familiar.
I usually go for a very ‘clean’ aesthetic with my projects, so it was exciting to take the complete opposite route this time. We played around with various paint color schemes to change the feel that the viewer would hopefully experience, but decided to have the colors represent Mega Man’s body in the classic two tone blue to really strike hard with nostalgia. The yellow and black stripe on the top is a small nod to the caution railing that’s in the background of Gutsman’s stage in Mega Man (1). I really like having that splash of the yellow/orange added in to give a little contrast, and hopefully it also makes the viewer think, again, of Mega Man’s classic yellow arm canon meter.
The wear and tear represents all the damage that he takes while fighting the Robot Masters. I did some experiments (on a broken NES) where I actually added physical damage to the case, but we realized that we might have issues with the paint adhering to those complex surface areas. So, Noel airbrushed all of the wear and tear by hand. The only damage that is real is to the bolt heads. I took a dremel tool and made cuts and patterns so that each bolt is unique.
The artwork that Gary created shows off his favorites: Gutsman, Cutman, Bubbleman, Quickman, Metalman, Skullman, Protoman, and Roll. We talked about just selecting one game in the series to base the battle scene around, but with so many awesome characters we decided to pay homage to the series in general and not have any limitations.
This is the first collaborative project that Gary and I have done, and only the second project that I’ve done with Noel. We wanted to come up with a way that we could combine our unique skills and bring something new to the retro gaming scene. This was an interesting challenge, but a lot fun. I hope you enjoy you this art piece, and stay tuned for more coming soon!
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All the best,