Superhero Magic Tokens
Project Completion Time : 5 Days | Completion Date: Oct 31st 2017

All Tokens

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I had literally just mailed out for my proof of the sci fi token project when I thought about this one. Earlier in the month I had posted this crummy drawing of three heroes along with a long analytical dump about how Moon Knight and Superior Spider Man were amazing comic runs. And instead of talking about the subject matter of the post, a bunch of people seemed to instead want to talk about the derpy little hero pictures. Someone even mentioned hero tokens. So when I finished my sci fi project and I began to think about what was next, this popped into my head. I wanted something I could get done for Fan Expo (a 2-3 week timeline), also coming off the tail of the sci-fi project meant I was desperately in need of a lighter project. This was all coupled with the fact that I had recently started getting really into American comics. My partner had started working part time at a comic book store and our apartment was quickly filling up with these things. I was surprised at how good some of it was, I had grown up primarily on manga, shunning the shallow and episodic style of American comics. But after reading a few I quickly realized that there was far more value in the tales they wove than I first suspected. Thus I decided on the superhero token project. The next big story is about the insane timline of this project. Fan Expo was on the 20th and it was October 23rd when I sent the proof for my sci-fi tokens out. Printing usually takes about a week, so I figured, I'd get the proof back by November 1st or 2nd, then I could check it over and a few days later send out for the full order and add the superhero tokens onto it. I wouldn't get a proof or anything because of the short timeline, but as long as I was very careful that wouldn't be a problem. I remembered the Pokemon pin project and thought 'I did like 150 Pokemon in like a month, I can probably do 30 heroes in a week'. So aroung Oct 25th I started working on it, kind of taking a chill approach. It was deadline time at work so the going was slow since I was putting in a lot of overtime. On the weekend of Oct 29th I was also going to a Magic Grand Prix. On the plane ride out, my partner asked me what dates exactly Fan Expo was on. I decided to actually check and to my horror I realized it was on the 10th. I entered panic mode, I could just scrap the project, and wait, but me being me decided that no, it was fine, I can still get this done. By this time I had about 12 heroes done, so I only needed to do about 20 more, roughly. Most of the work was in the line art, which I could do without a computer. So on the plane to and from GP Phoenix I put my head down and drew heroes. In the mornings before my shifts I drew heroes. While I was waiting in the airport I drew heroes. And when I got back I madly scanned and painted heroes. Cutting my sleep tragically short. But by some miracle I managed to have the entire project done and ready to send out on Oct 31st. I let my printer know about the rush, and let them know that if they couldn't make it happen, it was no big deal. But by some miracle, or divine grace, my tokens arrived safe and sound on November 7th, just 3 days before Fan Expo.


At first I pulled up a list of tokens and thought about heroes that would fit certain tokens like Wasp, Spawn, the Hydra Agent and Squirrel Girl. Then I thought about heroes that I really liked such as Doctor Strange, Moon Knight and Gwenpool and picked out tokens that would suit them. Then I took a look at popular heroes, like Superman and Wonder Woman (and basically anyone that I wasn't super into but knew people would be sad if they were missed) and thought about what kind of tokens they would fit into. Artistically, my approach was very similar to the Pokemon pin project, but with a more subtle overlay. The process was sketch, ink, clean up the lines in Adobe Illustrator, fill color and lightly shade. Because of the simpel nature of the sketches, and the speed that was required, there were many sketches that were completed and inked that were thrown out. And even some that got colored that weren't included because of quality control.

Line Art After Smoothing

Fill Coloring

Shading Added

Background Layer and Overlay Turned On

You may notice that the background color of each token is different, and a particularly savvy player might notice that the color doesn't correspond with the color of the token. Initially, I meant to have the background color reflect the color of the token (green spiders, white cats, blue wizards) but this led to some unfortunate combinations, like this yellow Catwoman, or this green Spider Gwen. I decided to instead use the background colors to enhance the artwork.

Spider Gwen on a Green Background

Catwoman on a Yellow Background

Because there is really so little to talk about with this project, I'm going to talk about some tricks I used to make this project as easy and quick as possible. A lot of it lies in my layer set up and template creation. As soon as I solidified the idea of what the tokens were going to look like I set up this template. As you can see the myriad of background layers are neatly labeled and ready to go, so I can just flick on the one I need. The symbol in the background is done with a layer mask so it's easy to swap out. Finally, the "banner" layer is actually just a block of color that lets me know where the name bar of the token will be. Because the art is so simple I didn't want to lose any feet under the name bar, I felt it would look strange, so I ensured to box myself in accordingly.

My layers panel

This project was insanely rushed and put me under an insane amount of stress. It also didn't help that when I came back to work we were still on deadline (I was under the assumption that deadline would be finished while I was gone) if I had known that there is no way I would've attempted what I did. I'm not sure if rushing it out of the gate was a great idea, I think the concept is really strong, but I wish I'd had some more time to play with the aesthetic. I've done this kind of cutesy chibi look in the past and it's nothing new for me. There was nothing really artistically challenging or unique I got to explore with this one. There are a few heroes on here that I think are a little low quality and could've used more time in the oven (Hulk, Human Torch and Wolverine for example) but I think having it in time for Fan Expo, and Christmas is a very relevant marketing strategy. This is my first token set, however so I'm also exploring relatively untouched ground in terms of reception and how many I will be able to sell. I feel this is more of a business and marketing excersise than an artistic one.

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