Michigan State will be wearing Nike Pro Combat uniforms for their game against Michigan this weekend. I actually think the uniforms look great and I'm probably not as offended as I should be about Nike's use of military words and pictures to market to teenage athletes.
Most Nike Pro Combat uniforms pay homage to great teams from the past, echo traditional uniform elements or employ locale-specific themes; I like to think that a total lack of options required Michigan State to go all the way back through their history to ancient Sparta for design elements worth repeating.
I laughed when I read the original press release in September as I imagined how the uniform would look if they really wanted to dress up their football team like Spartans. Nike could use dye sublimation to print 300-esque physiques on the jersey and pants and add blood spatter numbers and branding to reinforce the whole "Prepare for Combat" message. Nike isn't afraid of introducing new technology in their uniforms, so why not a partnership with Vibram to combine the natural feel of FiveFingers with the traction of Vapor cleats?
Here's what Nike's official press release would say about my version of Michigan State's Spartan throwback uniform:
Like the ferocious Spartan warriors of ancient Greece, the Michigan State University football team views every game as a battle of attrition, requiring the right equipment, body oil and attitude to die to the last man. Accordingly, the Spartans have been chosen to wear the innovative Nike Pro Combat system of dress-up for the 2011 season. When the gates lift for their battle against archrival Michigan on Oct. 15, the Spartans will sport a design with dye-sublimated physiques printed from full body scans to perfectly match each player's skin and muscle tone. Bronze helmets honor the heroic armor of their historic namesake and an intimidating detachable plume will be worn during pregame warmups. Realistic skin effects are visible throughout the uniform, adding the authentic skimpy durability synonymous with the Spartan name.
The uniform's overall innovation starts with the skin tight baselayer, as strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones help minimize chafing and optimize protective coverage. It features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate textured and painted to look like genuine leather. This symbolically mirrors that of the Spartan body armor, which consisted of leather briefs and sash with a small amount of padding on the shield arm shoulder.
An exclusive partnership with Vibram brings natural running technology to the gridiron for the very first time. Like their ancient counterparts, these Spartans will battle barefoot, or as close to it as NCAA rules allow. For the first time, football players are able to experience the sensation and freedom of barefoot running with the protection and sure-footed grip of Nike's new Talon cleat technology.
Echoing the cry of King Leonidas, the back of the collar is inscribed with the words "Molon Labe," the Spartans' defiant challenge to the competition (and to fans clamoring for officially licensed gear) to "come and get them!" Flayed, blood-spattered numbers and branding compete the traditional Spartan post-combat look. Armed with intensity and determination, and realistic leather accessories, MSU will fight on the battlefield until the last team is standing.
The images below are a previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I needed a solid white uniform to pull this off and was lucky to find a decent image from a previous version of LSU's Pro Combat uniform. As you can see in the video, I painted over the existing numbers and logos and then superimposed the muscles and other effects. If you're up for several minutes of uncomfortable closeups with bare-chested warriors being manipulated digitally then this making-of video is for you.
I was pretty certain Blue Indy would, once again, have his act together before me. He has his weekly wallpaper up for the Northwestern game and you can see it just a couple diaries below (or click here.) I was thinking he would do something cool with a cat-like theme and I was leaning towards a different direction so it should provide some good variety.
Northwestern is the only private institution in the B1G and well known as a top level research university. Their many areas of research include Astrophysics, Solar Energy, Nanotechnology, and they have done a lot of work with epilepsy and neuropathic pain.
What many do not know is that there is a secret laboratory on campus that is solely designed to study the element known as, Dilithium. They desire to harness this element in hopes to use it in making their football program better. The process is inspired by the poster hanging on the wall and gives them hope that this can be accomplished.
I created two different looks because I just was not sure if I wanted a darker or lighter pallete.
The darker one first:
And now the lighter version which I think I like best:
ONE MORE WEEK till monuMental shows his greatness in a rivalry wallpaper vs MSU.
So I usually do not post a wallpaper until the end of the week. I try to get the time to work on it after the work that feeds the family is done. Last week I had a few people state that they really wish I had the wallpaper done at the beginning of the week so it could be enjoyed leading up to the game.
Blue Indy quickly agreed to get his work out a little quicker and was bumped in points so he could create content. Just check a couple diaries (here) below this and you can see his work for this week, and the past weeks. He has done some great work for all of the non-rivalry games.
I felt a little pressure to produce something and after taking in the Cowboys/Redskins game (my first ever NFL game) I was struggling to get some sleep. I thought it was a great opportunity to be productive and get something done.
My original idea was to take a good looking gopher and give it a Michigan branding. I was struggling to get a truly good "burn" look into the fur without it just being poorly done. The more I thought about it I figured Michigan does not really need to brand Minnesota and then there came a better idea. It's Minnesota and really deep down in their hearts they want to be a Michigan. I think every Golden Gopher fan, when no one is looking, really shows their secretive desire to be a wolverine... so much that they have the tattoo to prove it.
The picture is far from perfect but at least it is done earlier in the week.
Here goes attempt number three of the season (I did not make a wallpaper for week one because BlueIndy already had it covered here.) I did a couple looks last week and ended up with the bald eagle sitting in a large jail cell looking all dejected. I struggled with taking the nations great bird and portraying him in a negative way.
As I approached this week's wallpaper I had another internal struggle. I had a hard time finding a tasteful way to place the Aztec within the grand scheme of Michigan destroying another mascot/school on the way to a B1G title and top ten finish of the season. Maybe it is the pastor in me that hates to offend. So I gave it a couple days to see if anything less offensive resonated with the creative juices.
I ended up thinking less along the lines of the mascot and more along the lines of this being Brady's last place of residents and how they must have felt about losing their coach. I thought about something along the lines of Coach walking along the intersate heading towards Ann Arbor. I considered him pointing instead of hitch hiking. I ended up with a simple concept of what they must feel like when a coach that they have loved (after all we have quickly grown to love him) just vanished and left town. As I said, it is simple but I am not a photoshop guy with a ton of time. I tried very hard to get a head set in the picture that was just tossed on the ground but I could not get the right depth and lighting/shadowing. This is all I have to offer.
After finally making it back to Arlington,Tx from that epic game at the Big House, I realized it was time to move on to the next week's game (even though my heart and mind continue to relive that wonderful night.) I wasn't planning on doing more wallpaper as I hate mediocrity and feel like the feeble attempts I make are just not worth it. Of course this week I doubt monuMental will sweep in and save us like he did for UTL since he has much more important things to do than worry about Eastern Michigan.
My 11 year, the homer that he is, swears that his daddy's wallpaper was better anyways (I do not see eye to eye with him on this) and wants me to pick up where monuMental left off until the game against MSU. I thought of a couple things to do for the week's look before I got frustrated with the attempts and decided to just pass on it. Then the 5 year old comes along. That's the one with those deep blue eyes and dimples that have already landed him a new car and credit card at such an early age. He looks at me and says, "dad Michigan did not give up when they were losing to the flower team (that's four leaf clovers to normal people.) How could I resist?
So the process looked something like the following. I thought about using an oversized birdcage to put Eastern's mascot, Swoop, in. I couldn't create the right look in the limited time so I moved on to more of a cell-block look. This would give the idea of a jail bird or just an oversized bird cage. This is kind of where that ended up at...
It just didn't really seem to have the pop I wanted and seemed cheesy. This is about the time my 5 year old convinced me not to give up but try something else.
I then thought more about a real eagle since I didn't have a great shot of Swoop and didn't have enough time to re-create him. Of course Swoop is a bald eagle which is probably one of my favorite animals. When I started to consider placing such a great bird in a cell or cage it caused some inner tension. Blast those people in Ypsilanti for having such a fine species as their rallying point in sports. Against the inner turmoil, I went ahead and considered some options. I took the bald eagle and placed him in a cell. Some writing on the wall and the right lighting allowed me to find a concept I liked. Now it is extremely raw and not the shadowing I really wanted. When I really step back and take a look it seems like I threw it together. Oh wait, I did.
I may try to tweak it some more but since the weekend is just around the corner I thought I would throw up the concept on this fine MGoBoard and take the beating and criticism like a man. Hope I don't embarrass the photoshop family too much. Even if I do, at least I have an 11 and 5 year old that goes to school and says "my dad can photoshop better than your dad." Yeah they get beat up a lot.
I'm a big fan of monuMental's work and really enjoyed his last wallpaper. In the event that we won, I asked his permission to alter it a bit and quickly came up with
this image these images tonight (including one eliminating the text in the center):
I don't have a great way to share the full resolution image yet, but if someone is very interested in having it then let me know and I will figure it out. Here's a photobucket link to the album - The images should be 1920 x 1200 resolution, but alas they were downsized by the Man. So here's a Skydrive link, that works better.
In case the above link bites, here is the text version and the no text version in 1600 x 1000 resolution. If all else fails, please leave a note here with a real or fake email for me to send you the full resolution image until I figure out something better.
As you can see
it is these are still a bit rough around the edges. I encourage you to look closely at the stitching monuMental did around the block "M" in the original!
Cheers and thanks to monuMental!
<< EDITED: added no text version and links - please let me know if they don't work >>
<< EDITED 2: New links for better resolution images >>