Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 Deluxe Duos

I've had all the base cards posted for each of the 4 Spirit releases but I was still lacking an insert design for the Deluxe set. I decided to resurrect the Deluxe Duos autograph cards after their absence in 2014. Turns out that when you design 900 individual cards in a summer, it cuts into your ability to create inserts for other releases.

Like previous Deluxe Duos designs, this one features a pair of teammates sharing the same card while featuring autographs of both players. This is the first time the orientation has been vertical. I left more room for player images than usual since sometimes they get squeezed into a corner with maybe just their faces peeking out. Since these would be "on-card" autographs, it's up to the players themselves to decide how much of their signature should overlap their pictures. Design elements from the Deluxe base cards are present, with the team color fades and the same fonts for player name, team and position.

Some nice portraits anchor the design on the back with the team logo making an appearance. I like the simplicity of the back here. Ditch the senseless writeup and stick with some nice photos and lots of empty space. It makes things a little more elegant, befitting a release called "Deluxe."

Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 Clubhouse All Out

After the clean and tidy Incumbents design, I decided to go 180° with this All Out insert. The checklist here features players that go "all out" on the field, whether with the glove on the basepaths. You could fairly call this the Clubhouse version of Topps' Opening Day Play Hard insert. Personally, I think "All Out" is a much better name. And design-wise, I think I have them beat as well.

After cutting out these great action photos, I added a little glowing fuzz to them so they'd look a little "otherworldly" or so. The background is kind of a grungy gray stone thing to help the team color splash/explosion things stand out a bit more. It was a lot fun adding all the color. The names are in gold foil to help differentiate them from the "All Out" logo.

The motif is applied to the back of the card minus the color splashes. They had to be sacrificed so you could read all the jibberish nice and easily. I also made space for the team logo in the bottom right corner.

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Pennant Incumbents

I felt like it was time to resurrect this insert after I failed to make any for the 2014 Pennant set. There's been a lot of turnover in the MLB rosters since 2013 so it won't be quite a complete rehash. Here's a look at the 2015 checklist versus 2013's:

ARI - Daniel Hudson (Miguel Montero)
ATL - Freddie Freeman (Tim Hudson)
BAL - Adam Jones (Nick Markakis)
BOS - David Ortiz
CHC - Starlin Castro (Alfonso Soriano)
CHW - John Danks (Paul Konerko)
CIN - Brandon Phillips
CLE - Michael Brantley (Asdrubal Cabrera)
COL - Troy Tulowitzki (Todd Helton)
DET - Justin Verlander
HOU - Jason Castro (Wesley Wright)
KCR - Alex Gordon
LAA - Jered Weaver
LAD - Andre Ethier
MIA - Giancarlo Stanton (Ricky Nolasco)
MIL - Ryan Braun
MIN - (Joe Mauer) Justin Morneau
NYM - David Wright
NYY - Alex Rodriguez (Derek Jeter)
OAK - Coco Crisp (Daric Barton)
PHI - Chase Utley (Jimmy Rollins)
PIT - Andrew McCutchen
SDP - Will Venable (Chase Headley)
SFG - Matt Cain
SEA - Felix Hernandez
STL - Yadier Molina
TBR - Evan Longoria (Ben Zobrist)
TEX - Elvis Andrus (Ian Kinsler)
TOR - Jose Bautista (Adam Lind)
WAS - Ryan Zimmerman

It's a lot stronger this time around with only maybe Daniel Hudson, John Danks and Will Venable as the real downers. 

Design-wise, it's very reminiscent of the inaugural version: posed player portrait cutouts, solid team-color backgrounds. This year, though, I've incorporated the 2015 Pennant base design a bit with the frame edge corners. I added pinstripes to the background for a little more interest as well as some starts to bring in a little of that "elected official" campaign look. Being a "retro" set, the colors are a little skewed and there's some grain added to the images.

The backs are pretty straight-forward. They're the standard black & white for Pennant cards with a little write-up and team logo. The cleaner, the better.

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Spirit Deluxe

The base set for the final Deluxe product of 2015 has arrived. We've done the flagship, the low-end and the retro releases. Here's a look a the "high-end" set, Deluxe.

I decided to go more with a simplistic design instead of the ornate, cluttered stuff that usually passes for "high-end." The cards are cut into 2 team-colored halves with a full-color player cutout jumping off from the background. Player names and team hat logos are in gold foil along the bottom along with a solid stripe making its way around the partial edge.

The back is split but not 50-50 like front, leaving a little room up top for a more intimate photo and space for the player write-up on top of a colorful background below. Also, being a high-end set, there are autographs to be had. There will be insert autos as well but I wanted to start out here with just the base parallel auto. The bottom color half fades to white a little more drastically to make room for the ink but that's the only design difference for the base autos.

More designs to come for the Deluxe set as well as the other Spirit releases.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 Spirit All-Rookie Team

Last year I decided to copy Topps and made my own all-rookie squad. So here I am pulling another page outta Topps' playbook and recycling the same idea again with just a new design. But really, though, I think it's a sound decision to have an insert devoted to the previous year's rookies. Keeping with the whole "team" format can prove to be difficult, though, as you'll see from the checklist below.

1B: Jose Abreu
2B: Kolten Wong
SS: Danny Santana
3B: Nick Castellanos
OF: Billy Hamilton
OF: George Springer
OF: Ender Inciarte
C: Travis d’Arnaud
LHP: Roenis Elias
RHP: Jacob deGrom
RP: Dellin Betances

M: Matt Williams

There a no-brainers like Abreu and Hamilton, but sometimes there just isn't a stand out in one particular position. OR you have the inverse with way too many guys competing for one spot. The left-handed and right-handed pitcher situation up there is a perfect example. Last year's best newcomers on the mound were almost all righties. That means a southpaw like Roenis Elias makes the checklist while guys like Masahiro Tanaka, Marcus Stroman and Matt Shoemaker don't. Maybe I'll rectify that next year. Anyway, let's look at the design.

We're going horizontal again. There seems to be more room for the action shots this year with a sliver of the background staying on the card instead of them being complete cutouts. There are big team logos again just a layer behind the players with a subtle stripe motif behind them. A big silver foil band stretches across the bottom with the 'ALL ROOKIE TEAM' "logo" revealing some of the stripes from below. Player names & positions are in black on the foil bar so hopefully they're readable in most light.

Oh yeah,  here's the autograph parallel version. Same design but with a white fade coming from beneath and the certification text below the bar.

The back mimics the front but with the bar moving to the top and turning white. The only issue with this choice would be finding photos with enough open space up top as to not have the 'ALL ROOKIE TEAM' thing overlap a guy's dome. I lucked out with Hamilton here.

Overall I think these fit in with the rest of the 2015 Spirit designs thus far. Colorful without being too ornate and utilizing negative space in some capacity. I'd like to say that's on purpose but it's probably just a happy accident.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 Spirit Team MVP

Time for the return of the Spirit Team MVP insert. This is the third iteration and just like the previous two, the basic design for these cards contain relic swatches.

The big 'MVP' letters runs across the bottom, cut out from a team-color bar to reveal the jersey swatch below. There are some gold foil embellishments with the player name and a frame around the edges. I managed to leave a lot more space for the player photos with this layout and having them stretch to the edges of the cards helps keep things from getting to claustrophobic. The team logos are also a bit more prominent than the previous design.

The backs are bright with team colors and white borders for each info compartment. I also included the relic codes where you could (hypothetically) enter the code online and see the actual jersey the featured swatch was pulled from.

Just for fun, lets look at the rest of the checklist:
MVP1: Mike Trout (Angels)
MVP2: Jose Altuve (Astros)
MVP3: Josh Reddick (A's)
MVP4: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)
MVP5: Freddie Freeman (Braves)
MVP6: Carlos Gomez (Brewers)
MVP7: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
MVP8: Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)
MVP9: Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
MVP10: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
MVP11: Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
MVP12: Corey Kluber (Indians)
MVP13: Felix Hernandex (Mariners)
MVP14: Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
MVP15: Matt Harvey (Mets)
MVP16: Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals)
MVP17: Chris Davis (Orioles)
MVP18: Andrew Cashner (Padres)
MVP19: Chase Utley (Phillies)
MVP20: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
MVP21: Adrian Beltre (Rangers)
MVP22: Evan Longoria (Rays)
MVP23: David Ortiz (Red Sox)
MVP24: Johnny Cueto (Reds)
MVP25: Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies)
MVP26: Eric Hosmer (Royals)
MVP27: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
MVP28: Joe Mauer (Twins)
MVP29: Chris Sale (White Sox)
MVP30: Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees)

Boy, the A's slot was brutally hard to fill. Same with the Twins, though Mauer just keeps it by default on account of him still being around.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Pennant

Time for the old-timey set. Again, the Pennant brand isn't modeled after a particular set from the past like some of Topps' retro sets have been. The designs basically just contain elements that are reminiscent of an older era. So here's the 2015 version.

The card stock here is of the dull variety, meaning the colors are a little muted and there's definitely not a glossy finish. I've also added a little faux texture to the borders to help make it a little bit aged. In each corner is a little team color shape mean to look like those old photo frame edges you may have seen in photo albums from the past. Inset from the margins is another team color box with the player photo busting out from the edges. Along the bottom is a black bar to house their name, position and team. For the places where their white pants overlap the box, I had to add a black drop box behind the white text to keep things readable. I usually hate to add any kind of stroke or background to the text but I think it kinda fits the rest of the design here so I guess you can call it a happy little accident.

I decided to add a parallel into the mix this year almost strictly because of the design. The sepia parallel here fits perfectly since there are so many different frames and layers to keep thing interesting even when monochromatic. And since the card stock is perfect for autos, I decided to show an autograph version of the Soler card. I just removed the overlap from the bottom of the card and added a white fade spot to keep the signature nice and clean.

The backs are kind of inversed from the front with the corner edges being white and the thick margins being black. A couple things of note here are the full player name and also full career stat box. For the guys fairly new to the majors, there's room for a brief write-up. Overall, I'm really happy with the design, especially the sepia parallels. If I were to ever test-out getting some of my cards printed, this would definitely be at the top of the list.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 Clubhouse All-Stars

Just in time to start the 2015 MLB season, let's take a look at the first 2015 Clubhouse insert, highlighting the players who made the 2014 All-Star teams. I've been doing this insert each year since I started the blog because it's always a great encapsulation of the standout players of the league. This year, it gives me a legitimate reason to feature a Derek Jeter since (so far) I've refrained from putting retired players into any Spirit product.

The cards are split by league once again with red to designate NL guys and blue for the AL. The bottom left corner as a foil star design which is a good anchor for the player name/position to the right along with the "2014 National/American League All-Star" text along the left edge. In the upper left corner is the respective league logo. The foil here is used strictly as a design embellishment and not as a crutch, with the names being an easy-to-read white on top of the color background. I've noticed I tend to lean towards centered, symmetric designs so I'm happy going asymmetrical here.

The back has room for a nice portrait-type image up top along with space for the team logo and a brief write-up. Since the all-star squads seem to be expanding each year, this insert set has a big checklist that would lend itself to being a "one-per-pack" insert which is perfect for a low-end product like Clubhouse.

Now that the season kicks into full-gear tonight and tomorrow, get ready for more designs coming with more regularity. Good luck to everybody's favorite teams and let's 'play ball'!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 Clubhouse

Time to check in with Spirit's "low-end" set, Clubhouse. This is traditionally a bright and colorful design and this year is no different.

I seem to be alternating between horizontal and vertical each year so I guess we're back upright following the 2014 design. The front of the card has solid team-color stripes along the top and bottom with team-colored baseball close-up in the center. The players are cut out and overlapping the stripe at the top which also is an anchor for the team logo. The last names are big and spaced out with the player first name running off-center above it.

On the back, the color stripes return to house the player name and vitals. There's a circle bleeding over from the edge for an additional player photo with the position following that curve below. Right in the middle is an even bigger team logo with a pretty full stat box below. Underneath that middle section is a screened-back version of the baseball from the front. For some of the younger players, there's plenty of room below the stats for a few lines of more information.

Unlike last year, I decided to keep these parallel-free so hopefully they'll be more inserts to fill out the packs. I already have the annual All-Star design done and ready to write once I get around to it, so it looks like I'm well ahead of last year's pace.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Spirit Award Winners

Well I guess baseball is officially back now that pitchers and catchers are starting to report to camp. I guess the Design On Deck equivalent to that is the unveiling of the Award Winners insert design. It's traditionally the first insert I tackle each season. Once again, it there are four segments: NL Gold Glove, AL Gold Glove, NL Silver Sluggers, AL Silver Sluggers. In the past they've been very shiny with an overwhelming amount of silver and gold foil. Last season they were a little more subdued and I followed that sensibility again this time around. Oh yeah, the both NL segments feature red while the AL ones use blue. Again.

The Gold Gloves feature a fielding shot cutout over a gold-ish background. The foil has been pared down to just borders around the design elements along with the player name and "Spirit Award Winners" text. The Silver Sluggers are the same only with silver instead and a batting shot, naturally. I thought the banner motif worked well for the subject matter and helped keep things clean but not too dull. I like that you can make out the background of the photos instead of just having the players cut out and removed from the context of a stadium. You'll probably be seeing more of that from the rest of this year's Spirit designs.

On the back, the banner design reappears but is paired with black and white instead of the shininess. The top half is reserved for a sizable photo plus team logo in the corner. Below, there's room for a brief write-up set on top of a watermarked league logo.

Four years in I think the 2016 version will have to change things up a bit. Perhaps I can add stuff like MVPs and Rookies of the Year?