X-MEN! | Skillshare Projects

Zoe Phare

Graphic Communication student at USW




For a while now, I've had a side project idea to do something with the characters in X-Men and to play with their unique powers or names. So when I was looking through the class projects I realised that this would be the perfect way to do it.

                                                             MIND MAP  

I started with the mind map and broke down the styles and characters in X-men, focusing on things like their dual lives, such as Scott Summers/Cyclops and Jean Grey/Phoenix/Marvel Girl etc etc. There are so many characters in X-men that's it's hard to narrow them down, but I think I'll start with Xavier's school and go from there. Another issue with the X-men is that there are a lot of different bold colours going on with their costumes. So I will also have to decide whether I want to stick to characters that have the same colour pallette or just make it very comic book-y and do all the characters with their individual colours. I was also playing with the idea of background elements, such as the X-men logo, but then I thought that they would all have to have it, even though some characters in X-men aren't actually X-Men, but if I wanted to broaden the scope of this project to other comic books it might be good to use that element to differentiate what characters are to certain comic books. 

                                                CHARACTER BREAKDOWN

I decided to break down the characters that I wanted to illustrate further into colour sections to see if there were ways I could make all of them relate. The X-men costumes always have Blue, Yellow and Red (in the belt), so that's definitely a predominant colour scheme, but there are characters that have one of those colours with another different colour and maybe I could make them relate? I think I'll start with the X-Men and then work from there. I've circled the ones I want to start with. 

                                                      STYLE INSPIRATION 

Firstly, I've looked into the X-Men comics themselves, it'd be silly not to. The comics have extremely vivid colours with bold black outlines and lot's of facial and clothing detail. 

I've looked into different vector illustration style and vector icons too just to get an idea of what I want to achieve. MUTI are a main source of inspiration and I love the badges they did for Moonrise Kingdom and how they have the embroidery effect to make them look like scout badges. It would be cool if I could do that design as if they were on the costumes for each X-Men character. I really like the effect of the half shading on the ET and farm animal icons too, I had an idea that maybe I could do something with this where the face changes halfway to their super hero self. Could be something interesting to play on. I also like the slightly off center outline and colour on the 'sex icons' too. 


My first initial sketch is just very vague. I'm thinking about a split character and the difference between their 'human' appearance and their x-men/superhero character. Here I've drawn a very crude Bobby Drake/Ice-man idea. Along with Jean Grey and her Phoenix alter ego. I'm also thinking about background/container elements, like the X logo and the mutant M. Perhaps something that represents the character, like Magneto's helmet or Scarlet Witches head piece. I'm going to focus in on character specific elements. 

Here I've focused more on Wolverine and all the elements that define him. His iconic costume, split face with Logan/Wolverine, his claws, scratch marks, using the X logo. Overall I like the top left image but that's probably just because it's drawn the best out of them all, haha. I prefer the shading on the right wolverine. I'm not overly fond of the split face design here so I may just stick with the original plan of the whole character with half face shading. 

These are my sketches for Jean Grey, or possibly a split face with the Phoenix. I know the proportions aren't right but it's only quick sketches to experiment with how I would want them to look. I do like the split face but I think I would like to do two seperate icons for each character. So I think I'm going to do an icon for each character. I'd like to experiment with the Phoenix's crazy hair! The split face idea wouldn't work with characters that don't really have a costume that doesn't change; Beast, Kitty, Gambit, Xavier, Rogue. etc etc. 

I'm pretty happy with the layout and style for these icons so far. They are a little detailed at the moment because of the way I sketch portraits and some of them need a little bit of extra TLC, like Storm. However, the basic idea is there and once I get on the computer I can easily design the female face and change it up for other characters. It will be easier to flip and get it symmetrical too. I'm looking forward to the next step!


I started vectorising Wolverine as he seems the easiest to do. I started with the basics and then gradually added more detail to the face to add definition to Wolverine's angry face. I got a bit stuck with colour schemes more than anthing on this one, because I didn't want it to be too bright, so the other characters will fit in, but I didn't want it too dark because it wouldn't have that comic book pop. All in all, I'm happy with them so far.

When I started to develop Cyclops, I realised how flat the design was and I didn't really like the half face shading. The style didn't really lend itself to the facial features so after doing some development I found an overall style I liked, that also added some chin definition (another issue for Cyclops). 

I started work on Ice-man and experimented with colours but realised that I had to come up with a background to set him on if i was going to use white and light blue. So I messed around with background colours, I even did some X logo ideas but they looked awful and too dark and heavy, so I kept it minimal. The bottom three are my favourites so far. The "Xavier's school for gifted youngsters" could be changed to "The brotherhood of evil mutants" or even different comic books, "avengers" "justice league" so it's definitely keeping this as an open project. 

Here are the six final x-men characters. Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm and Iceman. I've removed the circles from them as I feel it didn't do the characters any justice. I kind of like them without anything around them. I think Storm and Jean are my favourites, it's nice working with the hair. I might add to it in the future, but for now it's finished. Let me know what you think!

Whilst I'm looking for a graduate job, I'm going to keep doing to do a character a day! I'll be uploading them all the Dribble! 



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