Sonic Stock Art Cataloguing

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Pengi, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. Pengi

    Pengi

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    I hope this doesn't overlap too much with the "Rare Art" thread. As far as I can tell, the Retro wiki doesn't have gallery pages for generic stock art, except for things like the 2009 (?) art assets DVD. This isn't a thread for rare art, or art associated with a specific game, or produced by a licensee for a particular product. This is for stock art produced by Sega for licensing and promotional purpose - the kind of stuff commonly seen on merchandise packaging or in magazine articles.

    A lot of this is (or rather, was) very common art, but isn't available online in high resolution, due to it being from the pre-digital era. A lot of the "old" stock art used by Sega today has actually been tweaked over the years. Most of the really early Sega of America stock art has been retired completely. In fact, some of Sega of America's stock art was redrawn/altered versions of Sega of Japan's art, particularly the Sonic 1 stuff. Identifying this era of stock art can be a little tricky at times, since Sega of America and Sega of Europe let a lot of licensees produce their own art, which often copied poses from the stock art they'd provided.

    I don't have regular access to a scanner, or the skill/know-how to clean up an image, but the idea here is to compile a list of stock art, try to identify the best source for the image and determine the years of origin/usage.

    Let's start with the 1991-1993 Sega of America/Sega of Europe stuff, since this sticker set makes an effective check list:

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    There are a few Japanese ones in there, but most of them appear to be Sega of America stock art - not redraws by the licensee, but the actual stock art. The licensee miscoloured the heck out of it, mind. The Sonic in the soccer kit gives me pause though - possibly original to Europe? If anyone has seen this elsewhere, it'd be great if you could post it!

    At first glance, the Badniks and animals might appear to be Japanese art from the manuals - but they've actually been redrawn by Sega of America. All the Badniks have "angry" eyes - Spikes even has goofy floating eyebrows. There are other changes too - Burrobot's nose is more drill like and Buzz Bomber's tail has a segmented 3D look to it. Caterkiller's body has 5 segments instead of 3, though this isn't actually a Sega of America change - they were working from outdated Ohshima art, which also explains how Splats made it in. (I don't think we've ever seen the unaltered Ohshima art for Splats.)

    The best source I've found for the SOA Badniks is the second Sonic the Hedgehog Yearbook, which left them in black and white. Unfortunately, Splats is absent.

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    The animals are a bit of a mix. Chirps appears to be the exact same, but if you look closely there are small differences in the linework, like where the tail meets the body. With Flicky, the tell is in the legs. Johnny Lightfoot, for some reason, was given a more extreme version of the same pose. Then you get to the actual design changes - Sally Acorn has a bow in her hair, Joe Sushi has irises and a more mustachey shaped mustache, Tux has a bowtie and his hairstyle has been reversed. Porker Lewis is an interesting one, he's been given trotters instead of hands and has a lock of hair on his forehead, but the pose is also completely different. Both Flicky and Pocky had alternate poses drawn by Ohshima, that never made it into the manual, so it's possible that Picky did too and that's what SOA were working from.

    These designs of Sonic's animal friends appeared all over children's books published in the UK, but they were usually redraws, rather than the SOA stock art. Has anyone seen them elsewhere? Or does anyone own this sticker set?

    The redrawn Dr. Robotnik art is more obvious. Though I'm curious as to when these first started showing up, since Sega of America had its own completely original Dr. Robotnik art around the time of Sonic 1.

    Anyway, here's the list so far. It's a work in progress that will become a big undertaking.

    SEGA OF AMERICA 1991-1993 era

    Sonic - finger pose (identical to JP art?)
    Sonic - sitting, drinking through a straw
    Sonic - spin attack
    Sonic - pushing
    Sonic - spring jumping
    Sonic - sneezing
    Sonic - wobbling
    Sonic - leaping
    Sonic - tapping foot
    Sonic - soccer kit and cap (European??)

    Robotnik - fleeing
    Robotnik - fists up

    Crabmeat
    Batbrain
    Burrobot
    Buzz Bomber
    Ball Hog
    Caterkiller
    Orbinaut
    Roller
    Splats
    Moto Bug
    Chopper
    Spikes

    Flicky
    Chirps
    Tux
    Johnny Lightfoot
    Porker Lewis
    Sally Acorn
    Joe Sushi
     
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  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    We want as much of it as possible on the wiki, it's just nightmareish to trawl through everything.


    I was just thinking the other day that to document art properly, every piece of artwork from every single manual will need cropping up and uploading. A current fascination of mine is the Japanese "Sega Magazine" because it has pages like these:

    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:Sega_Magazine_JP_Issue_03_199701.pdf&page=44

    They even tell you what hardware and software was used to render the image. The amount of content in these things is insane - if I only I could read Japanese!
     
  3. Pengi

    Pengi

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    Sonic the Comic is a great resource for old Sonic art, since they'd frequently use unaltered Sega art for their free gifts and editorial pages.

    Does anyone still have the free stickers from STC #1? A scan would be much appreciated! (Images taken from eBay.)

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    The Tails there is the same pose as an image by Duncan Gutteridge from the European 1993 Sonic calendar. That particular illustration already borrowed heavily from existing art, so was Gutteridge copying a stock pose, or did Sega Europe create a clip art version from Gutteridge's art? This raises the question of how much stock art was Sega Europe exclusive.

    Splats' SOA artwork can be seen on one of the Topps Sonic the Hedgehog trading cards from 1993. As can everyone's favourite Sonic 1 enemy, Spike Balls (for whatever reason, they coupled Roller up with Scrap Brain Zone).

    The entire set is a rather confusing affair. It comprised of both cards and stickers. It's unclear how much of the art, particularly the painted stuff, was commissioned by Topps. There are the obvious ones, like the Sonic 1 and 2 box and promo art, but many of the others I haven't seen anywhere else. The Zone cards have illustrations of Sonic/Tails/Eggman placed over Sonic 1 and 2 screenshots. Some are the same as those seen in the Spanish sticker sheet on the first post - finger pose, spring jumping, wobbling - but then there's a completely different spin attack, and some really shoddily drawn stuff, so I'm not sure what to make of it. Has anyone seen these strange ones anywhere else?

    Also, it seems that there's an alternate version of the foot tapping image on the Spanish sticker sheet. And an alternate version of that! The tattoos have that ugly textured look, so my guess is that the licensee redrew it - but it clearly used the pin badge version as reference. Like I said, figuring out which versions are "real" Sega art and which ones are licensee drawn can be difficult, as far as the early '90s western stuff goes.

    EDIT: Fixed a link.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
  4. Pengi

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    1994 was when Sega of America/Europe drew a line in the sand for their Sonic branding. It was the year of the Sonic the Hedgehog and His Pals Official Stylebook & Character Manual. (Video slideshow here.)

    I don't think this has ever been fully scanned. It came with a disc too, which would be even more useful. Fortunately, a few show up on the Sonic Screen Saver.

    This art was used on most NA/EU Sonic products from 1994-1998. It went away when the Sonic Adventure designs became the standard, but had a resurgence when Sonic started licensing "Classic Sonic" for merch (some of the Sonic art can be found on the 2009 art assets DVD).

    I don't know if the artist has been confirmed, but it it seems that Greg Martin may have been involved.

    Once again, much of the Sonic art is redrawn from Ohshima's. (See the last few pages here and the lineart in Sonic Jam for examples.)

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    These kinds of alterations can be seen throughout the guide, creating a uniform style for American Sonic circa 1994, but this time one that isn't too far off the Japanese Sonic. The key differences are: thicker arms/legs, smaller glove/shoe holes, thinner/longer pupils, more oval shaped nose, always a brow line over eye(s), chunkier and pointier shoes and no shoe buckles. Some time after the art assets DVD, Sega edited this art to include the shoe buckles, as seen in this Sonic Generations wallpaper. These updated versions are still used on merchandise to this day.

    For Tails and Dr. Robotnik, Sega took a different approach entirely, by adopting the designs from DIC's Sonic cartoons (specifically Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, in Robotnik's case).

    There are still some key differences though.

    [​IMG]

    Unlike his cartoon counterpart, this Tails has five digits on each hand. His colour scheme his more game accurate and his hair and ears are slightly rounded at the tips, no sharp points. I believe most of the poses in the stylebook are original, but let me know if you spot any that are borrowed.

    Robotnik has also been upgraded to five fingers. The famous "pointing" pose is borrowed from DIC, but as far as I can tell the rest are original. The expressions are less, well, expressive than the cartoon, particularly with the eyes rarely changing shape. A lot of dimwitted expressions too, giving the character a different energy to his TV counterpart. The Egg-O-Matic images look to be reused from existing American lineart (derived from Ohshima's) but with the new Robotnik pasted over.

    The stylebook mentions that there's also a section for "TV characters", available under separate licenses and only included as needed. I don't think any pages from the TV section have surfaced online. But that's probably why a lot of Sonic children's books of this era combined these versions of Sonic, Tails and Robotnik with Sally, Snively and company.

    At some point the book was updated to include Knuckles, as evidenced here. Since it features the Master Emerald, this was probably late 1994 or early 1995.

    This set of "Wackers!" (pogs), circa 1995, perhaps gives us a glimpse of art included in the expanded versions of the stylebook, with 7 pieces of Princess Sally art and 6 pieces of Knuckles art. And there's one of Sonic playing an electric guitar, poorly edited from the laughing pose with a clash of art styles - I think the team at Wackers! may have been responsible for that one. Unless anybody's seen it elsewhere?

    Incidentally, this set of pogs is a somewhat rare example of mixing the "new" Sonic art with the older stuff. The sports themed art is pretty rare - has anyone seen these images elsewhere?
     
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  5. ReBirFh

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. Prototype

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    This screenshot from a build of Knuckles Chaotix prior to the 1207 build, when it was still in it's Ringstar stage, contains what looks like internal stock art of Knuckles from the period.
    Ringstar.png

    As you'll see it lines up very similarly to this style guide on the Wiki. http://info.sonicretro.org/File:Classic_knuckles_orthographic.svg
    1199px-Classic_knuckles_orthographic.svg.png

    But even more similarly to this image from the Sonic Jam Art Archive. Eye alterations, but otherwise the same basic model. The big tell is the left side of Knuckles' muzzle which disappears behind a quill rather than being rounded off like the right side.

    dZ1PtN1.png

    I suppose at some point they transitioned to a mostly symmetrical character model for simplicity's sake.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  7. Pengi

    Pengi

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    The 1994 Panini Sonic sticker album is another mix of art from the 1994 Stylebook and some other set. It shares a lot of art with the BN Troc's Fluo pogs, but there are some unique ones too. The "tell" of this set is the curved line to help distinguish the shape of Sonic's head from his spines.

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    The first one is the most interesting, because it depicts an AoSTH style Robotnik - seemingly a four fingered one (it could just be the angle, but that would be an odd artistic choice). Has anyone seen this image elsewhere?

    There's also a couple of Tails that don't appear in the 1994 Stylebook.

    [​IMG]
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    Very much in the DiC inspired style of the '94 Stylebook, but the tips of Tails' hair aren't rounded, and his gloves are missing the blue straps.

    Within the album itself is this page:

    [​IMG]

    Different to the "Sonic's back" in the '94 Stylebook. It's actually based upon the Japanese styleguide art seen in Sonic Jam. There are subtle differences, most notably the shoes. Has anyone seen this elsewhere? If anyone owns this album, it would be great to get this page scanned (even if it means Frankensteining different scans together to get an "unstickered" version).

    Has anyone seen any of this art in anything prior to 1994? Or in any product from outside of Europe? At first I thought this batch was a direct predecessor to the '94 Stylebook, but maybe this is European specific art?

    This is interesting. Could detail have been lost in the digitsation, and then (inaccurately) redrawn? I have no idea how this kind of thing would have worked. The one in Sonic Jam looks more "correct", so maybe this is older internal concept art of Knuckles and the one in Jam is the "cleaned up" version.

    All of these updates are fascinating. Looking at the side view of Knuckles' body on the Jam model sheet, you can really see how he evolved out of a dinosaur-like character.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  8. Sir_mihael

    Sir_mihael

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    Wow, this was a good read!

    I never much agreed with the way DiC/Western Tails looked, but this one looks like a half blend between the JP and Western design. I can dig it.
     
  9. Overlord

    Overlord

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    I have the album somewhere (as I suspect a few of the other older UK Retro members do...) but mine is fully complete (the only sticker album I ever managed that with as a kid). While I'm fairly sure I know where it is it's inaccessible right now though.
     
  10. Prototype

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    Greg Martin's Knuckles has the thinner, more angled eyes of the Knuckles' Ringstar title screen, and we know that the design matches up pretty well with the prototype Knuckles from the Sonic 3 proto. So yeah, I'd wager that the Ringstar title screen is just early Knuckles stock art, which later got cleaned up into the Sonic Jam model sheet when they started standardizing Knuckles' design. And it seems like this basic model sheet was further simplified and edited into the coloured style guide, though I don't know where that style guide actually originates from.
     
  11. I happen to own the Panini Sonic sticker album and if memory serves right, it's fully complete too. I'd be more than happy to scan it when I get some free time.