Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1969-style Joe DiMaggio custom

This 35mm slide of a smiling coach Joe DiMaggio seemed
like it would make a nice 1969 Topps-style custom, but
the orientation proved to be too horizontal.
While it's somewhat jarring to see The Yankee Clipper in a Charley Finley-era A's uniform, it makes a striking "card that never was."

About a year ago I created a 1968 Topps-style custom card of DiMag as an A's coach.

Later I found another photo of DiMaggio in an Oakland uniform, so I knew I had the makings for a 1969-style custom (those were the only two years he served as an A's coach).

Turns out I was wrong about the suitability of that photo for a card. The picture was in the format of a 35mm color slide and was horizontal in orientation. It didn't turn adapt well to the vertical format of a 1969 Topps card. To enlarge the picture enough to fill the frame top-to-bottom, it became too wide to comfortably fit the colored circle with the name and position.

I'd probably have scrapped the idea of making a '69 DiMaggio card, but I had already invested a lot of hours in making the card back . . . it was not an easy task.

Backs of the 1969 Topps managers' cards have an artwork rendition of the skippers' portraits that , try as I might, I could not closely duplicate. I had to settle for a reasonable approximation.

Likewise, I didn't have anything in my type fonts file that matched the hand-drawn lettering found on the originals.

Fortunately, there are a couple of sites on the internet that offer hundreds of free fonts that are easily dragged and dropped into my Photoshop Elements program. After several hours of searching I found fonts that only side-by-side comparison with a "real" 1969 manager's card would reveal to be an inexact match.

With my first choice for the front photo proving unworkable, I decided to reuse a closer cropping of the colorized DiMaggio photo that I had used on my 1968-style custom. I put it on the dark-skied background from the unused slide.

It's was a good, not a great, result.

I think the finished product suffers some from my adherence to the Topps standard of using a  purple circle with white and yellow type for the player identification. I'm not sure that works with the violet tone of the background sky.

As I worked on this write-up and looked at the images of my first attempt at a 1969-style DiMaggio coach's card, I decided I couldn't make that my final ink-on-paper custom card.

So I went back to the drawing board. I studied the original Topps '69 A's cards and realized that virtually all of the photos had been taken in spring training with a bright blue Arizona sky as a backdrop. I knew my DiMag would have to match that look.

I decided adopt the Tom Reynolds background. With a couple of hours more work, I came up with a card front with which I'm much more satisfied. I'm not totally happy with having had reused the same picture that I used on my '68, so I'll keep my options open in case a new photo of DiMaggio in an Oakland uniform comes my way. 

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