Custom Playmat Retrospective Part 1 Mats 0 to 17

I’m closing in on, if not having already passed, my 50th mat and since I have written quite a number of blog posts about them perhaps its a good idea take some time top reflect and look back as well as providing links back to older mats and  posts for people who may have missed them.
If we were to go right back to the beginning everything would begin at what I believe is now called comic con but while that event has many tales associated with it, a transport system’s attempts to thwart our progress or a mob of vengeful Yugioh players descending on a hapless Dark Armed Dragon-napper being just two examples, they are stories for other times and places, mat wise we begin here.

MAT – 0: Transformers: LINK

Did I mention I’m part programmer? As such we start things off with mat zero, a mat which I still own. This mat its rolled up and lives with all the mats i’ve won or acquired over the years so looks essentially the same as the day I finished it and while I still think it needs a companion piece the large areas of while space make me less inclined to create one. I could always add a background of course but somehow thats feels wrong.

Hidden Numbers Series

Mats one to somewhere around the Star Wars Vader heads mat have my signature hidden along with the date somewhere along the edge of the mat. The main reason I stopped doing this was because it was getting increasingly difficult to hide them in creative ways.

Mat ! (or 2): Twilight: LINK & Mat 2 (or 1) Alien: LINK

These two mats along with the Transformers one are the only three mats that I created from Individual elements recombined at the end of the design process, Turns out I didn’t really like working that way and soon after moved to designing them at full scale 1 to 1 and it really shows. The background complexity increases and designs become more holistic you also become more able to use standard layout techniques such as rule of thirds or the golden ratio.
I like to hope the Twilight mat is still out there, somewhere traded from person to person, it may have seen more places and events than I have, which could be a tad depressing i guess, or maby its living a quiet life rolled up somewhere like Mat 0.
Please note that these probably aren’t in proper chronological order, they are close but the numbers on the actual mats give the correct sequence.

Mat 3 Dark Magician Girl: LINK

Never was there or has been since a mat with so many problems revolving around getting images of it. The first Design going missing is one thing but only have this one image of the final piece is quite another. Once again we have a member of the minimalist background phase I was in at this point. To be fair this sort of background does still happen occasionally when people don’t know what they want or if a design calls for it. I have recently be asked to do another Dark Magician Girl mat so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.

Mat 4 (or possibly 5): Oppression LINK

Ok thats more like it, although thoughts at the time ranged from argh I have to draw a horse to I’m still not sure about the colours. Looking back now its definitely trippy and I guess you could say this is where my tendency towards orange skys starts, theres even teal in it hows that for movie style! Seriously though this thing isn’t subtleand I quite like it that way.

Mat 5 ( Blackwings: LINK

How many characters can you get on one mat? We wont find out for a while but this is where it starts getting properly complicated. One of the main features of these early mats is that I am relying quite heavily on the line-work and while the shading is quite good on this one the outlines are very obvious. it could probably do with being a bit darker rin places as well but at the time I didn’t have a great range of colours.

Mat 6: Bleach Squad 11: Link

Still a favourite though its seen a lot of use over the years and I wouldn’t mind cleaning it and giving the colours a bit of a refresh. Theres definite something to be said for bright geometric backgrounds and primary colours. I am a tiny bit surprised its the only Bleach mat I’ve been asked to do though, having only watched as far as episode 42 I can only guess people got burnt out of all the filler between this and Naruto at one point in time.

Mat 7: Reborn: LINK 


These days I don’t have quite as much time to put into research as when I was working on this mat so don’t expect me to watch every episode of One Piece or Gintama! Still definitely an interesting approach to research and its interesting how mats tend to group together in this instance a pair of anime mats. these guys would probably look quite cool done in the style of the One Piece mat.

Mat 8: Stun City: LINK

This is actually probably more like mat 4 or 5 but whatever. The easiest way to avoid issues with scanning mats is not have to many vertical lines or detail that intersects the very center, as you can imagine this one caused problems. Its another mat that I would be fun to go back and add a load of lighting effects on. Have you also noticed my very obvious naming conventions for mats? Its all fine until I ever have to do more from the same series or characters.

Mat 9: Infect Infernity: Link

Its taken some time but we have finally starting to see some proper shading and movement away from the block colours, although this mat may also come before the two anime mats. I don’t do MTG mats nearly enough, I keep meaning to do some but some but other design work tends to get in the way.

Mat 10: Naruto back to back: LINK

One of the main things I have learnt recently is that hands are often bigger than you would think Sasuke’s are probably a tiny bit too small here. While I like the clean cell shaded look on this mat I could also see it going the other way with strong lighting effects probably blue on the left and red on the right at the time not something I was all that experienced with.

Mat 11: Red Dwarf: LINK

I don’t recall what I originally thought this mat would end up looking like but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t it, at least not the level of detail anyway. At some point I will have to talk about the use of the vortexes I’m always on about since five of the mats so far have made use of them. Also they are not too big its a trick of the light, and fabric, yeah lest go with that.

Mat 12: Vampire Commander: LINK

And the award for most characters and objects crammed into one design goes to… Putting this one together was something of a jigsaw puzzle, things that could fly clearly go in the top half everybody else down below and size based on a totally made up metric of how useful / cool any given character is. It still holds its record, but thats not though lack of trying on my part.

Mat 13: Star Wars mat 1 or Vader and Friends:  LINK

We will and this part of the list with the first Star Wars mat since it marks the end of one phase of mats and the beginning of the rise of the use of lighting. Still one of my favourite mats everything just seemed to come together as I was colouring it. The signature is hidden as part of the troopers gun. Thinking about it it could also be a precursor to the style used on mats like One Piece.

Other early mats that haven’t got a post about them yet include:-
Mat 14: Orkz Party!
Mat 15: Goblin Bombardment
Mat 16: Samurai
Mat 17: Walace and Grommet

Thats it for part one, in part 2 I will cover the Lost Number Series, SWYC Series, EX mats, and Digital.


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