Creating a dynamic and fun design for the body of an arcade machine and bringing it to life. Not a challenge you get handed everyday – but one I couldn’t wait to take on. To develop a solution with character my fellow Spongers would be proud of and engage with every day was a fantastic opportunity.

Creative Sponge arcade games machine with custom artwork of Spyro the Dragon, Mario, Donkey Kong and various games characters

Why am I creating artwork for an arcade machine?

Illustration is one of my greatest passions and I’ve built up years of experience, giving me an excellent understanding of composition and character design. So this was an ideal opportunity to create something for the team.

We have expanded our office, creating two new spaces that we could utilise creatively and socially. Areas we could either relax in or use to collaborate and innovate.

One is a room for the team. A welcoming, cosy staff breakout space where we can relax and just stop for a while. But something was missing. Something creative. Something fun.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had our own arcade machine in here?” Alex Tosh (That fun-loving guy who founded Creative Sponge)

Why the hell not?

But we’ve got to make it unique and pack it full of as much creativity, passion and personality as we possibly can!

Character crazy.

Each member of our team chose their favourite game character of all time to feature on the machine alongside a bunch of other popular characters. We created an eclectic list, ranging from Lara Croft to Sonic, Mario to Master Chief, celebrating our favourite games. With each of us having our own character in the illustration, it creates a sense of collaboration, ownership and personality. This is what makes the project so special – everything we do is centred around reinforcing our team ethos.

With a list of over 30 characters and the awkward shape of the machine’s frame, the challenge was to represent all those personal choices in a dynamic composition. It needed to use all we had, but, more importantly, we had to represent all the different characters in one consistent style. Easy. I’ll be honest, it was actually extremely difficult and time consuming, but it was super fun.

Creative Sponge arcade games machine artwork sketch showing Ratchet and Clank and Aku Aku

Picking up the pencil.

I began with pencil layouts, building them up to ensure a balanced relationship between the characters. This takes a number of rounds of refinement, tweaking the layout to make sure it’s got clear navigation and focus.

Once happy with the composition, I moved on to the inking phase.

I kept detail in the pencil line art to a minimum – this helps gives the design energy, keeping it organic and less rigid. The decision was to ink this project digitally. There are so many benefits to this approach, but the main ones are: speed; use of the awesome undo button (allowing you to take more risks); and cleaner print-ready artwork. 

Adding a splash of colour, the colouring process, is often the most rewarding because the artwork leaps into life. Colour adds detail, differentiates shapes, and identifies characters. It adds depth and helps capture attention. 

And it turned out something like this...

Creative Sponge arcade games machine artwork showing Pacman and ghosts chasing Rayman
Women playing on arcade games machine

The final result – Sponge Arcade, a personalised triumph showcasing our passion, attention to detail and, without getting too big headed, talent.

Now in the heart of a room we all love, sits our arcade machine which includes everyone’s imagination and personality. We love to share, so why don’t you come in and check it out? What’s better than having a meeting followed by a race on Mario Kart? Or enjoying a coffee and a fight? (Streetfighter, of course.) We can’t wait to see you.

If you’ve got an illustration project in mind, get in touch. Call us on 01603 622766, email, or use the instant chat icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.