Explore the powerful original artwork of the Mega Man X vinyl soundtrack collection

 

Illustrator and Mega Man superfan ultimatemaverickx breaks down his eye-popping original panels for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set.

By Thomas Quillfeldt

It constantly surprises me how much some game series hold sway over people even after decades. Mega Man is one of those series whose every plotpoint, character nuance and gameplay intricacy continue to be pored over.

When the Laced Records team was planning the previous Mega Man 1-11: The Collection vinyl box set in 2019 — at six discs, our largest shipped product — it was obvious that we should commission an artist who had immersed themselves in the universe of the Blue Bomber. ultimatemaverickx was truly the perfect person for the job, having dedicated himself to understanding the series and recreating it through his artwork. When it came time for the follow-up box set — an eight-disc behemoth, Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection — there was no question about sleeve design.

Below, we wallow in the ultra colourful artwork of Mega Man X and the vinyl sleeve art. As with our previous interview with UMX about the Mega Man box set, we asked him to show us different stages of his art process and explain a few of his composition choices.

At the time of writing, the Limited Edition of Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection (with yellow and purple discs) is up for pre-order via www.lacedrecords.com.

Time to get serious

Of all the artists at Capcom to work on the Mega Man X series, UMX’s favourites are Haruki Suetsugu (aka SENSEI, who worked on Mega Man X4-X6 and Xtreme & Xtreme 2) and Keisuke Mizuno (Maverick Hunter X, Mega Man X Legacy Collection). Here’s how those two particular artists fit within the series’ changes in style:

Source: “The Many Faces of X” (Reddit)

Source: “The Many Faces of X” (Reddit)

Source: “The Many Faces of Zero” (Reddit)

Source: “The Many Faces of Zero” (Reddit)

Here’s a promotional piece by Haruki Suetsugu for Mega Man X6 from around 2001:

promotional piece by Haruki Suetsugu for Mega Man X6

Front lines

The front cover for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set is stuffed full of hero characters from across the whole series.

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

UMX was keen to represent supporting as well as main characters. If you look carefully, you can see that the background is made up of screenshots of the games. His favourite Mega Man X title is X8, represented on the cover by the inclusion of the Jakob Project orbital elevator (stretching diagonally across the image from the bottom to top right); and also by featuring the three navigators — secret playable characters in X8 — Alia, Layer, and Pallette.

Mega Man X8 navigators

Informed by his exceptionally deep knowledge of Mega Man and his own extensive portfolio, UMX composes his panels through early sketches (the left image below.) Characters are drawn separately so their placement can be adjusted later on. Then comes the ‘clean up’ (right image), where outlines are drawn more darkly and other elements are added. 

Sketches by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com 

Next comes the colouring (left, below): blocking out the big, bold base colours; and adding background textures and special effects. 

The final stage (right) includes lighting and shading, additional details, the logo, and more special effects: 

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Here are some of the individual character breakdowns from the cover, starting with the main series protagonist, X:

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Here is fan favourite character Zero:

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Something up his sleeve

The sheer volume of art produced by UMX for the vinyl collection is dizzying. Along with the front and back covers, he also produced front and back panels for each of eight disc sleeves — 18 pieces in total. 

UMX’s panels for the disc 1 sleeve depict action from the original Mega Man X, released on the SNES in 1993. The left panel shows the early boss battle (impossible to win for story reasons) between X and Sigma’s henchman Vile. The right panel shows X in his fully upgraded armor. 

Mega Man X collection vinyl sleeve art

Disc 2 sleeve

Of the earlier 16-bit titles, UMX has a particular soft spot for Mega Man X2. For the Disc 2 sleeve, he remade one of his previous fan illustrations (below) where he imagined a remake of X2 in the style of the PlayStation Portable remake of Mega Man X, Maverick Hunter X.

UMX’s original piece:

Art by ultimatemaverickx imagining Mega Man Maverick Hunters X2

In both his original piece and the redraw for the vinyl sleeve (below), UMX depicts various bosses from X2 including Wire Sponge, Wheel Gator, Flame Stag, Morph Moth, Crystal Snail, Overdrive Ostrich, Bubble Crab, and Magna Centipede — with Maverick overlord Sigma looming over all.

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Disc 4 sleeve

The Disc 4 sleeve cover depicts X’s Ultimate Armor from Mega Man X4 onwards...

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

...and the full sleeve also depicts Black Zero alongside. 

Art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Disc 7 sleeve

The Disc 7 sleeve front cover is also a reworking of an older piece. UMX’s original piece, based on Mega Man X6, is called “Nightmare Soul Hunter”:

Nightmare Soul Hunter by ultimatemaverickx

The new vinyl version of the piece is titled “Rank UH” (as in ‘Ultimate Hunter’.) Dedicated players can only gain this rank in X6 by collecting 9999 nightmare souls. UMX intended the remake of the illustration to be a fun reward for his loyal DeviantArt followers.

"Rank UH" by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Disc 8 sleeve

No Mega Man X game means as much to UMX as Mega Man X8, first released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2. His favourite boss fight in the entire franchise is the final showdown with Lumine. UMX’s depiction is on the back of the Disc 8 sleeve.

Lumine art by ultimatemaverickx for the Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com

Simply Mega

Getting to see a true superfan produce official artwork for the Mega Man X series vinyl box set has been an absolute pleasure. You can learn a bit more about Ultimatemaverickx and see more of his arresting work by reading our previous interview with him; or checking out his profiles – DeviantArt | Twitter: @MegamanUMX | YouTube.

At the time of writing, the Limited Edition of Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection (with yellow and purple discs) is up for pre-order via www.lacedrecords.com.The Mega Man X 1-8: The Collection vinyl box set available from Lacedrecords.com