Arcade Project: Part 4: Cabinet Art

Wow, its been over 6 weeks since my last update!  Since then, I got a little excited and side tracked thinking about what art I want to use on the cabinet when it comes time to build it.  This includes the artwork that will go on the side of the arcade cabinet, as well as the marquee that will be lit up across the top, and the design and art on the control panel around the joystick and buttons.

I decided I want to have sort of an “Arcade Classics” theme, where a lot of the classic arcade games are represented in some way.  So I started off by doing a Google image search for a bunch of different games and saved some of the higher resolution pictures to my PC so that I could edit them and piece them together later.  Almost all of the images I grabbed had a character from the game, but also a bunch of other background stuff in the image too, which I didn’t want.  So I had to do a lot of photo editing to trim out all that extra stuff.  For example, here’s an image I grabbed from Frogger (left) along with the final image that I used after trimming out the background (right).



Here’s a short video I made that demonstrates exactly how I trimmed the image.  I’m not a professional graphic designer or anything, so there’s probably a more efficient way to do it, but this worked for me.

As I mentioned in the video, this is a very time consuming process.  I probably spent at least 40-60 hours cutting up a few dozen images.  The first handful were slow as I made a lot of mistakes (saved a bunch as jpeg accidentally and lost my work) and learned as I went.

Anyway, once I got all my images cut up, it was time to start putting them together in my own collage.  Since I don’t have the actual cabinet built yet and don’t have exact detailed plans to build one, I just put together a good approximation of the size that I’ll need.  Once I have detailed plans, then I can make sure my artwork is sized properly.    But I do know that I want to build a Mortal Kombat 2 style of cabinet, its a pretty classic and cool looking arcade cabinet.  So after spending several hours layering images together and rearranging them several times until I got a layout I liked, this is what I came up with.


My wife thought all the characters at the bottom made it a little too busy, so I made a second pass with fewer characters.  This is what that looks like.


Finally, I decided to make another option for the side art that was a bit smaller, mostly to compare the cost of printing the two.  So if I decide to go with smaller, more affordable art for the side, this is what it may look like.


And here is how it would look on the side of the cabinet.



And here’s what I came up with for the marquee and control panel, following the same process.



For the control panel, I’m still not committed to the button layout.  As you probably know, classic arcade games have their buttons laid out in straight rows.  However, in Japan, they now use a curved layout for the buttons.  Supposedly it is more ergonomic and not as much of a strain on your hand and wrist.  Some people claim that’s BS and that the original reason for the curved buttons was to squeeze more buttons into a smaller space.  In a quick prototype test using cardboard cutouts, I do like the feel of the curved button layout.  But  does it look too funny and should I stick with the classic straight button look?  Let me know what you think.

Again, I made a quick video showing how I compiled these images together to create this stuff.

I zipped through that stuff pretty fast in the video, but in actuality I probably spent at least another 20-40 hours on those pieces.  But it was fun! 🙂

I also put together a 3D model of what the final cabinet might look like with these pieces of art.


And here it is with the smaller side art:



Any feedback you guys have is always welcome and appreciated!  Hopefully I’ll have another update sooner rather than later this time.


  1. Have I told you that you’re a frickin genius? Well, …….YOU’RE A FRICKIN GENIUS! There , I told you. I’ll tell you again and again as time goes on. I’m just amazed at this all. And I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to see it!!!!!

    1. Hi Keith. Do you have a link to the large side art or can you send on email? I’d pay for it as well. Just let me know. Thanks!

  2. Just stumbled onto this page. Is there some way to get large copies of the marquee art and side art you used here? I love your design. Thanks 🙂

  3. Good morning Keith. I just stumbled upon your site. I love the art work!! I would love to get a copy of that for the build I’m doing. I will gladly pay you for it.

  4. Hello from Australia. Came across your blog looking for Artwork Ideas for the Marquee and I must say yours is exactly what I am looking for. If you would care to share I would be forever grateful.. Greta work on the rest of the Cabinet as well. CHeers

    1. Hi, what a fantastic job, I would love to be able to download the art files please, I don’t mind donating a small fee either. Thank you.

  5. Hi, what a fantastic job, I would love to be able to download the art files please, I don’t mind donating a small fee either. Thank you

  6. Like everybody else I think the artwork is great! And like everybody else I would like to know if it possible to get to download the artwork? Will pay for it as well!

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