By Phil Hecken
Weekend readers will recognize the name of today’s featured graphic artist: Ethan Dimitroff. For the past several years, Ethan has been one of my “uni trackers” each College Football Sunday (“Sunday Morning Uni Watch”), ably documenting the uniforms worn each week by both the SEC and B1G conferences. But Ethan is much more than just a tracker: he’s a uni designer as well. Let’s get to know him a bit better and then take a look at some of his uni design concepts for the NCAA. Enjoy!
Uni Watch: Obviously, readers will recognize you for your awesome work as one of “my” NCAA Uniform Trackers. You actually do two: the B1G and the SEC, and have been doing this for several years. But how and when did you “discover” Uni Watch, and how long have you been a reader?
Ethan Dimitroff: The first time a came across Uni-Watch was probably 2005ish I remember seeing Paul’s college football and NFL season previews on ESPN. In addition I would see various stuff on Google and before I knew it I was checking in on the site daily. It’s great to learn all the insights into the “uni-world”. For example white the Dallas Cowboys wear white jerseys for home games or why the LA Lakers wear gold uniforms at home. To tell the truth I’ve always wanted a membership card but could never decided on what type of jersey I’d want. It’s really awesome to now be a part of the Uni-Watch family.
UW: How old are you and where do you live?
ED: I am 29 and live in Charleston, West Virginia.
UW: As readers know, I’ve always loved uniform concepts, and feature them often. When did you first begin designing unis?
ED: If I had to pick a time probably 2002. I even made my own pro football league (which consisted of 12 really generic teams) and hand drew each team logo, uniform and field design. I even made a championship field design, which probably had the world’s biggest midfield logo that was the two-team logos inside a giant football between the 35-yard lines.
UW: Did you do “refrigerator art” (as we call them) — basically drawings of unis — as a kid?
ED: My first drawing of anything uni related was back in second grade (1996) when I drew players from the WVU Miami football game the night before.
UW: When did you start designing unis on a computer?
ED: If I had to pick a time I’d probably say around 2008. I started on my sister’s computer, which had Photoshop on it, and it went on from there.
UW: What attracted you to uniform design? Do you do other sports besides football?
ED: I’m not sure which one thing got me into uniform design. It started with a few ideas I had and it was something I enjoyed doing. Plus the challenge of coming up with something new and original I’ve always enjoyed. People seemed to enjoy my artwork so I’ve kept doing them. As far other sports I also do baseball and basketball uniform concepts as well.
UW: Is this a hobby or do you do any of this professionally? If not professionally, would you like to try to turn it into a money making venture?
ED: It certainly started out as a hobby. Within the past year I’ve started a (really) small graphic design business (DC Graphics LLC). I even got a very impressive heat press (same one they use during the NFL draft) to make shirts and jerseys for local teams. I haven’t done a lot of teams but the ones I have look pretty sharp if I do say so myself. My attempts to get into the high school and middle school ranks have failed so far but it hasn’t been because of the lack of trying.
Currently I’ve been attempting to network to get my name out there because it is something I enjoy doing. “They” always say love what you do. The artwork I show has been well received by coaches and boosters. I try and present two things I think are missing from high school teams: good logos and unique look. All too often teams look like they just picked random things from a catalog and called the job complete and then ripped off a professional team or major university logo.
UW: When you sent me your “final” uni tracking after the Clemson/Alabama game, you mentioned you’re using a new template. Honestly, it looked the same to me, but I’m not a graphic designer. What’s new/different about it?
ED: This new template for 2019 is really built from the ground up. I started back in October and I wanted something that was a lot more accurate. Sleeve striping and over the shoulder striping would always be slightly off. So I began the project with some great pictures of the new Russell Athletic Football Pads. Since all jerseys are now stretched so tight over the pads I thought that would be a great starting point. Then I just added little detail and shading as well as an actual mesh texture where mesh is present on the jersey. The pants feature a slimmer thigh pad and new belt detail for Under Armor (and some) Nike pants (Adidas has gone away from traditional belts). I narrowed the space between the front and back display of the player model. Overall the new template has a thinner border around the player model and helmet.
For the helmet I went with a brand new template of the Riddell Speedflex. I was able to get a lot of reference pictures from Riddell and I wanted to have a better display for the center helmet stripe (which was just a rectangle between the side profiles of the helmet; so I built a display of the entire front of the helmet. I even wanted to include nose bumper decals for an added touch. For me this new template is easier because I have the entire front of the helmet displayed all the time even if there is a center stripe or not. I then wanted to show the difference between matte and glossy finishes which has always been difficult to produce, especially with black. With that I added highlights to the helmets to give a glossy look and simply remove them for matte finishes.
Finally the last major change was footwear. I know a lot of people don’t include this in their concepts but I feel it gives a good representation of the complete look. In college football most teams have a pretty uniform look when it comes to footwear. Sock length was difficult and I went with a higher sock, which I felt was a better representation. In addition this new template feature brand specific shoes. The past few years I’ve went with a generic shoe due to the hundreds of different styles but after a lot of trial and error I’ve come up with four distinct shoes. While they may not be 100% they still look like four separate shoes.
I really hope everyone enjoys the new updates that will roll out this fall. [Click on this and any images below to enlarge — PH]
UW: How long does an “average” design set take? What took you the longest?
ED: The length of a design really varies. I spend a lot of time working on a template and once that is complete it can take as little as ten minutes to an hour. The latest football template I came up with took me 3 months to create but I did go back and find a lot of reference pictures. As I’ve gotten better using programs like Illustrator my templates have gotten better and easier to use. I’ve tried to add a lot of little details and I’ve worked to try and better present them in my concepts. Most of my old work included stitching in seams of jerseys and those would take an unbelievable amount of time to do. Not only did I have to do the artwork and striping but alter the stitching pattern too.
The longest a concept has taken has been 2-3 years. I have a lot of concepts that I have sitting around on my computer that are partially finished. I probably have 10 WVU concepts alone just left incomplete. Whether it’s a number font I started on or a sleeve pattern sometimes I have just a type of writers block and get frustrated with it and leave it.
UW: When I run your tracking during football season, I include a link to your “WVU Tracker.” For those who’ve never clicked on that, can you tell us a bit about what’s there?
ED: The “WVU Tracker” is a uniform database of all things West Virginia University. What started out as a year-by-year tracking site of just the football and men’s basketball teams; has grown to have the baseball, women’s basketball and even various playing surface designs. Recently I’ve been working on including football uniform matchups with conference opponents and some traditional rivals.
It has been quite a learning experience teaching myself basic web design. I’m certainly always up for suggestions and tips and of course the more photos of various graphics I can add more content. If you’re a fan of WVU or just of tracking and uniforms in general it’s worth checking out. This past football season I really didn’t have the time to do the weekly entries that I have done in the past but it’s something I am going to try and get back to this fall.
UW: Looking at the designs we’re about to see below, I note you’re pretty “traditional” in your designs. Have you ever done anything really crazy, or do you prefer to go with the “classics”?
ED: As far as “crazy” designs I haven’t. I always like to make concepts that can actually see the field or court. I like to get a little “crazier” with my high school designs. As far as the concepts below most of them I tried for a clean, timeless look. So much in college football we see teams try to have a ton of mix and match combos and teams tend to look a bit generic. I didn’t want to change any existing artwork of the school but just to show with a little work you can have a cleaner iconic look. I’ve never been a fan of contrasting “sleeve caps” or side panels (unless of course it’s the Denver Broncos!).
There are some concepts out there that really don’t make any sense to me. The concepts that have huge logos that have stripes layer over them and really small single digits don’t make any sense. For example there’s a Michigan concept out there that has the entire great lakes stretched over the front of the jerseys with a little tiny number in the corner. Those concepts to me just seem like click bait but that’s my personal opinion.
UW: Where can we see more of your work? Do you have a website or blog besides the WVU Tracker? We can obviously follow you on twitter @ethan_dimitroff, but do you have any other social media presence(s)?
ED: If you check out my twitter page I typically put a lot of work there. I’m also on Facebook and Instagram. This fall I started a new website for my good friend who just became head coach of my old high school football team this past April. I did all the new graphics and logos and I designed their helmet decals last season and this off season I’ve had free rein to completely redesign the new lids. I’m really hoping to share with the Uni-Watch community later this year (it involves Paul’s favorite color!).
UW: Great! Thanks, Ethan — let’s take a look at some of your work and your descriptions!
Army Black Knights
Army: I start with my first concept with a simple clean look for the cadets. The current uniforms seem like they have stuff on the jerseys just to have it so I wanted to stripe them back down to a traditional look.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State: I took their existing helmet which I think is pretty great. The update from 2013 was good once they returned to the original helmet shell in the middle of the season. As for the rest of the uniform I went with the old adage that less is more. I brought back the collar and sleeve cap pattern from the pre-2012 jerseys. I love Native American art and I think the current jerseys fail to capture it.
Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall concept I started a few years ago. For anybody that’s been around the Marshall football program (Marshall campus is about an hour drive from my house) the 1970 plane crash plays a big part. Every fall they turn off the memorial fountain on the anniversary of the plane crash they killed 75 members of the football program. In the past few years Marshall has started wearing uni-centric memorials around the weekend of the anniversary. Including wearing a 75 decal on the side of helmets to putting the crash victims names on the center stripe to wearing black jerseys for some reason.
I wanted to take idea and have a visualizing appealing aspect of that. I came up with the idea to have a memorial patch on the collar of the jerseys of the regular green and white jerseys. The patch has a silhouette of the fountain in the background and a 75 in the foreground.
The spot is usually reserved for a teams logo on Nike jersey’s which Marshall currently employs. The rest of the uniform is modified version of the Randy Moss / early 2000’s version of Marshall’s uniform. With the addition of the new M on the helmets and “the herd” word mark. In recent years more and more black elements have creeped into the uniform.
I also included a a 1971 throwback uniform that I had the idea to wear the weekend of the anniversary. As not only to honor the fallen but as a tribute to the “young” herd that continued the program.
Maryland Terrapins football concept. As a West Virginia fan I’ve seen some really solid looks from Maryland and some really awful ones. I thought the “shelmet” idea back in 2011 was a really cool idea. I took that and added the classic “Terps” script back on the helmet. I wanted to tone the flag aspects waaaay down. As far as I know they are the Maryland Terrapins not the Maryland flags. I added the shell pattern to the sleeve caps and added some subtle black and yellow trim to the jerseys. In addition I added a red helmet as a nod to the teams of the 80’s and a BFBS uniform.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State: This one I had some fun with. I really loved the black script helmets they used in their spring game. What can I say I’m a sucker for a great helmet script. I toned down the used of orange and limited to just a jersey and trim color throughout the rest of the uniform. I kept the current number font and logos.
Syracuse: When you think of the Orange there’s really only one thing that comes to mind and thats the solid orange helmets with the triple stripe. It’s a simple and timeless look. I wanted to take a mash-up of different Syracuse eras for this concept with the idea of wearing white jerseys at home. I know that’s currently GA Tech’s thing but why is it limited to them and LSU? The 44 on the hip is a nod to the retired number 44 and a nod to the hip numbers formally employed by Syracuse.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M: I really liked their 1998 throwback uniforms they had this fall so this concept is based off of that with the current logos, number and letter fonts. I removed the “bevel” detail of the numbers to offer a cleaner look. My favorite part (and tried my best a recreating with limited photos) was the southwest pattern on the collars. I think it gives A&M a unique look.
University of Connecticut Huskies
UConn: I tried a mashup of their 2005-07 uniforms which was a pretty solid look for them. I added the new Jonathan logo to the collars and pants and simplified the shoulder stripes.
Washington: Since they are switching to Adidas I decided to make my suggestion. I kept it really simple since that’s what they’ve done in the past few years. Brought back the original Huskies Font without the left corner notch thing.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia concept (surprise! lol). This of course is my dream uniform. It’s nothing too conservative but it returns to the roots that made WVU what it is today. I brought back those lovely glossy blue helmets of the pre 2013 uniform. Why wear any other helmet if that helmet is the best looking in all of college football?! The number font is taken from WVU’s “pro-combat” uniforms of 2010. I always thought they looked very cool even if the coal pattern left them looking washed out. In addition I wanted to add some actually gold trim to the road jerseys which they have been lacking in the latest jerseys.
West Virginia State Yellow Jackets
Finally is West Virginia State my alma mater. They currently have a Nike Catalog look so I went for a new refresh complete with the new WVSU logo. I kept the current helmet design but changed out the helmet number to match the new custom jersey numbers.
Thanks, Ethan! Great job on those concepts and thanks for letting us all get to know you a little bit better! Well readers, what do you think?
It’s never too late…
…for Super Bowl food pics!
Paul got an e-mail late Friday from Ethan Hopkin. It’s awesome…
I don’t know why I sat on this so long!! My wife and I hosted a Supe Party and one of our neighbors came over with an exorbitant amount of cookies that were footballs, helmets and jerseys. As you can see, the jerseys are appropriate to the ones they wore Sunday night, even down to the Rams’ throwbacks! The party was a huge success and everyone had a blast and ate way to much food and there is still a lot of leftover enchiladas (my wife made them and they are incredible. In the second picture is a cake I bought from the local grocery store (HEB) complete with Super Bowl LIII logo, date and appropriate helmets, even getting the Rams’ throwback helmet right. It is displayed on the board for the game NFL Rush Zone that come with interchangeable end zone (it’s a little out of date since it harkens back to the Rams’ days out in the Midwest). Enjoy and have a great weekend.
How awesome is that? Thanks for sharing, Ethan!
Fixing The Browns
A little over a year ago, with the help of Matthew Blinco, I suggested a few fixes for the NFL’s Color Rash program, wherein teams would adapt parts of their CR unis to create new combos that didn’t look so garish. While the NFL didn’t go that far this past season, it’s still an idea I feel is worth pursuing.
Now, reader John Ryder has come up with a similar twist on the NFL’s CR uniforms. Only his target is the terrible uniforms the Browns have been wearing (and must continue to wear until at least the end of the 2019 season, when, presumably, they’ll dump the current set).
John sent a number of graphics to Paul, who asked if I wanted to run them. I didn’t hesitate.
Here’s John and a look at some of his fixes for the Browns (click any images below to enlarge)…
Big fan of your work, and wanted to send this in. I was born and raised in Cleveland (I’m 29), and have been a Browns fan since I can remember. Unfortunately, while their play on the field seems to have turned a corner, and next season is LEGITIMATELY promising, they are stuck wearing their current trash bags for another year.
I did really like the Browns’ color rush uniforms, if for no other reason than their usual set is so bad. I thought they’re a little too plain to be a permanent look, but not far off. My attached mock-ups are based on a super simple change to those — making the middle orange sleeve stripe white, and adding white borders to the numbers. Doing this reproduces the familiar Browns helmet stripe look on the sleeves, and gives the numbers more pop.
The white and orange jerseys are subsequently derived from the updated brown jersey pattern.
The result, I think, is a new, bolder uniform set for the team, while remaining fairly traditional overall. I opted to keep the same pattern as “color rush” for the brown pants, as I think it provides the option of a more modern, edgy look when paired with any of the jerseys. Meanwhile, the white pants would be the most traditional, and the orange a more colorful alternative.
It seems we’re a real football team now. It’s time they dressed like one.
Nice work, John! It’s amazing what a couple simple tweaks can do to improve the look of a uniform (or at least jersey).
John sent in a few additional looks at the brown jersey, which you can see in this album.
for the Ticker
Reader Paul C. Wood sent in some amazing photos to the UWing account yesterday.
Paul’s short on words, but long on great pics.
He writes, “I follow you on uni-watch and have noticed you enjoy road trips. The Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh might be worth the trip.”
Check these out (click to enlarge):
Thanks for sharing Paul!
OK. Now, on to the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: MLB may still be a few weeks away, but college baseball is heating up. Here’s some video of the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball unis (from James Gilbert). … ATTENTION! This may be the best job posting in all of baseball (via Paul). Here’s a bit more on that (from Ed Hahn). … We bemoan the New Era
flag logo which appears on all MLB on-field caps now, but check out this New Era logo on the hat from this 2001 photo, long before logo was used on all the game worn hats (from Chris). Also, the D-Bax should return to those unis ASAP. … Here’s a look at the San Diego Padres St. Paddy’s Day caps (from Greg Tish). Also from Greg, a SD Pads cap showing their 50th Anniversary logo. … Lubbock Christian University debuted some new cream threads yesterday (From LCU Baseball). … Tweeter Noah Kastroll provides a closer look at the new 2019 Pirates Spring Training caps. “Love the new patch without a year on it,” he adds. … I’m thinking there must be more to this story: “Drake softball plays on a indoor football field,” says Mike Kavanagh. “Whole operation feels very DIY. Am I alone in thinking this is bizarre?” Is it possible it’s a practice or did they need to move the game indoors due to weather? Anyone know?
NFL/Pro Football News: Is this the new New York Jets logo? Patrick Thomas thinks it just might be. … During an appearance on The Late Show, host Seth Meyers held up a photo of a fan wearing a WATT Frankenjersey (from GJ Marmet). … Here’s some good news for the 2019 NFL Season: The Steelers will bring back the 1979 throwbacks, at least for this coming season. … The AAF (Alliance of American Football) kicked off yesterday (no, I didn’t watch), but our pal Chris Creamer had a nice piece detailing all the teams and logos. Of course, Paul also had a nice writeup on these unis and logos back in November. I didn’t watch, but the Refs unis were getting roasted on the Twitter. … Reader Justin Hicks did watch, and he writes, “I can’t believe I’m even watching this. Is it just me, or do both of these linemen in red look like they peed their pants?” He continues, “There’s either an issue with the fabric on these pants, or a lot of guys on this team decided to pee their pants Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Justin also had an issue with the Ref’s unis. He had one final observation: “Some guys on this gray team are wearing gray tights with gray pants which just makes for a really awful look.” No, I’m not sorry I didn’t watch. … Jeff David Harvey also watched the AAF and thought the San Diego Fleet looked awful. … Daniel did like the color vs. color of the AAF. … GOAT Jerseys simply commented on a different game. … Dave Sizer writes, “My apologies if you have already covered this and I didn’t see it, but here’s a great rundown of the Montreal Alouettes rebranding.” No apologies needed, Dave — the unveiling happened late last Friday, and there was simply too much Supe content for a review on here. Thanks!
College Football News: Folks walking through the NC Tar Heels thru first floor Kenan Football Center are greeted with this Players in the Pro’s display. Aside from the brutal apostrophe catastrophe (good spot by Doc Kennedy), James Gilbert and others note the display also has several outdated helmets. … “Here is a link to an Idaho history Facebook page that has some football team photos,” writes Jaime Galindo. “There are a couple beauties in there. I particularly like the 1935 Twin Falls uniform with the vertical striping and the “T” in the center.”
Hockey News: The QMJHL held an outdoor game Friday night in Saint-Tite, QC. Wade Heidt reports, “Nothing really uni-notable about this highlight package (except Shawinigan’s goalie wearing the toque). This is more about getting a look at the unique venue for the game which is suitable for outdoor hockey. Fans are close to the action at the Grandes Estades Coors, if they can see around the pillars.” … No time like the present to capitalize on a throwback: These Hartford Whalers sweaters were spotted at a Dick’s in Raleigh (from GOAT Jerseys). … MURICA! Check out the sweaters the Rochester Americans wore on Friday night (from Barry Rubenstein). … The Iowa Wild did the Pink (in the rink) jersey thing last night (from Sean Jankowski). … NJ Devils goalie Cory Schneider wore last year’s mask for yesterday’s matinee against the Wild (from Ephraim Vorzman). For comparison, here’s Schneid’s 2018 mask. … Yesterday, the Flyers went with white chinstraps and loops, instead of the usual black (via Paul).
NBA/Pro Hoops News: “I have an old Nerf hoop & a 35th anniversary NBA poster,” says Jimmer Vilk. “Covered the backboard with finger paint paper, took a photo of the poster, cut out the logos & glued them to the backboard, then stapled it to my wall. Ready for shooting practice!“. … Take a gander at the Brazilian’s league (NBB) all star game uniforms. Submitter Hit The Glass adds, “Same number fonts for both teams, Jordan Brand is the maker. FIESP (Brazil) COA Chery (Mundo – world) are uni ads, if y’all wanna blur ;).” … Good observation from Tim Donovan, who asks, “Was there ever a reason given as to why the shorts didn’t have the stripes the tops did?”
College/High School Hoops News: 10 adidas-clad teams have (or will) been wearing Black History Month uniforms in February; the latest to wear theirs were the Kansas Jayhawks, who wore them yesterday. … Whoops, the chyron (of ESPN, I think) had Central Michigan University misidentified as “C Methodist” (good spot by Bob Johnson). … Not sure I’d agree with the “nice” descriptor, but yesterday the UND Ladies wore a gray uni set (from Chris Lather). … Who wears short-shorts? “Instead of rolling over the waistband to hike up his shorts, looks like LSU’s Javonte Smart has them hemmed up on the inside” (nice spot by Dave Garabedian). … More pink (for both teams): Pink/Black trim (Milwaukee) vs. Black/Pink trim (NKU) in a Horizon League matchup in Milwaukee yesterday (from Bob Brainerd). … Drake busted out some awesome 1969 throwbacks yesterday (from Justin Surrency). … More pink: UW Green Bay wore pink unis yesterday. Lots of photos here. … Georgia wore retro uniforms yesterday against Ole Miss. … Still more pink: Central Arkansas vs. Southeastern (from Chris Mycoskie).
Soccer News: The 2019 MLS season starts in a few weeks (and we’ll have a full review of the kits!), but a few teams have begun revealing new ones already. You can check out those who have already revealed here. … ICYMI: New Mexico United’s first-year professional soccer team unveiled its home jerseys on Thursday, and its new advertiser is Meow Wolf, the interactive art collective in Santa Fe. Says jbird8212 “How do you not love a jersey that says Meow Wolf on it?” … The advertiser for Liverpool FC has embarked on a mission to unite Reds fans under the Stand Red campaign as they aim to champion the love of all things associated with the club, with the jersey certainly one among them. … Nantes will mourn the death of former striker Emiliano Sala by swapping their yellow jerseys for black ones today. … ICYMI, the Montreal Impact have unveiled a new primary kit. … New name and badge for USL League Two in Green Bay (from Josh Hinton).
Grab Bag: Here’s a great article that Paul is sure to love, entitled, “The Handy Playing Cards That Taught 17th-Century Cooks to Carve Meat Like a Pro.” Submitter David Cline adds, “[Paul], more than anyone I know, would appreciate these!” … Tweeter (Ramblin’) Rose Culper purchased a pair of socks that bear a striking resemblance to the tequila sunrise motif used by the Astros years ago. … Interesting piece on the emerging design trends among the initial 2020 campaign logos — it’s the use of words over symbols, and the embrace of color outside of the traditional red, white, and blue. Gone are the patriotic single-letter presidential logos popularized over the past decade (from Charlie Kranz). … “Kentucky Skills U, an adult education program run by Kentucky’s state government, has a logo that is very similar to Utah State’s logo,” notes Travis Coffey. For comparison: Kentucky Skills U vs. Utah State.