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DIYing a Detroit Lions T-Shirt

[Editor’s Note: Greetings from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where I’m spending a few days with friends. Today we have a guest entry from the great Marty Hick, who’s going to tell us about his latest DIY project. Enjoy! — PL]

By Marty Hick

I live in St. Louis. With no NFL team in town, a buddy and I recently decided to pick a team to root for. (Well, technically, my favorite team is whoever’s playing the Cowboys,  but I digress.) We decided to go with the Detroit Lions. I’ve always kind of liked lovable losers, and I bought into their late-season “surge” from last year [when, after going winless in their first 11 games, they won three of their final six — PL].

I decided to make some DIY Lions shirts so we could support our new team. But how do you draw a lion? I referred to my favorite book from when I was a kid — Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals, which teaches kids how to draw using shapes, numbers, letters, squiggles, etc.:

For most of the animals depicted in the book, they show you how to draw the animal’s entire body. But for some reason they only show the head for the lion and tiger:

So, using my daughter’s paints, I drew the the lion’s head and added my own Ed Emberley-style version of a body. Just a few rectangles, the letter J for the tail, and some straight lines:
Paul here. As is the case with almost all of Marty’s projects, I love this so much. Granted, it hasn’t brought the Lions much luck this season (as of this writing they’re 1-6), but it’s still an inspired little project. Here’s Marty wearing his shirt on Halloween night (the mannequin is dressed as Lt. Colonel Kilgore from Apocalypse Now):
Meanwhile: If you’d rather draw something that looks more like Bubbles (the Lions’ logo character), there’s a step-by-step guide to doing that here.
Comments (22)

    Great work! I’m about to buy that book for my kids after seeing this.

    Also, that mannequin’s face looks like Jimmy Buffett….

    I never in a million years would have guessed the Lions’ logo character’s name is Bubbles…

    I remember my parents getting me a couple of Ed Emberly’s books thru the book club order forms at school. They were some of my childhood favorites! My own kids also had one or two of those books. Great shirt, and also a fun little trip down memory lane!

    Language Phil! It’s roartastic.

    Welcome to the lions marty. Other then 1983 when Eddie Murray missed wide right against the niners, I don’t ever remember the lions sniffing anything but their own butts.

    Made it as far as the NFC championship!
    They were no Michigan Panthers, but they were a scrappy little team that year.

    I’d wear that (if you took out the Matt Millen-ish BFBS facial features). Very nice work!

    I’ve become a bit of a free-agent fan myself. This year I chose the Colts, mostly because of their uniform, and a little because I thought, hmmm…they picked up Matt Ryan. This team could be going places!
    I should have picked the Lions along with you.

    Wow! I remember all of those Ed Emberly books from when I was a kid and loved to draw! Talk about a stroll down memory lane…that’s awesome!

    I would buy that shirt! It just feels appropriate for how cartoonish it feels to be a Lions fan.

    What a treasure of a book, what a cool shirt and my soft spot for the Lions has grown again. I mean, Bubbles? That is too funny. A team from the gritty D wearing a hue named Honolulu Blue is also special. Plus Paper Lion by George Plimpton is a good book on participating journalism. Go Lions!

    Cool! Would love to see all the league logos rendered in that style, although the Lion is particularly appropriate.

    Thank you, Marty! I just bought that book for my daughter. She’s going to love it!

    That shirt is great!
    I also liked the illustration on the top of the story better than the Detroit Lion. The drawn one reminded me of the old logo from the 60s or 70s with the “skulking or prowling” lion, it too was much better than the current version.

    First Bengals-Niners Super Bowl. Guy who worked at a supermarket wanted my help for a display for a contest between stores. I suggested two characters facing each other – a angry prospector with a pick axe and an angry tiger. But I couldn’t get the cat face right. I checked a few books in the library (pre-internet) and realized you need two circles above the mouth to “hold” the whiskers. It really was a lightbulb eureka moment. FYI – The store finished second.

    Wow! I had that book! Pretty sure I got it through the Scholastic book program? Probably tried to draw every one of those animals. What a fun memory that brings back!

    That’s great work, Marty! And honestly your t-shirt drawing is a better logo than most pro team animal logos. It’s whimsical, but also carries a midcentury aesthetic that’s quite dignified in its own way.

    Awesome stuff, Marty! As a fellow St. Louisan, I feel the pain of no NFL. You’ll have to find a similar drawing for a Battlehawk!

    I loved that book as a kid – even though I knew the output wasn’t going to look particularly realistic, at least my non-artistic skills could produce something close to the book. Like others, I think it came from a Scholastic book fair.

    Great project!

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