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Slam dunk visuals

Hailing from Greece and now based in the UK, Alexis Marcou appeared in Computer Arts as 'one to watch' a few years ago. His latest project has proven his illustrative talent on the international scene with a series of huge, impeccably rendered posters featuring America's biggest basketball stars for the Nike retail outlet, House of Hoops.

You'll be stunned by the amount of detail and craft Marcou has put into each of the images, which were commissioned as wall graphics by studio Slang Inc. The nine players he drew included Amar'e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and, yes, Lebron James (above). They were all drawn and shaded using Marcou's trademark graphite pencil strokes, and finished off in Photoshop.

"The most challenging thing about this project was the size," he explains. "I had to illustrate three or four parallel to each other to keep the style even. Also, the dimensions of each illustration were very large which can slow down the process and it can be tricky with graphite work with respect to quality and detail. Another challenge was making the deadlines as they were quite tight."

The contentious part of a job like this, particularly when the artist works by hand, is making client amends. However Marcou found this aspect relatively painless. "With every change, in this case, the designs were improved," he says. "In some cases there were changes to the graphite work, but mainly changes were made to the digital work which made it easier."

"This is a project I always wanted to work on," adds the Plymouth College of Art graduate.