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With April delivering fresh spring weather into our local climates, our thoughts begin to circle around the future and what possibilities we have in store for ourselves. It's also a convenient time to summarize the events taking place within Smogon's finest (and only) art forum, where the passing of the seasons certainly impacts the creativity and motivation of everyone working within its halls. Besides the usual round of our Monthly Art Contest (MAC), I'll also briefly talk about the development of the most recent project within the studio, and bring an artist to the spotlight to display a small fraction of what new talents the studio experiences on a regular basis. But first, let's bring attention to something which is directly related to the forum's activity but is nonetheless forgotten by many.
Much like a heart without a beat, or a clown without an unnerving smile, so is any active forum lacking a proper IRC channel. #smeargle is the place for all of Smogon to discuss art, chat with the local artists, and get into various arguments about Pokemon designs or animal photographs. Do you want feedback on your work but feel too insecure to make your own thread in the studio? Is your image software giving you a hard time and you want some help navigating its maze? Are you in need of an artist but don't know whom to contact? If any of the former questions lean towards "Yes", then you have a valid reason to drop by and seek the aid of the community. If not, dropping by the channel anyway is still a commendable course of action, as getting to know the artists providing the site with fresh images can give you valuable contacts, and new friends or infect you with a healthy obsession to try out art for yourself!
Just like any other channel, art discussion takes priority, but the given topic can be about anything. Yes, including bear wrestling. Generally, posting WIPs (Work in Progress) to get instant thoughts on your development is an easy way to avoid your art thread from becoming cluttered with unfinished imagery, and linking to some neat art you found to be inspiring or just extraordinary is a great way to break the silence. So with those brief guidelines out of the way, anyone should be fit to venture into the tall grass of #smeargle and experience its benefits. Now to move on to the studio's current community project!
"itt we illustrate a deck of playing cards."
And with that motivational speech, icepick introduced the idea of creating a full set of cards decorated with Pokémon drawn by any artist frequenting the forums. This initiative was met with a burst of cooperation from the forum, where plenty of artists quickly called dibs on the card and Pokemon they wanted to cover. With 13 cards for each suit along with two jokers, which in total becomes 54 images (and a back cover), this would be no small task, but the development during the past months has quickly filled the available slots. With 38 cards already made, and only 3 still up for grabs at the time of writing this article, this community project is at the verge of being completed before the arrival of summer. While some artists have had the time to contribute with more than one card, the sheer amount of artists willing to step up and contribute is an amazing testimony to the talent of those frequenting the forums, resulting in a deck with a large variety in both style and appearance.
While the completed product won't be sold as a commercial item, there has been discussion of making it available for individual printing for anyone who'd like their own physical copy. But regardless of whether you'll make one such order or not, visiting the thread to marvel at all of the finished cards is highly recommended, as well as silently contemplating the value of teamwork as you browse through the contents. Pictured below is just a small fraction of the selection, where the artists are andrew3391, breh, Snowpeashooters, and Justhavinfun, respectively.
In the previous MAC, the artists were handed the challenge of Minimalism, where they would have to express as much as possible with relatively small means. Some benefits of such a theme is that it doesn't affect the content of the entries, but rather the execution and approach, and the next MAC theme followed in a similar vein. Surrealistic art breaks the norm of traditional artwork as the content can be very conflicting and surprising, erasing the border between dreams and reality where the artists put great effort into exploring the unconscious of man where logic has no meaning. Or, as a layman would put it: random stuff put together that doesn't make any sense. With this daunting task ahead of them, many artists contributed to this broad yet difficult theme, and the community later voted to determine the winners. And for once, it ended up as a tie between two users: nov and Magistrum.
nov is no stranger to MAC, and once again he has graced the studio with another entry which takes the theme to its heart. With a stunning scenery that divides night and day between Altaria's soft wingspan, he's skillfully blended imagination with reality to create a dreamful image that takes good advantage of Altaria's design. The strong difference in lighting sets the mood well for the two neighboring skies, as well as the calm demeanour of the graceful dragonbird, which overall makes for a soothing image that still tickles our brain due to its illogical layout. A strong contender for the first spot.
Magistrum is no slouch either, boasting an impressive amount of lineart in his magical landscape and lively colors to go with them. Just like the Eeveepods, the audience is left watching the different Eeveelutions flying through the airspace, where it shows that Magistrum has made careful choices to match them with wings from various Bug Pokemon. Together with other subtle hints hiding in the strange surroundings, Magistrum has gone to great lengths to combine a plethora of Pokemon species in a manner which would otherwise be seen as unnatural, and has thus succeeded to create a most peculiar view that pokes our mind.
As opposed to nov, Magistrum is a new face competing in MAC. In fact, he's a new face in most of Smogon. Let's take a closer look.
If the above sample images didn't give it away, Magistrum is a talented artist who performs well regardless of whether his drawings are traditional or digital in nature, even though he has more experience with the former. With a good understanding of anatomy, architecture, and anything in-between, Magistrum is capable of pulling off many various styles and settings to achieve the right effect. With attention to detail and many vibrant colors at his disposal, you'll never really know what to expect when he gets to work, besides the assurance that the end result will leave little to complain about. Ever since his arrival, Magistrum has participated and contributed to a slew of projects around Smogon such as CAP, Tournament logos, Art for Articles or simple user requests posted in his art thread, making him an outstanding asset among the ever-growing group of Smogon artists. What are you still standing around here for? Check out his work already!
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