No Contest: Monthly Art Contest Highlights

By Alchemator. Art by Bucky, SoIHeardYouLike SENTRET, Aragornbird, and Fatecrashers.
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As has been detailed in three articles in previous issues, the WSC (or Weekly Spriting Contest) has an extensive history dating back to well over a year ago. However, while its actual implementation was recent in comparison to the WSC, the idea of a Monthly Art Contest (MAC) has dwelled upon the minds of frequenters of the Studio for as long as the WSC has existed. Until recently, this line has been present in every WSC thread:

"Welcome one, welcome all to the one and only Smogon WSC! A Spriting Contest (and possibly an Art Contest if we can be bothered to make one) for all you aspiring digital artists to compete and improve your abilities."

Yet, despite this notion being read by spriters and/or artists every week for many months, it seemed that none had the initiative to start such a scheme – it was believed that there would not be enough interest. However, when the bubbly Bucky (previously not particularly prominent in Smeargle's Studio) started the first ever Monthly Art Contest the interest was overwhelming. Since that first thread, the MAC has been growing strong and producing breathtaking art, of which only a select few will be shown here. If you would like to find more art of this kind, simply search "Squeeeee!" to find Bucky's reactions to the majority of submissions.

MAC #2 – Green Evolution

This month's theme, all the way from before Black & White were released, was to design an evolution for the new generation's Grass-type starter: Snivy (though it was then known as Tsutarja). This theme was particularly difficult due to, instead of being able to use previous concepts, the participants being required to create a concept of their own while also focusing on the artistic aspects of the piece. However, despite these difficulties, SoIHeardYouLike SENTRET blew away the judges and public alike with this beautiful piece, scoring first place in a closely fought poll.

While this submission is by no means extravagant, the design provides a comfortable balance between detail and cleanliness. When designing a final evolution for a grass snake, it would be easy to fall into the traps of swathes of vines and heads and other such superfluous details. Here Sentret has forgone masses of foliage for more simplistic body parts, but highlighted warmly by the soft light sources on the Pokemon's body. When struck by the lights from the creature's head, back and tails the shade of green changes from a cold color to a warmer shade, complementing the already warm beige. These warm (repeat!) colors beautifully contrast the blue scenes of night in the background, especially against the moon.

Sentret has not crowded the background with distractions, allowing the viewer to enjoy the subtleties of the piece more. The trees are realistically shaped, and their texture is brilliantly shown by the many different shades. Even the grass has not been neglected – the lighter shade gives a perfect look of the moonlit ground being tipped with dew.

Plus that face is absolutely adorable!

MAC #3 – Stark Contrast

Though the theme could be interpreted as simple, the entries to the third MAC were anything but plain. Contrast is a key part of art, highlighting important parts of paintings and providing new outlooks against other elements of the piece. While the famous Aragornbird did not place first (coming second to a fantastic Zapdos by Icepick) this certainly does not detract from the many merits of this piece.

When portraying birds in any media, whether it be drawing or painting or otherwise, it is important to note the difference in texture to other animals. To be quite obvious, animals such as dogs have fur whereas birds have feathers. This makes a large difference to how light appears against their bodies and, due to a large ball of fire being at its feet, this is of utmost important in this piece.

Feathers are a difficult texture to capture, yet Aragornbird has done it excellently. The line art is relatively simplistic but, with the use of expert shading, Swellow's coat is shown perfectly. The highlight between the feathers on Swellow's right wing clearly shows the division between the different parts of the wing and the slightly different texture of Swellow's head, which is shown by minuscule differences in shading at different stages towards the back of the head. As was used in Sentret's submission to the previous month's contest, the warmer colors (red, orange and, in this case, white) are positioned around the center of the piece, with Swellow's blue shades forming the 'second shell'. The rippled, blue background provides a slow fade from Swellow's body, directing the focus to the fire ball.

MAC #6 – Costume Contest!

Jump forward four months and the lovely Fatecrashers has arrived on the art scene to grace us with this awesome Halloween posse. The theme was to create a Halloween costume (or multiple for multiple Pokemon) and the artists did not disappoint with their creativity. While this contest has not yet been polled, Fatecrashers's entry certainly seems to be a favorite (it's definitely a favorite of mine) though it has stiff competition against a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed entry by Aragornbird, and against a multitude of other talented artists.

A very interesting point about this submission is that, despite there being absolutely zero shading, the personalities of the Pokemon and the creativity are sufficient. However, I believe that shading (even simple shading) would have made this piece even more fantastic than it currently is.

Standing (and in Weavile's case kneeling) in the classic Ghostbuster's pose, this is the kind of group that is so awesome that you wouldn't just give candy to them, you'd give them your entire house (including the candy!) With Fatecrashers's trademark injections of personality into the Pokemon, this piece is immediately fresh and appealing to the viewer. The line art is clean and concise.

A beautiful part of Fatecrashers's (now numerous collection of) art is the way he outlines his drawings. Rather than using a solid black outline, Fatecrashers uses a style found in the Pokemon sprites – using a darker shade of the Pokemon with which to outline it. This provides an original aspect to his drawings, and is one of the reasons why so many love his work.

Stay tuned in the future for more MAC highlights!

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