Fan art is a time-tested part of video game enthusiast culture. That’s especially true for the Final Fantasy games, which is why Square Enix recently partnered with the popular online art community deviantART to have a contest with a very special judge: Tetsuya Nomura, meain character designer for both the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series.
Thousands of artists entered the contest, which asked the participants to come up with their best renditions of Lightning, star of the Final Fantasy XIII games. Nomura said “it was very difficult to pick just three” grand prize winners because of the overall quality of the submissions — and also possibly because he had never judged a fan art contest before. But he eventually chose the lucky trio of Randis Albion, Marga Donaire and Nicolas Barge, who received an impressive prize package that included an original sketch from Nomura, $1000, a custom Xbox 360 and controller, a shirt, a keychain, and the entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
Here’s a look at all three winning entries (click on each image to see it at full size), along with a quote from Nomura on what moved him to select each one:
It’s wonderful as an illustration, but in addition to that, the artist drew in both the front and back views, so I felt the artist’s clear intent when they created this piece. The red and blue color scheme was very beautiful, too.
With one look I was hooked. The costume itself is sophisticated, and it’s also very well done as an illustration. The background that reminded me of the Japanese flag (Hinomaru) matched well with the piece and was beautiful. As an artist, when I look at different works of art, I think to myself “If it were up to me, I would do it differently,” but that thought didn’t cross my mind once when I saw this picture.
At first glance it looks like a CG, and it has a level of quality that makes it look like it was captured as a screenshot. While there were many heroic costumes for Lightning, I was drawn to the femininity of this costume and her hairstyle.
The contest drew 4,655 submissions, which were viewed over 1.6 million times. You can see all of the entries online on deviantART’s dedicated contest page.