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Showcase: SpriteWatch: sonictopfan

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Welcome to SpriteWatch!

This week’s selected artist is from the murky depths of deviantArt, Sonictopfan. Sonictopfan has been doing pixel art for a couple of years, and began with simply creating edits to avatar heads. These were of high quality as shown below, and got him some recognition in the community for the hard work he was putting in.

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However what we love here at Sonic Showcase Network is a clear cut progression and focus on improving your artform, something which sonictopfan is showing with each new art piece.

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Having created these animated avatar heads, he firstly stepped up by finishing the bodies and making several variations on the same model. These included two fan-characters and the Sonic Underground team. Whilst these showed an interest in advancing, they were a very short step, and the posture for the avatars made the body models too rigid.

This is the main gripe I have with these two art pieces. The colouring was very bland too, with a lack of a dedicated light source and especially the thin areas of the model (Manic’s hair and all of their limbs) coming out flat and extremely unremarkable. What sonictopfan should have done was to decide where to put his light source, then colour all the characters in where the light had been placed, then also apply shadows on characters where parts are covered (So if you had the light source to the right, Manic would be partly darker because he would be in Sonia’s shadow).

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Looking through Sonictopfan’s artwork, we then see a clear progression in 2007, focussing on modelling, use of colour and more natural poses. The first picture is unique, self-made poses. It’s not perfect, but it is a breath of fresh air after the avatars he made beforehand. There is an emotion in the scene, which is well realised in the facial expressions. I personally don’t think the love heart and exclaimation mark are needed at all, the faces tell the story by themselves.

The colouring is really good, with mostly a light source to the right (Except on the shoes where it appears to be coming from the left). I have only a few gripes with the colouring, and that is the light source problem on the shoes, andthe fact that there are no shadows. Wherever that light source is coming from, it can’t possibly pass through the table, and yet the colour of the characters and their clothing is exactly the same under the table as it is above it. The same also goes for Amy and Sonic’s hands/arms not making any shadow on the tabletop itself, which gives the entire scene a slightly incomplete feeling. Having said that, I do like this art piece, as it shows alot in the facial expressions and that is a hard thing to do.
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Not a huge amount I can say about this image, it is undeniably a great piece of art, however it has been copied. This is the Sonic CD promo artwork.

Despite that, the picture is wonderfully realised. the colouring is fresh and the modelling is spot on. I have my gripes about the lack of shadows on the characters (Sonic’s arm should be casting a shadow against his head for example) but this is well made. The metal texture on Metallix is really effective, but unfortunately was not carried through on the rest of his body. His feet could have used it, as they look quite odd to me.  The rest of Metallix is very three dimensional, but the feet look out of place and flat, almost like they’re not connected to the rest of the body.

While this would require some touching up, this is a great learner’s piece and shows a good stage of development.

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Now I want to focus on the quality of animation that Sonictopfan is learning. Above he has two animated Sonic images, and both look great.

The first picture is not his own, it’s a pixel art of Sonic from the game Gaia, so I can’t give him any positive comments on the modelling or colouring of the character. However the animation is very different to the pose and is actually well realised. The arm bends and flexes in response to the movement and the hand itself is animating brilliantly. My main critique for this piece is the fact that the arm is the only thing moving in the whole picture. Considering he didn’t have to actually make the original picture, he could have tried adding some breathing animation, a little bit of body movement, even the odd blink now and then. The animation in the image is very good, but there’s simply not enough of it and that is a shame.

The second image is a completely remade take on the Sonic Advance sound test, and appears to be based on the old avatars Sonictopfan made and had shown earlier in this Watch. The difference with this is the model has been built a little bulkier, which works better, and the animation covers the lack of shading. The shading is still quite bland for the most part, but it does actually follow the contours of her body properly during her movements.
The main area for this piece is animation quality, and Sonictopfan had the original to help him with that. It is very smooth, there doesn’t appear to be any errors in the animation and the piece looks energetic and natural. A good development piece, and something well worth developing in the future.

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For the final piece, Sonictopfan has made these big-eyed anime style cutsie Sonic and Tails characters. These are well modelled (Though the big pupils are too big) and the effect of movement in the Tails’ tails and Sonic’s legs are fantastic, but this also showcases the main issue Sonictopfan has with his artwork. The colouring is just so bland. Obviously he’s done alot of good work with animation and modelling but the colouring is flat, which is evident more on this piece than any of his others. Just look at the amount of bland monotone blue on Sonic’s head, and even when it reaches a second tone for his spines that resorts to monotone. There’s no positive lightsource, no texture detail or even considerable shading.

When reviewing art, you do have to remember that it is often in a style. Manga tends to adopt this cutsie style often, and often follows through with basic Cel-Shading like the image here. This is therefore an authentic colouration, but no less bland. Cute Manga is coloured in this fashion to save on costs, colour printing was expensive and you had to get the most out of basic colours. Considering that there is no cost involved in this artpiece, the lack of shading quality has no reason to exist.

Overall Sonictopfan has made considerable improvements over his pixel art. Starting from basic editting to unique imagery and then animation, he has shown the potential to always achieve more. His work is commendable for this fact, and he has deservedly earned a space on SpriteWatch. However my advice to him would be to work on improving your work with colours and shading, especially where a light source is concerned, and don’t forget to add your shadows because you’ll be surprised how much of a difference they make to an art piece.

All Sonictopfan’s artwork can be found on his DeviantArt page Here
All artwork copyright to Sonictopfan



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