A lot of official game art comes through our inboxes every day. Produced by game developers and distributed by their public relations teams to the media, eye-catching official game art is the stuff that magazine covers are made of and are often posted on sites like this. They help build hype for highly anticipated titles that are in the early stages of development before the dissection of screenshots and additional details in previews that inevitably follow a game’s announcement begin rolling in. Because so much is riding on the public’s initial reaction to them, this sort of official art tends to look great.
But more often than not, it’s fan art that we like best. There’s something about excellent fan-made tributes that satisfies in ways that officially sanctioned game art can’t – and no, we’re not talking about hentai doujinshi. We’re talking about the best of the best, the high quality stuff we’ve collected here today.
Of course, not all fan art is impressive. In fact, a lot of it is downright awful. The internet is full of misshapen Marios holding hands with grotesque Peaches. But to say that all fan art is made by amateurs is full of all kinds of wrong. In fact, much of the best fan art is done by professionals whose love for gaming shines through in their independent projects.
Title: Megaman for SoaringKitty
Above: Sailor_InuyashaMon made a valiant attempt at recreating Mega Man. But this isn’t the kind of fan art that we’re talking about
Above: Still, it’s not like this official box art was much better
Title: Conquering your Demons
Artist: Ben Mauro
Great fan art doesn’t just attract the attention of fellow fans. Sometimes, they’re so professional that they catch the eyes of pros in the industry. Case in point: Ben Mauro, a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Long before BioShock 2 was officially announced, Mauro posted images from a student project that quickly made their rounds through the gaming blogosphere. His unofficial images for a proposed sequel to BioShock looked so good, that some confused it for genuine concept art. 2K Games, the creators of BioShock, even got in touch with Mauro to express how much they liked his work and to thank him. You can visit Mauro’s blog to see more of his BioShock 2 images and keep up on his latest work.
Above: Mauro’s unofficial concept art for BioShock 2 got the attention of 2K Games
Above: Official concept art for Rapture’s lobby from the original BioShock looks great, but is severely lacking in the “Giant Mecha-whale” department
Gordon Freeman is to PC gamers as Mario is to Nintendo fans. But as much as we love Valve’s official art of the Half-Life series’ protagonist, it’s Anry Nemo’s portrayal of the stoic scientist we like best.
Title: Gordon Freeman
Artist: Anry Nemo
Above: You don’t want to mess with Anry Nemo’s version of Gordon Freeman. He’s got a crowbar and isn’t afraid to use it for the good of science
Above: In this official image, Gordon seems to be more about brooding than bashing things to a bloody pulp