This is fan art

Exploring the skills behind kick-ass illustrations by fellow game fans

The characters and environments of the gaming world are so colourful and exciting, it’s little wonder they inspire many of us to pick up our crayons and coloured pencils and have a go at recreating them – or even reimagining them – ourselves. The numbers of drawings we've seen of your favourite characters just goes to show how popular it’s become to take the game art world into your own hands. But there are a few of you who take it one step further…

Above: Click to see an enlarged version of Patrick Brown's work

With the increasing availability of art creation applications like Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, fans of gaming art have become able to take many of the same tools of creation that the real-life games creators use and make their own versions of popular characters – which are often every bit as good as the real thing. Whether it’s simple fan-fuelled line and crayon drawings of Shadow and Amy getting hitched; sexed-up wish-fulfillment pieces of Chun-Li or Lara Croft in very little clothing; or huge and expansive Photoshop-rendered scenes mirroring the plush landscapes of the Final Fantasy games, there seems to be something irresistible about taking an existing body of work and adding your own unique slant – however simple or sophisticated they may be.

Above: See howartist Warren Louwput her together on page 3

The internet, of course, is awash with the stuff. Be it the cute and simple art created by game fans on the lovely site, or the near-professional work you can find on the fan art section of and all over the gallery sections of digital art sites such as and, or even in GR's owncollectionyou’ll not only be able to share your art with like-minded fans, but pick up tips and hints on how to paint. Some of the biggest names in real-life game art hide among the aliases on their forums, so you never know, you might end up conversing with your creative heroes. And if you’re good enough, who knows where things may lead…

Q%26amp;A: Mikael Aguirre

Also known as Orioto, his screenshot- inspired work is a favourite for desktop wallpapers. Check out more of his workhere.

What first inspired you?

I always found my inspiration in games, actually. That’s a big part of my culture. I wanted to do game-related art before I knew how to use Photoshop.

How do you choose which games to recreate?

Sometimes it’s a game that I like, for nostalgic reasons. I’m often inspired by curiosity. I paint what I want to see, because nobody else will do it for me!

How long would you spend on a typical painting?

I need 20-30 hours in general to finish one.

Above: Metroid-inspired Toxic Planet. Click to see an enlarged version

What methods do you use to create your pieces?

I use a concoction of digital painting and photo-manipulation. I assemble a lot of photo pieces that I then heavily manipulate in Photoshop in order to construct my picture.

When you’re making a game-related image, do you like to recreate it perfectly, or perhaps put your own artistic slant on it?

I never recreate it blindly – I’m only interested in reinterpretations. My art is always a suggestion of something different.

What’s the day job?

I’m editor and director for some TV and audiovisual content. I also do some graphic work for games and sites. I recently worked on some FaceBook games, including Elementz.

What games do you think look the best, art-wise?

I would say Mario Galaxy and Muramasa the Demon Blade. Two Wii games – that’s a little sad!


Mikael Aguirre walks us though the creation of his Moonwalker tribute piece…

1) The background is done with simple gradient layers and some masking. I wanted to have a really particular light in this picture, as the Jackson music video is all about light and mood.

2) I used the original sprite of the guy breaking his stick from the game. It’s always fun to put something directly from the source in some new settings.

3) I was of course listening to the music all the way! I captured the two enemies directly from the video. Then I painted over them with new shadows and colours to match the light.

4) The audience is painted over a video reference. I did the same for Jackson, but I made him shiny at first to match the video. I also added some wood columns at mid-range for depth.

5) Finally, I added some mood by diffusing the lights and spots to find the particular light of the vid. I play a lot with colour shades between different layers.

Above: The finished piece. Click to see an enlarged version

Above: Wallpaper! Green Hill Zone by Orioto. Click to see an enlarged version

*Follow Orioto on Twitter:*

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