Animal Crossing: New Horizons gets a makeover with these realistic villager portraits

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Tom Nook realistic fan art
(Image credit: Nintendo / @edaff19)

An Animal Crossing: New Horizons fan is creating realistic portraits of several of the in-game villagers.

Digital artist Elena (aka @edaff19) takes the recognizable characters from Animal Crossing: New Horizons and turns them into realistic-looking pieces of art. So far, they’ve already redesigned Tom Nook, Zipper T. Bunny, Blathers, Celeste, Mabel, and Raymond. They also have plans to also add K.K. Slider, Isabelle, Redd, and potentially even Roald or Ankha. 

Elena tells GamesRadar+ that “it was interesting for me to imagine what these characters would look like in our world. Plus, I wanted to add a comical effect by having them wear their clothes. This balance of real and imaginary was exciting to explore.”

So, how do they do it? According to the artist themselves: “It’s quite straightforward, really. I start by drawing the animal – at this point, they are completely devoid of any AC features. Then I add clothes and familiar features of said character. Lastly, I draw the background. The challenge is to make the characters appear realistic, while also ensuring that they don’t lose their charm and are recognizable.” 

They also made a point of noting how important it is to keep each character’s recognizable traits in the re-designs noting that it’s the little details that matter most: "For example, Celeste has her signature sparkle in the eyes – she looks like that when gazing at the falling stars.” 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t the only thing that Elena likes to draw with realistic features either, as they have also illustrated the most adorable Pokemon Piplup and Fennekin as well as several other impressive realism illustrations. 

According to Elena: “The most exciting thing for me is the challenge – the more cartoonish the character seems, the more interesting it is to redesign him. Pokémon, in particular, have fewer features of real-life animals. It’s fun to experiment and find out how they turn out in the end.”

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When asked if they had plans to delve into any other video game series for inspiration, the artist said: “I’d like to explore more series: Banjo-Kazooie, Sonic the Hedgehog (I haven’t personally played them but I like the character designs my son has shown me.) The sky’s the limit!”

Elena is currently accepting commissions so if you have an Animal Crossing: New Horizons character you’d like to see brought to life, we suggest getting in contact with them via Twitter. 

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Hope Bellingham
News Writer

After studying Film Studies and Creative Writing at university, I was lucky enough to land a job as an intern at Player Two PR where I helped to release a number of indie titles. I then got even luckier when I became a Trainee News Writer at GamesRadar+ before being promoted to a fully-fledged News Writer after a year and a half of training.  My expertise lies in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cozy indies, and The Last of Us, but especially in the Kingdom Hearts series. I'm also known to write about the odd Korean drama for the Entertainment team every now and then.