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The unsung stars of Call of Duty's emblem creator make some INCREDIBLE art

You think of COD and you think of shooting, wall-running and stern men saving the world one bullet at a time. And, maybe, how much you wanted Captain Price to be your dad. That’s for another feature though, and probably some therapy. What you probably didn’t know was just how creative people can get in Black Ops 3’s emblem maker. 

Admittedly not many are checking out the emblems of the people that shoot them in game, but if you take the time to look up some of its stars on YouTube then you’ll find some incredible pieces of art being created. Take a look at this for example from VileSelf (opens in new tab)

I’ve picked that one out because of the purity and minimal cleanness of its lines. It’s 'print out and frame on the wall' levels of pretty. Here’s another from VileSelf, again creating a striking image from very little: 

One thing that you can probably see throughout all these is that COD’s Emblem editor has plenty of features but it clearly wasn’t intended for more than basic images, using its collection of simple shapes and pre-drawn images. Not that that's stopped anyone. Watch this amazing Harley Quinn image and notice how it’s conjured from stencils of soldiers and basic blocks. 

Despite this obviously limited tool set some creators can produce some surprisingly detailed and nuanced images, like Elusive Dream (opens in new tab)’s take on Harambe, which looks for all the world like an airbrushed piece of art:

Vileself, as well, can create similarly layered and detailed images, like their take on Spider-Man: 

What’s even more impresive is how some creators manage to branch out into other destinctive art styles, like Sleyden (opens in new tab)’s vector-style illustration of Overwatch’s D.Va

Similarly, Babifoot (opens in new tab) manages a great Tracer in a very similar style: 

Gbrillira (opens in new tab) on the other hand specialises in pixel art, creating numerous characters from simple blocks, using a program that doesn’t have simple blocks. Check out his Batman and watch how a creates a grid-like, ordered illustration from a range of distorted shapes: 

Despite the lack of any of that proper boring art stuff like ‘brushes’, people like Tocan (opens in new tab) are able to create images that perfectly recreate their subject matter. Okay, Patrick from Spongebob isn’t exactly the Sistine Chapel, but this recreation is cartoon show quality: 

Some of COD’s artists have reached a point where the stuff they’re making isn’t really usable as an emblem anymore, it’s just art. Like MagicSista24 (opens in new tab)’s take on a classic Star Wars The Force Awakens shot: 

And, staying with the Star Wars theme, this Stormtrooper by Babifoot shows an incredible grasp of perspective and form. 

Art is just an innate part of human nature. From cave paintings to cathedrals made of matchsticks - if creation is possible someone will find some way of doing incredible things with it. This impressive productivity in such an unlikely place seems another expression of that. So, next time you get mown down in Call of Duty online, take a moment to check the emblem of who shot you - you might just be missing a masterpiece. 

Leon Hurley
Leon Hurley

I'm currently GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I've had a hand in producing or writing all of the guide and tips content on the site. I also write reviews, previews and features, and do video. Previously I worked for Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website. I'm a big fan of open world games, horror, and narrative adventures.