The Art Gallery - Tricks of the Trade
One day you find yourself wandering around Neopia and you stumble upon someone with a rather shiny trophy in their grasp. As you move in for a closer look, you can see engraved into its side the words “Picture Competition CHAMPION!!!”
You are now wondering where you can also get such a delightful treasure. No need to ponder anymore; the place you seek is the Art Gallery Contest! Hidden in the depths of the Art Center’s catacombs, artists of all ages and skill levels gather to show their finest arts in hopes of winning this coveted prize.
Hopefully, this guide will help you get a small insight into how this contest works and inspire you to enter too.
To keep it simple, art can be broken down into two main categories, Digital and Traditional.
Digital Art is almost always completely created on a computer using an art program of some sort. Some users may make a hand drawn sketch and scan it into their computer to neaten and colour. Good programs include Corel Paint, Adobe Paintshop, OpenCanvas, Paint Shop Pro, and even the humble MS Paint that comes freely installed with most PCs (sadly not with Macs). You can even find some good online paint like sites. Personally, I have not used them since I own a version of Paintshop, but from what others have said there are a few good ones around to create art if you don’t have the money to buy the latest programs. Just remember, just because a program cost a lot of money doesn’t mean it will make you an expert overnight.
In addition to programs, the other element to Digital Art is the method of drawing. The two most common are mouse drawn and tablet drawn. Mouse drawn is as the name implies, using your computer mouse to draw and colour. A tablet is a pad that you connect to your PC that comes with a pen that is pressure sensitive. The pad detects the pen and transfers your drawing directly onto your art program. Again, a tablet is on the pricey side and it will take practice to get used to it.
Traditional Art allows for a much more varied skill range than Digital. The most common is simple drawing using pencils, crayons, paint and similar on paper. Other options open to use are clay or plasticine sculptures, knitting or sewing, mosaics, baking, and even full body costumes (but ensure that neither you nor anything that can identify you or your location can be seen in the photo). So just because you can’t draw, doesn’t mean you can’t enter!
Two must have items you will need to submit for any of the above techniques are a Scanner and/or a Digital Camera. Without these you will not be able to get your masterpiece onto your computer.
The trick to getting into the Art Gallery is to make your art stand out from the others. As explained above, using other mediums is a great way to stand out from standard pictures. Adding humor to the art is also a plus; not only does it make your piece stand out, but it gives the Art Judge a giggle too! If you’re not sure what species of pet you want to draw, try using some less common species or colours. Since some pet species/colour combinations feature often you are more likely to stand out, but remember you cannot use a species/colour combination that does not exist. Adding a creative title to go with your image, though not as important as the image itself, can complete it. The most important thing to do is to keep trying! Don’t let a few failed attempts stop you.
Things to Avoid
These are a few Art Gallery don’ts to be aware of. Never put a copyright/trade mark symbol on your picture. It will not be accepted no matter how nice it looks; instead use your initials or username if you're worried about theft. Be mindful of the Neopets terms and conditions in regards to romance/violence etc... keep it G-rated. Another thing to steer away from is tracing pictures from the site. Though it’s not against the rules to do so, it lessens your chances of getting your piece accepted, so try to create your own poses wherever possible.
And lastly, do NOT use, even if you have permission, anyone else’s art or part of their art. The art must be 100% your own work. Art Theft is not looked upon lightly and the punishment is very harsh and very permanent.
How to Enter
Now that you have your image looking the way you want it, it's time to prepare it for submitting. The Art Gallery has a few strict submitting rules your image will have to meet in order to be successfully entered. Your image cannot be bigger than 600 by 600 pixels. Pixels are the physical size of the picture. Most art programs have a tool or option that will allow you to shrink it if it is too big. It also must have a file size less than 80kb, but saving your image in one of the two accepted forms, jpg and gif, should help cut the size down. Shrinking the image more and using special tools in some art programs will help reduce it too.
When to Submit
If you're not aiming to enter for a specific day, you can submit any time you want. If you are targeting at a particular update, then enter about ten to three days before the update day; on average a week before is plenty of time.
Random days and Special days
There are two kinds of updates, Random and Special updates. Random, as it would suggest, is randomly selected works following no specific theme put together for an update. If no special days fall in any given week, there are on average two random updates.
Special Days for the most part can be predicted using the Neopian Calendar. This includes Pet days, special events like character days, historic events, and annual events like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas Day. The only time a special day can’t be predicted is when one is declared randomly, and art is selected based on the theme.
Of the two, Special days are easier to get into, and the less popular the species or theme, the better your chances are.
Age and Skill Diversity
No one is too young or too old to enter this contest, and skill levels vary a lot. The Neopets Team is very mindful that we are not all professional artists by trade so they try to select from a wide variety of abilities and styles. Talking down artists who get into the Art Gallery is bad sportsmanship. After all, it is a contest. Everyone has a right to enter. Always respect The Neopets Team’s choice and the artists who are featured.
Best of luck to all who choose to enter. If you have further questions, please feel free to neomail me.