Intro | Digital Art | Traditional Art | Do's and Don'ts | BC Etiquette | Saving | Entering | Too Good | Share the Love | Helpful Pages



Introduction

Last updated: 24 March 2008

Ah, yes. The Art Gallery (henceforth called the "AG"). What a surprise to come home and log on only to discover you are 10K and a rare item richer. And on top of that, your art is being displayed on the site for all to see forever more. (Note that if you are accepted you don't recieve any other notification than the item and 10K.)

How do you achieve that, you ask? A lot of hard work and a bit of talent won't hurt. ^^

As of now, I've only been featured three times, but I still get a lot of Neomails asking how I got in. ^^ So y'all can read this and I won't have to worry about being Neomail banned. ^^

Let me divide the types of art into two sections: digital (on the computer) and traditional (not on the computer). And we might as well start with digital, since it requires less equipment (as you don't need a method to digitize your work, such as a scanner or camera- it's already digital :P).




Digital Art

First off, you need an art program. Almost every computer I've ever seen comes with Paint automatically installed at the computer factory. Now Paint is a pretty basic program, but sometimes simple is best. I have seen a lot of people do great things with just this program. If you go to the
Beauty Contest board and ask around, you can see the fabulous work that's possible with this simple program. I won the Draik category of the Beauty Contest and placed sixth overall once using Paint. (Very proud of that, lol! You can see the entry on Maldijo's petpage, if you're interested. And let me state: that was my first attempt to use Paint the way I did. It all came down to the tutorial. And the ten or so hours I slaved over it. XD) Don't worry if you can't make really spiffy pictures in Paint, because neither can most of the world. :P (Because most of the world doesn't go out looking for great tutorials- they give up too easily. :P) However, if you are itching to learn how to impress your friends or because that's all you've got, you can find a GREAT Paint tutorial on Grape_Candy's petpage. It makes a great introduction and also shows some spiffy techniques and examples of BC-winning Paint art. Ondrusova's page is another wonderful tutorial! Finally, another awesome Paint tutorial (along with other great art tutorials) can be found on Muraille's petpage. ^^ This page is more advanced, but DEFINITELY worth a look. ^^ (Remember how I said that pic of Dijo all came down to the tutorial? Well, that was the tutorial, folks. Endorsements don't come better than that!) I bet you can win the AG using techniques found in these petpages. ;)

Just a note: Paint automatically saves to .bmp, which is not accepted into the AG or the BC, but DON'T try to save your art as .gif or .jpg on Paint, as this typically ruins the picture. Instead, use another program if you have one. If you don't, find someone willing to help you out. There will be plenty. Try the BC board, or just Neomail me and hope I'm on. :P

Another great place to draw is an oekaki board. These are similar to Paint but have a few more features. They are also entirely online so you don't have to do anything but register. Many oekakis don't have a restriction on artist skill, but there are some that do. If you are just starting out, you might want to look around for one that has no skill restrictions. Again, a great place to ask is in the Beauty Contest board. Most BCers are friendly and won't bite (although they may ask for a vote)! ^^ When you start out on an oekaki, your art may be unrefined, but within a few posts I can guarentee that your art will get visibly better. ^^ Plus, many people tend to have tutorials. My oekaki was the Draik Clan, which is a great place to join if you have a Draik. ^^ One more advantage of an oekaki over just using Paint is that you can get critiques on your art as it is being drawn.

There are also art programs you can download for free. I use Open Canvas 4 for this, although when I downloaded it I had to translate it from Japanese. ^^ This program can teach you a lot about layers and is a bit more complicated than the other programs, but you will get the hang of it fairly quickly. I did after just one picture. However Open Canvas is not really suited to drawing with a mouse (see more on tablets at the end of this section).

There are some good programs to use that are fairly costly. I know that the average Neopian probably can't afford these tools right off, since they are somewhat expensive. My recommendation is Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8, which costs about $100 US. (Although they don't make it anymore, I'm sure you can track it down somewhere, such as The Bay of Fifth English Language Letter. It will likely be cheaper that way. Or get another version of it. There are plenty of Neopian artists who have tutorials for their programs, so you can't go wrong. Just ask around in the BC board.) Mine came bundled with Animation Shop 3, which is a neat little program that has allowed me to make .gif animations. (You can also use a search engine to find some good freebie gif animators, such as Microsoft Gif Animator. :P) Other people use Photoshop, but I don't have it so I can't tell you how effective this is. I don't recommend buying a professional art program unless you are really serious about becoming an artist and are planning to use it for things besides Neopets. I also own Corel Painter 8, which came bundled with my tablet, but I haven't installed it.

What's a tablet, you ask? Well, if you didn't, you should have! They are probably the best art aid around. I used to use a Wacom Graphire 3 with a pressure sensitive pen. (Make SURE that the tablet you buy has a pressure sensitive pen!) The idea of a tablet is that you draw on it and the drawing appears in whatever art program you have running. Mine could also act as a mouse. The only downside? The price. Good tablets run around $300 US from a retailer. However, they can last quite a long time, making them a good investment. My Graphire finally gave up the ghost after four years of wonderful service. (My new tablet is a Wacom Intuos 2. It is amazing. Wacom makes the best tablets!)



Traditional Art

Tradional art is usually done with pencil and paper, so first off you need a scanner. If you don't have one, sometimes a digital camera works, although it should be a last resort for drawings.

Usually people sketch an outline and then go over it with either colored pencils, markers, or pens. If you use colored pencils, like I do, try to buy a colorless blender at your office supply store or art supply store and go over your picture with it when you finish coloring it in. Otherwise you may get embarrassing comments about your art looking good for being done in crayon. ^^ (I speak from experience. ^^) Probably the best colored pencils are Prismacolor, but they are quite expensive, coming in at just under $1 US per pencil. If you can't afford to spend that much, Crayolas work nicely, too. I have even seen some people use paints, which I think is quite spiffy! ^^ When I draw, I usually sketch my picture and go over it with my pen. I erase my pencil lines with whichever eraser is handy to me, although an art gum eraser is best. (It doesn't leave those little crumbs and is fun to play with! XD) Then I either color it with colored pencils or scan it in, go over my lines once more on the computer, and then color it.

If you absolutely cannot draw, and you (or a nice person you know) own a digital camera, you can always try making something with your hands (i.e. a pillow, sculpture, stuffed animal, or snow thing). The AG regularly showcases these real-life objects and it is really almost a sure fire way to get in. Many people say that they are not good at things like this, but I do not think that I am either and my sculptures have been featured twice! I always use white Crayola Model Magic, paint, and clear nail polish (For protection- only certain brands work! Try Maybelline.) to make my sculptures. I have seen people get in with cakes! (This is a great idea- after you win, you can eat it! Lol!) There are any number of things you can make to get in. Be creative!

Proof that they love creativity (though not stuff that doesn't exist on-site, though this was before Customization):




Do's and Don'ts

Do
  • Put your username on
  • Put a background
  • Be creative
  • Make the image .gif or .jpg (in lower case letters)
  • Include a title
  • Make it Neopet and/or "birthday" related
  • Submit on time for best chances
  • Make sure it actually exists on-site (no Grey Draiks :( )
Don't
  • Put a copyright on
  • Make the image bigger than 80K or 600 pixels
  • Steal another's work!!
  • Adapt an existing pic
  • Submit the same pic multiple times
  • Make it gory

Another interesting tidbit for "Do's and Don'ts" to help y'all's chances of getting into the AG appeared in week 244's Editorial. Here is a screenshot:



This may provide insights on why your art hasn't been picked yet, and it gives you a fair warning. In my opinion, this just causes the BC to be filled with cruddy artwork (since the AG has better rewards), but what do I know? I haven't been entering the BC since the "no side accounts" rule came in. (Yes, PLEASE don't enter side account pets into the BC. I don't want you iced, even if I don't know you. ^^ Not going to go more into this issue, though, as there are many good petpages on the subject.) So, my suggestion- enter art into the AG FIRST, THEN after it gets picked or becomes apparent that it won't be, enter into the BC. Amanda's nice. She (probably) won't care. XD

Of course, it DOES say, "It won't disqualify you necessarily, but it will severely lessen your chances of winning. You've already won something with that image, so we want to give other people a chance." I guess we can assume that just entering a picture into both the BC and AG is OK, as long as you don't WIN the BC. XD (Lol, I don't have to worry, anyway!)

UPDATE:


Thank you to user mimed for allowing me to use this screenie. ^^ It proved my theory of entering the AG first and BC second. It's now confirmed OK to do so, but some people don't seem to like it. :P So if that bothers you for some reason, don't. But personally I say full steam ahead! Fun fact: This was concerning a picture done in MSPaint, thus proving another theory I had once and for all. It IS possible to win the AG using nothing but Paint!

I was talking with one of my artist friends about the AG hating me and all, lol, and she offered me these tips, since she's been featured 25 times. She's also the owner of Muraille. Here is what my friend Becky has to say on getting into the AG:

  • I cell shaded. I don't know why, but neopets liked my cell shading.
  • I included more than one character in the picture as often as possible.
  • I tried to make a fancy background for my pictures
  • Humor is ALWAYS nice to add in.
  • If you can't do humor, try making your pose active.

Remember, this is straight from a person who has been featured more than eight times more than me. :P Listen to her, but also keep in mind that Becky was rejected far more than accepted, even while doing most or all of these things.




BC Etiquette

Well, even though this guide is mostly about the Art Gallery, a lot of you will be entering your art into the Beauty Contest as well. ^^ So y'all might need a bit of introduction into BC Etiquette. (Basic rules of Netiquette apply to the BC, of course. If you don't want to go read Emily Post, I suggest
Cultured's petpage.) BCers can be quick to jump on people who violate unwritten BC rules, for instance. Or people who just don't read the written ones. Don't be that person, please. ^^ This section is also a quick-and-dirty BC guide. Enjoy. ^^

Before you enter, I'd just like to point up the page a bit and remind you that winning the BC could be bad for any art you wish to submit to the AG. So, enter it AFTER it's won, or enter art that's not intended for the AG. (This is not an excuse to BC shoddy artwork, though. BCers dislike seeing "scribbled" artwork. Put effort into your art. ^^ Most BCers will not mind new artists learning as they play, but if they go to your lookup and see TONS of fantastic artwork, and your BC picture is clearly not up to par, they can get testy.)

All right, a few other things. After you submit your art, it won't appear until NEXT contest. This is one of the more annoying FAQs on the BC board, so let's get it out of the way. Contests start Friday, at 4:15 pm NST. During this time, you may get a Neomail from contest_judge telling you your entry is not accepted. You should fix the problem, and try again, of course. If you don't know what the problem is, ask on the BC board. If you and all the BCers can't figure out, one of them (or me, even) can give you the e-mail of Amanda, who runs the BC. She's a terrific person, but sometimes she mistakenly rejects a picture she meant to accept. (She's done it to me. ^^) BCers love Amanda. You should too. ^^ She's a sweetheart.

All right, so your entry hasn't been rejected, and it's 4:16 NST Friday. What you want to do from here on out is NOT lab any pets you have entered. If they get a species change, you can no longer collect votes. Anyway, it's time to advertise. That means posting on boards with "Free votes" in the topic or on a topic you made yourself. Don't steal another's topic. It's just rude. (Obviously, there are other ways to advertise, but this section isn't called "Ways to Advertise.") A few other things to not do are spamming all the topics with your entry, and what is called "vote trading." Trading votes is when you ask someone to vote for your pet in exchange for you voting for theirs. Just because you'll see a lot of people trading votes does not make it right. It's a freezable offense. (Another freezable offense is voting on spares.) One final thing: do not lie about how you are voting. If you say you're voting for UserX's Chia, vote for UserX's and not UserY's. Also, (this should go without saying) don't bribe people to vote for your pet! You'll be iced faster than you can say, "Vote!"

A fairly recent trend in the BC (It started after I quit BCing when side accounts were not allowed to enter.) is the non-silent vote, or NSV. BCers started to vote "silently" (meaning they would not say which Aisha they voted for, for example), but a few still vote "non-silently" (meaning they will say EXACTLY which Aisha got their vote). People judge how they are doing in the contest by tallying their number of NSVs, or non-silent votes. Many BCers will have a goal number of NSVs they want to reach in a given week.

This is just a quick guide to the BC and how you should act while participating. For a much better, more detailed guide, please see froststar's petpage. ^^ Mawsi's petpage is also very good (it even has a glossary)! Together those two guides cover pretty much everything that you need to know about the BC! Please also check out Xailania's petpage for any BC FAQs you may have.




Saving: .gif or .jpg?

Saving your file after it's been drawn is tricky. First off, I want to restate here: don't use Paint to save anything, because it does some serious distortion. Also, all things being equal (meaning your picture looks great either way) I would save to the smaller image file. No matter what, if you aren't sure what to save it as, save the image FIRST as the default file, then go to File and Save Image as, and name it something like mypicture_test to save in both gif and jpg.

Jpg is mostly used for images that have a lot of colors, usually due to the background or shading. If you have an image that looks to you like it contains lots of colors, don't bother trying saving it to gif. Just go straight to jpg. Here's an example:



Gifs should be used when there are less colors in your drawing. Maybe it's a pixel (jpg pixels can turn out blurred) or you did it in an oekaki. In my experience, oekaki pictures (saved as png by delault) should be saved as gif, otherwise their file size is too big. Compare your picture to the picture used in the example below. If it is more like this, it should be saved as gif. Gif images have 256 different colors or less. Any more and it starts to convert extra colors to the nearest available color.



Hopefully this mini-tutorial has been some help to you. ^^ Blurry or pixelly pictures are no fun and most likely won't get into the AG.



Entering the AG

Once you're feeling confident in your art skills, you are going to want to
enter the AG. (You might want to enter the BC, too!) After all, that's what this guide is about, isn't it? ^^

A good time to enter the AG is when a Special Day is coming up, like Zafara Day. Neopets always picks art on these days. If your picture is also really cute, you have a double shot at getting in. (Hint: Gory art almost never gets in.)

Precisely when one should enter the AG, or any other site contest, in hopes of getting in on a Special Day can be found in the following Editorial screenie:

As you can see, they admit they get desperate sometimes. However, don't depend on that. :P (Usually AG desperation occurs when one of the pieces selected turns out to have been stolen. So they need backups ready.) Even if you specialize in Moehogs or Tuskaninnies or other, less popular pets, it's best to submit early.

If there is no Special Day coming up, you can always enter your art anyway, but it can be weeks before it's picked. My first entry, a sculpture of Jeera, my Shoyru, took several weeks to show up. I had completely forgotten about it. But usually if your art doesn't show up after 7-10 days, you should enter it again. Keep in mind you can only enter three files a day. Also, if you put a copyright sign on your picture, it will NEVER get picked. (It is the same with all of the contests on Neopets. Lawyerbot doesn't like copyright symbols. This is because you and I do not actually own Neopets, the company.) You can put your username on to prevent thefts, though.

Remember, very few people are naturally talented at art. We all were beginners once, but keep practicing and you'll soon be up with the best artists in Neopia.


Happy drawing-
lobstermagnetcty




Just Too Good

I'm adding this as a postscript because it's come to my attention that some people have entered fantastic pictures and not been accepted. This has happened to me and many other people MANY times, and while it's not at all fair, it is something that has to be lived with. There seems to be some range of skill that the AG judges will accept, and if you fall outside of it, tough potatoes to you. This is fair enough when the picture is some sort of scribble (no offense to anyone is intended here XD) but it really does hurt if you fall above this range. The best advice I can give on this matter to all of you super-artists (and you know who you are ) is just to train yourself to draw Neopets pictures within this range of skill. That's what most people with a great number of AG trophies have done.

What exactly is a picture that is "too good?" I'm providing this piece as an example if you don't really know what I mean. Special thanks goes to ladyash782 for allowing me to use her pic as an example. If you really can't tell (O_o), that's an amazing Halloween Uni (or Nightsteed) you're seeing down there. ^^



I hope this section helps all you people who never get accepted and can't figure out why. ^^ Consider it flattering, even if it is irksome. ^^

March 2008 UPDATE: Recently it has come to my attention that the selection process is more than slightly random. Although not completely random. -_- So this also certainly explains a bit.




Share the love!

Did you enjoy reading this guide? That's great! Put one (or both!) of these banners on your page, and more people can enjoy reading it! ^^







Helpful Pages

Now that you're done reading this page, maybe you can read these great pages! ^^ Distractions are fun, no? Without further ado, here are the pages that I find helpful or just really like. :D


I figure us creative types oughta stick together, so here's a great guide to the Poetry Contest, if that's more your thing. ^^


One of my favorite petpages of all time:







Here are Simba_128's screenies, of his Editorial fame and letting
me keep his name on the screenie. ^^ (And providing it!)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Please, please, please read this next petpage! You don't want
to get iced instead of a trophy, now do you?
StolenArt


This is an adoption agency that I am in. It's really good; check it out!



Best. Comic. Ever.




Remember, folks:

So don't steal art! :K




Counter started 24 July 2005



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