The Beauty Contest - Let your inner artist run wild!
BEAUTY CONTEST-Well this is my first article for the Neopian Times and at first,
I struggled to think of a topic. Then, while I was randomly browsing the Beauty
Contest entries/older winners, I was struck by something that I hadn’t noticed
before. Literally hundreds of entries across the beauty contest (or BC) had received
1 or 2 votes compared to hundreds that a spectacular piece of artwork has received.
As you may already know, you are competing against every other entry in your chosen
species for someone’s species vote (more on voting later on.) It seems impossible
if your entry is just an image of a Draik copied straight off Neopets and been
hastily scribbled in with the paintbrush on a painting application on your computer
compared with an awe-inspiring piece carefully coloured, even with some sparkles
around the edges. Well, your entry doesn’t have to look like this to win. Read
on and find out more...
Step 0: How does it all work?
Well at the end of the week, many Neopians submit a drawing of their pet to
compete against other drawings for Neopoints and a trophy! It isn’t this simple
though - many other factors come into play! First of all, how hard is the pet
to draw? A Lupe is much harder than a Kiko and a Maraquan Draik is much harder
than a pea Chia! Also, ‘famous’ users have an upper hand as the hundreds of
people that for some reason think they are the best thing since sliced bread
will vote for them. The contest is divided into each species of pet and each
person has one vote for each species. This leads to harsher competition as people
are competing against tens of other pictures for a vote. At the end, winners
from each species are decided as according to the public’s votes and then the
top 3 drawings from every species will go on to win the overall prizes! Sounds
complicated? Well it is!
Step 1: Pick a pet
If you only have one pet and you really want to use him/her go ahead but I
would be tempted to create a pet specially for the beauty contest. I know that
not many people would agree with me and even more would respond with a blank
look but this may be best. For instance, Scat, my Lenny was created solely for
the contest as I know that I can draw a Lenny reasonably well when compared
to my hideous sketches. When deciding on a pet, look around in the rainbow pool
for a cool pet/colour (note: your pet doesn’t have to be that colour!) and then
how-to-draw section to see a way to draw it. If you really can’t follow the
how-to-draw (t is pretty hard for an artist in training like me) OR just copy
the pet in your own manner, maybe that pet isn’t going to work. I searched for
ages before I discovered the Lenny - at least two months.
Step 2: Pick a method.
So now you have a good pet to draw, you just need to draw it. Well there are
many ways of drawing it, you could paint it, collage it, stencil it, sketch
it, use some form of computer graphics (paint, Photoshop) or just adapt an existing
Neopets image in some way. The only method that you really shouldn’t do is look
around on some art site, find a really great picture and enter it. Most of the
time, this picture will have already been entered by the original owner and
you don’t deserve any prizes if you do get away with it and win. If you want
to impress someone, the process of taking someone’s work and passing it off
as your own is called PLAGIARISM and it’s a really bad thing to do.
Step 3: Materials
If you are using the computer, you may not need to consider this section as
much so I will cover computer materials first. For a really professional piece
of work, you should completely dismiss the idea of using paint as it is most
often more effort than it’s worth. On a PC, use a program such as Adobe Photoshop
(there is a free trial but to my knowledge, it isn’t very expensive) and on
a Mac I would advice something like GIMP - a free program that is easy to use.
Note: I won’t accept responsibility for any damage done to your computer as
a result of using these programs. With drawing in the real world (i.e. not on
a computer) then you don’t need to go wild buying expensive materials. Today,
I went down to a really cheap shop and bought two packs of coloured pencils
for £1.98 (or $3.80) and I picked up a normal pencil for 20p (or $0.38). That
is all I plan to spend on any one entry and the pencils will last for months.
A basic philosophy for buying materials specifically for something like this
is to just buy stuff cheap and you can reuse them later on for something else.
Going back to computers though, in order to get your work onto the computer,
a scanner is best. If you are lucky enough to own one then that’s fine but if
not you should be able to use one at a library or Internet café. It really does
help to look around for a good scanner as it can often make a world of difference
in the quality of your final submission.
Step 4: Practice
This is probably going to be the shortest step but the most important. Once
you have picked your method, got materials and picked your pet then you need
to practice bringing these all together to produce some nice artwork. A good
form of practice is to look at other examples of your chosen pet and pet colour
on the current beauty contest or on the past winners. This can actually apply
to a lot of things - I looked around Neopian Times archives when looking for
ideas to get my ideas across. However, for practice nothing can beat just sitting
down and making your picture again to try and capture something different, try
out something like shading or highlighting.
Step 5: Implement!
So you have got this far and for that, you deserve a warm round of applause!
*Applause sounds from the dusty margins of my article.* It is finally time to
begin your campaign into winning the contest! Make sure your picture is in GIF
or JPG format and that it is under 17k in size. Don’t worry too much about the
file size - many people enter a smaller version of the picture then post the
full sized version on a pet page (another note: if you need help with HTML for
posting your work, there is a great explanation under the ‘help’ section on
the sidebar or you can Neomail me and I’ll try to get back to you as fast as
possible.) That brings me onto the next section - the description. The description
for your entry may be important or it may be not so important. You need to advertise
key facts like ‘file size restrictions were horrible this time - please see
my pet page for a better version!’ and tell people if it’s your first time as
you may get sympathy votes for a terrible picture :P! So your pet has been entered
into the next beauty contest! Once it begins, advertise it in your signature
and BE SURE to put a link to your entry in it! Become active on as many boards
as you can, Neomail friends about your entry, post on message boards and frequent
the beauty contest board as much as possible! Make sure hundreds of potential
voters know about your picture! Now the waiting process begins - advertise as
much as possible throughout the week and hope it pays off!
Step 6: When the contest is over...
So your first ever entry is finally over. Hopefully, you didn’t end up in last
place, gain no votes and be beaten by absolute garbage. Well, if you did don’t
worry because the contest has never been a real test of art as such. People
look out for famous Neopians, funny pictures or their favourite species. And
anyway, no one can always get what they want! I’ve had countless entries rejected
to the Neopian Times but all you can really do is try again. Put 110% into your
work and really make it stand out!
Until next time,