Winners of the “Shaolin Monk” Challenge

Congratulations to Leslie Rosique, Max Grecke, Papang Jakfar and to Mattia Simeoni a.k.a Kowalskythe Special Guest Juror’s Choice this month! Thank you so much to ALL the artists of our community who have submitted their work for this challenge, to Nicolas Weis for accepting to be our juror this month, and to Character Design Quarterly, the official partner of the CDChallenge, which makes this project possible.

Special Guest Juror's Message

First, thanks to all of you for participating in the contest. I know it might seem like a dull introduction but I mean every word of it. Putting your work online, especially among a number of very talented people takes courage, so kudos to ALL of you.

Now I feel like explaining a little bit how I selected the winners which will also sums up what I think a good character design is. Ever since the good people of Character Design References contacted me, I checked the Facebook album once a week to sort out the new entries, saving them as bookmarks in my browser. The selection was made in two steps, first a very quick look, focusing on the graphic impact of each design, its silhouette, its movement, its readability.

Then I looked through them again, checking the “appeal” of the design. It is easy to say when a design is unappealing. It Is harder to describe why a design is attractive. It does not necessarily mean it is cute and cuddly, it is about its presence, a little bit of the inner story it can carry, even with a limited number of clues such as a specific pose, an expression, a prop, the tear on a costume, a scar… etc.

I also very carefully looked at proportions, basic technique such as anatomy or balance. And finally, make sure to look at that very carefully, but even though technique is a given when you want to work as a professional in the field, what will make the difference is what YOU bring, what YOUR take on the assignment is. If technically your work is equivalent to any other designer’s work, you expose yourself to a random choice based on your rate, on your social or political skills, on your ability to market your work…etc.  Which brings us to the “concept” step. With only two words – “Shaolin” and “monk”- it is both easy and hard to come up with something that will steal the show. I eliminated some really good designs because in my opinion they did not fit those two words. Some were just “monks” that could have belonged to alien worlds, some were monks that obviously did not belong to the Shaolin Monastery. Then I eliminated others because they were too obvious, sticking to the brief without bringing anything special.

Among my 32 finalists, according to me, Mattia Kowalsky’s design has everything I was looking for. The graphic quality, the pose (with the right believable balance), the stylized proportions with the right curves and counter curves that make even this static pose dynamic. Every prop has a purpose, it tells a history and supports the design, all the subtle details such as the blind eyes, the little bag dangling from one of the necklace bring on the mystery that the Shaolin history conveys.

Congratulation to Mattia, I will make sure to keep my eye on you from now on !

Once again, thanks to all of you, keep drawing, keep looking for this very special and unique take on things only YOU can bring us to see. And thanks to CDR Team for putting this contest together and serving the whole artistic community with their amazing resources.

- Nicolas Weis


Character Design Quarterly

This challenge is presented by Character Design Quarterly, the Official Partner of CDChallenge.

Character Design Quarterly (CDQ) is an exciting new print magazine for illustrators, artists, animators and character art enthusiasts. Releasing four times a year, the magazine will offer inspirational and educational articles, tutorials and interviews from top industry professionals specifically geared to helping artists hone their character design skills. This unique, engaging magazine will provide a regular stream of insider knowledge and illuminating advice from experienced professionals and freelancers to help artists of all skill levels improve their workflow and designs. New issues will be released at regular three-month intervals in September, December, March and June. Subscriptions are available now!