• Fur Affinity Forums are governed by Fur Affinity's Rules and Policies. Links and additional information can be accessed in the Site Information Forum.

How to Escape the Sonic Style Stigma?

Phoenixflaym_Eternity

Magenta Fantasies
How can I convince people to stop seeing my art as “Sonic art” and my characters as Sonic fan characters?

This is not a new problem. It is something that has aggravated me for my entire 15+ years in the furry community. Over that time period my art has improved dramatically, and I’ve consciously changed my style in several ways to avoid the Sonic association. In my opinion it didn’t look all that similar to the Sonic art style to begin with, but it definitely looks less like it now.

For years I fought against my art being associated with Sonic. I put disclaimers in my artwork descriptions and gave digital tongue-lashings to anyone who called my characters Sonic fan characters. A couple years ago I reluctantly decided that if I couldn’t beat them, I’d join them. Since then I’ve submitted my art to Sonic groups on DeviantArt. I regularly use Sonic-related hash tags for my art on social media, though I draw the line at doing that on Fur Affinity. It’s hard to say if any of this is helping or harming my cause, but I’m not happy about it either way.

Not long ago, I faced the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Currently I am developing a video game called Outcasts of the Rift. I have more information about it here. It’s a story-driven RPG combining SRPG map battles with overworld exploration maps. However, from some reactions I’ve seen (thankfully not a lot, but enough to prod me to vent about it) people think it is a Sonic-related game or even a fan game.

Ironically, I was prepared for people to call my game a rip-off, but for very different reasons. Before promoting it, I researched copyright and other related topics extensively and armed myself with responses in case of any accusations. However, I had expected people to dismiss my game as a Fire Emblemrip-off, as it started very early on as a fan game and eventually I scrapped that project to make my own game. That should tell you how little this game has to do with Sonic. I want my artwork to help promote my game, not harm it.

I don’t think my illustration style is very similar to Sonic. Plenty of cartoon styles have characters with compact proportions (more compact than realistic human anatomy.) Large eyes and prominent muzzles were features in many styles (Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Woody Woodpecker, the Looney Tunes cast, and more) decades before Sonic the Hedgehogreleased. Many of those characters do not wear full clothing, either. Using fur or feathers to create “hairstyles” or “spikes” also did not start with Sonic.

For comparison, on the left is an illustration I drew for the 30th anniversary of the franchise and on the right is official artwork of Sonic. It’s recognizable as being the same character (which is the point of fan art,) but the style is quite different. When this truly irritates me is when people diminish my original characters and works by claiming they are part of the Sonic universe. At what point will people recognize my art as its own style?

1624497979.magenta-fantasies_sonic_30th_anniversary_watermarked.jpg
Sonic_modern_and_classic_designs.png
 

Vanessa Howl

Damsel Of Darkness
*shrugs* Stop drawing in Sonic style?

If you're gonna use the same style as a popular show/game/whatever than people are GONNA assume that it's some fan OC or something because that's what people do when making fan OCs: they try their best to copy the style so it looks more "official" so only way to stop it is to just not do it at all.
 

Frank Gulotta

Send us your floppy
Be patient developing your own style takes time and effort

It'll be an uphill battle from sonic style, it's VERY distinct and you can tell when someone started off with it, even many years after they've defined their own.
 

FitzOblong

FitzOblong#9993
to be fair, judging from you FA gallery, it is kind of a sonic style, but not quite. I guess the only thing you can so is try to adopt a new drawing style...
 

Phoenixflaym_Eternity

Magenta Fantasies
*shrugs* Stop drawing in Sonic style?

If you're gonna use the same style as a popular show/game/whatever than people are GONNA assume that it's some fan OC or something because that's what people do when making fan OCs: they try their best to copy the style so it looks more "official" so only way to stop it is to just not do it at all.
You’re missing my entire point. As I said, for years I’ve been consciously changing my main style to make it NOT look like the Sonic art style. In my opinion it doesn’t, as shown by the side-by-side image comparison in the first pose, but clearly other people in this topic disagree.

On the rare occasions when I do draw Sonic fan characters, I do exactly what you said and emulate the Sonic art style. When drawing my original characters (and other’s OCs) I use my own style.

This is Sonic style.
1541807178.magenta-fantasies_davians_collaboration_trillium_fa.png


This is Sonic style.
1530657797.magenta-fantasies_maddox_contest_reference_fa.jpg


This is not Sonic style.
1668214127.magenta-fantasies_redesign_showcase-dawn.jpg

For comparison, the first two are Sonic fan characters. The first is mine and the other is someone else’s character I drew. The last illustration is a set of character portraits of the main character from my video game. As you can see, these are very different styles with different anatomy, proportions, shapes, expressions, techniques and coloring.

Be patient developing your own style takes time and effort

It'll be an uphill battle from sonic style, it's VERY distinct and you can tell when someone started off with it, even many years after they've defined their own.

Except it’s not all that distinct for reasons I list in my first post.

What makes me VERY annoyed is when people see anything that even vaguely resembles Sonic and thinks “that’s a Sonic character,” yet people don’t appear to have that attitude towards other fandoms/styles. I’ve seen a plethora of artists in the furry community whose art styles are heavily inspired by Warner Bros. (mostly Looney Tunes and Animaniacs,) Disney animation (especially after Zootopia was released) and even Don Bluth’s animation and they don’t seem to face that stigma.

I mentioned Looney Tunes in particular since it (and Warner Bros. animation in general) is also a major influence on my art style and probably what initially inspired me to draw, but nooooooo, anything with any amount of inspiration from the Sonic art style is only Sonic and nothing else. That's a big part of my frustration.
 
It's definitely the eye shape and size, and the head proportions in general. The eyes take up most of the head and face, the pupil colours and shading are very similar.

Other things I notice are the bright colours, flat shading, large-ish footwear, not all necessarily Sonic style on their own, but they add to that look when combined. The only thing I can really notice that set it a little apart is how you don't draw the limbs as spaghetti strings, but I had to take some time to analyse your art to really notice. The eyes don't look so much like an "eye-head" with the face smooshed around it, but it's still pretty close because of the proportions

You’re missing my entire point. As I said, for years I’ve been consciously changing my main style to make it NOT look like the Sonic art style. In my opinion it doesn’t, as shown by the side-by-side image comparison in the first pose, but clearly other people in this topic disagree.
Most people don't know your art history as well as you do, and are only going by first glances. And on first glance, sorry to say it, but it's still kind of obvious that's a style you're comfortable drawing in.

What makes me VERY annoyed is when people see anything that even vaguely resembles Sonic and thinks “that’s a Sonic character,” yet people don’t appear to have that attitude towards other fandoms/styles. I’ve seen a plethora of artists in the furry community whose art styles are heavily inspired by Warner Bros. (mostly Looney Tunes and Animaniacs,) Disney animation (especially after Zootopia was released) and even Don Bluth’s animation and they don’t seem to face that stigma.
Sonic just has that stigma, it's very popular with a young fanbase and it gives an immature impression to a lot of people. It doesn't help that a lot of Sonic fanart is drawn by young people, who don't always have a particularly good grasp on the fundamentals behind art or cartooning, and that adds the the stigma that Sonic art is generally poor quality.

Looney Tunes gets a better reputation for a few reasons... one being the fact that it's a professional studio animating for money. Another is how there is actually a lot more going on in the character animation. There's the cartoon style itself, but there's also things like character pose, action, balance, motion, intent, things like that which make cartoon characters feel like they're actually alive despite being static lines on paper. You should consider looking up tutorials or reading about how they animate them, becase even if you don't actually stop drawing in a Sonic style, you can still learn some strong fundamentals that can help any cartoony drawing style.
 

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
You’re missing my entire point. As I said, for years I’ve been consciously changing my main style to make it NOT look like the Sonic art style. In my opinion it doesn’t, as shown by the side-by-side image comparison in the first pose, but clearly other people in this topic disagree.

On the rare occasions when I do draw Sonic fan characters, I do exactly what you said and emulate the Sonic art style. When drawing my original characters (and other’s OCs) I use my own style.

This is Sonic style.
1541807178.magenta-fantasies_davians_collaboration_trillium_fa.png


This is Sonic style.
1530657797.magenta-fantasies_maddox_contest_reference_fa.jpg


This is not Sonic style.
1668214127.magenta-fantasies_redesign_showcase-dawn.jpg

For comparison, the first two are Sonic fan characters. The first is mine and the other is someone else’s character I drew. The last illustration is a set of character portraits of the main character from my video game. As you can see, these are very different styles with different anatomy, proportions, shapes, expressions, techniques and coloring.



Except it’s not all that distinct for reasons I list in my first post.

What makes me VERY annoyed is when people see anything that even vaguely resembles Sonic and thinks “that’s a Sonic character,” yet people don’t appear to have that attitude towards other fandoms/styles. I’ve seen a plethora of artists in the furry community whose art styles are heavily inspired by Warner Bros. (mostly Looney Tunes and Animaniacs,) Disney animation (especially after Zootopia was released) and even Don Bluth’s animation and they don’t seem to face that stigma.

I mentioned Looney Tunes in particular since it (and Warner Bros. animation in general) is also a major influence on my art style and probably what initially inspired me to draw, but nooooooo, anything with any amount of inspiration from the Sonic art style is only Sonic and nothing else. That's a big part of my frustration.
Stigma come from toxic fans/fandom. Just ignore them.

If you want immediate disconnection, change the eyes. Still, The mouth part looks common enough to me.

I think putting up drawings from other fandom/style can steer audiences away from jumping into conclusions.

Say whatever about the art style, but a good plot and heart will make a game shine.
 

Judge Spear

Well-Known Member
You're still pulling major notes from that specific cartooning style. If that's what you want to draw, I don't see what the problem is as long as you're actually trying to legitimately improve as a creator and not using it as a crutch. Right now you're not bringing a confidently realized twist to things where people can say it's anything other than "Sonic by a novice".
What I recommend is studying drastically different approaches to cartooning and learn some new shaping languages to add to your visual library. Art is almost only muscle memory. So in emulating other artists for years, you'll pick up and mold their successful design motifs into your own blend.
 

Vanessa Howl

Damsel Of Darkness
You’re missing my entire point. As I said, for years I’ve been consciously changing my main style to make it NOT look like the Sonic art style. In my opinion it doesn’t, as shown by the side-by-side image comparison in the first pose, but clearly other people in this topic disagree.

On the rare occasions when I do draw Sonic fan characters, I do exactly what you said and emulate the Sonic art style. When drawing my original characters (and other’s OCs) I use my own style.

This is Sonic style.
1541807178.magenta-fantasies_davians_collaboration_trillium_fa.png


This is Sonic style.
1530657797.magenta-fantasies_maddox_contest_reference_fa.jpg


This is not Sonic style.
1668214127.magenta-fantasies_redesign_showcase-dawn.jpg

For comparison, the first two are Sonic fan characters. The first is mine and the other is someone else’s character I drew. The last illustration is a set of character portraits of the main character from my video game. As you can see, these are very different styles with different anatomy, proportions, shapes, expressions, techniques and coloring.



Except it’s not all that distinct for reasons I list in my first post.

What makes me VERY annoyed is when people see anything that even vaguely resembles Sonic and thinks “that’s a Sonic character,” yet people don’t appear to have that attitude towards other fandoms/styles. I’ve seen a plethora of artists in the furry community whose art styles are heavily inspired by Warner Bros. (mostly Looney Tunes and Animaniacs,) Disney animation (especially after Zootopia was released) and even Don Bluth’s animation and they don’t seem to face that stigma.

I mentioned Looney Tunes in particular since it (and Warner Bros. animation in general) is also a major influence on my art style and probably what initially inspired me to draw, but nooooooo, anything with any amount of inspiration from the Sonic art style is only Sonic and nothing else. That's a big part of my frustration.
You're still kinda mimicking the Sonic style, though: mainly with the eyes, odd colors, cartoony body type and even the lower face color.

If you didn't tell me that it wasn't a Sonic OC, I would have assumed that it was based on those elements alone and that's likely what everyone else is seeing as well when they stumble upon it.

It looks very Sonicy (even if you personally don't see it) so my advice stands that you should stop using that style and in fact I'll now extend the advice by telling you that those elements that I mentioned are what you should focus on changing for it to look less like a Sonic OC.

Honestly it doesn't matter to me one was or another how anyone sees your art but it DOES look like you're trying to copy the Sonic style so if you want people to stop thinking it is than you need to realize why and try your best to fix it. Either that or simply stop caring about how others see it and just do it anyway cause you like it.
 

Phoenixflaym_Eternity

Magenta Fantasies
A couple big similarities that I see with the last pic there (the one not intended to be "Sonic style") is the very tall eyes (despite not being connected), and the mouth area. It's really the head that strikingly resembles the style more than anything.
Those are good insights, as well as what some posters above said. I was hoping to get some perspectives on what makes my art look Sonic-like and how to address that, so I'm glad that you said that.

It's definitely the eye shape and size, and the head proportions in general. The eyes take up most of the head and face, the pupil colours and shading are very similar.

Other things I notice are the bright colours, flat shading, large-ish footwear, not all necessarily Sonic style on their own, but they add to that look when combined. The only thing I can really notice that set it a little apart is how you don't draw the limbs as spaghetti strings, but I had to take some time to analyse your art to really notice. The eyes don't look so much like an "eye-head" with the face smooshed around it, but it's still pretty close because of the proportions


Most people don't know your art history as well as you do, and are only going by first glances. And on first glance, sorry to say it, but it's still kind of obvious that's a style you're comfortable drawing in.


Sonic just has that stigma, it's very popular with a young fanbase and it gives an immature impression to a lot of people. It doesn't help that a lot of Sonic fanart is drawn by young people, who don't always have a particularly good grasp on the fundamentals behind art or cartooning, and that adds the the stigma that Sonic art is generally poor quality.

Looney Tunes gets a better reputation for a few reasons... one being the fact that it's a professional studio animating for money. Another is how there is actually a lot more going on in the character animation. There's the cartoon style itself, but there's also things like character pose, action, balance, motion, intent, things like that which make cartoon characters feel like they're actually alive despite being static lines on paper. You should consider looking up tutorials or reading about how they animate them, becase even if you don't actually stop drawing in a Sonic style, you can still learn some strong fundamentals that can help any cartoony drawing style.
I have an excellent book called Learn to Draw Looney Tunes. Not only does it have in-depth model sheets with multiple poses, angles and expressions, but it has several helpful tips for drawing poses, hands and expressions that apply outside of Looney Tunes.

I’ve noticed that animators are especially good at capturing expressions, poses and a sense of motion in illustrations. I've tried my hand at animation, and while I don't love making animations, it has taught me quite a bit about posing, anatomy and drawing action. Also, it's extremely satisfying to see my creations come to life in a sense.

Stigma come from toxic fans/fandom. Just ignore them.

If you want immediate disconnection, change the eyes. Still, The mouth part looks common enough to me.

I think putting up drawings from other fandom/style can steer audiences away from jumping into conclusions.

Say whatever about the art style, but a good plot and heart will make a game shine.
It seems like most people have commented on the eyes. That's something I'm going to experiment with in the near future.

In the past, I drew fan art often, and for a wide variety of fandoms (including some art of human characters.) Creating assets for Outcasts of the Rift has taken up most of the time I used for that. I don’t mind, since illustrating the character portraits is one of the most fun parts of creating my video game.

Very good last point! Those two things are vital to me as a game developer as well as the art.
 

Some Sergal

May the ancestors look after you.
Don't mention it! I'm surprised I was able to give any insight, my own art skills consisting little more than stick figures, and generally not being very knowledgeable on these things. Your question brought up a very good point that I've never honestly thought about - what DOES make "Sonic style"? I just started comparing pictures back to back, trying to find very specific points to highlight that appear to match or be very similar, and the eyes and the mouth were the first big things I spotted.
 

BSporn

Active Member
If you want to escape the sonic style your best bet would be, not trying to push your style away from the sonic art style because it's always gonna have that at its core.

Instead look at completely unrelated art styles you like something as far away from sonic as you can think of. Like a hellboy comic or something then try drawing that style for a bit. Then find something else again and try that. And just work around trying wildly varying art styles. Start from scratch in different art styles and learn what makes them tick.

Then when you come back to these characters you will be bringing the knowledge base from a tonne of different varied art styles into the art and through an amalgamation of influences you'll end up with something far more unique.

But honestly I don't think having characters that look like sonic characters is that bad?
Like... Sonics rad? Sonics art style is rad. People like sonic and make so many sonic fan characters for a reason. And it's not like 'being like sonic' has ever been a hinderence to other games before? Literal sonic fan games have gone on to have successful franchises like spark or freedom planet.

So honestly I think it might be healthier for you to look at why being compared to sonic bugs you so much? You clearly love sonic.
 

Phoenixflaym_Eternity

Magenta Fantasies
Don't mention it! I'm surprised I was able to give any insight, my own art skills consisting little more than stick figures, and generally not being very knowledgeable on these things. Your question brought up a very good point that I've never honestly thought about - what DOES make "Sonic style"? I just started comparing pictures back to back, trying to find very specific points to highlight that appear to match or be very similar, and the eyes and the mouth were the first big things I spotted.
That's the question I'm trying to answer myself. The past couple days I've looked at other styles that inspire me and experimented with different ways of drawing eyes. I like how they look so far, although I have to practice drawing them more so the characters' expressions don't look goofy.
If you want to escape the sonic style your best bet would be, not trying to push your style away from the sonic art style because it's always gonna have that at its core.

Instead look at completely unrelated art styles you like something as far away from sonic as you can think of. Like a hellboy comic or something then try drawing that style for a bit. Then find something else again and try that. And just work around trying wildly varying art styles. Start from scratch in different art styles and learn what makes them tick.

Then when you come back to these characters you will be bringing the knowledge base from a tonne of different varied art styles into the art and through an amalgamation of influences you'll end up with something far more unique.

But honestly I don't think having characters that look like sonic characters is that bad?
Like... Sonics rad? Sonics art style is rad. People like sonic and make so many sonic fan characters for a reason. And it's not like 'being like sonic' has ever been a hinderence to other games before? Literal sonic fan games have gone on to have successful franchises like spark or freedom planet.

So honestly I think it might be healthier for you to look at why being compared to sonic bugs you so much? You clearly love sonic.
I've drawn and painted my fair share of realistic works, but not for a long time. I have an art degree and I've taken several courses on my own. While I don't love drawing realism, I have found it incredibly helpful for learning anatomy, proportions, posing, form, composition, backgrounds, lighting, shading, attention to detail and other fundamentals of art. I highly recommend learning realism to any artist who draws in any style.

I like my style, and I like the Sonic art style as well. My problem is that I feel like people in the furry community don't take me or my art seriously because of my style, and I've noticed this for a very long time. I can recall several instances of people reacting to me and my art this way over my 15+ years of involvement in the community. It came to a head when I formally announced and starting promoting my video game Outcasts of the Rift. This makes me wonder if my style is helping or hurting my marketing efforts.

You have a very good point about Spark and Freedom Planet. I've seen quite a few games with art styles that take inspiration from Sonic.
 
Top