Lightning Returns, bearing prizes for fan art competition winners

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Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy series character designer Tetsuya Nomura has chosen three grand prize finalists for a fan art competition. The competition was organized by Square Enix and DeviantArt to celebrate the recent release of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, and was the first time Nomura, who designed Final Fantasy 13 heroine Lightning, has acted has a judge. The winners, in no particular order, are Marga Donaire, Nicolas Barge and Randis Albion - or KarmaLizzard, ArisT0te and randis, as they're respectively known on DeviantArt.

The three winners will receive an original sketch from Nomura, $1,000, a keychain, a shirt, a custom Xbox 360 and controller, and the complete Final Fantasy 13 trilogy. Each winner will also be the header image at the top of DeviantArt for a day. More than 4,000 creations were entered in the competition, which garnered more than 1.5 million views.

We've included a smaller resolution of Donaire's piece, "Wilhelmina" at the top of this article, but you can see the full-resolution image, along with the other two winners, by checking out the gallery below. You can also check out the official DeviantArt contest page to see the rest of the entries.
[Image: Marga Donaire]
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Final Fantasy's Tetsuya Nomura Partners w/ deviantART for First Ever Fan Art Contest

To celebrate the launch of LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII, deviantARTand Square Enix teamed up to invite members to create their own customized version of Lightning in a new one-of-a-kind contest with special judge, Tetsuya Nomura, the main character designer for Final Fantasy and the Kingdom Hearts series.

For the past weeks, thousands of budding artists on deviantART have sketched, painted, imagined and created customized designs of Final Fantasy's main protagonist, Lightning, in hopes of receiving prizes well worth the challenging endeavor. Today, we reveal the three grand prizewinners as decided by Tetsuya Nomura himself, who has never judged a fan art contest before. In fact, Square Enix has never participated in any user generated content program since its inception. Tetsuya Nomura said, "There were so many well-drawn pieces, that it was very difficult to pick just three. I was blown away by the overall level of quality."

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Tetsuya Nomura has selected DeviantART members Randis Albion, Marga Donaire and Nicolas Barge as the grand prizewinners. Please see the winning artwork below along with links to download and a quote about winning piece from Tetsuya Nomura:

Marga Donaire (KarmaLizzard)
"With one look I was hooked. The costume itself is sophisticated, and it's also very well done as an illustration. The background that reminded me of the Japanese flag (Hinomaru) matched well with the piece and was beautiful. As an artist, when I look at different works of art, I think to myself "If it were up to me, I would do it differently," but that thought didn't cross my mind once when I saw this picture." – Tetsuya Nomura

Nicolas Barge (ArisT0te)
"At first glance it looks like a CG, and it has a level of quality that makes it look like it was captured as a screenshot. While there were many heroic costumes for Lightning, I was drawn to the femininity of this costume and her hairstyle." – Tetsuya Nomura

Randis Albion (randis)
"It's wonderful as an illustration, but in addition to that, the artist drew in both the front and back views, so I felt the artist's clear intent when they created this piece. The red and blue color scheme was very beautiful, too." – Tetsuya Nomura

In addition to bragging rights, each of the three winners received an original sketch from Tetsuya Nomura, a custom Xbox 360 and controller, $1000, a keychain, a shirt, and the entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. Each winner was also featured at the top of deviantART's homepage for a full day.
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