weiss CE FOB220 150x150 Check out how three artists reimagined a Final Fantasy heroine

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII original Lightning.

With the excitement surrounding Square Enix’s release of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the creative denizens of the DeviantArt community outdid themselves in a unique contest to create their own version of Lightning, the main character of this role-playing adventure game.

Tetsuya Nomura, the principal character designer for Final Fantasy and the Kingdom Hearts series, was the special judge for this contest and today announced DeviantArt prizewinners, Randis AlbionMarga Donaire, and Nicolas Barge from a total of 4655 entries.

“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,” Nomura said. This contest marks a first for Square Enix, which has never before participated in a user generated content program.

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Willing to Protect by Marga Donaire

Nomura was enthralled with Marga Donaire’s entry, Willing to Protect. “With one look I was hooked,” he said. “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.”

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Forbidden Gateway by Nicolas Barge

Nomura was equally impressed with Nicolas Barge’s Forbidden Gateway. “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,” he said. “While there were many heroic costumes for Lightning, I was drawn to the femininity of this costume and her hairstyle.”

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Lightning – Mythril Scorpion Armor by Randis Albion

Nomura found Randis Albion’s entry, Mythril Scorpion Armor, equally striking. “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,” said Nomura, adding, “The red and blue color scheme was very beautiful, too.”

Prizes include an original sketch from Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura, a custom Xbox 360 console & controller, $1,000 cash, among others.  Each winner is also featured at the top of deviantArt’s homepage for a full day. Check out the complete submission gallery.

Square Enix