how have the trends in art style in the warriors/cat animator community changed over the years? i only joined near the end of the reign of spottedfire25, so i'm not really sure.
disclaimer: i’ve only been in this fandom since 2008, so i’m going to start from there! any earlier and i’m out of my depth. i’m going to begin with allikatnya and end in the present.
in 2008, allikatnya uploaded her iconic “bones shatter” amv. this amv introduced two incredibly important things to the then-tiny warriors fandom: frame by frame animation and the anime art style. allikatnya’s work mimicked the style of kimba the lion (the japanese predecessor to the lion king), and her style gained a lot of traction for a couple big reasons: it had anime influence (which was exciting to a lot of middle school weaboos i.e. the entire fandom at the time), it was well-suited to frame by frame animation, and it was accessible. allikat’s art style was easy to mimic, and it gave a ton of kids who otherwise had no artistic ability a chance to participate in the fandom. many more artists entered the amv scene around this time and the fandom became a sort of anime art style arms race…
darkkokiri generated interest in the fandom with their famous “frontlines” amv…
and flightfootwarrior’s art brought darkness/graphic violence to the fandom that hadn’t really been there before, which excited a lot of fans because it was “edgy” and “portrayed the dark subject matter of the books accurately.” i know their art sure excited ten year old me for both of these reasons… more importantly, flightfootwarrior’s exclusive use of paint and windows movie maker encouraged an entire generation of kids, who had previously been discouraged by a lack of access to “proper” art programs, to draw. if they could make videos using only default programs, so could everyone else.
ssswarriorcats rocked everyone’s world with the highest quality project to date: a mock opening they’d made in a style reminiscent of a lot of classic 90′s anime.
since all of the fandom’s best work was being done in an anime style, that style took over for the next six years. almost every big animator in that time period (i like to call 2009-2012 the “golden age” of warriors fandom in my head, but that’s just me) had an anime-influenced art style: sitavara, chrissietheeevee, spottedfire25 (as you mentioned, anon), duckfeatherz, ryulovestsute, silverwolfnyght, myself… i could go on for hours but this post is already long enough, haha.
there are two animators that are “anomalies” to the anime art style popularity rule, though: tribbleofdoom and bluekyokitty, whose art had more of a classic cartoon feel to it. both boasted fantastic animation and influenced the fandom in really huge ways.
blue’s mastery of ms paint was incredibly inspiring to beginner artists trying to master the program themselves, and unlike a majority of popular warriors artists, he spent time drawing elaborate backgrounds and scenery. he also had distinct, consistent designs for every cat and was experimental with markings, which pushed the fandom to new levels design-wise. his tigerstar design in particular gained a lot of traction… you’d be hard pressed to find one in the fandom even now that escaped his influence.
tribbleofdoom’s videos, on the other hand, were inspiring because of their length. they were the longest in the fandom by far and are still pretty substantial, even now; every video of theirs averages six minutes and has thousands upon thousands of frames. their style of airbrush shading was popular for a while, and their lip syncing animations were the most advanced the fandom had to offer for years.
but then something happened in the warriors fandom in 2012: the animators got older. most of us had spent our middle school years in the fandom and had gotten tired of the constant bickering and emo rock, and high school/college were fast approaching… so we left. i like to call this period the “mass warriors artist exodus.” i honestly have no idea what happened in the fandom from 2012-2014 because i wandered away, so if anyone wants to fill me in, that’d be awesome! what i do know, though, is that when i came back, things had changed significantly.
ginjaninjaowo’s work had become a fandom favorite, and for good reason! i remember being blown away by how exquisitely animated, sharp, and professional her work was when i returned to the fandom last year.
velocira’s work was also noteworthy to me upon my return because of its minimalism and distinct style. the experimentalism present in many of her videos (especially her creative incorporation of text and her skill with lineless art) inspired a lot of artists to think outside the box.
niftyapplestar, on the other hand, had mastered her unique style of both art and animation over the years and set the new standard for just about everything. her work boasted fantastic animation, awesome color theory and very professional concept art/character design, which introduced the fandom to the value of individualistic, distinctive character design. artists set out to destroy “same face syndrome,” something that had been plaguing the fandom for years.
i’m not sure if it’s because young artists these days have easier access to good art, or if it’s because the warriors artists who returned to the fandom have come back older and wiser… but lately the work the fandom has produced has been more experimental and, for lack of a better word, “artsier” than it’s even been. here’s a frame by hullumel from one of allikat’s maps that displays what i’m talking about pretty well…
one theory i have is that since maps (multi animator projects) have taken over the warriors youtube community lately, consistency is no longer as important as it used to be. artists/animators are given a handful of seconds to show everyone what they’re capable of and what their artistic vision is, and since every map has a different theme/set of rules, artists’ work is expected to vary drastically from part to part. this allows for a much broader range of experimentation than before. here are a couple quick examples…
gingajeketsutei’s work plays with texture and color in a lot of fantastic ways!
and artists like xishka and maplespyder are introducing digital painting to the fandom, which is amazing.
overall, the fandom has gotten infinitesimally artsier and more diverse, and i’m really excited to see where it heads next!!!