This post was originally supposed to be a short one where I show my entry for the contest, but I wanted to share the background and inspiration too. In the end it turned out to be quite a long write-up. Let's start talking about the idea of a design contest. In my opinion most of the design contests about a non-artistic subject and targeting an audience with a variety of backgrounds are somewhat unfair in the sense that people who do art for their living or at least studied art professionally have an advantage over other participants that do not have the same background. These art professionals may not have a large or even any degree of devotion towards the subject, but still have a higher chance to win than someone who do not have the skills but are a much bigger fan and spent a lot of their time doing activities related to the subject.

I guess I belong to the latter group. I have never studied art, nor am I even an amateur hobbyist. However, as a bureaucrat and administrator of the Lunar Chronicles wiki & superfan, I've spent many hours daily over the past years on creating textual and visual content, managing and improving the existing content in the wiki, and by doing this trying to enlarge the fandom through the wiki's attractiveness and helpfulness. I've received feedback that the wiki has introduced some people to the series who had never heard of it before while others said it convinced them to give the series a try when they initially weren't as enthusiastic about it. Some turned out to become big fans. One example is Xxsammmsammmxx, who is still an active contributor in this wiki. So despite the fact that I'm a superfan, I've never participated in any of the earlier contests. It's simply because being aware of my poor art skills I know I don't stand any chance...

Two days after the official release of WINTER, Marissa blogged about a new contest: The Cinder Litographs Design Contest. Just seeing the title I already resigned myself to being the usual cheering bystander. I was already looking forward to the impressive art the participants would deliver. But then I checked the art style for this contest and seeing that it's about silhouettes, my heart fluttered. Just like silhouettes in real life (i.e. shadows from behind a screen) where many imperfections are rendered invisible, silhouettes in art can also hide some flaws of my poor art skills. Also, since WINTER is the last book in the series, it's probably my last chance to participate ever. So I decided to give it a go.

Below you can behold my entry. I am sorry I had to watermark it so extravagantly, but in fandom communities on the internet people tend to "steal" artworks. It's not always that they want to claim it as their own. Some do it with harmless intentions. They may just be reposting it to share their admiration of the artwork, but without permission from the original author and/or giving credits they are undoing all the hard work and time the original author spent on creating it. Until all the entries are added to Marissa's Pinterest boards, I will only post this watermarked version online. I don't want the artwork to be copycatted before it even has the chance to pass under the critical eyes of the judges in this contest. Edit (November 30): Marissa uploaded all the entries into her Pinterest board, check them out!

A professional might've finished it in maximum a few hours. I, on the other hand, worked on it in the hours I had left after returning home from work for three days on row to finish it. This includes the time I spent studying reference poses of objects and humans, drawing, scanning, inking and tidying up. It's not something to write home about and I know it. I am alright if I don't make it into the top 7 finalists, at least I've tried and the experience of the attempt itself is already satisfying.


Spoiler alert!
This article contains spoilers! Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled.

I depicted a scene in the climax of CINDER. After she tried shooting Levana, Cinder fled the ballroom and raced off the stairs. She stumbled and fell. The image captures the moment of her lying on the ground and looking back up the stairs where the guard who was shot in Levana's place (Jerrico?), Kai, Sybil and Levana appeared at the top and were looking down at her. These figures are all off-screen. I didn't bother to add them to the picture as it would be overly detailed and the essence would be lost. I reckon that the key in all the litographs I studied is simplicity. So I kept it as minimal as possible, but did add other noticeable details in the scene. Cinder's cyborg foot she lost is lying on the stairs. The moon was full that night, but for the overall effect I created a crescent moon instead. The glamour that was flashing on and off Cinder I symbolised with the lightning strike. There was also a drizzle during the event, so I added rain. Though this can be removed from the image if necessary.

What inspired me to create this image is Marissa's contest guideline saying that the design "should be inspired by CINDER and/or speak to a key theme, or plot point, in the book." The first thing I recall when I think about the first book is Cinder falling down the stairs. It might not be the same for everyone, and I may even be the only one in the world with that thought. Other than that, this scene is also a very crucial point in the story. It's the first time Cinder's secret of her cyborgness is revealed to Kai (or to the world, for that matter). It's also an important turning point in the ending of the book, where things were going against Levana's plans thanks to Cinder. If Cinder managed to flee succesfully straightaway, then it's another direct insult to Levana's wounds. But the fall stopped that. The moment is also a very significant reference to the original fairy tale where Cinderella lost her shoe.