Whether they be dogs, cats, horses, or rodents, sparkle animals are a staple in the furry fandom. A staple that seems to catch a lot of flack for being “unrealistic”, ludicrous, ridiculous, unoriginal, and plain old uninteresting. They’re the butt of a lot of jokes for their bright and unnatural colors, markings, and accessories such as bracelets, bows, and piercings.
Had it not been for a comment I received on Deviantart about this particular picture that I’d finished up today, I probably would not have touched this topic. For me the issue was always a non-issue. Sparkle animal are just as original and unique as a naturally designed character. They’re a fun way to play around with colors and patterns. And a good way to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously all the time. But for those who hate (and I do mean hate with a fiery passion) unnaturally colored animals, the idea that something like this green and blue jackalope here is “unique” and “original” is foreign.
There isn’t a defining line of what constitutes as a “sparkle” animal though. For some, it’s a naturally colored animal that’s offset with an unnatural color. For others it’s the extreme of a character so outrageously colored, marked, and accessorized that it’s visually unsettling. The latter is usually what you’ll see when people make fun of “sparkle” animals. Because you’re stereotypical “sparkle” animal is a wolf so anorexic that it doesn’t look like a wolf anymore. With long, thin limbs but a bushy mane and tail. And a coat pattern of 6 or more colors and markings. Usually some of those markings are music notes or hearts. Accessories are typically multiple ear piercings, bracelets, and leg warmers. And when a character is that detailed, it’s no wonder that unnaturally colored animals end up frowned upon. However one must take in account that those who design characters to that extent are typically young teenagers and probably don’t have much experience in character design. It is more difficult that people would like to believe.
I for one am a fan of these so-called “sparkle” animals. And often attempt to design my own, usually to no avail (though that jackalope character and art above is mine, it is not a character I designed). I love the originality in many of the designs and the usage of color. And when a design is done well, it’s really done well. For example…
This red panda. Yet again, it’s a character and art that’s mine yet I didn’t design it. Rather I bought the design from a wonderfully talented artist that goes by the name “Vani” or “Vanimute”. All I did were tell her the colors that I wished for in a red panda character. The markings and placement of the colors I left in her hands. And this was the outcome. She’s rather beautiful don’t you think? There’s only so far you can get with natural colors and markings in red pandas. And with using solely “natural” colors on animals, you can be sure to run into a person who’ll have an extremely similar character to yours. Very rarely do fully naturally colored characters stand out in the sea of animal characters. There’s only so much you can do when you want a naturally colored husky or red fox character (even if you do use the colors and patterns on domestic bred foxes).
So I’ll end this with a question: Why is it that sparkle animals receive the hatred that they do? And is that hatred well justified?
End note: My personal characters lean towards having more “natural” designs so it was a tiny bit difficult to come up with picture references that I wanted to use. Without permission from other artists, I’d rather stray away from using their art or characters in this manner. Both pieces and character above belong to me. Do not use them without permission.