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Meet the winners of the ImagineFX Artist of the Year competition

digital art character
(Image credit: Jude Smith)

ImagineFX is the world's number one magazine for digital artists. Each issue contains  tutorials to help artists up their game, interviews with the biggest names in the industry, and features to help creators take their careers to the next level. The monthly magazine also shines a light on emerging talent in its prestigious FXPose gallery.

Run in association with Corel® Painter®, each FXPose showcase of up and coming artists from 2020 has also featured an Artist of the Month chosen by the editorial team. And after much deliberation, one artist from this elite handful of finalists was recently crowned the overall ImagineFX Artist of the Year at Vertex 2021.

In recognition of their amazing work, each of these talented artists won Corel Painter 2021 (SRP $429), plus an Ultimate Brush Pack Bundle that includes over 600 brushes (SRP $1199.60 USD) to help them create even more impressive images.

Let's take a look at the work that made the Artist of the Month finalists stand out, and meet the ImagineFX Artist of the Year.

Finalist: Berkan Özkan

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Berkan Özkan

(Image credit: Berkan Özkan)
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Berkan Özkan

(Image credit: Berkan Özkan)
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Berkan Özkan

(Image credit: Berkan Özkan)
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Berkan Özkan

(Image credit: Berkan Özkan)
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Berkan Özkan

(Image credit: Berkan Özkan)

After working as a civil engineer for two years, Berkan wanted to focus on building an artistic career so he embarked on an arts education. “Since then I have been working on freelance illustrations, which give me opportunities to work on comics, children’s books and games.”

Finalist: Diego Fernandez

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Diego Fernandez

(Image credit: Diego Fernandez)
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Diego Fernandez

(Image credit: Diego Fernandez)
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Diego Fernandez

(Image credit: Diego Fernandez)
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Diego Fernandez

(Image credit: Diego Fernandez)

Portrait artist and illustrator Diego balances contrasting approaches in his work. Realism is tempered with surreal elements, while his influences range from Art Nouveau, academic painting, and contemporary fantasy illustration.

Finalist: Riikka Sofia Riekkinen

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Riikka Sofia Riekkinen

(Image credit: Riikka Sofia Riekkinen)
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Riikka Sofia Riekkinen

(Image credit: Riikka Sofia Riekkinen)
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Riikka Sofia Riekkinen

(Image credit: Riikka Sofia Riekkinen)
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Riikka Sofia Riekkinen

(Image credit: Riikka Sofia Riekkinen)

“I enjoy painting artworks inspired by mythology, fairytales and nature,” says Rikka, a fantasy artist and illustrator who also likes to enhance her work with vibrant colours and decorative details.

Finalist: Jess Seto

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Jess Seto

(Image credit: Jess Seto)
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Jess Seto

(Image credit: Jess Seto)
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Jess Seto

(Image credit: Jess Seto)

Jess is a freelance concept artist and illustrator. They like using composition, colour, and lighting to draw the eye and offer a deeper narrative to those who choose to linger.

Finalist: Paul Kellam

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Paul Kellam

(Image credit: Paul Kellam)
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Paul Kellam

(Image credit: Paul Kellam)
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Paul Kellam

(Image credit: Paul Kellam)
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Paul Kellam

(Image credit: Paul Kellam)

“A lot of my inspirations spawn from Japanese culture and aesthetics; plus cartoons, music, and fashion,” says Paul. “I strive to create a sense of flow in my work, overlaid with juicy hue vibrations.”

Finalist: Reuben Lane

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Reuben Lane

(Image credit: Reuben Lane)
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Reuben Lane

(Image credit: Reuben Lane)
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Reuben Lane

(Image credit: Reuben Lane)
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Reuben Lane

(Image credit: Reuben Lane)

Reuben is an illustration graduate whose previous work experience includes a design internship at Mercedes Benz. Although his dream, which he is now pursuing, is to break into the entertainment industry.

Finalist: Stephen Stark

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Stephen Stark

(Image credit: Stephen Stark)
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Stephen Stark

(Image credit: Stephen Stark)
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Stephen Stark

(Image credit: Stephen Stark)

Steve is the Lead Background Supervisor for Netflix's Castlevania. “In my free time, I'm currently illustrating a series that looks at the ordinarily-extraordinary lives of everyday people in fantasy settings."

Finalist: Daniel Dana

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Daniel Dana

(Image credit: Daniel Dana)
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Daniel Dana

(Image credit: Daniel Dana)
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Daniel Dana

(Image credit: Daniel Dana)
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Daniel Dana

(Image credit: Daniel Dana)

“I draw a lot of inspiration from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, because those genres allow for so much beautiful escapism,” says Daniel, a self-taught artist looking to break into the entertainment industry.

Finalist: Qistina Khalidah

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Qistina Khalidah

(Image credit: Qistina Khalidah)
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Qistina Khalidah

(Image credit: Qistina Khalidah)
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Qistina Khalidah

(Image credit: Qistina Khalidah)

“I’m inspired by the gold textures in Gustav Klimt’s paintings and the beautiful, regal women in classical pictures,” says Qistina. “My core value is to always effectively tell a story in just one painting.”

ImagineFX Artist of the Year: Jude Smith

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Jude Smith

(Image credit: Jude Smith)
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Jude Smith

(Image credit: Jude Smith)
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Jude Smith

(Image credit: Jude Smith)
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Jude Smith

(Image credit: Jude Smith)

Jude is a concept artist who currently works at Blackbird Interactive. “Over the past five years I have also worked for a handful of other studios such as Kabam, Volta, and Mighty Canvas.”

Download a free trial of Corel Painter

Corel Painter

Corel Painter 2021 contains all the tools digital artists need to create amazing images (Image credit: Corel)

Feeling inspired by all these artists and want to draw a digital art masterpiece of your own? Download a free trial of Corel™ Painter® on Mac or PC today and start creating outstanding art with its professional digital painting software.

Packed with unmatched Natural-Media brushes and an array of versatile artistic tools, Corel™ Painter® contains everything you need to create artwork worthy of FXPose. 

Boasting world-class Natural-Media emulation and over 900 dry, wet, and blending brushes, Corel™ Painter® allows you to layer your mediums as if you were working with traditional paints. And with unlimited customisation of brushes, textures, and a whole host of other media, you can tailor your tools to suit your artistic vision.

What's more, Corel™ Painter® also comes with streamlined, industry-leading photo-art tools that allow you to effortlessly create new paintings and drawings from photos that you've taken. 

Trusted by professional artists for more than 30 years, and with easy integration with drawing tablets like Wacom and multi-touch, Corel™ Painter® can help you on your way to becoming a better artist. Check it out by downloading your free 15-day trial here.

Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.