Under Strange Suns The 7th Annual
Atomhawk Art


“A weary hero roams a bizarre world. Hot stars hang heavy over a scorched landscape where darkness never arrives. In another universe, we see a topsy-turvy kingdom, psychedelic creatures speaking archly of politics and scandal, sipping mimosas by sunlit rainbow streams. The suns beat on.”

It’s that time of year again! We’re excited to launch the seventh Annual Atomhawk Art Competition, inviting you to share your storytelling skills in a single piece of artwork.

You will design a character, environment, or piece of keyframe art inspired by the prompt: Under Strange Suns. The winning artwork will be the best single image showing a mixture of storytelling, creativity, and technical skill. The winners will take us on a creative journey.

Ready to enter your winning artwork? See SUBMIT YOUR ARTWORK below for the submission link.


The Atomhawk Art Competition is for concept artists and illustrators – and for the first time ever, we are accepting 3D entries! In the past, artists could use 3D as part of their process, but this year, a fully 3D render will be a valid submission.

Strong composition, rendering, lighting, and attention to detail are crucial for success. The competition will be judged by a panel of Atomhawk art leadership and our independent guest judge, Thomas Chamberlain-Keen.

What does Under Strange Suns mean to you? We can’t wait for you to show us.

Submission Deadline: August 10th 2023
Winners Announced: August 31st 2023

(We’re hiring too! From concept art, to 3D art, to UI/UX development, check out all the vacancies on our careers page.)


The Atomhawk Art Competition has six winners.

There will be one winner from each category (character design, environment design and keyframe art), plus a grand prize winner, chosen from across all entries.

The fifth winner receives the Hawks’ Choice Award, which will be decided by the full Atomhawk team. They will pick their favourite piece from all submissions, focusing more on use of the competition theme, and less on the technical skill required to place in the top three.


The sixth winner receives a money-can’t-buy-it mentorship. Returning for its third year, the Rising Star Mentorship is made up of four one-on-one sessions with an Atomhawk artist. Like our in-house internship programme, this mentorship opportunity lets one artist truly hone their skills under the watchful eye of an industry professional.

Why nominate yourself for the Rising Star Mentorship? Hear it directly from last year’s winner, Charlotte Kügler, in our interview about her experience.


Whichever category you’re entering, there are some rules everyone must follow. If you don’t, your submission may be at risk of being disqualified.

This year we are welcoming 3D artists in addition to concept artists and illustrators to enter the art competition:

  • A 2D entry is an illustration or composite artwork which can use 3D as part of the process, but the final image involves post-processing in an application like Photoshop.
  • A 3D entry comprises of renders from 2 angles. Of these two angles, one may include minimal editing in external programs like Photoshop for presentation only. The second angle should be presented without editing in external programs like Photoshop, Nuke, After Effects etc.

All entries must provide a detailed breakdown of your artwork’s process, from ideation through work in progress, all collated together on one sheet.

The use of photobashing, photogrammetry, VR painting and premade 3D assets is allowed, provided the materials are royalty-free or you own the rights to use them.

The use of AI text to image generators in any way is prohibited. Any suspected use of AI text to image generators will potentially disqualify your submission.



There are three categories you can enter in the Atomhawk Art Competition. These are: Character Design, Environment Design, OR Keyframe Art. (Please see SUBMIT YOUR ARTWORK tab below for more details on how to enter your finished image.)

Character Design

A character design entry is ONE character, creature or mech design. It will be presented as a posed full body shot or as a character concept sheet. Backgrounds may be included in your entry if you wish, but you will not be judged on it.

Environment Design

An environment design is ONE environment presented as a single mood piece, or an environment concept with break-outs. An environment entry may contain characters, but they are there to help show scale, and are not consequential to the storytelling of the environment itself.

Keyframe Art

A keyframe art entry is ONE key moment artwork presented as a cinematic action shot. This uses a combination of character and environment to portray story, expressing a single shot with lighting, the mood and action. This category is less design-focused than the other entries, but strong conceptual ideas will strengthen your entry.

There is no registration required to join the competition. A submission form will be posted here on July 10th and will be open until August 10th, where you can submit your final artwork when it’s completed. This will be considered your entry.


Submissions Open:
July 10th 2023

Submission Deadline:
August 10th 2023 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on Earth)

Winners Announced:
August 31st 2023

To submit your entry you will need to prepare:


  • One high resolution image of your final artwork in your chosen category – JPG preferred, 6MB max
  • One collated image of work-in-progress to show the detailed development of your entry including ideation, progress shots and any pre-made assets used – JPG preferred, 6MB max


  • One high resolution image which shows your final artwork from two angles (of these two angles, one may include minimal editing in external programs like Photoshop, Nuke, After Effects etc. for presentation only. The second angle must be presented without editing in any external programs) – JPG preferred, 6MB max
  • One collated image of work-in-progress to show the detailed development of your entry which can include wireframes, 3D blockouts and the texture sheet – JPG preferred, 6MB max

Need more reference? See all past winners from the Art Competition here.






We love to see work in progress throughout the course of the competition so please share your sketches, unfinished work and sources of inspiration using #AHArtComp2023 on Instagram, ArtStation and Twitter.

If you would like to incorporate the Under Strange Suns logo as a watermark, download it here.

Let the world know you’re getting involved! Use the one of the participation graphics below to share on your social media!

At Atomhawk, we create our best work when we support and lift each other up. Remember to check the hashtag yourself and send encouragement to your fellow artists!

As you set out on your Atomhawk Art Competition journey, there are a few general tips that just make sense. Focus on your fundamentals! Make space for your individual style and believe in yourself! Also, be sure to dip into the Atomhawk resources for both inspiration and practical advice. Our team is knowledgeable, and very experienced, so this is a fantastic place to feed your mind.

Art competitions: why they matter and how to win

The Rising Star Mentorship: an invaluable encounter in your career

What makes a head-turning entry? See all past winners from the Art Competition here.

We want to send the hugest of thank yous to our sponsors, who’ve provided an amazing selection of prizes for this year’s competition.

THE GNOMON WORKSHOP was founded in 2000, established to share professional techniques with those unable to attend the award-winning Gnomon School in Hollywood, California. They have a library of over 300 video workshops — which is over 1,000 hours of tuition — available 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

WACOM is the global leader in the pen display and tablet market for creative users. As a technology company, they provide cutting-edge digital ink solutions for a wide range of partners using and producing smartphones, tablets and digital stationery.

ESCAPE TECHNOLOGY is a reseller and technical support company based in the UK and Germany. For over ten years they’ve been working with computer graphics artists and studios to bring them the best hardware, software, and infrastructure to deliver their work.

SUMO DIGITAL was founded in 2003 and is an award-winning video game developer which employs over 600 staff across its seven studios in the UK and India. They make games for the world’s leading publishers, including Microsoft, Sony, Sega, and Apple.

PHOTOBASH is an online resource for Royalty-Free Photography, Masked Images and 3D Models. Find the perfect reference collection for your project. Photo Packs contain hundreds of photos, capturing every subject in great detail.

3dtotal is a comprehensive platform for online artists, offering a variety of free tutorials, informative interviews, and an inspirational gallery. They also run regular art contests, just like the Atomhawk Art Competition!

Proko is a hub for artists to improve their skills and connect with a community of like-minded peers and talented mentors. They also help produce and monetize instructional videos for artists that want to start teaching online.


This competition is operated by Atomhawk Design Ltd, a private limited company incorporated in England and Wales with company number 06968171 and registered office address Unit 32 Jessops Riverside, Brightside Lane, Sheffield, England, S9 2RX.

1. How to participate
a. In order to enter this competition, please use the Submission Form (hosted by Typeform) available through the Atomhawk website.
b. All entries must include your name and email address. Postal addresses (including postcode), and telephone numbers will be collected from the winners via email. Please see our privacy policy at https://atomhawk.com/privacy-policy for confirmation of how we will treat your personal information. In addition, we may also share your personal information internally with our recruitment team, to notify you of the timings of next year’s Atomhawk art competition and to allow the sponsors to send to the winners their prizes. The winners full name with their winning submission will be published on this webpage (https://atomhawk.com/resources/art-competition-2023-winners/). Previous winners of the competition with their winning entry are shown on this webpage (https://atomhawk.com/resources/category/art-competition/). If you do not want your name included on the list of winners or object to your personal information being used for any of the purposes stated above or in the Atomhawk privacy policy, you must notify Atomhawk of this at any time and Atomhawk will remove your personal information as soon as reasonably practicable.
c. Entries that do not comply with these terms and conditions will be disqualified and will not be entered into this competition.
d. Entry is free. The competition is open to everyone over the age of 18 of all skill levels in all locations.
e. You may only submit one entry to this competition. Any additional entries will be void and will not be entered into this competition. If, for any reason, an entrant submits their entry more than once, the last entry will be considered for judging.
f. By submitting an entry, you are confirming that the entry is your own original work and created entirely by you alone.

2. Deadline
Entries may not be submitted before 10:00am on 10th July 2023 BST.
The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm on 10th August 2023 AoE (Anywhere on Earth). Entries received by Atomhawk after this time will be void and will not be entered into this competition.

3. Winner’s announcement
Winners will be announced and posted on this webpage at 12 noon on the 31st August 2023 BST. If you are a winner, you will also receive a confirmation email. You can review our previous years’ winner announcements here: https://atomhawk.com/resources/category/art-competition/
There will be six winners in total, across a number of categories.

4. Prizes
The prizes are as follows:


  • PS5 Digital Edition & 1 Year PS+ Premium (courtesy of Sumo Digital)
  • The Gnomon Workshop 1-year subscription
  • Loupedeck CT (courtesy of Escape Technology & Wacom)
  • Portfolio Review by Atomhawk
  • Photobash.co Digital Voucher – $150
  • 3dtotal Store Voucher – £100
  • Proko Store Voucher – $100
  • Atomhawk Art of Atomhawk Volume 3

CATEGORY WINNERS (1 x Character Design winner, 1 x Environment Design winner & 1 x Keyframe Art winner)

  • The Gnomon Workshop 1-year subscription
  • Portfolio Review by Atomhawk
  • Photobash.co Digital Voucher – $100
  • 3dtotal Store Voucher – £50
  • Proko Store Voucher – $50
  • Atomhawk Art of Atomhawk Volume 3

1 x RISING STAR MENTORSHIP WINNER – please see section 9 below for further details on this prize

  • 4 x 1-hour mentorship sessions with a Senior Atomhawk Artist
  • Wacom Cintiq 16 (courtesy of Escape Technology & Wacom)
  • The Gnomon Workshop 1-year subscription
  • Portfolio Review by Atomhawk
  • Photobash.co Digital Voucher – $50
  • 3dtotal Store Voucher – £50
  • Proko Store Voucher – $50
  • Atomhawk Art of Atomhawk Volume 3

1 x HAWK’S CHOICE (as voted on by Atomhawk artists)

  • The Gnomon Workshop 1-year subscription
  • Portfolio Review by Atomhawk
  • Photobash.co Digital Voucher – $50
  • 3dtotal Store Voucher – £50
  • Atomhawk Art of Atomhawk Volume 3

There are no alternative prizes. The winner will receive their prizes on or before 14th October 2023.


5. Tools
Entries submitted must be created fully in 2D, a combination of 2D and 3D, or fully in 3D. Software can be used to support the artwork process when creating your entry. Use of photographs and pre-made 3D assets is allowed, so long as they are validly licenced or owned by the entrant and royalty free, and the entrant clearly provides the source material in their work in progress sheet as part of their submission. Artists can use techniques like photobashing, photogrammetry, VR painting and premade 3D assets as part of their process. For 2D and 3D entries, in process grabs from each stage of the pipeline must be included as part of a submission.
The use of AI text to image generators in any way is prohibited. Any suspected use of AI text to image generators will disqualify your submission.

6. Original work
Entries must be entirely original, created solely by you and not be based on any intellectual property that does not either belong solely to you or for which you have a valid licence to use for these purposes. Submissions that do not meet this standard will be automatically disqualified from the competition.
The process from ideation to completion must be clearly shown in detail for your work in a progress sheet for your submission, including any 3D assets reviewed when creating the artwork. This is so our judging team can check for use of any AI text to image generators.

7. Judging
Entries will be assessed by a panel of senior members of the Atomhawk team and an independent judge. Their group judgement will be final. The names of each of the judges is available on the competition page found here: https://atomhawk.com/strange.

8. Shipping
Our competition sponsors will deliver prizes directly to the winners, usually within 30 days of the closing date for the competition. Atomhawk are not responsible for any customs charges or import taxes arising from shipping of the winners’ prizes, which will be payable by the recipient.

9. Rising star mentorship prize
Based on the winner of this prize’s specialty (to be discussed with the winner), a Senior Atomhawk artist will be assigned to the winner as a mentor and will provide four, one hour mentoring sessions, to be arranged with the mentor. An intermediary at Atomhawk will assist in organising the date and times for each meeting, which will take place on Zoom and the mentee must make every effort to attend. 24 hours’ notice is required if the mentee cannot attend otherwise the session will be lost. Due to the short time of the meetings, the mentor will assign homework between each meeting which the mentee should make every effort to complete in order to get the most out of the mentoring.

10. Terms of publicity
The entrant grants Atomhawk and the competition’s sponsors rights to use all entered materials in any media for sales, marketing and merchandising material provided full and correct credit for the entrant clearly appears within the said materials.
Entrants retain copyright of all entered materials and are free to use said materials for personal promotion.
Entrants are encouraged to share their entry progress in social media networks throughout the competition with the #AHArtComp2023 hashtag.

11. Disqualification
Any image that is deemed to contain content that is considered inflammatory or inappropriate will be disqualified, this includes material that is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and/or ableist. Interpretation of what is, and is not, appropriate material is at the sole discretion of Atomhawk.

12. General
While nothing in these terms and conditions will limit Atomhawk’s liability for death or personal injury caused by its negligence or for fraud, Atomhawk will not be legally responsible to entrants or winners for any losses that were not foreseeable to Atomhawk or to the entrant at the time of entry to the competition or which are caused by a third party.
The laws of England and Wales apply to these terms and conditions, although if you are resident elsewhere you will retain the benefit of any mandatory protections given to you by the laws of that country.
Any disputes will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

Past Winners

Last year’s theme was ‘Forgotten Creation’, which saw over 480 submissions from around the world, with six Atomhawk judges crowning Quinten Blake as the grand winner for an epic colossus collapsed in a subzero crevasse. Check out some of the winners over the years below, or read our archive of winners announcements, all the way back to the first competition in 2017!

Forgotten Creation, 2022 – Quinten Blake

The Return, 2021 – Kat Talar

The Adventure Begins, 2020 – Baptiste Boutié

Solarpunk, 2019 – Jessica Woulfe

Into the Void, 2018 – Morten Solgaard Pederson 

Victory Day, 2017 – Liam Reagan (Key Moment) and Marby Kwong (Character)