The snows have truly settled in across most of the world, and with the results of the Winter 2017 Fanart Contest finally in, what better way to celebrate than with some incredible pieces of osu! art? And to top it all off, a brand-new Christmas-themed track from the original composer of osu!'s musical theme, nekodex!
2017's been a bit of a hectic one for osu!, and the latter half of the year is always the time where we kick back a bit and enjoy some well-earned chill.
With that in mind, the original osu!musician, nekodex, has dug deep into his reservoirs of musical mastery to pluck out perhaps the most chill of all the holiday tunes yet - with "aureole", available now for your listening pleasure.
A relaxing walk through a wintry soundscape, "aureole" is an intimate symphony of warm, fireside tunes, elevated into majesty by a beautifully smooth woodwind lead, and finally capped off with glitchy, breakstep-inspired percussion.
This track will be a fixture on the main-menu to accompany the Winter seasonal background until Christmas has come and gone. You can download a 320kbps version for free from nekodex's SoundCloud (or this link if you don't have a SoundCloud account), and if you're after a lossless download, name your price over at his Bandcamp.
Follow him on Twitter too, because why not?
And that's not all!
To accompany the brand new tune, we're delighted to announce the results of the Winter 2017 Fanart Contest - featuring perhaps the most intense race for first place of any contest that we've ever held thus far.
With 65 entries and only 6 votes per person to cast, the choice was as agonizing as it's ever been. But the community has decided, and they have told us loud and clear that merely 10 winners was simply not enough, so we have decided to take the top 15 winners instead.
Without further ado, here's a sneak peek at the winners - and remember, you can click the little banners to head to a full-size version of each picture!
Leading the pack by an absolute hair with 11,830 votes, Leissss blew the voters away with her take on Mocha doing the work of Santa Claus, looking out across the cityscape below from above a sea of candlelit lanterns.
This was by far and above the CLOSEST win of any first place Fan Art contest we've ever held. We've never seen anything like it before.
In second place with 11,519 votes was Evaine's incredible digital painting of pippi and Mocha all rugged up and enjoying the winter air before a setting sun.
An absolute treat of vibrant hues and composition, the osu!team was collectively blown away by this piece in particular. Stunning, simply put.
Taking third place with a breathtaking rendition of a winter-garbed pippi and Mocha together to boot(y) with 7,978 votes, Sunako's superb piece well deserves its place among the top, and also earns bonus credit for being one of very few entries to nail Mocha's design properly.
We mean the bangs and bandage, by the way.
The winter skies sang 7,274 votes for endercraftz's wonderful piece of a present-bearing pippi and festive don. Simply beautiful.
Infamous with his instantly identifiable medleys, snowyani2000's's portrayal of what appears to a memory-laden snapshot of peppy's desk scored 5,265 votes.
The more you look at it, the deeper it goes. How many references can you spot? Exceptional as always!
Glittering with wintry glamour, Hikerumin colourful composition nabbed 5,108 votes, featuring both Mocha and pippi as the centrepieces of some absurdly pretty Christmas tree ornaments.
Take a good, long look and appreciate the incredible attention to detail. This piece was another stand-out in our eyes!
Lying playfully in the snow, SkyDiverFox's rendition of a snow-blushed pippi enjoying the throes of winter scored 5,014 votes. Vibrant and evocative, the colouring on this piece is a real treat to behold.
Warming things up a little, Fye's toasty depiction of pippi and Mocha enjoying some Christmas comforts before a fireplace banished the chill for 4,663 voters. Can we have the cat as a mascot too?
Enjoying a display of festive lights, Sylux6's scintillating piece of pippi and Mocha lit up the hearts of 3,866 voters. Official osu! Mocha-styled beanies, anyone?
Festive reds and blues resound in Raynel's stylish piece, scoring 3,704 votes overall. Simple, eloquent, and eyecatching. Very nice!
Bringing all the major mascots to the table for the season, YaoiForeva's gorgeous greeting brought a smile to 3,224 voters, and earns a bonus mention for being one of very few entries to feature all of the official mascots, including the oft-forgotten Maria!
Shyly offering a festive gift, 3,203 voters gratefully accepted JaX's frankly stunning rendition of a season-attired pippi in a snowy park. Honestly just spectacular, and I'm reserving writer's privilege here to say that this was one of my personal favourites. Superb.
A festive medley of mascots abound, Kuroiy winter wonderland impressed 3,049 voters, featuring all of the official mascots, plus a cameo from the Elite Beat Agents, and even some of the osu!taiko community mascots!
Clad in a Christmas costume, XFINCHIIX's pippi cuteness stole the hearts of 2,988 voters. If you look really close, her eyes glisten like stars!
And last but definitely not least, Vio's pastel celebration of pippi and Mocha is so unbearably cute that it scored 2,813 votes, and shows that wintertime doesn't necessarily mean colours go away!
It wouldn't be a Fan Art contest announcement if I didn't gush endlessly about how amazing the contest was this time around, but really, we've honestly never seen anything quite like this in all the years we've hosted them.
Make sure to check out the full contest results for many more amazing pictures to feast your eyes on.
In little over a week, over sixty artists pulled out all the stops and produced what is arguably the most impressive contest we've ever held. When is the madness going to stop? Hopefully never!
All the winners listed above walk away with two months of osu!supporter for their efforts, and we'd like to thank everyone who submitted an entry to the contest for helping make this so great.
Seriously, thank you!
From us here on the osu!team, we wish you all a happy holidays and all the best for the New Year coming up soon.
Remember to take time from clicking circles to cherish what's truly important during the festive season - namely family and friends.
Enjoy the tunes and gorgeous art!