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Hm from my personal experience playing petsites and such it seems that many look for stylized art with cel shading. On pet breeding sites with somewhat realistic genetics etc. everyone seems to lean towards (semi)realism with painted shadings.

Personally I prefer to do cel shading because when done well it can look great and it's much easier/faster to do. Painted shadings can look pretty bad if not done well and as an artist it's a nightmare to replicate.

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I've found that most pet/sim sites have 3 styles: toony neopets style, semi-realistic (think lioden), and realistic. Virtual pets tend to almost always use neopets style art and look similar to one another, so that's in the highest demand, while sims tend to use more realistic styles.

I agree with @st4nn1s that cell-shaded toony art is the easiest to replicate, since the anatomy and shading are simple. When you get into the more realistic and complicated anatomy + shading, things get harder to replicate and the ability to do it well across multiple artists (and have it look seamless) gets harder and harder.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I feel that semi-realistic and realistic art is in demand these days, but it really depends on the style a site is going for. I've been seeing more sims lately with realistic item art, though. Agree with @Dinocanid and @st4nn1s that cell-shaded works are easier to replicate. Rendering a realistic piece can be very challenging and time consuming. 

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  • 3 months later...

The cellshading with ultra smooth lines is a definite selling point for a lot of pet games.

If you're going for a more specialized audiance like in SIMs that have realistic animal genetics, your game might attract the kinds of people who want realistic art styles. 

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  • 1 month later...

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