Art Pass Contest

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It's a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved: you get a chance to show us how much better at detailing maps than we are, and our (ex) art team gets a chance to find new jobs at companies that still need their kind!
Art Pass Contest publicity blurb

The Art Pass Contest was a mapping contest hosted by Participants were challenged to take an Attack/Defend map created by Valve and complete an "art pass" on it, adding texture and detail while maintaining the original layout, and then submit it for the chance to have it included in a Team Fortress 2 update. The competition was announced to the community on the TF2 Official Blog on July 16, 2010; it ended on September 25th, 2010, and the winners were announced on October 14, 2010.

Guidelines and Deadline

Various guidelines and rules had been drawn out, such as no advertisements, collaborations, or use of other artists' content without permission. Maps were to be submitted by September 25, 2010 – 11:00AM UTC. A complete list of guidelines can be viewed here.


The prize for the Art Pass Contest was the map's inclusion into the game. All participants (people who submitted a finished map) were awarded an in-game item, the Map Maker's Medallion.


The Art Pass Contest was not originally going to involve creating a map from scratch. Mappers would be given an out-of-bounds area of an unfinished map and would be allowed to detail it. They would then give it back to Valve, who decided if any were good enough to become official. Dario Casali (level designer at Valve) liked the idea that was proposed to him by ZPQ (former staff of TF2Maps), which led ZPQ to begin organizing the contest and trying to overcome legal issues such as having mappers having to give total rights of the map to Valve.

On January 21, 2010, Valve claimed that while they thought the idea of a detailing contest would be a good idea, they did not have a suitable map for it. The contest preparation may have been overshadowed by work on the Engineer Update.

Robin Walker e-mailed ZPQ on January 29, 2010 informing him that Valve had an old map which they hadn't worked on for a while, and hadn't had the time to do an art pass (detail) on. He asked ZPQ if TF2Maps would run a contest where Valve gave the mappers a VMF (map file) to work on, and compete for the best looking art-passed version. If the end result was good, it would be shipped as an official map.[1]

The two winner's maps were added to the game as a part of the Scream Fortress Update.

Art Pass Contest Comic


A one-page comic was created for the community contest announcement page. The comic depicts a discussion between a pair of Valve's staff. With an Administrator-esque demeanor, Robin Walker is monitoring the game and the Team Fortress Wiki. Fearful of Mr. Walker's wrath, Corey Peters reports bad news.

Promotional fly-through video

Maps showcase


On October 14, 2010, Valve posted on the TF2 Official Blog announcing the winners as:

Special mentions included:



  1. "How the Art Pass Contest came to be.", post by zpqrei on, August 21, 2010.