Fan art and the shipping of characters has had a huge impact on the cartoon, anime, movie, and television culture. Fan art began shortly after published animation, but shipping is quite different. It originated from the Star-Trek television series in the mid-70s. The first official recorded ship was Captain James T. Kirk and Spock, also known as Kirk/Spock (K/S). The term shipping would officially be introduced in the mid-90s regarding Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from the hit television series, The X-Files.
“It is important to draw wisdom from different places,” states Uncle Iroh to Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender. “If you take it from only one place it becomes rigid and stale.”
Shipping and various other forms of fandom fan art breathe life into characters that audiences can’t experience through film or a television series. Uncle Iroh’s quote not only is an important life lesson, but it can also be applied toward art and other forms of creativity. Within the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise, which includes The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Lost Adventures comic books, and a series of graphic novel trilogies — is a treasure trove of characters, waiting to be turned into fan art and shipped towards the artist’s personal desires.
After digging through hundreds of artist’s galleries (mostly from deviantart.com), we’ve compiled prime pickings which include individual characters and various shipping pairings. From Jinko and Korrasami to Jet and Opal, here are 30 pieces of fan art from Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise that will likely make you blush.
30 All Grown Up
Within the series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, Toph is only shown as being a teenager and an old woman. The comics are the only place you can find Toph during her prime years. In this fan art created by dandonfuga on DeviantArt, Toph is easily in her early twenties and is looking more stunning than ever. Complete with her signature headband and green outfit, Toph looks like a cosplay model. Despite the obvious anatomy changes, her lips have filled out nicely and even her nose is too cute to pass up on. The piercing in her ear is fanservice to the extreme, identifying her as the rebel she is. From this image alone, it’s clear that Toph had no trouble landing herself a partner whenever she wanted one.
29 Special Healing
Katara is known for her special healing abilities, but they come with limitations. Katara can heal because she uses water as a catalyst. While this works on external wounds, it does not heal internal injuries or illnesses. In shipping Katara and Zuko together, it seems likely that he would need healing often. Not just because of his reckless nature, but due to Katara’s motherly instincts too. This fan art by Matereya shows the intimacy which can be achieved through the water bending healing process. What makes this art stand out from the others is Zuko’s gaze upon Katara. No matter the outcome of their lives within the Avatar: The Last Airbender series — in this artist’s mind, the two are madly in love.
28 Fiery Innocent Water Bender
From the moment Avatar: The Last Airbender aired in 2005, audiences were captivated by Katara. From her brown skin to those piercing blue eyes, combined with a dominant and motherly personality, Katara captures attention with every scene she’s in. Fast forward a year and Katara has grown immensely. Not just mentally but physically too. This piece of fan art by lindaroze captures that growth and intensifies it to a more PG-13 level. Katara is in her Fire Nation disguise, bending water to prepare for a battle. But what sets this fan art apart from others is the details of her face. The anime eyes are spot on, along with rosy cheeks — which sets up the rest of the image. Overall, it's blush-worthy.
27 Jinko First Date
During Zuko and Iroh’s time in Ba Sing Se, a young girl named Jin developed a serious crush on Zuko. She would visit Iroh’s tea shop daily and eventually worked up enough courage to ask Zuko out on a date. This fan art by basedesire is two separate pieces we have shipped together. Both are a modern-day version of Jin and Zuko’s first encounter and date. Known as Jinko, the couple is often shipped by fans due to their short but happy first date. Despite enjoying his time with Jin, Zuko knew it wouldn’t work out. He ended the relationship before things heated up (pun intended), but fans were enthralled with the idea of them becoming an official couple. Based on this fan art, the two would have made a nice pair if the situation had been different.
26 Finally Relaxed
Toph was born a rebel, one to buck the system. She doesn’t care how others see her, and she’s not into being all dolled up unless it’s necessary for a mission. This modern-day version of Toph plays off her traits, having Toph in a simple tank and comfortable pants. After teaching, training, and running a police force, all she wants at the end of the day is to be comfortable. This is what makes Toph so attractive and appealing. Her natural beauty shines when she is within her element. Toph’s style choices in the anime were always about ease of movement and function. Her simple look also allowed her to breeze under the radar, never attracting unwanted or unnecessary attention. Having others underestimate her gives her the advantage.
25 Perfect Ship
Azula and Ty Lee, or Tyzula (as known in the shipping community), is considered the most popular femslash ship in Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom. It all began in season 2, episode 7, when Azula is shown as a child interacting with Ty Lee and Mai. Fandom felt that Azula had a soft spot in her cold heart for the agile Lee. Ty Lee also liked to compliment Azula, which some took as brown-nosing while others felt it was due to deeper feelings. In this fan art, Azula is lying above Ty Lee on the rocks while gazing into her eyes. Ty Lee is also reciprocating the gaze and seems to be in a state of pure bliss. If Azula had chosen sides differently, perhaps this could have been their happy ending.
24 Goofing Off
It’s no secret to diehard Avatar: The Last Airbender fans that Toph had feelings for Sokka. The fandom shipping community, however, was always more interested in Zuko being paired off with Toph. Most of this stems from Toph always complaining when it would be her turn to take a “field trip” (her term) with Zuko.
This fan art stands out because their standard colors are reversed.
Zuko is wearing green trunks, which is Toph’s colors (Earthbender) and Toph is wearing red and orange (Fire Nation colors). As depicted by the artist iesnoth, Zuko is complaining about the sand in his eyes (Anakin Skywalker?) Toph, on the other hand, is thoroughly enjoying her field trip, holding Zuko’s hand to guide him along. Toph seems to be thoroughly enjoying her Zuko time, while he looks like he’d rather be somewhere else.
23 Eyes Up Here
Kuvira is a master metalbender who is fervently loyal to the Earth Kingdom in The Legend of Korra. She also becomes one of the most dynamic villains in the series. In the anime, Kuvira is often shown in her armor. Her appearance is one of strength and domination. This creative piece of fan art flips the script and shows her in a much different light. While not taking away from her personality, the artist portrays her working out while wearing clothing which is much more feminine. Whereas her body is left to the imagination in the series, here it prominently displayed. The best part about this piece is the text written on her tank-top. While being a great villain and character, the illustrators of Avatar: The Last Airbender gave her a set of very distinctive eyebrows.
22 Deviant Innocence
Toph is often depicted as being a tomboy, rough around the edges with a mysterious sweet side hiding somewhere deep within her personality. This fan art by Danigunz flips the script on her appearance, showing off a side of Toph not available in Avatar: The Last Airbender series. The artwork of her character places her a few years after the end of the Hundred Year War. She has grown (in certain areas) while maintaining that cute Toph persona which was normally buried under attitude and functional clothing. Being that her character was originally designed as a man, it’s interesting to witness another perspective of what she might have looked like within the series and following the war. While deviant in nature, Toph will forever be a fandom favorite.
21 Sweet And Sour
Azula may look sweet from a distance (a very long distance), but on the inside, she’s mostly sour. While showing kindness only a few times in her life, Azula fits superbly into her role as the secondary antagonist within Avatar: The Last Airbender. With a dominant personality that naturally evokes one to blush, she is strictly devoted towards pleasing her father Fire Lord Ozai. While obtaining nothing less than absolute perfection. Having zero empathy towards others, Azula was relentless in her pursuit of the Avatar. This obsession, however, would pick apart her rationality until she fully breached insanity after the Hundred Year War was finally over. As shown in this fan art, Azula is displaying her talents with her lightning bending. Performing this skill was something she took great pride in, as a Firebender and as a warrior.
20 True Legend
Opal is a granddaughter of the legendary Toph Beifong and daughter of Suyin Beifong and Baatar. In the series Opal is often shown as easygoing and shy, masking her passions and according to this artist — her deviant side too. Opal’s greatest feature is her belief in honesty, along with an individual being themselves, rather than pretending to be something they’re not.
Opal’s character is innocent and sheltered within The Legend of Korra.
Curious about the world outside of Zaofu, she soaks in all of Bolin's tales regarding his days spent living on the streets of Republic City. Opal is also an Airbender, and a decent one too. Even Korra remarked that her skills were impressive and almost natural like. Gauging on her deviant wear in this fan art, it would seem she has other hidden skills too.
19 Water Wonderland
Katara is the glue which keeps Team Avatar together, but what would a modern version of her look like apart from the others? Capitalizing on all her strengths, this piece of fan art gives a glimpse into that alternative timeline and world. Her dark skin tones pair amazingly well with her blue outfit while bringing out her eyes like usual. The white scattered around in small chunks helps to balance out the piece, creating a stunning modern version of Katara. With water splashing in the background, and what looks to be a volleyball under her arm, it’s likely this fan art is depicting the infamous beach scene from book 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Not that anyone needs an excuse for heading to the beach, Katara is simply the icing on the cake.
18 Average Morning
The relationship between Sokka and Suki had plenty of memorable beats within Avatar: The Last Airbender. From the blown romantic rendezvous in Sokka's tent to their passionate kiss in Full Moon Bay, the tension between the two was built up over the course of the series. Following the end of the Hundred Year War, Sukka (their shipping name) finally became an official couple.
The look on Sokka’s face is priceless.
This fan art takes us behind the scenes, into what Sukka’s average morning likely looked like. With Sokka holding a jar of Suki’s makeup, he looks bored and annoyed while smitten with love. Suki, on the other hand, is enjoying the interaction more than she possibly should — but then again, that’s why they make such a cute couple.
17 I'm Bored
The Maiko ship (Zuko and Mai) showed how those of a similar personality can find happiness and love together. One of the most powerful quotes within Avatar: The Last Airbender is delivered by Mai to Azula.
“I love Zuko more than I fear you.”
Despite their passion for one another, the two had a hard time making things work daily as shown through this fan art comic by Evil Dragon Queen on DeviantArt. Neither had an outgoing personality. The conversation, as shown in this fan art, would have likely taken occurred. Yet, even in boredom, Zuko and Mai still look like they’re perfect for one another. Zuko’s secrets, however, would drive a wedge between the two. But even apart, their love and respect for each other always remained intact.
16 Foxy Flexibility
Despite Ty Lee switching sides and betraying Azula, she clearly had feelings for the mad firebender. A popular fan theory exists, stating that it was Ty Lee’s abandonment was what finally pushed Azula over the edge and into insanity. Before those events occurred in Avatar: The Last Airbender, however, Tyzula were a cute unofficial couple. If the relationship had been developed upon, this fan art by Paradox Effect accurately portrays what their interaction might have looked like. Ty Lee is extraordinarily agile, which allowed her to join the Fire Nation circus and outmaneuver her opponents in battle. It wouldn’t be out of the norm then for Ty Lee to display her agility while showing Azula love and affection at the same time.
15 To Each Their Own
Zuko has been shipped by fans with every female (and some male) characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender and even from The Legend of Korra. It’s easy to understand why, since Zukko is the tortured villain who finds redemption.
In a callback to episode 7, Zuko is stuck bathing in the hot spring with Uncle Iroh.
The comic fan art by uppun (from DeviantArt) depicts Zuko hitting on Sokka after complaining about girls, saying they are nothing but trouble. Sokka, also being a chick magnet, has been shipped with almost all the characters in the Avatar franchise too. He looks at Zukko hesitantly, unsure what to say. And then there’s the second piece of fan art. No, just no. Zuko would never willingly step in that hot spring, and if he did — well, that’s content for a whole different type of anime.
14 Modern Day Avatar
Korra’s short hair near the end of The Legend of Korra series was among fandoms favorite character changes. It accentuated her face better, providing an innocent look combined with raw strength. This fan art by YurriSins brings her updated appearance into our modern-day world. Not only does she look like a gamer girl who could whoop on her opponents, she still has her abilities as Avatar. Her hair has been dyed to a light brown from her classic brunette style, bringing out her eyes more than usual. Even her lips are glowing in this fan art depiction, inviting someone with the cojones (male or female) to sweep her off with a kiss. With the addition of her loose strands of hair falling across her forehead, Korra becomes the girl of everyone’s dreams.
13 Ignorant Firebender
For a majority of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko is oblivious regarding his attraction appeal. The two fandom artists presented in this image pay homage to this concept through their individual comics. Having Katara apply sunscreen on Zuko’s shoulders and back gets her blushing while Toph takes a slightly more humorous approach. Both members of Team Avatar had minor crushes on Zuko within the series making them ideal for shipping.
Is that a cartoon version of Aang, Toph has created?
The idea of Katara and Zuko hooking up always seemed a bit off, but not so much regarding him and Toph. We can totally see Toph drawing a cartoon image on Zuko’s back with sunscreen while he’s passed out in the sand. Considering the jokes applied towards her artistic skills by Sokka, it seems plausible that the image is indeed Aang. Making this fan art combination a quintuple of shipping goodness.
12 Those Moments
Makorra (Mako and Korra) are the second most popular ship to come out of The Legend of Korra series. The shipping of these two characters began once rumors started flying that Mako would be her love interest. The red scarf, as shown in this fan art, is an important detail often included in Makorra shipping. It signifies the “red string of fate.” The red scarf ties into an Eastern mythology which states that the gods might tie two lover's fates together with a red string. This is so they will eventually meet and never be separated from each other again. Hence why Korra is holding the red scarf, as Mako gently kisses the top of her forehead.
11 Next Door
Katara has been given numerous looks and adaptations by fandom, but this particular fan art presents her as the simple girl next door. And it’s stunning. Her age in this artwork is likely around her late teens or early twenties, making Aang a very lucky man. Katara’s face is slightly fuller than represented in the cartoon and her two threads of hair have seemingly taken on a life of their own. Her blue eyes are toned down to a lighter color blue and her lips are much fuller than what they were during Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara’s casual modern look is fitting, and her hair flowing with the water swirling around Katara makes this an ideal fan art blush piece.
10 Yeah, Like This
The love triangle between Mako, Korra, and Asami contains enough drama for about seven seasons of reality television. Mako and Korra were on, and then off through most of book 2 within The Legend of Korra. Eventually the couple would split, but the fandom community kept shipping them. Their breakup became official after the Harmonic Convergence, ending with one final kiss. Each told the other they would always be loved, but they weren’t meant to be together. Mako never seemed to get over the breakup but Korra and Asami moved on just fine. When Mako is asked by Wu if he has a love interest in his life, Mako sheepishly responds by saying, “No, not since Korra and I broke up.”
9 Risky Firebending Business
The movie Risky Business (1983) contains one of the most classic Tom Cruise moments within his overly large acting portfolio. In the film, Cruise’s character Joel Goodson is enjoying his freedom while his parents are out of town. He does this by blasting his stereo (typical 80s move) while dancing around his parents’ house in his drawers — all while singing.
Zuko’s first evening as Fire Lord might have looked like this.
After finally breaking free of his father’s hold, Zuko could finally explore feelings and emotions he had buried all his life. Depicting him dancing around like Joel Goodson not only makes sense but would likely have happened if Avatar: The Last Airbender wasn’t a fictional story. How many of us have secretly done the same thing when discovering our own freedom?
8 Girl's Day
Following Asami's debut in The Legend of Korra, Korrasami (Korra and Asami) won a fandom poll on Tumblr as the most popular ship. And for good reasons too. What started off as a close friendship between the two in the series, became a full-blown relationship towards the end. Not only did Korrasami have a huge cultural significance (being the first same-gender couple in the history of Nickelodeon), but they were totally cute together too.
There was even talk regarding a Korrasami comic book series.
If you are unfamiliar with their characters and relationship, we highly recommend picking up a copy of The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars comic book, which is part of the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise. There are also a bunch of fandoms comics, which can be found on devianart.com.
7 A Different Kind Of Avatar
Korra is often depicted as fierce, independent, and extremely loyal. But what if she ventured off the path and went over to the Dark Side? It’s not too far of a stretch considering she was tough, impatient, headstrong, sarcastic, and assertive. Whereas Aang was more peaceful. This fan art by Racoon Factory on DeviantArt shows what Korra might have looked like if pushed too far. Her revealing clothing is a clear statement of rebellion while her bending all four elements together is quite terrifying. The most striking part of this fan art would have to be her eyes. If Korra went evil, it’s likely that her eyes would be just as terrifying as her bending skills. Gone from this image, however, is her appealing teenage charm.
6 Before The Madness
The fan art shown here by VoldyThing shows what life for the Ozai family might have looked like. Featured within the image is Fire Lord Ozai, his wife Ursa before their split, along with their children Zuko, and Azula. Nothing about the Ozai family was normal or peaceful, but it’s nice to dream that a scene like this might have taken place. Even in a peaceful setting at the Ozai family beach home though, Azula is still torturing Zukko, likely calling him Dum-Dum (a childhood nickname she gave him). Which makes this piece of fan art comic hilarious and surreal. Perhaps at one time, Ursa and Ozai were truly happy. But his position as Fire Lord and ego would eventually drive a wedge between him and Ursa, along with his children too.
5 Spoken For
Fandom of Avatar: The Last Airbender often ships Azula with Ty Lee, but what about her and Katara? The artist itanatsu-chan presents Kazula in a simple way that works well. Azula is in her zone as being the more dominant in personality while holding Katara intimately. Katara has an innocent look on her face and is also portraying her dominant qualities too. Shipping these two together would certainly make for an interesting relationship, but it’s still plausible.
How often would their roles switch?
If a balance of dominant personalities could be achieved, Kazula would make a fine couple indeed. In this particular fan art, Azula seems to be the one who’s claiming Katara as her own. And Katara isn’t complaining one bit, yielding to the passion and heat that is Azula.
4 Modern Look
Imagining our favorite cartoon characters as grownups is all that and a bag of Fritos. This fan art plays off the grownup theme while also adding a modern look. Zuko is dressed in standard red while still looking slick. Katara looks like she’s about to go clubbing and the short dress she’s wearing accents her body faultlessly. Aang, who is normally shirtless in Avatar: The Last Airbender is sort of wearing a tank. Although, the grownup version of his facial features is tight. Sokka is the only character dragging this sequence art down, but Toph wraps it up nicely. Toph looks like she’s about to binge her favorite television series or bang out a few old Atari classics. Perhaps someone will revive the Avatar franchise, creating a modern-day adaptation?
3 Bad Boy
Despite being a side character within the Avatar series, Jet is a fan favorite for deviant artists. Full of charisma and spunk, Jet tops all the other male characters regarding his magnetic personality. Because of this, he’s ranked near the top regarding characters shipped out of Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise.
Jet maintains his small town bad boy look that’ll make most blush.
The swords Jet uses in a battle set him apart from the other characters. He fought with a set of twin tiger hook swords and is capable of keeping up with the best of the best. Despite his glaring obsession with the Fire Nation and its people, his personality evolved into one of friendship loyalty with Team Avatar. Guys, treat your girls right or Jet will swoop in and steal her away.
2 Elemental Love
From the moment Aang became friends with Katara, he was smitten for her. He would spend the entire Avatar: The Last Airbender series trying to hook up with her, often having his advances denied. But, Katara still understood Aang better than anyone else in the world. Which made her epiphany regarding the two of them becoming a real couple a prominent moment in the Avatar series.
Aang combines elements to make a heart for his true love.
Before heading off to battle with Fire Lord Ozai, Aang kisses Katara. And the rest you could say is history. They would become a couple following the war and eventually get married, producing three children. Even the writers knew Kataang would one day become a reality, naming a short theme song after their shipping name.
1 Ballroom Dance
Of all the possible ships contained within Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jet and Mai are rarely ever shipped together. Which is what makes this stunning piece of fan art special. While their personalities would likely clash, this doesn’t mean a night involving ballroom dancing couldn’t spark a moment between them. Jet is completely in his element, rose hanging from his mouth and all. Mai, despite being shy and quiet, seems to enjoy the attention, along with an opportunity to dance. Which Mai and Zuko would never have the courage for, unless forced or coerced to do so. Whether Mai had dance lessons during a young age is unknown. But in this piece of fan art, she clearly looks like a pro. Which is why it takes the number one slot in fan art images from Avatar: The Last Airbender that will make you blush.
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