What's the Difference Between Vaporwave and Synthwave ( Outrun )

Vaporwave vs. Synthwave (Outrun) and Difference

Across this large space of Online retro art, we often have two distinct genres on one hand Outrun and on the other Vaporwave but as you can see on r/vaporwave aesthetics and r/Outrun, it can be hard to tell the difference. Once there was peace in the online communities of r/vaporwave aesthetics and r/outrun, but as time passed these new recruits entered the fold, the lines between  these two genres became more and more unstable. These green recruits couldn't really tell the difference between the outrun and  vaporwave aesthetics leading to confusion in the communities. It's a dark time when posts as this gets tagged as Vaporwave 
Outrun Picture
Something like this Is called outrun. 
But fear not, cause i have been put on this earth to set the record straight once and for all to draw the lines between these two genres So that we once more can have piece in the communities.
Outrun Vaporwave Cyberpunk Diagram Table
Now you might have seen this three set Venn diagram circulating the interverse and Sure, we can start here to point out some obvious differences let's just throw this thing called cyberpunk straight out of the diagram as We won't really be looking at it that much. Sorry cyberpunk fans. Okay, so we'll kick off with the top left there And as you can see if Ryan Gosling is involved, then you're most likely looking at  outrun. If it's not driving a car late at night in LA or beating up Asians in a dimly lit  Bangkok. There is probably hunting down Harrison Ford in this neon futuristic utopia. So to make it brief if you see this handsome boy, then you're probably looking at  outrun.
Ryan Gostling Drive
I mean maybe a couple of shots in Blade Runner 2049 can be called Vaporwave but that's only a small percentage. So, you know...we're not gonna be discussing  that. On the bottom left there we have some driving going on Specifically at night with these long red lights. Now This is classic outrun if someone is driving a Testarossa or a Countach late at  night there should be no doubt in your mind as to what you're looking at.
Vaporwave for the most part does not have any cars. I mean with some goodwill you can  maybe say it an old Japanese car It's kind of Vaporwave like the Nissan skyline r30, an old Toyota Corolla or this car  from initial D . However when you see a sports car driving down the grid with some pretty dark  colors You're looking at outrun 98% of the time, speaking of dark colors That is also one of the areas where these two genres are similar, but not the same.


Neon is a good place to start, as both genres are very neon heavy outrun does however tend to favor a darker color palettes while Vaporwave mostly gravitates towards lighter colors and often flirts with pastel  color palettes. Especially when it comes to subgenres like Future Funk But we are not going down that rabbit hole today. There's tons of overlap when it  comes to color but you can roughly say that this washed out light colors are associated with Vaporwave and these darker clear colors put you on the outrun side of the  spectrum. 

Statues of Vaporwave

Statues Photo vaporwaveStatues...when it comes to outrun and Vaporwave Statues can only be found in one place and that is of course vaporwave. Some of the most popular statues in the genre that gets reused all the time. Is this  hot boy Statue of David by michelangelo.
This one called Venus de Milo and of course the O.G. himself. Mr. Macintosh Plus  aka Helios, now you can also pretty much grab any statue you want as long as it looks  somewhat Greek. It doesn't really matter if it was made a week ago or in the time the Romans were  getting it on as long as it's...AESTHETIC.

Fonts of Vaporwave and Outrun

Outrun Font Synthwave
While we're here let's talk fonts We got a couple examples on this picture But let's dig a bit deeper Outrun fonts tend to be heavily stylized fonts inspired by  80s film posters and video games. Often portrayed with a metallic gloss effect to really sell that 80s aesthetic chrome  look. 
Vaporwave Fonts
Vaporwave fonts however are more linked to simple  early computer graphics and technology, like this VCR font or one called alien encounters But one of the most Vaporwavey fonts is the almost universally hated classic  "Times new roman" . While it is hated for its overuse in most of Microsoft software and every one of us  90s kids having to use it when we're writing our school essays to miss Hofstede. It still remains a staple of the early PC movement of the 90s, which is one of the  biggest influences of a Vaporwave but if you're looking at text, that's Asian for some reason or at least Japanese,  then you are most certainly looking at Vaporwave. 
A favorite thing to do for these aesthetic creators is to find some old Japanese  quote and put it into their art or even better Finding a #deepenglishquote and then going into Google Translate and turn it  into Japanese. That way you butcher the original text and the meaning becomes lost in translation. But the experts they don't stop there, oh no, they translated it back and forth So many times that any spare meaning that was left behind by the third translate  now has transported into the abyss of google's AI before being jerked into a  sentence that roughly translates to: "I am dog, if you word, can cheese be fact?" Awesome! Now turn it Japanese again  and put it into your amazing Vaporwave picture I mean, no one that can actually read that is gonna see it anyways...right?
And if the text is some depressive shit trying to act deep then you can bet your  grandma that its Vaporwave preferably some short stories about heartbreak or loneliness or just short titles like "wake up" and "help".
Vaporwave game
Let's talk a bit about some of the general elements and effects that are used in  each genre respectively if you see the glitch effect or any kind of glitch art you are almost certainly looking at Vaporwave. You can have the perfect Outrun  picture ready to go but as soon as you put that glitch effect on it the post is kind of bordering on to Vaporwave territory.

Grids Vaporwave and Synthwave

Glitch vaporwave Statue
Grids however can  be  used in both genres while they are more prevalent in outrun they are known to cross into Vaporwave territory as well. Adding to that a rule of thumb would be that when the grid is a dark pink purple  neon against a very dark black surface, you're most likely looking at outrun and lighter versions are Vaporwave but no guarantees here. You have to evaluate it on a case-by-case basis but if you also have some wire frame mountains terrains or palm trees in the  pictures Then that's some outrun type shit.
This sun that's divided into lines pops into both  genres But tend to be a lighter pink when it comes to Vaporwave themed pictures and  more a yellow to red gradients in Outrun.

Watch the video:

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published