Garrett Fuller, Industry Relations
One of the key game elements that Blizzard is known for is its artistic
style. Warcraft art has always had a strong look and feel which brings
players into the game. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/blizzcon08/">BlizzCon
'08 gave fans a chance to sit down and
from the art team that works on World of Warcraft as well as get a look
at Lich King’s largest city Dalaran. Chris Robinson, Gary
Platner, Wendy Velter, Jason Morris, Roman Kenney, and Slim Ghariani
were all on hand to show players their jobs and also how much work goes
into the artistic style that Blizzard creates.
of Warcraft Art Team consists of forty-five members. From
target="_blank">concept art to href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/tid/1666"
target="_blank">digitally bringing their creations to life
the team has
a huge job. Many of the lead artists on the panel had their team
members stand up and be cheered by the crowd. It was great to see so
many people who work endless hours on making WoW’s art style.
in WoW begins with the concept art - even those little birds and rats.
First we heard from the Environment team and watched how they plot out
the new zones for Wrath of the Lich King. The map is always the
starting point which eventually grows into the zones we explore. Once
they have a general feel for how the zone looks they begin adding in
terrain features to give it some life. When the team has this map in
place they hand it over to the concept artists. The concept art team is
the most important at Blizzard because everything you see on the screen
is based on the concept art. When the artwork is done, then the
programmers and graphics team begin laying out the tiles for the zone,
these tiles make up sections of the zone that players explore. When all
the tiles are in place the zone is open for the devs to explore and get
a feel for what to put where, it’s hardly finished at this
point. They go about placing trees, rocks, and other terrain features
on the various tiles. Everything in the zone is hand painted and hand
placed and then hand painted again to give the zone the best organic
look artists can create.
Roman Kenny spoke about the character art that goes into Warcraft.
Again everything is based off of the concept artwork. The character and
monster art is decided upon and drawn up in sketches. Once there is a
sketch the team likes they go forward with a full painting. These
paintings come to life as the developers start building the wire frame
which will support these creatures. Once the skeleton is built the team
ads textures and adjusts the colors on the character. This finally
gives a basic working model of every mob you see in game, as well as
your own avatar. Every detail is worked on in depth. Kenney used the
Death Knight armor as a good example of how the team works on the whole
picture to make every piece of armor and movement feel realistic. They
also mention that certain points on the armor are always enhanced, such
as the glowing orbs on the shoulders or areas where skulls and other
cool parts can be put in. The entire process goes from a pencil sketch
to what you see on the screen.
One of the hardest areas to work on art is in the spell effects team.
Slim Ghariani was on hand to show us just how much work goes into the
spell effects that we see in WoW. Like all Blizzard games, the Warcraft
team really wants players to feel their own impact on the environment.
Slim gave us some examples of the Death Knight spells and how they come
into play when building the deadly effects this character can have.
With lots of dark power the Death Knight has a very specific look and
feel in how it weaves spells. Working more with the game engine and
ideas rather than concept art the spell team has to come up with what
looks best on the screen. Spells have to hold a very clear effect in
the game that is not just seen by one player. Slim took us through the
steps of how they created the Blood Presence spell. Dripping blood of a
skull that hangs over your head is quite a cool effect. It just shows
you some of the effects that are coming in Lich King.
the WoW team amazed and awed at the art panel.
Next up we heard from the prop team, who handles all the items you see
in the game. Not just your item, every item in the game. Sounds crazy
right, it is. The props team are responsible for simply coming up with
things to put around the world. Not only do they make weapons and
armor, but all of the knick-knacks you see in the cities, taverns,
dungeons, and even outside are added in by the prop team. The amount of
items is endless that these guys work on. Also if you ever wanted to
know who does all the holiday items, thank the prop team. As the saying
goes, nothing is done until the prop team adds in their items
throughout the scene.
The last place we got to see is the city of Dalaran. The work that goes
into building a WoW city is endless and players need to stop and look
around once in a while to see just how much is on the screen. All of
the teams come together when a city is built. But like with all
Blizzard art everything begins with the concept work. Once an image for
the city is found the team begins with the geometry that will make up
the architecture. Seeing the entire city in its skeletal form is
amazing, let alone once the textures are added. When the city is in
place the teams begin filling it with items from the prop team. The
task is huge and the whole art team works down to every detail. Dalaran
is huge and has a very city like feel to it. Players will have a lot to
Overall the art panel was fascinating. Learning the amount of work that
Blizzard’s art team puts forth is amazing. Seeing the team
work on pressure pallets to paint their digital images is just
unbelievably cool. In the end we walked away with a new respect for the
artwork that makes Warcraft so unique.
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