Ben Thomp­son

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Artist News, Software & Events - Ben has been work­ing at Bl­iz­zard for seven years. His role com­bines il­lus­tra­tion and art di­rec­tion skills. www.ben­thomp­sonart.com

The Hearth­stone art direc­tor talks about recre­at­ing the Bl­iz­zard look

As Hearth­stone’s art direc­tor, you’re the per­fect per­son to ask: do you think there’s a spe­cific Bl­iz­zard art style?

Cer­tainly. And so we have to work to guide new re­cruits and free­lancers, who may have a lessthor­ough un­der­stand­ing of the Bl­iz­zard style, in the cre­ation of art­work. As well as that, there are also im­por­tant vari­a­tions in that style be­tween games. So Hearth­stone’s style, for ex­am­ple, is 20 de­grees off that of War­craft – there’s a lit­tle bit of a flavour change there. And get­ting artists who un­der­stand both of those things well is very im­por­tant to us.

So do you think Bl­iz­zard’s art style is some­thing any tal­ented artist can pick up?

I think it’s a lot to ask for ev­ery artist to do ev­ery­thing. It’s like say­ing, “This artist can paint in oils, surely they can do acrylics? It’s not that dif­fer­ent.” And truth is, they’re worlds apart. Just as you might see some­one who’s very tal­ented at photo ren­der­ing and say: “They must be able to do car­i­ca­tures, it’s much sim­pler and with fewer lines.” Also not true. So I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily say that ev­ery­one is able to dive into some­thing as spe­cific as the Bl­iz­zard style.

What do you do when an artist’s ap­pli­ca­tion shows some ob­vi­ous ta­lent, but their art style just doesn’t match a game’s spe­cific needs at that time?

Just be­cause you’ve ap­plied for Over­watch, Hearth­stone or StarCraft, doesn’t mean we don’t share a lot. So, for ex­am­ple, I’ll often get an ap­pli­cant to Hearth­stone that’s just wrong. The look, the feel, it’s just not quite right. But I might walk down to the desk of Di­ablo or Over­watch and say: “This guy wasn’t right for us, but I think they’d be dead-on for you.” So we do pass things back and forth a lot.

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