Review: The Art of Blizzard

I want to thank the folks at Insight Editions, and Blizzard PR for sending me a review copy of this book.

Blizzard art has long been one of the highlights of any title with their name on it. From the days of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, all the way to the art in the new Heart of the Swarm expansion to Starcraft 2, Blizzard’s art is world renowned for his high standard of quality and excellence. Hell, there have even been gallery shows of the art from the various worlds that Blizzard’s talented artists have made! The Art of Blizzard book highlights and shows this off in incredible form.

The book starts off with a foreword from legendary fantasy artist Brom, who has done some incredible art for Diablo and other games. Then we have an introduction from Samwise Didier, who is now on the Starcraft team working on Heart of the Swarm and the second expansion to Starcraft 2. These two artists truly give the art to be found in this book, and the artists behind them, an inspiring introduction, but upon moving on it becomes clear that those glowing words pale in comparison to the art we have come to know and love.

The book starts with the title that is the undeniable blockbuster in the Blizzard stable, Warcraft. Starting with art from Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the book shows art from all eras of Warcraft right up to current work from Mists of Pandaria. The art shown, as was promised in the introduction, is a mix of the superb gallery level images, concept art complete with notations to explain various aspects of the piece, and caricatures that show the beginnings of some of those great art pieces.

The book then moves on to the world of Diablo, where we see art from Sanctuary, including early concept of the various Prime and Lesser evils, characters like Deckard Cain, the angel Tyrael, the Skeleton King,many of the heroes we have played in the games in the series, and major events from the games in the Diablo universe. Concept art of the Burning Hells and High Heavens highlights some of the incredible artistry to what is arguably one of the darkest games in the Blizzard universes.

Next, of course, we move on to Starcraft, which shows the more sci-fi side of the art that floats around Blizzard HQ. We see concept art, poster art, and game art of the units in the game. Some of the most stunning art is of various heroes and creatures in profile or in artistically drawn poses. There is definitely concept, but personally those are not the ones I find draw me in the most. Events in game being artistically shown instead of in game rendering makes the visuals breathtaking to see. Whether you are a fan of Starcraft or not, I strongly recommend spending some time in this section of the book.

One of the most intriguing parts of the book for me was at the end which had two interesting parts. The first was a section titled The Fallen. This is art from games that Blizzard has worked on, but for one reason or another decided against releasing. Nomad, Bloodlines, Denizen, and Ronin all have concept art for those titles that never made it to market. It was intriguing to read that some of the concepts and models from these games have made their way into the games we currently play from Blizzard.

The second part at the end is one called, simply, ‘Woot!’. This section highlights the fun art that Blizzard has made over the years. The majority of it is Christmas art, including art showing characters from all their franchises in holiday scenes, and solo characters in humorous scenarios. Want to see the Queen of Blades in a sexy Mrs. Claus outfit? This will give it to you. Arthas, Jaina, Muradin, Cairne and others toasting a holiday drink? Done! Terran, Orc, Protoss and Diablo as a metal band? I got what you need! This section displays the humorous side of Blizzard and will no doubt give even the most hardened gamer a good hard chuckle!

Now that I have given you a pretty good run down on what to expect from the art, let me tell you one of the best parts I found from this book. With many art pieces, and included with several concept pieces, there will be extra info. Consider this almost like a written commentary to the book, much like you can get director or cast commentary on a DVD. These lend an even greater depth to the art pieces, and give the kind of insight on the art that is hard to find with the images alone. My perspective on this book, having read through it all, is that it includes the entirety of the art books from each of the Collector’s Editions that Blizzard has released, with added commentary from the artists at Blizzard who have made this amazing art work. If you love the artwork from Blizzard’s franchises, this is a book you are going to enjoy as much I have, and keep handy to admire the Art of Blizzard

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