This week, we turn our attention to the wondrous art of SulaMoon, who recently answered our questions about her creative process and what inspires her work.
Q: What influences your designs?
This whole [Warcraft] series started because Cataclysm was such a cool looking spell that I just had to paint it. Casting it while glyphed in demon form, with horns and wings? Heck yeah! So I started sketching.
Pretty soon I had the idea to see if I could fit my character and my friend's character into a series, making them into Hearthstone-style illustrations. The first one was my demon warlock, followed by my husband's retribution paladin. The priest is the leader of the guild, and a dear friend, so it was a gift for her.
“Inquisition” by SulaMoon
My idea was to make their characters, favorite transmog set, and favorite spec all into one recognizable image. Raiding with them has been an awesome experience, so cheers! That’s also why they’re only Horde characters.
Q: How long does it take to create images like these?
I worked on this on my off-time, so I slip in a couple of minutes every chance I get. If I'd add it all up, it would be around 15 hours per piece.
I start with a rough sketch for pose and composition—the overall posture of the piece. Once that’s working, I move into adding the details to the sketch—where I'll collect references for armor, weapons, and spell effects—and add them over the initial sketch. A couple of times something breaks and I need to reorganize the whole sketch. I then do a grayscale pass to make sure the light will read and start working on volumes, and then I can move into color. There’s a lot of polishing and making sure the materials read as they should.
“Divine Hymn” by SulaMoon
This is also the time where I’ll take some liberties with the original set, and imagine how they would work if there weren’t in-game technical restrictions. I particularly like painting shiny trinkets, so a lot of time is spent on highlights and sparkling effects.
Q: What other works inspire you?
In the illustration world, Joe Madureira—his comic art but specially his work on Darksiders—and Brom is also a huge one for me, and so is Drew Struzan! I also like Todd Lockwood, Dan dos Santos, and especially Wei Wang. He is amazing. I'm also a movie fan—I love watching and studying movies and their visual languages so I can capture a little bit of their magic when I paint. Also, soundtracks—glorious, epic soundtracks by Hans Zimmer. I also play pen and paper RPGs. I really love this stuff, and I think the reason I’m an artist nowadays it's because I’m a fan of things like these. They’re what pushes me forwards and makes me aim for greater things.
Q: And what about video games for inspiration?
I love raiding. I’ve tried it hardcore, I’ve tried it casual, and I enjoy it more than I can socially admit. I had to step down from hardcore to a bit more casual playstyle so I could work on my art too. It was weird at the time, but now that I have found a guild I can call home I am in comfortable position to keep both going.
“Cataclysm” by SulaMoon
I also love the lore in the game, and I have a couple of friends I can geek out with about the lore until my heart is content. And of course, I love the art in Warcraft—in-game, comics, and I can't wait for the movie! The heaviness of the style, the details, the scenery, the races. The community is also amazing, and I have made many friends inside the game over all the years playing.
Q: If you could add one thing to the game, artistically, what would it be?
Customizable horns! Yes! But wait, this one is already promised. So how about Dreadsteeds that fly with a blazing trail of fire in the skies!
Another great thing would be more detailed armor, in the chest area especially. I love the work being done over with models in Heroes of the Storm, and I'd love to see something similar in WoW too!
Our thanks goes out to SulaMoon for sharing these lovely pieces with the WoW community.