Whether you are a hero of Azeroth, a Blacksmith in New Tristram, or an artist intent on illustrating the demonic invasion from the Burning Hells, you need to come prepared with the proper passion, tools, and vision to get the job done. But great art doesn’t make itself, and a lot of work goes into crafting a truly epic experience.
This week’s community spotlight showcases artist Robert Maldonado and his dramatic Blizzard fan art.
Robert’s artwork includes everything from concept work and 3d models to fantasy paintings and fan art inspired by Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft. We caught up with him to find out more about he and his art.
Q. How long have you been making art?
I would like to start off by thanking you for this opportunity!
I've been painting digital concept art since the beginning of 2011. I taught myself how to use the Wacom tablet with Photoshop, which was challenging. I'm so used to looking at where my pencil meets the paper and all that.
I taught myself how to paint traditionally back in mid/ late 2007, and at the beginning of 2008 I held my own solo art showing at an art gallery here in So Cal. However, I feel that drawing since I was 7 years old is where it all started.
Q. You created some amazing Blizzard fan art! Which piece was the most challenging for you?
I would have to say the traditional painting of Imperius vs. Diablo I did with the time lapse video.
Traditional paintings are always going to be harder because there is no Ctrl – Z with acrylic on canvas, and you only have 1 layer. I was nervous going into that painting but as soon as I started I knew I was at home.
Check out the time lapse video of Robert's Imperius vs. Diablo painting!
Q. Which is your favorite piece?
I love all my paintings. It’s hard to choose 1 child out of the bunch, but if I had to choose I would say the Imperius vs. Diablo painting.
I choose that one because that is the 1 painting that I can physically pick up and hang on my wall (like I already have it, haha).
Q. We know that a lot of time and love goes into creating epic fan art, so what’s your favorite detail of one of your pieces?
Well I really liked the teeth silhouette over the yellow glow on the dark Diablo painting. The lighting that comes off of Diablo’s fire onto the bone-like surface was also fun to paint.
Q. How long does it take you to create your art?
For my digital work it will usually take me between 4-8 hours a painting.
While teaching myself how to paint in Photoshop, I learned a lot of professional concept artists are usually on a deadline. So I try to give myself a deadline to work on my speed, but you can’t rush art.
My traditional paintings will take me longer, but since it’s acrylic and dries fast, it will take me anywhere from 10- 15 hours to complete.
Q. What is your artistic process for a piece?
I will go based off of digital.
Learning a lot from the pros, I see them either starting off using a grayscale beginning or switching to a desaturated view of their painting to make sure their value and lighting are spot on.
So I find it easier for me to start off in a greyscale mode and just slowly apply color to the painting as I progress. I focus mainly on the composition, lighting, perspective and make sure I get all the fundamentals down before I start on the easy part which is details.
I would say the first 30 minutes of a painting is the hardest part of the whole process, which requires the most amount of thinking than any other part of the piece.
Q. What materials or programs do you use?
I use a Wacom Intuos 4 medium tablet on Photoshop CS5. My main digital brush is the default chalk brush at a 40% roundness. I usually have my opacity at 75% and just adjust my flow accordingly. I tend to keep the majority of the painting done with the simple default brush because that’s how I learned traditional painting.
Q. Do you have any other Diablo-themed pieces in the works?
I currently do not have any in the works from the Diablo franchise. Since Blizzard just announced the Hearthstone title, I’ve started on a fan art painting for it that has been really fun.
In the future I would love to paint an epic battle with the Barbarian just tearing it up.
Q. We’ve got to ask: what is your favorite Diablo III hero class?
I'm a HUGE fan of pets so it’s not surprising that I went with the Witch Doctor. Slaying demons with my Zombie Dogs and my super awesome Gargantuan is just too much fun.
Q. What artists inspire you?
I have a library of artists that I turn to for artistic inspirational fuel.
I will start off with the Blizzard artists with unique styles like Samwise, Luke Mancini, Wei Wang and Laurel Austin. Other sources of inspiration include the legendary Frank Frazetta, Michael Komarck, James Paick, Feng Zhu and Kekai Kotaki.
There are also a ton of other artists I turn to for inspiration. I also love it when I find a new artist that’s just making awesome art that I’ve never heard of.
Q. What tips and advice do you have for aspiring artists out there, particularly those that are just getting started?
You need to know that art is what you want to do in life. I strayed away from art and went to school for welding and even got my welding license by the City of LA. I regret doing that because I knew art is what I was meant to do in life.
You must forget about the money and fame great art can bring and focus on the craft. Try to never stop learning because if you do, that will just take away a majority of what art is about. Never get discouraged from other artists who you feel are better than you. Instead, study their work and turn their work into a source of inspiration to someday be as good as them.
You will also need to grow a thick skin in taking criticism on your art. Even if someone who isn't an artist gives me harsh feedback, I always try and see it from their point of view. Put your ego aside and learn on what you need to improve no matter where the feedback is coming from.
Give yourself a path and a goal for your art. Like for mine, being an artist in the game industry is a dream job for me and my lifelong goal. In life you must work with your passion because if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Of course you must practice, have self-discipline, be patient and NEVER give up.
Q. That's some great advice! Any closing thoughts?
Thank you for having me featured!
Interested in seeing more of Robert’s stunning art? Check out his official gallery. To ensure you get all of his latest updates, make sure to also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as his DeviantART account and art blog!