Thursday, October 13, 2011

Watching His Own Portrait

Ben Thompson is one of the senior artists at Blizzard Entertainment, the game publisher that created World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo.

When I visited the company in southern California last week to give my composition lecture, Ben agreed to model for a twenty minute portrait demo.

He has posed several times before as an instructor at Cal State Long Beach, but he said it was the first time he got to watch a portrait of himself as it was being made.

Ben’s face has dynamic planes and a dramatic quality, like a stunt pilot, which makes him fun to draw. I was conscious of keeping the modeling of the values segregated into two groups: very light tones on the illuminated side of the face, and dark, rich tones in the jacket, hair, and background. I downplayed the random cast shadows from the glasses.

Blizzard Entertainment recently announced the new book of Diablo III: Book of Cain

The book has newly commissioned artwork by Jean Baptiste Monge, Iain McCaig, Brom, Alan Lee, John Howe, Petar Meseldžija, and me. (Photos courtesy Blizzplanet)

(Video Link) Here's a cinematic trailer for Diablo III. I enjoyed immersing myself into the unique form vocabulary of the Blizzard universe. I did several pencil drawings for the book, though we'll have to wait until the volume is out in November until I can share them.

Previously on GurneyJourney: A Visit to Blizzard Entertainment (2010)
Ten Tips for Drawing Glasses


Unknown said...

" with newly commissioned artwork by Jean Baptiste Monge, Iain McCaig, Brom, Alan Lee, John Howe, Petar Meseldžija, and me."

That is Insane! Ian McCaig, Alan Lee, yourself and John Howe are all huge influences in my interest in professional art (Dinotopia, Star Wars and the Lord of the rings were all big parts of my childhood.)

I never cared much for Diablo as a game, but this book sounds like an amazing lineup so I will definitely be hanging out for it!

J.A. said...


Were you wearing a microphone for this - i.e, talking your way through the steps? (I see what looks like a mic on the camera.)

I teach (information organization, not art!) and sometimes find it difficult to talk and demonstrate at the same time. Since it was only a 20 minutes pose, did you find it difficult to work and teach simultaneously?)

Thanks! Judith

James Gurney said...

Jordan, Like you, I can't wait to see the whole book put together. I was pretty jazzed to be included in that lineup, which includes my heroes, too.

Ledeaux, Yes, I was miked up, and I tried to answer questions and explain what I was thinking about at each step. It definitely is a challenge for me to talk and draw at the same time, but I'm getting the hang of it with practice, and it helped knowing that the audience at Blizzard was all fellow artists.

Pancho said...

wow! o love Diablo and Blizzard universe. All fantastic!

Eric Carl said...

Hey James, want to send a big thanks your way for the sketch you did of Frank Kozick at Baby Tattooville. I believe Lily from Sketch Theatre told you I was a fan. :) Still looking forward to whenever you can make it in for a Sketch Theatre session! Here's a shot of the drawing, thanks again!

James Gurney said...

Hey, Eric--thanks for the scan of that sketch of Frank. I forgot I did that drawing. There were so many great subjects for portraits at Baby Tattooville. Too bad the event didn't last for a week!

Shane White said...

Ben's a good guy. And easily one of the more knowledgeable people about WWI.


Alejandro Martinez said...

Hi! Mr Gurney, can you share with us the video of your live drawing? Thank you.

James Gurney said...

Hi, Alejandro--you'd have to work for Blizzard to see that (I haven't seen it myself). They have it on their intranet for their employees, but it can't be shared outside.

Ben Thompson said...

Awww shucks Shane... *Blush*...this from the guy that really DOES look like a stunt pilot!

This was a fantastic talk as always, and I was thrilled to take part. Watching that sketch come together as quickly as it did was humbling to say the least....

Unknown said...

Also... I looked up the work of the other artists, and of the three Petar Meseldzija blew my mind (the most). I wish I had seen his work sooner.