Blizzard Art Philosophy

A little overview of the art design of Diablo III from Blizzard Entertainment’s art director Chris Lichtner.

Blizzard is one of the few companies in the world that has the luxury to devote as much time to development as they need. The creator of Diablo, World of Warcraft and Overwatch has an incredible taste for high quality art. We’ve had a couple of interviews with Blizzard’s artists and each of them have a very clear vision of what modern game art is.

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzard has the whole game art philosophy down. Chris Lichtner devoted the whole talk at GDC 12 to the creation of game visual style in Blizzard and talked extensively about the Blizzard Art Philosophy, defined by the following key ideas:

• Style over realism
• Strong Silhouettes
• Bold Use of Color
• Dynamic Animations

Blizzard believes that to make a lasting game, you need to create an ageless artstyle. The company wants to push the visuals as much as it possibly can to tell the stories and support the gameplay. Christian thinks that the more the company stylizes the game, the more the devs can tell the story behind this project.

Gameplay over Art

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

Art and gameplay go hand in hand in all of Blizzard‘s games. Making games is not just about amazing art. Every artistic decision in the company supports the gameplay and helps to build the gameplay. It’s a good principle to follow, especially for young companies that can sometimes get carried away with the production of the visuals.

Diablo III Art

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

Christian’s talk is actually devoted to Diablo and Diablo III art. So when the development team was building the art style for the game, they made a list of game features that they want to support and only then began to craft the art style. It is defined by the following principles:

• Painterly Style
• Stylization over realism
• Game is the Canvas

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

Color is also hugely important. The team developed special color schemes for all the environments and levels. They’ve tied the colors with certain events in the story, so that the player had a clear visual connection between what’s happening on the screen and the whole environment.

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

Another huge point that the developers tried to follow in Diablo III is making the fantasy EPIC. The artists had to work hard on the designs of the monsters and other things that helped to push the game to the highest possible level.

Building Environments

Diablo III (property of Blizzard Entertainment)

During the Q&A session Christian also touched on the process of building environments in the game. The biggest challenge was to create the art style for the game with randomly generated levels. The team actually divided the environments into random (dungeons) and stable. They played a lot with the size of the rooms to figure out the perfect way to work with the environment.


It’s interesting that Diablo III’s art style was criticized by a lot by the game’s fans. Christian actually had to defend his decisions several times and the final product was actually well received and got a lot of sales.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, please check out this incredible talk. It goes over the different design choices and gives a little glimpse of the art production process in one of best companies in the industry.


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