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Artist Spotlight: Warlords, Murlocs, and Old Gods by Blizzard Artist Alex Horley
27/01/2021 à 09:46
Blizzard has posted a
15th anniversary blog
about artist Alex Horley, who created the Warlords of Draenor key art and over 500 illustrations for Blizzard. Here are the highlights.
Alex, born Alessandro Orlandelli, bought his first set of brushes soon after falling in love with the work of American fantasy and scence fiction artist Frank Frazetta. A lifelong lover of comic books, he actually taught himself English by reading them.
Alex is a self-taught traditional painter who mostly works with acrylics and oils. He has a proclivity for painting the bizarre and creepy, but with a heavy metal style that draws from the comic artists of his childhood (Richard Corben, Sanjulian, Gil Kane, and Gene Colan, to name a few) and the epic stories of Robert E. Howard—especially those about Conan the Barbarian. Alex has a keen eye for light, color, and composition. His paintings are known for their depictions of action, emotion, and exceptional creature and human anatomy.
He later attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, but there were no specialty classes for comic-book or fantasy painting, so he worked on that during his free time. He would go on to create art for many prominent companies and figures in the entertainment and fantasy space, including DC Comics, Disney, Rob Zombie, Heavy Metal Magazine, and, of course, Blizzard.
For Blizzard, he began with producing art for the Trading Card Game - but his first real highlight with the company was when he created the key art for Warlords of Draenor, becoming the first non-Blizzard staff member approved to produce art for game packaging. He even got to help design some of the characters for WoD. Alex would go on to produce art for Hearthstone - and his first painting was of Gul’dan, the default Warlock Hero.
His process helps him tell a story
When reading about Alex's process, it's easy to see why his paintings seem to have a life of their own. They're not only visually gorgeous, due to his incredible use of color, they also tell a story.
When Blizzard commissions artwork from Alex, he’s typically provided an art brief, material references, and a scene description that includes what the character is doing, how the character is supposed to look, and what the emotions of the character are in the moment. “That's where my background with comics becomes useful,” said Alex. “Then you create comics you don't just do stances, they are characters that have to tell a story. I believe comic book artists to be the closest thing to a movie director storyboarding a film. You develop and shoot the scenes, direct the characters, establish camera movements, lighting, and background. In just one image you must make them act and convey emotions in a visual way that’s understandable for the viewer. You must suggest all these things at once!”
He paints a
And we're quoting directly there. Alex even got to design a Murloc of his own - the Skyfin for the
Descent of Dragons!
Hearthstone expansion pack.
The guy also paints a mean Murloc and has shown a great range in his depictions of amphibious race over the years. “I designed Skyfin for Descent of Dragons! From a painting standpoint it was one of the rare ones, where it ended up being almost a hundred percent of what I wanted to achieve,” said Alex, “That almost never happens! It turned out nearly exactly the way I wanted it to look, so yeah, I have a soft spot for Skyfin. That's one of my favorite Murlocs and cards that I’ve done for Hearthstone overall."
His Hearthstone work is exceptional
Honestly, all his work is exceptional, but we particularly love how he's managed to make dark and serious characters from the Warcraft universe fit into the more light-hearted, fun Hearthstone aesthetic.
Most recently, Alex masterminded the return of the Old Gods for Madness at the Darkmoon Faire. “I’m fortunate to have Jeremy Cranford as the Art Director I work with, he knows I like creepy monsters and horror things, Lovecraft-looking tentacles, fangs, and all that,” said Alex. “So, he decided to give me that task, to paint those big paintings! The challenge was to portray those characters from Warcraft, which are usually in very dark and dimly lit settings and translate them into the Hearthstone visual language and flavor. So, I thought ‘How I could make it something like…an Old Gods carnival ride?’ That's pretty much what I had in the back of my head when I was painting these things! They needed to be creepy looking like kaiju, but at the same time, have this palette that makes it look bright and almost happy. It was a challenge but a great experience, I had a lot of fun painting them and it was great to see how well received they were from fans around the world!”
"Old Gods carnival ride" indeed!
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