Artist Christina Marie's WoW-themed work is nothing if not saturated -- saturated with color, saturated with game references, saturated with humor. It's the kind of stuff you can toss onto your desktop and then promptly lose vast chunks of time peering and snorting in bemused delight at the details scattered across these works. (Because I whipped up the Christina Marie art gallery, below, in just minutes. Without any linking or idle chatter in the WoW.com newsroom. You believe that, right? Right?) Her talent for twisting elements together (elements of art, elements of the game ... you name it) earned her a nod from Blizzard itself with inclusion in its 2011 holiday fan art calendar (as was our own Kelly Aarons). World of WarCrafts visited with Christina Marie to find out where the deluge of color and inspiration comes from.
World of WarCrafts: Congrats on being selected for the Blizzard holiday fan art calendar! How did you conceptualize the piece? Tell us more about the medium and how you actually created it.
Christina Marie: The Blizzard fan art holiday calendar contest was another one that caught my attention and captivated me enough to want to create a piece of art for it. Usually, I am not drawn to art contests unless they sport some kind of creative challenge.
My initial thoughts of creating a piece for this contest were to pick a holiday that would be tricky to illustrate and to bring out the full spirit of the holiday itself, to get you in the mood to want to go and get all the achievements for this holiday done on your main! I went with the Midsummer Fire Festival because the holiday itself isn't just about desecrating bonfires and juggling torches, and I had figured most people were going to draw Hallow's End and Love Is In the Air, anyways, since it is way more common.
Planning this piece is the most crucial part. I had to have a knockout factor in there, so adding huge bosses such as Ahune and Ragnaros are my first thought, to have the "fire and ice" theme. Ragnaros, he plays a role in the midsummer fire festival, since he is the fire lord, after all. It would also make sense to have him at the BBQ grill: "By fire be cooked!" He is the life of the party! Ahune the frost lord -- his part is a given for the ice. So, he takes part with the ice chest, which sports the infamous Ice Stone.
My plan was to go all out on this, so I made sure to include the all the races, NPCs, some mobs from the Ahune quest line, every holiday food in the picture, and I spiced up the various holiday events as the red hot pole dancing. The dragon whelps, I added in because I envision them as mischievous little critters creating havoc. And yes, my worgen do have tails! My interpretation of them is just my create way to say, "Blizz, we want our worgen to have tails!"
I first started drawing this picture on a huge sheet of 19x24 board. It took me about a week to sketch, and I scanned it in pieces and assembled them in my computer. From there, I digitally colored it. I am known for my traditionally colored pieces as well; some people tell me they appear as "oil paintings," but coloring traditionally takes much longer than the contest's time to completion would allow me to finish this piece. I had about one month to finish, and I made sure to use that time well and get as many details in as I could.
I had also learned about the intricacy and detail that art will need to stand out in these Blizzard contests, from prior experience in winning the theme park contest and the BlizzCon 2007 art contest.
What's your art background?
Well, first off, I never went to art school! I taught myself how to draw and paint. I believe that art cannot be fully taught from schools; you simply have to have the motivation and inspiration to do it. There are lots of people who go to art school to think it's the only way to learn art. It's not.
I started realizing my drawing skills in middle school; I just drew things I liked, such as reptiles and dragons and things from comic books. In high school, I had caught the attention of all my high school art teachers; they had me entering art competitions across the states just to get my name out into the public. I had come back with several recognitions.
I really became further involved with traditional media. The idea of a solid piece of artwork with form and texture was something I felt I could really breathe life into at the time. So I had extended my art abilities into taking commissions from people online for a few years.
I am also known for my metallic dragons and dessert dragon series. Both of them started as silly ideas and funny art jokes created by me and my husband. But I soon took them to the next level of innovation and created something more out of it; I can't tell you how many emails and note I receive weekly from other artists asking "how to draw metallic."
I also create my own props and reference pictures for art of mine. Photography is a huge part for collecting my own personal reference library of pictures to help with drawing. My props are usually clay sculptures or painted figures. I created a pair of movable leather dragon wings once to reference wing movement for a painting.
You seem especially proud of the work you submitted for a win in Blizzard's theme part art contest.
The theme park contest was one contest that I just could not stop thinking about when it was first announced at the World of Warcraft website. The idea of a theme park mixed with Blizzard games sounded like a winning combination of awesomeness; I just had to draw it.
My first plan of action was to take on the grand prize challenge, draw a Blizzard theme park that included parks for all three Blizzard games: WoW, StarCraft and Diablo. I love the idea of a good challenge, and this was it. My planning stages for this artwork were a bit tricky; I looked into real-life theme park design to get started. I made sure to make this park themed and not make it like just another carnival or small fair.
I analyzed ways to create a working layout that would work in real life to make a successful theme park. I also included places of interest that visitors would just want to keep coming back again and again to, as well as familiar places and events that players could relate to in the Blizzard games that they play.
The WoW section of the theme park has endless possibilities of things that I could possibly add there, since WoW has the most content that I can play around with. I singled out spots from the game that would spice up the picture and accommodate both Alliance and Horde visitors. What's a theme park without a memorable "Skyshatter's Revenge" rollercoaster or an Undercity tour ride?
The Diablo section was by far the hardest, since it was seemingly limited in what to do at first glance. But not to worry -- I think the possibilities for creative ideas for anything are endless. The demonic petting zoo would be a awesome thing that I'd totally want to do! And house of horrors was a given, you do feel that way when playing the game itself.
The StarCraft area just had to have a virtual shooter and PvP bumper cars. I have been to a few theme parks and the virtual shooting games are always packed with large lines of people, so it is a real crowd-pleaser. The PvP section reminded me of the BlizzCon StarCraft tournaments I had watched when I was there; they are very intense and exciting to watch.
I placed the food court in the center of the entire park, because it serves as much as a landmark and easy access for park visitors to get to. Food is what makes your customers happy; make sure to always have your video game-themed food available! Same thing with the flight points of the picture; it can be very tiresome to have to hold the run button down from one end of the park to the other! Best to make your visitors happy.
Aside from the details of the picture, same as the theme park picture, I drew each theme park ride on a separate piece of paper (which later, I had ended up with over 30 pieces of artwork on separate papers) and scanned it into the computer. It took two and a half weeks to draw out, and I was nearing the one month deadline. I speed colored it in three days with little sleep and lots of coffee! Yes, it was the most taxing coloring job I had ever done, but it was so worth it!
Currently, I am not working on art commissions at the moment. I had planned this year to work on my own projects and build up my concept art portfolio. I am interested at working for Blizzard or other companies as a concept artist.
Do you have any other WoW-related art in the works?
Yes, I do have other WoW-related art in the works -- some of which involve silly things such as miniature dragon bosses' pictures!
So before we wrap up, let's find out how you get inspired for WoW art in the first place. Who's your main? Tell us a little bit about how you play WoW.
My main is a hunter. But when I first got a copy of WoW from my husband, I had not the idea what the game was -- but it looked pretty interesting. I picked hunter due to a real-life event I call "lizard hunting," which involves a favorite past-time from when I lived in southern Florida. I used to catch a lot of the reptilian wildlife in my backyard and everywhere! I love small lizards, wild iguanas, snakes and turtles. So I thought hunter was so "me" at the time of my character creation. A plus to that was I could have a pet flying snake!
What I like to do in WoW are usually the holiday events -- no surprise -- and collect the pets; I have gotten all the little dragon whelps, as well! For me, collecting the dragons of the game was necessary!
See more from Christina Marie, including her adorable whelps series plus much more, on her DeviantArt page.
World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.