World of WarCrafts: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in gaming? How did you get into World of Warcraft?
Melissa: I may have born with an Atari controller in my hands. Console gaming was a big part of me and my family's life growing up. WoW was the only computer game I had ever played aside from the Escape from Monkey Island when I first started. At the time, I had just gotten out of the hospital from having lung surgery. I saw a screenshot of a troll riding a raptor online and just had to try it. Not being able to leave the house or move much it was really a great escape. However, I wasn't sure about the monthly fee part. I figured I'd play it for a month, get bored and stop ... that was about six or seven years ago now!
You've got a really unique, stylized art style going on there. How long have you been drawing? Have you taken any classes or had any professional training?
Thank you! I was always doodling when I was younger but started drawing more seriously in high school, and after that I went to a trade school where I received my degree in graphic design. Whenever I get the chance, I still take classes. I am very fortunate to have a membership to Lynda.com and I love to keep learning all I can. I feel like I still have a long way to go in developing my skills. Learning how to do something new in one of my Adobe programs feels similar to winning a roll for an epic you've tried dozens of times for. To me, it's always a rush, and I can't wait to use it on a project.
Most of the time when we see fan art, it's of characters or lore figures. But you seem to have an awful lot of gorgeous pictures of hunter pets! Why hunter pets?
I think the good people of the Petopia forums are to blame for that one. Though my beloved boomkin will always be my main, I really like playing my hunter alt because I can tame and name pets! I'm a big animal lover, and I started using the forums there to get advice on how to tame rares. Everyone there is super nice and has such a passion for pets; it rubbed off on me and got me inspired. I really like sharing my art there and getting feedback and tips on how to improve. I may start branching out and do some mounts and mini-pets soon if I have time. I'm hoping to make a ton of wallpapers for my fan art site.
How do you go about creating a piece? It looks like most of it is done on computer -- what kind of programs do you use?
I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator -- mostly Illustrator. It's truly my favorite way to create. For the fan art, I will usually use screenshots and meticulously vector them with the pen tool, making each color and shade its own shape, and then go in and color it, as I like adding effects and textures if it's needed. Many times have I died for the perfect screenshot at the perfect angle ... My poor toons! It's always the most dangerous thing I have inched too close to or the spot where the group of mobs approaching from behind are unusually sneaky when I'm grabbing screens. A lot of times I will sketch something too, and then scan the sketch in and vector that way as well. It just depends on what type of look I am going for and what kind of mood I am in.
Hunter pets! If you could only have one, which one would it be?
That is probably the hardest question you could possibly ask me! I am one of those hunters that will never be satisfied with the amount of stable slots we are given. I will always want more pets. If I really had to choose just one ... I would go with my terrorpene fire turtle named Fireplace. He's very inspiring; I must've vectored and sketched him a dozen times. I also have a strange sense of humor, so the thought of fighting huge dragons with aquatic wildlife that is on fire and typically doesn't move very fast makes me giggle. He's a tank, which helps too. If there is any DPS that should have the constant protection of a tank, it's my hunter.
Any advice for those who want to get into drawing for themselves?
I truly believe that anyone can draw. You just have to dive in draw as much as you can and you'll improve. Take classes if you're able and never be afraid to ask an artist for tips or advice! I've found in terms of professions and people in general, most are really good-natured, wanting to see new people succeed. Take constructive criticism as a good thing as well, but don't let the purely negative people stop you. I've had just as many people say my work is horrible as I have who love it and even want to pay me to do things for them. And most importantly ... invest in an electric pencil sharpener. One time using an Exact-o knife or one of those awful little hand-powered ones and you'll know those things are a life-saver.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I do professional illustration and design work as well, but I've had to stop recently as I am battling a terrible illness known as fibromyalgia. I hope to get back to doing it soon, but I'd really like to thank the WoW
community. I'm very proud to be a part of it. Warcraft
gives me a good way to have fun during the times when I feel too ill to do much. My guild Refuge on Vek'nilash and the people of Petopia have been great too and really supportive. I love making pics for you guys -- it keeps my skills sharp and is a ton of fun. Thanks to WoW Insider for featuring me. I hope everyone enjoys my fan art and gets inspired to make some!
Well thank you, Melissa, for sharing your artwork with all of us! We hope you get back to creating soon too, and be sure to drop us a line when you do.
For more of Melissa's amazing artwork and designs, visit her gallery on deviantART. And if you create fan art that you'd like to share with the WoW Insider community, drop us an email -- we'd love to hear from you!
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