VG Tribune

Review: The Art of World of Warcraft

May 20, 2015 / 8:57 PM

By: Jake Brandon

The Art of World of Warcraft


Believe it or not, Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft has been with us now for over twenty years. Few video game franchises can boast a history that stretches that far back and even fewer remain just as relevant in the gaming world today. The legacy thrives stronger than ever thanks to World of Warcraft.


Tuskarr Village


Insight Edition’s most recent compilation, The Art of World of Warcraft gives us a beautiful peak at the main underpinnings that set World of Warcraft above other massively multiplayer games. This 224 page hardback collection gathers concept art ranging from early pre-production designs of the base game through all five expansion sets including the latest Warlords of Draenor. Tailored with many of these art pieces is commentary from some of Blizzard’s legendary art directors including Chris Robinson, Samwise Didier, and Bill Petras. Together they provide a behind the scenes view of the art direction when conceptualizing a particular look of a class, race, or zone of Azeroth.


Blasted Lands Concept


The light commentary from lead artists included with many of the pieces accurately depicts Blizzard’s relentless scrutiny concerning artistic quality. On a page showing early paintings of a few zones in Eastern Kingdoms art director Bill Petras reminisces…


“When I look at the early environmental paintings, I’m struck by the sense of exploration that permeates them. It’s so powerful—the giant vistas that seem to go on forever and ever. The biggest character in World of Warcraft is the world itself.” -Bill Petras




I have owned many licensed Warcraft art collections over the years including the popular companion books that accompany each copy of the Collector’s Editions. Over the years they all seem to blend together into a repetitive glance at the most commonly celebrated art pieces. This is not the case with The Art of World of Warcraft. Insight Editions has published one of the most beautiful art compilations I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I was relieved to see that more attention was paid to the landscape art pieces this time around. So often other Blizzard art books focus too much on key character designs and renderings while rarely touching on the effort put into conceptualizing the world. I think Chris Metzen put it best…

“Most players may or may not recognize major franchise characters…but the one thing that unites all players is the land.”


Jade Forest

Recent players will eagerly be interested to take a look at some of the never before seen concepts for World of Warcraft’s current expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Blizzard’s artists have set the bar extremely high once again with some of the most striking environmental paintings including early concepts of Shadowmoon Valley, Auchindoun, underwater Zangarmarsh, and more Draenor locales. The stunning two page wide painting of the Dark Portal being constructed is begging to be turned into a poster. Also included are detailed designs of the Warlords themselves. It should be noted that included art covers content just prior to patch 6.1 so don’t expect early looks at Highmaul Citadel or Tanaan jungle.


The physical book itself also stands out compared to past art collections. A smooth hardback cover wraps the binding tightly.Thick, glossy photo grade paper brings out the rich color of each painting. A very high quality book indeed.

Blizzard hires the best of the best when it comes to art conceptualization. But it’s easy to see this concept art online and not think much about the skill involved in creating these pieces. Often it takes a visit to Blizzcon’s art showcase to appreciate them fully. The Art of World of Warcraft is about as close to that exhibit as you can get. I highly recommend you pick this one up when it goes on sale June 16th.

Insight Editions – The Art of World of Warcraft



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