By Petar Meseldzija

At the beginning of this year, I did a number of drawings for the book Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. A few years ago, I did 3 drawings for the previous Diablo book. The deadline was tight back then, I remember I had only one week to finish three detailed drawings. Fortunately the art directors from Blizzard were helpful and not too demanding. The work went smoothly and at the end everybody was pleased with the results, including myself. After the job was finished and the fee reached my bank account, I forgot about the stress I had to go through due to the deadline. However one thing I did not forget – a thought I was having during this hectic week: “I hate to work under the pressure of deadlines”.

This time, however, the deadline was all but tight, but the project was much more demanding. I was offered to do 5 full page detailed drawings; at the end I ended up doing 2 one page drawings and one big drawing that included a tree, 16 heads (characters) and 2 frames. All in all, it took me about 2 months to finish the work. Much of the time was spent on the communication with the art director . This intense communication was very important because almost every detail of the drawings had to be discussed and approved. The editors made sure to get from me exactly what they needed in order to achieve their objectives. Fortunately the art director I was working with was excellent and our collaboration very pleasant. He supplied me with all sorts of reference material and gave me thorough and clear explanation of his ideas and the basic concept of each illustration. (Thank you, Doug!)

My biggest challenge this time was not a tight deadline, as I already mentioned, but the fact that the Diablo universe is not very appealing to me. It’s just not my cup of tea, it’s too dark for me. Never the less, being a professional commercial artist, I put aside my own taste and preferences and did my best to deliver the work I was hired to do. But while working on this commission, I noticed how the absence of the emotional involvement with the subject matter greatly decreased the amount of pleasure I was having, and caused me to lose too much energy. Therefore I felt quite exhausted at the end of the process. It became obvious to me (not for the first time though) that being emotionally involved with the subject matter of the piece I am working on is not only an imperative for creating a great piece, but also important for maintaining the level of energy and excitement throughout the commission, as well as having a feeling of fulfillment and purpose after the job is done.

Young Cain Deckard, a preliminary study.

A process shot. I wish I could stop working on this drawing at this stage.
I like the contrast between the finished foreground and the unfinished background.

Finished piece.

One of several preliminary studies for the drawing of Tyrael as a mortal man.

The finished drawing of Tyrael being judged by the demons.

The same drawing with the acrylic wash applied onto the
high quality print of the original drawing.