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Samwise Didier Reddit AMA Summary: Sep 21

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Senior Art Director Samwise Didier conducted an AMA on reddit yesterday and we looked at the most interesting answers to your questions.

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Mister Samwise, you have no idea how many of your artworks have been used as wallpapers. Thank you so much for all the incredibile illustrations you have brought us!

Thank you! I am glad that the art I create is enjoyed by other people besides my imaginary friends. : ) Thanks again.

New Elite Tauren Chieftain song when?

Don't know when but we did try a power ballad called Female Dwarven Paladin. Maybe that is next?

Chris Metzen looks like he'd be fun to work with but an absolute monster. Do you have any funny stories about interactions with him?

He is super fun to create with. Some of my fondest memories are when we were creating War III. He always made his Orcs more human proportioned and my Orcs were always more brutish. We made it so that the more intelligent and noble Orcs, like Thrall, had the Metzen proportions, and the primal and savage dudes, like Samuro and Hellscream, had my art style.

I've always loved your work! You have mentioned before that Samuro is based on a D&D character you made called Grumok the Wanderer. Are there any other Warcraft (or other Blizz characters) out there from your D&D adventures, and who are they?

Uther was based off a blind Paladin I created artwork for. In one arm he carried a book of Honor. In the other, Virtue. It was a pencil drawing I did in '95. The look of Illidan was based off another character I did as well. The stories were created here by Metzen and the War III team but the original art was from before. Funny that Uther ended up not being blind and Illidan did. There are others as well but that is for the next AMA.

When the Mists of Pandaria expansion was first revealed, the response from players was divided. While many were hyped that the Pandaren were finally coming to WoW (me included), there was also significant backlash. How did you feel about that initial response, as creator of the Pandaren?

I was ok with it. I understand how important WoW is to people. One person's WoW is different from another's. Some people love the original Warcraft and don't want anything to change. Others love the ever evolving world. I'm glad we were finally able to include them into the world.

What do you do to work through artists block? Are there any exercises that can get you right back into drawing despite feeling stuck?

ou should never have artist's block. If you have free time, don't go onto your phone, or social media and the like. Think about your next image, your next project. I do a lot of my creative thinking in the car on my way to work. No music. No books on tape. It is quiet time to think about the project and figure out what I want to do. So the next time I sit in front of my sketchbook, I am prepared.

My saying is ABC. Always Be Creating. That is what I try to embrace everyday. My story, The Last Winter, was born from this ideology. BOOM, blatant plug. :)

I have 2 questions, if that's alright!

What's your process to develop character designs? Do you just start with a doodle and start adjusting to fit the game's art style and themes, or maybe a silhouette?

How did ETC get started? What's been your favorite experience as part of it?

Some ideas come from myself and the art team, others come out of necessity because of the design needs. When creating my own art for The Last Winter, I had no constraints other than what I wanted to create for the story. In my opinion, that's the most fun--when it's just an artist, his creativity, and a sketchpad or computer.

Blatant plug #2,718.

ETC got started when it was suggested that our cover band did a Warcraft-inspired song for the end credits of The Frozen Throne. We didn't have a lot of time so we swapped the lyrics from one of our songs and replaced them with Warcraft stuff. BOOM-power of the Horde!

As an art director what are the qualities you look for in your team of artists? (3D Character/Concept Art)

A good artist, you have to be able to draw. Someone who knows the Blizzard art style so we don't have to train them. Someone who knows programs like Photoshop or Maya/Max and Zbrush since these are the ones we use at work. A good passion for Blizzard games and someone who's a solid team player.

What are your top bands to listen to while you work? (I've been recently blasting Hammerfall or Eluetie)

Lately I've been listening to a lot of Alestorm, Dropkick Murphy's, and a whole bunch of HP Lovecraft stories.

You said once in a recent interview I listened to that your heroes are just an e-mail away. Would you ever be open to an artist e-mailing you as a fan and to ask questions? (Of course I would never want to annoy you, and I hope others think the same)

Yes! You can message my Twitter account whenever you want - @SamwiseDidier (I'm usually only on about once a week so don't stress if I don't respond immediately)

Do you still play D&D? (At least I think you played it in the past, or people you knew did)

Yes. It's now mostly saved for weekend-long campaigns up in Big Bear with my friends from high school that I still hang out with.

What class/race did you play in WoW? Do you still play?

I always loved how old WoW and the icons looked cartoony, I could easily recognize your style! From the wolves and gnoll snarls to the coloring and shading on armor/weapons. And with the old buildings as well!

Oh totally, I play mainly Alliance and Gnomes ; )

FOR GNOMEREGAN!

Thanks, I really loved doing all the button and icon art. I'm still doing it on Heroes of the Storm.

Do you have any tips for a guy that loves concept art and game art in general, but can barely draw stick figures? I'd love to be able to create the ideas in my head, but i just dont seem to get them on paper.

PS: I absolutely love your work, so thanks for the inspiration.

Practice. That is the main thing. If you aren't able to come up with your own ideas, look at the artists you like and draw their stuff. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTube, deviantArt and other sites that you can watch, learn, and grow.

Patience. You will need to realize that you aren't going to be good at first. Maybe for a while. Have patience. Keep practicing.

Perseverance. You will need to keep trying and practicing your art if you want to get better. Don't get demoralized. There will always be someone better. There will always be someone worse. Learn from one, help out the other.

ABC! Always Be Creating!

Being creative can be exhausting. What do you do to refill your tank?

If I'm getting exhausted working on something, I'll stop working on that and start working on something fresh. That way I can still be creating, but I don't feel tired or frustrated.

Do the pandyr share any relation to pandaren?

Also, was the adjustment of pandaren headbands in 7.0 in WoW intentional (https://i.imgur.com/rdl0eyK.png), and will it be readjusted to be how it was before? Currently it looks very much broken, too small and moved up too high. I'm afraid it's going to remain like this.

No. And they don't wear headbands. . .

Just kidding. The Pandyr were created after seeing a certain Black Metal band, playing in full corpse paint, in the snow, singing about dark and black grimness. I thought they looked like Viking pandas. Thus, the Pandyr were born. They are denizens of Mistgard, a mountainous island that is set between Icegard, the realm of the frost giants, and Firehome, the land of the fire giants. The Last Winter is set in the final days of Mistgard, where the oceans freeze, and the giants start to march.

Blatant plug #2.

Headband-wise, I will bring this up to the WoW art guys and see what can be done. Sorry I don't have a better answer for this part. I am currently working on Heroes of the Storm, which you can play now for free!

Blatant plug #3.

What are the chances of your books coming to Brazil in Portuguese?

I believe the only language that it will be translated to currently is French. Hopefully there will be more in the future!

Love your work and enthusiasm, Sam. How do you maintain a level of excitement for what you do?

I don’t know, really. I think it mostly stems from the creation aspect of art, story, music, whatever. I am most excited when I am creating art for today and jamming on ideas for tomorrow.

What is/was your favourite piece that you did?

I don't really have a favorite piece. I love many pieces of art I've made before, but what I'm always really thinking about is what I'm going to create next.

There's always one more picture to draw. There's always one more story to tell.

Why was you face chosen for the old icon-less spells in WoW so long ago? Was it just a joke that made it to live by accident or did you just get lucky that it was you face?

I was responsible for creating the bulk of the icons for our games back in the day. Games like Warcraft 1-3, StarCraft 1, and even as far back as Lost Vikings and Rock and Roll Racing. So when WoW was getting going, I was asked if I could help create buttons/icons for the game. There were literally hundreds, if not thousands to do and that image got put in as the “missing artwork” icon. If there was a button that was missing a piece of art, my image would show up telling whoever saw it that I had some more art to do. At least, that is how I remember it.

Sam! I love everything you have ever done. (Including your rad hair)

I look forward to reading your book!!!

Question - if you could retire anywhere in the world of Azeroth, and spend your golden years with a nice plot of land where would it be and why?

(I think I would pick The Jade Forest because it seems so peaceful.)

AND

Would you rather live in Azeroth or Pandyr?

I would have a few vacation spots. One would be in Dun the Morogh/Kharanos, hanging out at the Thunderbrew Distillery. My second would be in the Barrens. Say what you want about the Barrens but as soon as I cross the bridge from Orgrimmar into the Barrens and hear that music queue up, I am home. Zangar Marsh is another one. One of the prettiest places in WoW. Plus, being a dude whose family is from Louisiana, all that funky swamp life would go into my pot and make some killer gumbo.

As to living in Azeroth or Mistgard, that’s the name of the island where the Pandyr live, I have lived in both for years now. I might have to turn the question around to you, after you pick up the book and give it a read. . . BOOOOOOOM, BLATANT PLUG FTW!!!

Greetings Samwise! If I may ask, I'm curious about something that's very important to me. I am a bit of an aspiring artist of sorts, in the sense that I really... want to do it, but never have time or, more importantly, the drive/motivation whether it be due to work or issues in the home and whatnot. Honestly I'm pretty terrible and haven't gotten that much better simply because I never get around to it, I admit.

I suppose my question is simply, prior to actually working for Blizzard, what gave you the drive to practice? What kinds of conditions did you have to work and/or push yourself against and how did you find the time and energy to do so?

I apologize if this is too intense a line of questioning but I'd really appreciate any answer, thanks!

Art was always something that came easy to me. Whether I was drawing with crayons back in kindergarten or using the newfangled gadgets we have today. I never had to push it. It was something I just naturally did. On blue-lined notebook paper in school, to the back of bathroom check sheets at the movie theater I worked at prior to Blizz. If you have to force yourself to do something, then it is just a job. I never had to force myself to create so art had never been a job to me. Even now, when it is my actual job, it still is way more than that to me.

You and Chris Metzen are my two artist heroes from Blizzard's long history. I'm really digging the style of your new book by looking at the art. Would you mind sharing what inspires you?

Silence! Oh, I’m sorry, I am not telling you to be quiet. I am saying, I get inspired by silence. And solitude. No noise, no distractions. I can think. . . I can run ideas around in my head. It is hard to create something when you are distracted. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book.

Hail Samwise!

I've always loved your artwork and have always made a point of attending the artists' stage at Blizzcon, in part just because I love watching the various members of the art team, but also to watch you at your craft.

That said, I'm curious as to how much you've had to dedicate to practice to get to where you are in your art? Do you spend time every day working on artwork, or are you intermittent with it? Any recommendations for improving our own skills? (Asking for myself and a friend who also admires your work).

Thank you in advance! :D

It depends on the person. I have drawn and created art nearly every day of my life, and even more so since joining Blizzard. But there are many people I personally know who don’t draw nearly as much as I do and they are way better than I am. Even then, I don’t believe they do it intermittently. I personally don’t set aside time to draw or create, it is what I naturally gravitate to and I do it every time I am not doing something else.

I am such a big fan of you Mr. Samwise, you brought MoP to reality and it is my favorite expac and I can never be grateful enough for that :D

My question for you today is, what is your advice to someone trying to start his career of game design at Blizzard? I love Blizz and would love to put my talents to work there but with how competitive it is, I'm not sure how to stand out. I'd appreciate any advice .^

First, have you applied? That would be the first thing to do to get noticed. : )

Second, I am not a game designer so I’m not exactly sure how you would stand out as a game designer. If you were an artist, I would suggest posting Blizzard fan artwork on our community pages. Get people talking about your art. I have hired multiple artists to my team, and it all started from seeing their fan artwork online. Another way is to try to contact some of the artists or other devs and ask them for feedback on your stuff. Blizzard also has many positions open at a multitude of skill levels, from associate level to senior and director level. You should even consider applying to non-design related jobs at Blizzard. Most of the art and design producers I work with daily came from inside Blizzard, from our Billing, Customer Service, QA, and GM departments. Blizzard is really good about hiring people from within Blizzard. Now, if you can’t get into Blizzard right now, whether it is lack of experience or whatever reason, try some other companies in or around your area, even a startup. Once you get a job with a game company, you can learn the tools, learn the process of game development, and grow your talents and development experience. In a year or two, apply again. Or, you may love where you are and decide to stay and grow with the company. Good luck! I wish thee much fortune on your quest. See you soon!

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Love this guy! I can't praise his unique style enough and how much it influenced me. Warcraft is the Blizzard franchise I truly love and Sam's amazing designs are the main reason for it.

Edited by BobTheHuman

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7 minutes ago, BobTheHuman said:

One of Sam's skin concepts for Sonya, but sadly it got the thumbs down :(

Ballerina-Sonja-Skin.png

I need this skin in my life RIGHT NOW.

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18 hours ago, Valhalen said:

I need this skin in my life RIGHT NOW.

I'd drop all my shards for it immediately. 

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      There is no team like the Hearthstone team. People have come and gone over the 10 years Hearthstone has been in development, but there’s something special about the Soul of the Team. We knew our most important product wasn’t the game, but the team itself. A great team can do great things, and I think the Hearthstone team is the greatest. It isn’t just a job. It’s a shared passion. We get to come to work and focus on the game we love and try to make it better every day.

      We frequently check the Hearthstone subreddit looking for opportunities to improve the game. I have loved the silly memes, engaging in spirited debates, or even just being held accountable to our shared high standards for the game. We try to be highly available on social media, and I think our team helped push the envelope in this regard. It has been especially satisfying to me to see the team step up over the last few years and help engage in these ways as I became more focused on direction and less on actual design.

      I get too much credit by virtue of being a public face, but the 80+ people on the development team are still there, and they are the ones actually making the cards, brawls, events, missions, and features. I am confident the game is in the best possible hands, and I’m excited to see where a new generation of leaders takes Hearthstone from here.

      I am very fortunate to be able to take a crazy risk right now in my life, and I’m excited to be scrappy and a little scared. I’m going to help start a new company. We’ll probably make games, but we haven’t figured anything else out, yet. I’m looking forward to designing, programming, and actually creating things again. I’m going to miss the on-campus Starbucks, though. Dang.

      Blizzard, thank you for taking a chance on me, and thank you for taking a chance on Hearthstone. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

      And to the passionate community of players – I will miss you, and the laughs we shared together. Thank you for making being a part of Hearthstone so much fun for me. I’ve loved every minute.

      Sincerely,

      Ben Brode
      (source)