Broken Wide

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This piece was commissioned for a short story, it was one of the first pieces I did after being hired by Blizzard. It was a short story about the evolution of the baneling. There was a terran mining colony and this zerg brood had them trapped in this valley. This is the finale of the story. The zerg are evolving their baneling and they keep sending waves and waves of zerglings, or half-mutated banelings at this terran colony until they get the evolution right, and they’ve got the banelings that we know and love.

Corrupter

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This is fan art before I arrived at Blizzard based on screenshots or low-res assets. They hadn’t announced too much of the zerg stuff, so I was like, ‘OK, this is the corrupter, a new anti-air zerg unit,’ and I had a couple of dodgy screenshots to work with. That’s basically what I did with all the zerg series. Some of it was working from more specific, detailed reference than others, and some of it has been around since Brood War. Putting detail into the sprites was a lot of fun.

Egg Caves

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

So this is a loading screen from the zerg campaign, one of the first missions on Char, a mission where Kerrigan is reclaiming the Swarm. So you’re collecting the eggs and growing your swarm, and I wanted to capture that creepy alien egg-nest feel. So this is definitely a different style of painting. I was working a lot more from the cinematic style of things and get a little more realistic while trying to keep that ‘zergy’ feeling.

Frenzy

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This actually recently came out as another short story illustration. There’s a desert world with a human outpost – it’s a tourist attraction, but people have been going missing, and it turns out there’s a hidden spire on this planet. There’s a flock of mutalisks terrorising the tourists. So it’s an opportunity to play around with something you don’t see from this angle very much: you’re playing the multiplayer and you see a flock of mutas, whereas here, I got to play it up a little bit! I’d also done an illustration of a mutalisk before I’d worked at Blizzard, so this was a chance to rework it into official Blizzard art, and that’s always exciting.

Frozen Hive

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This is another one from the zerg campaign, and it was a lot of fun, actually! The zerg buildings aren’t especially high-res, and they seem a little strange because you don’t get the scale. A command center is supposed to be a city filled with thousands of people, but in-game it’s the size of a bunch of marines. So on the zerg side, being able to make a hatchery feel more epic and more exciting was a really cool experience.

Hydralisk

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This is more art from back when I was a fan. hydralisk is probably my favourite unit to draw. There’s just something about the shape of it. It’s so iconic of StarCraft. It was basically the only zerg unit that showed up in the original Brood War cinematic. You remember on the science vessel, the hydralisks clawing their way down those tunnels is just burned into my memory.

Infested Terran

Art of the Swarm: Luke Mancini on designing the zerg

This guy is definitely one of the most fun. This is one of the ones I did before I got hired at Blizzard. The 3D artists have a process, they’re continuously making art for the game and they’ll keep improving their methods, and then the old stuff doesn’t look as good as the new stuff, so they have to go back and touch it up – this usually happens a couple of times. The infested terran came up as something that had been made very early on and it was quite up to scratch with the latest zerg stuff that had been getting a bit of a polish-pass. So Phill Gonzales, one of our artists, decided that we had this concept that I’d done before I was hired, he liked it. So this was one of the first things I did that got into the game!

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