Design a Legendary, Part 2: Choose Your Theme

Design a Legendary, Part 2: Choose Your Theme

Now that we've decided what kind of Legendary weapon we're creating (a one-handed sword), it's time to move onto the next stage of design: visual theming.

What do we mean by visual theming? In Diablo III, we love to give hero armor and weapons a specific signature, or theme. This theme is the aesthetic thread that connects and ties all the different parts (color, texture, shape, etc) of the items together. In a way, it gives the item its identity and helps inform not only its art, but its name, associated lore, and in many situations (in the case of Legendary items, at least) its stats and unique power as well.

For this particular stage of the Design a Legendary project, I sat down with art producer Nathan Lutsock and 3D character artist Aaron Gaines to discuss possible themes for our fledgling Legendary sword. Excited and intrigued by the idea, they quickly selected seven different options they felt would be fun to explore alongside the community, all of which I've detailed below (epic theme descriptions courtesy of Nathan):


"This blade would be styled to connect thematically to the desert city of Caldeum. An item with this theme would be able to pull from ideas involving the burning deserts, dank sewers, the Emperor’s palatial opulence, and even the Lord of Lies and his ample creative sources."


"This blade would be styled to connect thematically to the city of Westmarch. The capital of King Rakkis' empire explores visual cues not seen in a Diablo game since the series' first entry. A weapon in this theme will be well-informed by the characters and environments that the art team have been making over the last year."


"This blade would be styled to thematically represent snakes and reptiles. Some of our most successful Legendary items began when we took an uncomplicated motif and asked ourselves, 'What would I want out of a weapon in this style? What is the game fantasy of the player who wants this kind of item?' Classic fantasy themes like 'serpent’ provide artists with many avenues of interpretation."

  Ancient Culture

"This blade would be styled to thematically represent an ancient culture no longer found on Sanctuary, or one that we've yet to really explore in game (like Skovos, for example). Ancient culture motifs are exciting springboards for our artists, giving them the opportunity to expand the visual definition of the Diablo universe while keying off of visual hooks that they haven't yet dug into. Some of our most interesting item designs come out of explorations into the technology and designs of Sanctuary's lost peoples."


"This blade would be styled to connect thematically to the wispy, skeletal Lord of Hatred. Mephisto has a unique appearance among the Great Evils, and a blade associated with him would need to find a way to echo his character."


"This blade would be styled to connect thematically to the massive Lord of Pain. Bulky, brutal, and grotesque, interpreting this theme as a sword may prove something of a challenge. However, sometimes the most inventive legendary item designs come out of an unexpected pairing."


"This blade would be styled to connect thematically to the Lord of Terror himself. Capturing a design familiar to the character (a character that changes his appearance in every game!) that still adds something fresh and makes a compelling player reward- This this design may be the most challenging of the bunch."

Pretty cool, huh? But which theme should we use? That's up to you! Pick your favorite by using the voting options below, and be sure to spread the word. As with our previous vote, whichever theme gets the most votes globally wins!

After the poll has closed, we'll tabulate player votes from all our different Diablo III communities around the world to determine the winner and share the results next week. Don't delay, though—this poll will close Wednesday, November 13.