Welcome to my Blizzard Art Challenge website. Here you can find out about the image I created for this contest and the story behind the image. Since my entry has been submitted everything on this page is copyright of Blizzard including the concept art images and the text.

Special thanks go to Irina, Robert Frost and Darkchild for helping me out and giving me advice during the entire process.

FINISHED! – on September 9th, 2006

Whew, after making amazing progress on this image for a couple of weeks my work stalled off, but over the last few days I finally sat down and finished all the little details I wanted to put into this image.

The Duel between the paladin Aurius the Seeker and the dreadlord Balnazzar

Warcraft 2D Character

I struggled while coming up with a subject for this contest. From what I read up there are multiple catagories and all types of entries are allowed: both 2D and 3D. Since I’m now concentrating on my 2D stuff I decided to forgo entering anything in the 3D category and attempt to produce an artwork to really showcase my improved skills as an artist. I believe this is the most complete work I have ever completed and is truly my greatest art accomplishment to date. Even though I used a lot of Photoshop when making this image I also wanted to preserve the hand drawn image in the final drawing for style purposes.

The Duel – Paladin vs. Dreadlord

I am a huge fan of Warcraft. I don’t play World of Warcraft, but I spent a great deal playing Warcraft 2 and 3 over the years. One of the most amazing things which kept me going through the games was the story Blizzard created behind the games. The games kept me going with details about the ancient history of the orcs and the Burning Legion. Since this is what I love the most about these games I decided to expand the story Blizzard created with my entry to this contest.

Without a doubt two of my favorite types of heroes in the game were the Paladin and the Dreadlord. The Paladins of Warcraft are elite knights from the human race empowered by holy light and are the greatest champions of human race. Their greatest power is in healing and protecting the defenseless masses from the Horde & the Burning Legion. Also the paladins are the natural enemies of the undead.

Arius the Seeker

Even though Arius was blessed from birth by Alonsus Faol himself and his holy powers were rivaled only by Uther the Lightbringer. Despite this Aurius was never among the most commonly recognized heroes from the Silver Hand. During the rise of the Scourge, and the death of Uther, Arius suffered from serious doubts in the Paladin faith and could not bring himself to wage war on Arthas until it was too late. Years later he joined the Scarlet Crusade but quickly became aware of the evil influence which pulled the strings behind the movement, and despite his hate for the undead he left the ranks of the crusaders very soon. This was the low point in Arius’ life as he abandoned the holy church and removed himself from the conflict and went off to live in solitude. But his might as a warrior was recognized by anyone who saw him during those years and eventually Arius picked up the hammer again and quested for the blades of the Lion God.

Arius the Seeker

Concept art for the Paladin

About the art: I opted out of doing a classic Paladin decorated with symbols of the lion and instead made my own design for the armor used by Arius. Remember that this Paladin is almost a rogue among his peers and had abandoned his faith for years, despite this the man is still pure of heart and has always conducted himself as a true holy knight.


Dreadlords are the demonic servants of the Burning Legion and are thralls of Kil’Jaeden – one of the last remaining great demon lords. Their primary assingment is to protect the Lich King and at the same time keep him trapped and ensure he is following orders. During the quest Arthas led toward the Frozen Throne Balnazzar was defeated by Sylvanas and betrayed by his brother Varimathras. However, the blood ties between the two brothers prevented Varimathras from delivering a killing blow and he spared his brother’s life and lied to Sylvanas. Wounded but glad to still be alive Balnazar escaped Earth and fled into the Nether where he healed and regained his power.


Concept art for the Dreadlord

Years later, quite by accident, Balnazzar found out the secret hiding place of Aggramar and eventually murdered the titan in an ambush. The bounty of this act was great for Balnazzar and allowed him to regain all his lost powers and more. He claimed the fiery sword Taeshalach for himself and with it returned to Earth to reclaim his rightful place among the ranks of the Burning Legion. He grew so confident in his powers that he abandoned wearing any sort of armor and returned to Azeroth alone.

The Duel

As Arius walked along the halls of the cathedral he sensed the corruption which had spread through the entire continent pulsating within his mind, attempting to turn him as well. He could feel the source of this disease, an evil entity, somewhere in the depths of the building. Slowly he made his way toward the underground chambers and took great care to be invisible to anyone. This was not a hard task, the halls were empty. The only sound came from the wind and the houls of tormented souls far below. He reached the main underground chamber without encountering a living soul. The last time he had stepped through the door ahead of him he had been greeted by Uther himself, now he stood upon the threshold unable to believe his eyes. The most holy part of the cathedral had been turned into a torture chamber. Dead bodies hung from the walls and gore covered everything, even the holy sun symbol was glowing with a mirky red color. Some of the bodies were still alive, as if kept so by magic despite the grevious wounds. A giant demon was sucking the blood out from a body towards the center of the room. Arius could sense the immense power of the creature, its wings were raised up and the muscles and veins covering the body of the monster pulsated with unnatural strength.

The creature in the grasp of the demon had at one point been a woman, possibly an elf, beyond that it was impossible to recognize much. The sobbing stopped as her only eye recognized the person standing at the door was not one of the demons who had tormented her.

Without sparing a moment to think Arius launched himself, his curved sword rang happily as it slid out from the sheath. Before the demon could react the blade connected, and the demon screamed in agony. An explosion of fire threw Arius into the wall, without pausing he attacked again, but the flames and smoke were too thick and the demon retreated through another exit and disappeared. Seeing there was nothing he could do for the wounded Arius said a small prayer and left the burning room.

The outcome of this duel is uncertain, but the duel will go down in history as one of the longest and most savage duels fought during the conflict between the Burning Legion and the remnants of humanity.

Paladin Closeup
Arius defends himself!

I tried to capture the action of the moment with the Paladin and to put him in a defensive but at the same time a very dynamic pose. Even though I was working on a big piece of paper (11′ by 17′) the amount of detail I put on this character went overboard and despite the 0.3 mechanical pencil I was working with I simply ran out of room to add more details.

Dreadlord Closeup
Balnazzar strikes!

Dreadlords are not known as great warriors despite being melee fighters. They prefer attacking from the distance usually and use their mind bending powers to charm and confuse their enemies. However, like the Paladin in this duel, this is not the typical dreadlord. First off this Dreadlord is in a rage, just moments earlier the Paladin wounded him. Secondly this monster is much larger and older then his cowardly brothers and is so confident in his strength that he never wears armor. Lastly, another reason for the confidence of the demon is the blade he carries into battle. Taeshalach or Flame Rend is the great sword of the titan Aggramar who was slain in battle by this demon on another world.

Note: The fire sword Taeshalach is actually a piece of Gorshalach (the sword originally wielded by Sargeras) which sundered as its master fell to the corruption of the Nethrezim. With the murder of Aggramar this sword has fallen in the wrong hands but the outcome of this duel might bring the sword back into purity.

Work in Progress

Here are more detailed screenshots. These are from the time the image was still being worked on.

Dreadlord - Step 7

These are roughly 50% of the size I’m working with, Balnazzar looks freaky!

Paladin - Step 7

The Paladin is almost completely done in this screenshot, I put some work into him and especially the lions on the swords, actually had to look up some refs because my lions looked like boars when I first drew them! This last image is missing an overlay which I forgot to turn on before flattening and that is why it has the airbrushed quality to it.

Thank you for visiting my website! Please leave a comment if you like what you see here!

  • Zulaika

    Woah! You are such an awesome artist! I’ve never seen such pretty art… You are my new idol! hahaha… :P

  • A very well done picture; good job I say.

  • David

    The lore may be more original than canon but it’s still interesting and the picture’s great! I like it :D