Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges!

WARNING:  This blog is over 6,000 words long and has a ton of images in it.  If you’re on mobile and with limited data, please wait until you get home on a full uncapped internet connection, cos I ain’t responsible for your overage charges. 😀  I’d considered breaking things up into separate blogs for each badge and lanyard, but the narrative wove between the lot, so it was easier to do it this way.  That said, do enjoy and then go out there and make something yourself!  The world could always use more art, to paraphrase a heroine featured on one of the badges I made.

That being said…

The Great BlizzCon 2016 Badge Project

 

One of the things that Blizzard players like to do is commission artists to create them a character badge to wear around BlizzCon. These badges tend to be one-sided, often with a full color head and shoulders portrait of the character in question, customized from the character’s portrait in the official armory. There are of course variants, and also a nameplate so that other people will recognize the in-game name of their guildies and friends. In 2014, I commissioned two badges from top-flight artist Noxychu with chainmaille lanyards created by the equally-awesome Ketsuki for my first BlizzCon. Professionals such as they earn their fees with time and effort and I didn’t mind the cost of their work.

Late last year, I considered making a gift for a new friend met at BlizzCon 2015, and decided since they didn’t already have a BlizzCon badge that I was aware of, I was going to try to make one myself rather than commission one of these very much in-demand artists. Most of the work was done in Photoshop on my gaming rig via my Wacom Intuos Pro medium-sized tablet, although there are a few pencil sketches involved when I was at work and am not allowed to have my laptop or tablet around. Silly ‘no electronics’ work rules. Thanks to the Adobe subscription thingy, I also got work done when I was on the road, including one memorable wait in SeaTac airport on my way home from OrcaCon where I was listening to a live folk duo while working on the first badge. However, the lanyards I wound up making were done at work once I learned how to make them, and my desk is remarkably uncluttered, so I had space available.

The project began in early January and ended literally on Halloween, two days before I flew to California for BlizzCon 2016. It blew up from one badge for one friend and commissioning a lanyard to go with it to five badges for five friends with matching lanyards I made and abandoning making a badge for myself because I ran out of time. Four of them were gifts I chose to make for friends and acquaintances. The last one was a request I couldn’t refuse, even though I don’t actually do commissions.

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The recipients of these badges are Russell Brower (Director of Audio at Blizzard), Eímear Noone (conductor for Blizzard and Video Games Live), Neal Acree (composer for Blizzard and Stargate SG-1), Darin De Paul (Blackhand and Reinhardt voice actor), and Samwise Didier (Art Director for Heroes of the Storm). Russell’s badge was first, went through the most number of changes, and took the longest, having to have an emergency overhaul the Friday before BlizzCon. Sam’s took the least amount of time from beginning to end, but that may be mostly because his is the least complex and I’d already done most of the legwork through dealing with the other badges first. Darin’s is the only one that preserves the original frame I’d started work on back in January.

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For Russell’s badge, I screencapped a video on Youtube from Jillian Aversa performing ‘Invincible’ at Video Games Live in Beijing a few years ago and used that for his conductor’s pose because it was just a fun commanding pose… and sadly there aren’t too many videos out there that spend much or any time focusing on the conductors at work. That eventually became what I called his Horde side.

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For the Alliance side, I went to Twilight Highlands and took screenies of his in-game NPC, a dwarf with whom Alliance players can help write a song for a wedding for the scions of two fractious dwarf families. Sorry, Hordies, but you’ll get flagged and attacked by the guards (and Russell himself!) if you go there. I’m still not entirely satisfied with the end result of the dwarf image, because the lute he’s playing actually has a headstock that’s more like an L-shape with the neck, and my image doesn’t really convey that due to how it’s angled. The dwarf only went through one major revision during the process, and there may have been jokes about how I was not looking at his character’s butt when getting screenies of the lute for reference.

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My concept was to get the sheet music for that song his character plays during the quest, as well as some suitably Horde music for the other side, and inscribe them on either side of the badge, to really make it stand out and show his most visible (audible?) contributions to the game. Russell later told me that since his NPC was a surprise gift from the dev team, he didn’t compose the music his NPC plays during that quest. So, I fell back on earlier music thanks to an officially licensed anthology of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King sheet music that’s available on Amazon. Right from the get-go, the Horde side was going to have the iconic ‘Lament of the Highborne’ because it’s one of the first pieces of WoW music I fell in love with (the underlying cello piece that plays as part of the Eversong Woods zone theme is an all-time favorite). The Alliance side was blank for the longest because I was hoping Blizzard would release sheet music from the more recent expansions, particularly the newly-released Legion. I really wanted to put ‘Canticle of Sacrifice’ on the badge somewhere because it’s some of Russell’s finest work, especially with Irish singer/songwriter Nella on vocals. However, late in the game, I settled upon ‘Totems of the Grizzlemaw’, the Grizzly Hills zone theme that is frequently cited as many players’ favorite in-game music. For the nameplate, I hand-drew the blue lettering on the Alliance side and had originally used the same thing on the Horde side. Later on, I redid the nameplate on the Horde side to point to his Twitter handle, and I’m stupidly proud of how fancy that lettering is. I also redid the scroll on the front that the name and music was on, feeling it was far too flat and uninteresting. I believe I eventually wound up redoing it twice until I got a version I liked.

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Still, the plain frame wasn’t really doing it for me anymore for the musical badges. So, I started sketching instruments and deciding which ones would work best in a much fancier frame for whose badge. At this point, I’d already begun work on Eímear Noone’s badge. If you get a chance to watch her conducting Video Games Live in person, do it. I was fortunate to get to travel to her hometown of Dublin, Ireland to attend the iDIG Music Festival that she and her husband Craig Garfinkle run (after her suggesting over and over that I should go!). Both Russell and Neal Acree were guests of the convention in 2016, and if you go to my Youtube channel, you can see all three of them conducting during the Video Games Live concert that weekend. Eímear’s kindness and encouragement is what inspired me to choose to make her a badge as well in the hopes that she’d be at BlizzCon this year. And of course, I couldn’t leave Master Acree out of this, so he was added to my growing list of badges.

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By the time I was done sketching instruments and musical notations, I’d done a violin, cello, harp, bagpipes, a microphone, both treble and bass clefs, a flute, an Irish whistle, tympani, the Ocarina of Time, and the one I learned to lament drawing: uilleann (Irish) pipes. To be fair, the lament was mostly because it was a pain in the butt to find a decent reference photo to make line art of them, but they had to be included on both Russell and Eímear’s badges. The guy who writes such evocative music for them and the Irish lady? C’mon, that was a no-brainer. Out of all the instruments I sketched, only the tympani never made it to the end results.

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During this time, I futzed with the frames and scaling of the images that would fit into the frames, as well as suitable colors for the musical notations. Each badge had a different primary background color front to back such as red on one side and blue on the other, which is why the treble and bass clefs eventually were just turned to gold and finalized that way. My first attempt had the instruments and clefs far too big and the music and subjects of the badges far too small. Their names were also lost in the busy-ness of all of these instruments and stuff. So, I eventually re-scaled things so that it was a better balance, but I’m still not entirely satisfied with the ratios, especially when I go look at other artists’ badges. In this, I may have been better served by remembering the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), but oh well. There was actually a point where I had thought I’d finished the new instrumental frames, but then when I zoom out to see the whole image, I thoroughly hated it and went back to the drawing board.

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However, I was hip-deep in Eímear’s badge, and she of course was going to get Irish-themed shenanigans on her badge, hence the uilleann pipes, harp, and the Irish whistle. The front of her badge features the iconic performance image you can readily find of her on the internet, but I chose to play paper-doll and feature the gorgeous red and black costume crafted by Claire Garvey that she performed in at iDIG, with a red-themed background. The other side was going to be an expression of Eímear’s and my mutual love of The Legend of Zelda. Since the game series had an installment where the player gets to conduct things, the iconic image of Link using the Wind Waker baton was used as a reference to create a more cartoony image of Eímear conducting in that same pose. Originally, I had simply recolored the red and black costume to green and black, but it really wasn’t working for me. Fortunately, Claire had crafted a new green and gold Zelda-themed costume for Eímear, and so I boiled down the intricate design into something suitable for a cartoon sketch in the Wind Waker style and redid the costume to match. I like to think it works a lot better this way. Also, there was no question whether I’d include an image of the Ocarina of Time here as well.

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Of course, Eímear’s badge wouldn’t be complete without music. For the red side, I chose to transcribe a bit from ‘Malach, Angel Messenger’ that she had composed for Warlords of Draenor. Since I had contributed to her Kickstarter, one of the rewards was a preview image of the first page of the sheet music. So I happily and nefariously transcribed it a little bit of it so it would be on her badge. On the green side, I chose to put someone else’s music on it, because it had to be Zelda-themed, so I had asked her which Zelda tune was her favorite. Thus, ‘Zelda’s Lullaby’ appears on that side of the badge. It made me happy to show off a preview of the art to a friend, and he correctly identified the music by sight without being told. I hand-drew her Zelda-side green nameplate, but instead chose to use the text tool to create the Conductrix label on the other side, although it was originally just a red recolor of the green nameplate.

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Neal’s badge was honestly a bit of fun to work on, because it features one of the most terrible puns that I’m very proud to have committed. His conductor’s pose was filched from the internet and used as a reference. For instruments, I chose to feature the whistle as one of the primary instruments in his tear-inducing ‘Anduin’ from Legion, and the cello, an instrument he once told me was his favorite out of the whole orchestra. I was going to feature one of his favorite Blizzard characters on the other side. He supplied three choices for his favorite, but I couldn’t resist making the horrible pun based on Tracer’s ‘Don’t worry, love, cavalry’s here!’ catchphrase. Thus, that side of the badge is done up in Overwatch/more sci-fi colors, with Tracer playing the cello. Neal was very gracious and also supplied me with the sheet music for ‘Nightsong’, and I dug through it until the cello bit kicked in, so after redoing the scroll to make the music look better, you have the altered catchphrase making sense. Originally, I had planned on adding a layer in silver to mimic Tracer herself autographing the art, but it didn’t print well at all, and I eventually wound up forging the autograph in silver sharpie after it was printed. I had a grand old time working on the various details of her outfit, and I’m particularly happy with the Union flag on her shoulder and the techniques I used to create the fleece on the sleeves and collar of the jacket. Also, I was happy to figure out the shading technique for her hair and applied that to Neal’s conducting side to make his hair look better.

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Now, on the conductor side of the badge, Neal had very kindly supplied me with a tiny bit of ‘Anduin’, just one line, really, with the key melody. Not wishing to impose on him any more and being extremely grateful as it was, I vowed to make it work somehow. However, it didn’t work with the scroll without committing a musical sin that even I as a non-musician wasn’t willing to make: breaking the music up in a very strange place to make it into two lines. So instead, I abused the warp and transform tools and put the scroll ribbons on either side of the badge to work. His badge is the only one of the musical badges that does not have music on the main scroll and does have music on the ribbons around the frame. His is also the only one of the badges that doesn’t have a name on one side at all, and the most readable one on the other side, since it’s just his name on the primary scroll.

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By this time, I’d begun work on Darin De Paul’s badge. He’s the only non-musician out of the five, so the expanded frame didn’t make any sense. I went back to the original simpler frame I had done and debated which characters to use. Darin is a first-rate voice actor, and I first met him at the SWTOR Cantina Tour stop at SDCC last year. He’s the voice of Valkorion, the Sith Emperor in their Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion and the upcoming Knights of the Eternal Throne. For Blizzard, he’s done a number of voices, and I picked two of his bigger roles to feature on his badge: Blackhand from WoW, and Reinhardt from Overwatch. Since I had never drawn either character before, I decided to use in-game references for both. Since it’s impossible to take a good screenie during a raid, Blackhand’s reference wound up being the pose used in the Adventure Guide if you look up the raid bosses for Hellfire Citadel.

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Both characters proved to be a challenge. Even with adjusting the contrast to better see the lines on Blackhand, I know I didn’t capture some of his armor well. Still, I had a lot of fun creating the emissives and glowing bits out of gently-blended shadings of red-orange/orange/yellow/white. And as for armor… damn Reinhardt is rough to sketch out even with a high-res screenie. The pose came from an in-game hero pose, and by Darin’s preference, I used the Paragon armor skin. I had the most fun trying to make the metal look like metal in shading and also to simulate the glow from the little blue lights on the armor. As with all of the badges by this time, I had changed how I was doing highlights and shadows. When I’d started on Russell’s badge back in January, I was just using the dodge and burn tools rather haphazardly along with the smudge tool to smooth stuff down, but by this time, I was being much more careful and methodical. While I still need to make things look smoother close-up, at a distance it looked pretty okay. Still… it took forever because of how complicated Reinhardt’s armor is.

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The nameplates and logos at the bottom of Darin’s badge were fun. For Blackhand, I used the Iron Horde symbol and used orange and white to simulate very hot metal on the triangular bit at the bottom. If you look closely, you can see the grey frame is pitted and scarred a bit as well. For the Overwatch-themed frame, it looks more sci-fi with cleaner highlights and shadows. The nameplates themselves had to match the color scheme for each side of the badge. On Blackhand’s side, I wanted to capture the colors of hot metal from a near molten shade to a cooler shade with the background enhancing the effect. Thank goodness for the gradient tool! For Reinhardt, Darin’s name had to look cleaner and more like polished metal, so I went with something that almost mirrored the colors of his armor mixed with the yellow-orange of the Overwatch symbol.

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By this time, I was settled on doing these four badges and then one for myself. However, a whimsical conversation about badges on Twitter in July changed all of that. I still get a quiet fangirl squee when certain people reply to my tweets, and while I’m starting to get over it ever since BlizzCon, you could have knocked me over with a feather when Samwise Didier cheerfully proclaimed he needed badges. Technically, others who follow both of us could easily have seen that tweet and followed his call to arms as well, but apparently no one did. To be fair, this guy is the freakin’ ART DIRECTOR of Heroes of the Storm and could have made his own damned badge in an hour flat, so the intimidation factor was very high. But I took his whim as a mandate and set to work. This meant that given how much time it was taking to do these badges, I had to set aside making a badge for myself, a situation that I came to rue later, but for other reasons.

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While I could easily lollygag on the badges into the summer, after July, the pressure was on for things to be done for an early November convention. I’m not one of the pros who gets to do this all day long. I fitted work on the badges around my day job, writing articles, and yes, playing some games. When events such as the limited-time pre-launch Legion invasions were going on, I was shamelessly racking up the phat XP by having alts logged in 24/7 but also increasing the rewards by actively killing demons in those zones for the 3 weeks leading up to Legion‘s launch. There were also two weekends back to back around the launch where I was running a merch table at a comedy music festival one weekend and then DragonCon the next.

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I also wanted to make chainmaille lanyards for the badges. Ketsuki is a fabulous crafter, but I didn’t feel right hogging up her queue when she could make a lot of other people happy with lanyards. So, I took the time to examine the three of the four lanyards I bought from her and spent a week trying, failing, and eventually succeeding in the simplest of the patterns she uses on her lanyards. I’d already commissioned a blue and silver one from her for Russell’s badge but after I gave it to him at iDIG, I didn’t feel it matched him or the badge. At any rate, after several rounds of trial and error, I found a gauge of ring I liked, a tool that would let me easily manipulate the rings to make the lanyard, and buying enough rings to manage five lanyards, I set to work. By the time I was done with the effort, I could create a lanyard in a single day on my desk at work as long as it wasn’t too busy. Russell wound up with Horde colors, as did Neal (by his request). Eímear’s lanyard was going to be the three colors of the Irish flag, because of course it was. Darin had jokingly asked for black and blue, considering the number of bruises his characters tend to wind up sporting, and Samwise said he wanted black and blue as well, because they were Blizzard’s colors. At this point, I hadn’t announced that Sam was my commission, so I used his lanyard to kind of tease it a bit, coming up with a question mark shape and also the joke ‘A voice actor, composer, conductor, another composer, and a total badass walk into a bar…’.

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While I was out shopping for stuff, I came across some musical charms like someone would put on a charm bracelet. Thus, I had an idea to add a little personalized flair at the junction between the two lines of the lanyard. They had pianos, treble clefs, a cello, and a pair of barred eighth notes, so I bought the lot. I remember once on Twitter where the Blizzard composers tweeted each other pictures of their pianos and composition workspaces, so that’s why Russell and Eímear got pianos on their lanyards, and Neal got the cello because it was his favorite orchestra instrument (and also because there were only two piano charms when I was at the store). Then I thought it would be cute to take a pair of the scales I’d bought when I bought my chainmaille rings and attach them to the front and back of Darin’s badge to give the hint of Reinhardt’s armor. Samwise got no fancy charms on his lanyard because I didn’t find anything cool enough for him.

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However, speaking of Sammy, I was having trouble with the concept of his badge. My original idea was to have one side feature his famous Panda King self, much stylized based on a pencil sketch I’d done, dual-wielding tankards of ale. The other side would feature a cartoony sketch of him singing as part of Elite Tauren Chieftains, but it was rough finding a good picture of him in full voice. I was also debating which instruments would be suitable, since he’s actually the singer and doesn’t play an instrument on stage with ETC. The mic would be fine, sure, but I didn’t feel like putting in the instruments the guys in ETC play as background. Thankfully, I had a talk with our mutual friend Illandria one night, and she suggested that his artistic mantra ‘Always Be Creating’ be featured… and it hit me. I could feature the letters on both sides of the badge and forgo the instruments and clefs entirely. I used ETC on the left side and ABC on the right side, so it still dings the Elite Tauren Chieftains without being too silly.

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I was still at a little bit of a loss about drawing a cartoon version of him, but one night, I showed him the preliminary work, internally cringing that he wouldn’t like it. However, he did like it and said all it needed to be perfect was Grimbeard, his infamous Last Dwarf, whose adventures are on available for pre-order on Amazon as well. So I went to his deviantArt account and found a good picture of Grimbeard for reference and went to town. I didn’t want to copy the exact pose, so instead, I added a bit of sass with the dwarf balancing a pair of tankards on his index finger… although it does make me chuckle fiendishly that it can readily be mistaken like he’s flipping someone the bird if you forget he only has three fingers and a thumb on each hand.

So, after all the hard work on Darin’s badge, I was happy to work on a much less complex badge for Samwise. It wasn’t 100% perfect, but the final touch came as a suggestion from artist and friend Avaltor05, who told me Sammy used to raise rats when he was a kid and was the reason the Hearthstone Innkeeper has a pet rat on his shoulder. So, I went and drew a rat on the Panda King’s shoulder, a wee rattie that apparently had a hankering for booze. Finally, his nameplate is actually a forging of his signature. I had wrestled with the idea of using it, since it’s so iconic. I mean, yes, it identifies him as SAMWISE, even tho there isn’t really anyone who’s a fan of Blizzard who would mistake that mane of hair as belonging to anyone else. However, I didn’t want anyone to get the impression that he did the art on the badge. I eventually kept it because it was more elegant than putting his full name in another font, and I scornfully know full well that no one would ever mistake my art for his.

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By this time, it was mid-October, and I was happy to think I was DONE DONE DONE with all of this, with only a couple of the lanyards to be finished. Then, Russell tweeted a picture of himself sporting a new much shorter haircut, and I went ARGH! You see, I had already done three versions of hair for his badge. The original haircut from the Beijing performance, an updated version based on his appearance at iDIG in April, and then an even better version based on his appearance whilst conducting at Gamescom in August. In August, it could be properly referred to as a magnificent mane, and it was an adventure to capture in art. After the cut, he now looked more like the original style from Beijing, but the problem is that I never saved that layer when I embarked up on the update after iDIG. Whoops.

So, since I was going to spend more time on the badge anyway, I decided to spend the Friday before BlizzCon overhauling the conductor image from the ground up. The final version retains only his facial features and the general pose. It had been so long since I did the original version of the badge that I decided to put what I’d learned all year to use and redid the outfit he was wearing to match the Hearthstone t-shirt and Legion bowling shirt he was wearing at Gamescom. This meant actual artistry in figuring out the shapes that had been covered by the jacket he’d been wearing at Beijing, so that was cool. I’m actually rather happy with the end result, particularly the detail work on the Hearthstone symbol on the shirt that sadly is only truly visible if you look at the image on a larger scale.

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Right before I was going to finalize all of the badges, I questioned whether I should sign them. You see, I suffer from the same kind of impostor syndrome that much more talented people than I deal with it as well (it floors me to know that even freakin’ Chris Metzen suffers from it too). It drives me nuts to hear people say ‘your stuff is great, I can’t even draw a stick figure’, or ‘that’s better than I could do’. I only improved from my stick figure days by plopping my butt down and actually trying over the years. Like Samwise says, ‘Always be creating.’ It doesn’t have to be good or for public consumption, you just have to keep at it. I mean, from the first attempt I did at Russell’s badge to the final copy, just 10 months of on and off work on these badges, I learned so much that the redo of his conductor side is so much better than the original from January.

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Still, I’m not a pro like Noxychu or Sam, or any of these folks who can make a living off their art. These are my idols and my mentors and my heroes. I’m so intimidated by how good they are, but I can also see how even their work gets better over time. However, I wouldn’t expect any of my recipients to want to show off my work, because they can easily get much better badges from much better artists, right? Even though it’s happened to me once before because I didn’t watermark or sign an image, I still don’t think my stuff is good enough for someone to bother to steal or claim ownership of. It was thanks to some kind words from a few friends and one of my artistic heroines, Faebelina, that convinced me I should do so, that I should take pride in my work. So, since I was no longer comfortable with my current artistic signature (the Alpha and Omega symbols cos I thought they were cool when I was in single digits, unaware of their importance to a certain faith), I chose to make a new one out of my chosen brand, Druidsfire. I took the lettering I’d done on a whim for my Twitter header, made it good for a small signature, and put it on each side of each badge I made. I didn’t want it to stand out too much or detract from the central image, but I wanted it to be there, thinking fondly of Robin Wood and how she hides her signature in her artwork.

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Now it was the weekend before BlizzCon. Badges were done. Lanyards were done. Now to print! That’s when I found out that my early 2009 printer was so not up to the task. So, I bit the bullet and went to the local FedEx Office to have them print these things properly. That’s when I found out that the printing was far darker than the images on my monitors at home, so we had to futz with the lighting to get them even halfway decent in shade. It took two trips to get it right because these were double-sided images and they didn’t align correctly the first time. And honestly, the second time, I wasn’t entirely happy with how dark the representative printed them, but there was a queue and I didn’t have all night, so I took what I had and ran. Then I laminated the badges, took reference photos, and packed them away for the trip. I also made up flash drives with the final Photoshop files with a few older layers still there to explore, as well as front/backs of each badge if they ever wanted to print up a bigger copy themselves. I also included a letter for each recipient about the creation of their badge. To keep the drives straight, I wrote the first letter of each recipient’s name on it and was terribly amused to see that they spelled out the word ‘NERDS’ if arranged correctly.

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Four of the badges made it with me to BlizzCon, because dear Eímear wasn’t going to be there, about to embark on another European tour with VGL. At various points on Thursday and Friday, I tracked down Russell, Darin, Sam, and Neal to deliver their badges, and I was most humbled and gratified by their kind words, both in person and on Twitter. Samwise even insisted that we go all Star Wars medal ceremony and that I had to put it on him. To my horror, I accidentally used Neal’s badge, but quickly passed that off as a test run and then coronated (?) him with the proper badge. I learned later on that they’re not supposed to wear non-official badges or gifts while they’re up on stage, but was still happy to see Sammy wearing his during his signings with author Greg Weisman for the novel Traveler that he did the art for.

Of course, Darin was going around and cheerfully recording Reinhardt quotes for just about anyone who asked, and I don’t think he ever removed his badge either day of the con. I was so humbled to be introduced to people as his friend when we were roaming the show floor with Thomas of Extreme Costumes before opening ceremonies. Samwise once tweeted a picture of all the gifts he got from people at BlizzCon with my badge front and center, and when I thanked him for it, he mentioned how other people were taking pictures of it and maybe I’d get some customers for next year. I already have a list of people I want to do badges for, but I’m still gibbering about the notion of actually doing proper commissions. The biggest hurdle is I simply can’t shake the notion of being paid for something like this. There’s just so much pressure to do a good job and to get it perfect, and my sense of ethics is such that if I don’t get precisely correct for a paying customer, then I shouldn’t be accepting payment for it, y’know? So I appreciate the suggestion, but I will have to think about that notion a lot more before I do anything with it.

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I should note that during the writing of this long blog, as was also true during most of the times I was working on the badges or lanyards, I listened to a lot of music to pass the time. Because three of the badges were for Blizzard-related composers and conductors, and a fourth was for the frontman for the Elite Tauren Chieftains, it was a gimme that their music was going to be front and center. The artist in me was inspired by their music, as I hope it inspires you in your own art. The excellence these gifted creators bring to their work, and I include voice actor Darin De Paul in this too, made sure that I did my best with the knowledge and the tools I had at hand, to go back and do it again if I didn’t get it right. While these badges were gifts for friends and acquaintances, I had to do them justice. It was a privilege to use their standard to aim for a higher bar than if I’d been making art just for myself. I learned so much just by going through the processes to make every element of each badge and lanyard, and I recognize how much more I have to learn.

So there you have it. A lot of words, a lot of photos, and hopefully some insight into this massive project. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing at least one badge next year. While I have two perfectly awesome badges from Noxychu that I still wear to multiple cons, no one really knows me by either of my character’s names from those badges. So, for next year, I’m definitely going to make myself a double-sided badge that says DROOD on one side because my dear friend Terran Gregory calls me that, and Druidsfire on the other. I may or may not feature my Alliance and Horde mains for the characters, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve got months to figure it out. Until then, happy creating!

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