A Love Letter to League of Legends

Hi there! I’m Veronica, also known as Zookie, an illustrator and concept artist currently working on the Community Content Team. Over the years, I’ve found that League of Legends has had a vital role in influencing both my personal and professional growth as an artist. So, I wanted to talk a little bit about that and why it is important to find inspiration in the world around you.

You can find more of my art on ArtStation & Twitter.

“For me, League is something that continues to influence my life through art and other ways, even in the months where I barely play.”

Find What You Love

League of Legends is filled with creativity. With 148 champions, gorgeous splash art, detailed concept work, lore-based narratives, videos and even an interactive map, it is easy to feel both inspired and overwhelmed by how much content there is for the game. There is also a strong community of fans who are constantly churning out impressive work that pays homage to it. Just take a quick look at #artoflegends on twitter and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve been playing League since 2014 and instantly fell in love with the game. I enjoyed the challenge it gave me and the feeling of working on a team for a common goal, even if it doesn’t always go to plan. After some time, I realised that I also loved the game for other reasons. There was something about the world behind League that fascinated me. The colourful champions and fascinating bits of world building were just a part of that. It made me want to draw.

So I did.

I drew my favourite champions, designed some new ones and just relished in that feeling of expressing what I loved about the game. It was fun and easy to be inspired by something like that.

The real tipping point for me came with the art contests that the Riot OCE office ran for a few years. I nearly didn’t enter that first one for fear of failure but it was a contest centered on Shurima, which is my favourite region (I love me some deserts).

So I challenged myself to draw something very far out of my comfort zone. I settled down, put Azir’s theme on repeat and 30 hours later I had the first environment piece I had ever done digitally.

It wasn’t perfect. There is no such thing in art but people liked it. They seemed to understand what I loved about Shurima and Azir’s story. So, I continued to draw.

“All of the fanart I do is inspired by what I love. From the personality of Illaoi to the beauty of Dark Cosmic Jhin, I draw to express what I like about the game. This art is personal to me and it shows.”

Creative Hardships

Drawing art is not easy. It’s a constant struggle to improve and reach new heights with what you can create. The impressive splash art that you see in League was something that inspired me to improve, to get to a level where maybe I could create something like that.

I’ve never quite reached that goal but instead have found my own voice for what I enjoy creating. The first realisation of what that was came from another contest which wanted artists to create their own Star Guardian skin.

I went for something a little different and ended up with the pieces of art I have probably gotten the most feedback on over the years. People loved the idea of a First Star Aurelion Sol.

So, I drew more skin concepts. It was a challenge but it was a welcome one. Having my inspiration grounded in something that already had consistent character designs also made it easier to work out how to design my own. The encouragement of the community helped make me want to push past that challenge as well.

“I was learning but in a way, it was fun because it was for something I cared about. Find a like-minded group. Post what you do and get feedback. Learn from each other and improve.”

Fanart vs ‘Legitimate’ art

This is a common concern that people have. “Fanart is only copying what already exists”, people say while not acknowledging that all art comes from inspirations that already exist. Just take a look at fantasy inspired art. Most of it is drawn from similar concepts and aesthetics. Fanart is the same idea.

Draw what you love. It won’t hinder your growth and may even help it. If that thing you love is League then go for it!

Fanart is something that can make it easier to learn and improve as you don’t have to worry as much about the character design. You have existing concepts and references to use so you are able to focus on what you really want to work on.

“Fanart can be useful in a professional capacity. My first major work for a games studio directly resulted from an artwork I had been working on of Silver Kayle post-rework. They loved the way I drew her and the skills I demonstrated in the piece. So, I got the job.”

Don’t be afraid of fanart. Embrace it.

League: A Game About Improvement

At the end of the day, League of Legends teaches you many things. It tells you to critically look at what you do and work to get better. It shows you incredible things – impressive plays, gorgeous skin designs, unique abilities – and encourages you to think beyond.

For me, League is something that continues to influence my life through art and other ways, even in the months where I barely play.

It is one of my many inspirations. And that makes it special to me.

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