For the 2020 Hearthstone Art Challenge, Blizzard partnered up with IX Arts. Artists were to present an original illustration inspired by a Hearthstone or World of Warcraft character in full color that would fit into a standard Hearthstone minion frame.

The challenge ran from October 5 to December 1 and winners were announced via an IX Webinar on December 19. An overview of winners and honorable mentions was later posted by one of the jurors, Arthur Bozonnet, on Artstation.

1st Place - Goblin-mime by Sergey Tsvelykh

Sergey Tsvelykh, Goblin-mime

Goblin-mime by Sergey Tsvelykh

2nd, 3rd and 4th Place

Alex Stone, Wrathion the Dark Emperror Jenny Brozek, Pandaren Druid David Tenorio, Sylvanas and the Banshees

Wrathion the Black Emperor by Alex Stone | Pandaren Druid by Jenny Brozek | Sylvanas and the Banshees by David Tenorio 


First Place

  • Digital 1-year World of Warcraft subscription
  • Digital Hearthstone card pack bundle
  • Art of Hearthstone book
  • Two 5-day tickets to IX 2021

Second Place

  • Digital 1-year World of Warcraft subscription
  • Digital Hearthstone card pack bundle
  • Art of Hearthstone book
  • Two 5-day tickets to IX 2021

Third Place

  • Digital Hearthstone card pack bundle
  • Art of Hearthstone book
  • Two 5-day tickets to IX 2021

Honorable Mention

  • Two 5-day tickets to IX 2021

Interview with the winner, Sergey Tsvelykh

Sergey was so kind as to answer a few questions for us. Let's take a look at how he managed to snag the #1 spot with his unique character choice.

Hello, Sergey, first of all, do you play Hearthstone or World of Warcraft?

Yes, I play both Hearthstone and WoW, of course, less WoW because I'm mostly busy with drawing.

What inspired you to make a goblin-mime character? I think it is safe to say, it wouldn't be a first choice for most of us.

I found out about the contest just as a new expansion “Madness at the Darkmoon Faire” came out. I realized that I wanted to create a card that would fit this addition. So that Blizzard’s professionals could compare what I did and what is already in the game. I opened WoW and went to Darkmoon Faire, and I thought that I want to create a clown or something in this direction. I started collecting information on this topic. I found a video about an old mime, Richmond Shepard and I thought it was a great solution. Mimes are very charismatic, white faces create a focal point. I thought that a mime would be perfect for a fair, and it is a something new for WoW, in my opinion there are no mimes in Wow yet. Well, then everything was already simple.

Did you have several ideas you chose from or did you know right from the start that this was a character you wanted to make?

Yes, I had a few ideas: juggler, clown, cotton candy seller. I decided that the mime is the coolest.

How did you do your research? I noticed on your Artstation profile that you included your brainstorming map alongside the final piece.

This is the hardest and most interesting part of the job. At first I am looking for simple but interesting ideas, I try to make it something new. I just watch cartoons, films, videos on YouTube, looking for some interesting solutions in games, watching what other artists did before me. When I have several ideas, usually 2-3, I am starting to refine these ideas. Then I choose one, usually I choose what I like the most. After I have sketched the composition and selected the idea, I start looking for references to pose, face, emotion, style. The better the references, the better the result will be.

Sergey's brainstorming of the character (source)

You also participated in several Anton Zemskov's Fanart Brawls, among other things, right? You submitted some amazing pieces there as well and won a few times. So this was not your first attempt at creating a Hearthstone style art. How do you enjoy this art-style?

Yes, a year ago I decided that I was ready to move to drawing illustrations and began to participate in Anton's "Fanart Brawl". I think this is the most reliable way to get job on the Hearthstone project. I really love the Blizzard and Hearthstone style.

Sergey Tsvelykh, Magic Weaver Sergey Tsvelykh, Mother of Snow Dragons Sergey Tsvelykh, Illidari Engineer

Sergey's submissions for Anton Zemskov Fanart Brawls (source)

Did you draw inspiration from a particular fellow artist?

Of course, I really like the works of Laurel D Austin, Luke Mancini, Arthur Gimaldinov, Anton Zemskov, Tyson Murphy and many more artists. When I draw cards I try to look at the style of these guys. I have two more artists who inspire me to work, they do not paint in the Blizzard style, but I really love their works. These are Ivan Kunakh and Taras Susak.

And what about the behind-the-scenes stuff, which app is your go-to for making digital art? Do you have a favorite drawing technique you like to use?

I paint in Photoshop. Tablet - Wacom Intuos Pro M. My drawing technique is paint and hope that something good comes out at the end :)

Would you like to get more serious about creating Hearthstone art? Partner up with Blizzard? Or were you maybe already approached after winning this competition? If you can't tell, just wink ;-)

Yes, I started drawing only because I played Warcraft 3. So yes, I really want to work with Blizzard! I think now it is possible ;-)

Last question: What is your favorite Hearthstone expansion and favorite card? The card can come from a different set.

My favorite expansion was Goblins vs Gnomes, at that time I played a lot of Hearthstone, I liked to play Freeze Mage deck. My favorite card is Myra's Unstable Element. There was an expansion when I played only rogue, huh, interesting mechanics and a beautiful picture.

And there you have it! Thanks again, Sergey, for taking the time to talk to us.

How about you guys? Which characters would you like to see come to life in Hearthstone? Tell us in the comments below and maybe some of these amazing artists will use that as an inspiration and show us how it's done!