Kyle Chen, a student in the Games and Interactive Media program at the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, was placed as a runner up in the international Student Art Contest at Blizzard Entertainment. In an interview, Chen discussed his inspiration for his video game, ways to stay current with the latest trends, and any upcoming projects he is working on.  

Here is a link to his portfolio and the official announcement from Blizzard Entertainment.  

ArtStation – Forge in Darkmaul Plains – 2023 WoW Student Art Contest Runner Up 

Announcing the World of Warcraft Student Art Contest 2023 Winners! ( 

What is your video game about? 

“This project called “Forge in Dark Maul Plains” is a 3D Environment created in Unreal Engine that I submitted for Blizzards 2023 WoW Student Art Contest. While it’s not necessarily a playable game, it shows off my understanding of 3D asset creation and composition which is then organized to create an eye-catching screenshot.” 

What inspired you to create this video game? 

“This project came about when I found out about the art contest. Originally, I wanted to test the skills that I had learned in Modeling 1 with Nicholas Hunter but what would’ve been a 3-week project turned into 2 months. As a fresh art student with limited knowledge about environment art, this project was very challenging and took a lot of self-determination and research. Once I learned the tools, I then faced the challenge of matching the art style of Blizzards World of Warcraft and creating an environment that could fit in their world. WoW’s textures are all handpainted which means all of the details and lighting are done with just color. While I wasn’t as confident in my texturing abilities at the time, I found work arounds to achieve a similar style using stylized PBR processes with a slight touch of handpainting. Overall, this whole project was very experimental and I couldn’t have done it without the guidance of my peers and lots of research. I’m glad to have placed as a runner up in the contest and it’s inspired me even more to reach greater heights.” 

What software and tools do you use, and how do they enhance your work as a video game artist? 

“As a 3D artist, we are expected to know a plethora of software. A typical workflow for me would include Autodesk Maya, ZBrush, Substance Painter, 3D Coat, Photoshop and Unreal Engine. All of these programs are used in asset creation and are assembled in a game engine like Unreal Engine in which I can simulate things like lighting and ambient fog to make my art pop. I think showing off your art properly is half the battle as a 3D artist and it’s what makes someone’s portfolio standout from the rest.” 

How do you stay current with the latest trends and technologies in video game design? 

“In addition to all of the school resources UCF provides, I keep myself informed through online platforms such as YouTube, 80LVL and ArtStation.” 

What are some upcoming projects that you are working on? 

“I just finished another WoW inspired environment called “Pools of the Jade Dragon” which all the texturing was done by hand using 3D Coat and Photoshop. I also have a larger research project that is in the works which will be larger in scale than my other environments.” 


Written by Majdulina Hamed.

Published to Nicholson News on June 4th, 2024.

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