Cathedral of Diablo
We created an incredible Baroque-style painting depicting the eternal battle in Diablo IV, turning a 331-year-old Gothic church into a place of worship for fans.
- live action
A 10-year wait for Diablo IV had fans ravenous for something spectacular. To bring the game's eternal conflict of good versus evil to life, we created a massive, hand-painted battle on the vaulted ceilings of an historic church.
We needed a mind-blowing location for our fresco, and the painting couldn’t be just a piece of concept art. We needed real brush strokes, real canvas, and centuries-old techniques from a master of the Baroque style. The result was arguably the world's largest art project of the year, transforming an ancient church into a larger-than-life shrine to Diablo.
We scoured thousands of deconsecrated churches through Europe and North America, an arduous task requiring months of coordination. Chapelle des Jesuites, a cavernous gothic cathedral in Cambrai, France, was the clear choice.
Just as vital as the church is the artist: Adam Miller, a Florence-based Baroque painter and instructor, leading a team of six artists, working 30 days straight on 24 vault panels, a 40-foot high wall scene, and an enormous dome to serve as the pièce de résistance. The effort of dozens of people and multiple teams on separate continents formed the backbone of a shoot for the Diablo IV teaser trailer.
Chapel De Jesuites
Abandoned churches in New Orleans. Cursed chapels in the Italian countryside. Graffiti-covered altars in Lyon. All possible scenarios, but our hero was discovered in France, in the town of Cambrai.
We built up support of both the town and the French government, working in secret through Fall and into freezing Winter weather to pull off the daunting work. With its cavernous interior and 60-foot ceilings, no image could do justice to the sheer scale of the location. Lacking many of the basic necessities of a more modern building, this 300-year-old behemoth had an average interior temperature of 24-30º Fahrenheit, few lights, and zero WiFi. Absolutely perfect for what we needed to do.
The Design Challenge
At its core, this was a massive design challenge. How to best use the architecture of the church to create an intense battle against the forces of Hell, all while staying true to the world of Diablo through the lens of a Baroque mural.
Thinking on a massive scale
Modern techniques meet a timeless art form.
From location to paintings to film, executing on a massive scale was of the utmost importance to the heart of the idea. We had to think BIG, spitballing ideas on how to shoehorn what would have been years of work for some of the masters like Bosch or Michelangelo into a little over a month.
Master artist Adam Miller and his team of painters devised a breakthrough technique blending spray paint and acrylic paint to pull off this incredible volume of artistic work in record time. Working for 30 straight days, in 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures in the church posed numerous challenges and creative problem-solving for our entire team from start to finish.
Each of the ceiling paintings had to be painted on canvas, stretched and mounted for painting before it was installed into the ceilings. While we would have loved to have painted directly onto the ceiling, we didn't have the luxury of a years-long timeline. The finished canvases were attached to custom wood frames built directly into each ceiling vault, sized to fit with the help of our 3D LIDAR scanning for proper dimensions.
Due to the extreme height of the ceiling, specialized spider lifts that could reach the top as well as fit through the church doors had to be shipped in for the painstaking installation process.
Custom scaffolding was built allowing the fabrication of a rear wall prepped for direct painting to depict the final battle scene and a massive dome structure was built to be installed into the top of the church's altar, housing our climactic confrontation.
331 year old architecture
Along with our talented painters, a construction team was on hand to support the work in a number of ways as our architects worked with preservationists from the city and the French national preservation society to ensure we did not damage the church's original surfaces.
This involved a process of safely installing frames into the ceiling structure, and working around brick and plaster that was literally hundreds of years old. Even for our experienced crews, this was a completely unique challenge across many labor disciplines for a pristine result. Much care was taken along with planned restoration work to leave the Chapel des Jesuites in better shape than we found it, allowing for refurbishment of the surfaces once the artwork is removed.
The church became the epic backdrop for a commercial shoot, announcing the magnificent return of Diablo and the open beta to the world.
Voiced by Game of Thrones' Charles Dance, the short film reveals the epic paintings on the ceilings, the massive battles on the back wall and the climactic conflict on the ceilings dome in incredible fashion.
As part of the Beta launch of the game, players who reach level 25 with any class in the Diablo IV Open Beta will be entered for a chance to have their face painted inside the walls of the Cathedral of Diablo.
A Historic Location
Painting at epic scale
Sq. Ft. of Surface Painted
Acrylic Paint for Days
Liters of Acrylic Paint
Ft. Tall Ceilings