Sheablo’s Design Evolution

The earliest concept art?

Since the Blizzard web team have abandoned the Diablo community as surely as the community managers have, we’ve not seen any new concept art posted since long before the game was released. This is a shame, since they’ve got digital books full of concept art for things from Act Three and Four and Act Bosses and other stuff we never got to see pre-release, and I think we’d all enjoy seeing it. Even the haters who are (justifiably?) angry about Diablo III design decisions enjoy the concept art. Right?

I know I want more of it, and as one of the people responsible for maintaining the most comprehensive gallery of Diablo artwork on the internet, my vote counts double. DOUBLE! Happily, when I (recently) finally got around to watching the Diablo III Behind the Scenes DVD, I noticed quite a few never-before-revealed pieces of concept art for the classes, monsters, and environments. They’ve all been added to our galleries now, and in the days to come I’m going to post an article or two focusing on some pieces of concept art (of monsters and environments) that closely match (or not) their final game artwork.

For today though, how about a closer look at Big Red’s design evolution?

The most extensive coverage in the Behind the Scenes video focused on the efforts of the D3 Team to create a believable “female” version of Diablo, a creation that fans have long since dubbed DiabloWikiSheablo, or “Leahablo.” The video content and overly-spliced interviews didn’t shed much light on the creative process, but there were eight pieces of art that showed how the character evolved over time.

There’s no telling if these are presented in chronological order (I kind of doubt it, given the usual Blizzard interate/de-iterate/re-iterate dev process) but if you look at the eight arts in the order they were presented in, they do show a nice transition from an awkward, scaly, Diablo-with-boobs thing, to the final, polished, sleekly-reptilian creation. I wouldn’t say the in-game version is “female,” not with that terr-roar-able singing voice, but you can at least get a kind of ambiguously-gendered vibe, especially from the cinematic.

Whether or not fans approve of that vibe is another question, one that might be influenced by how many times you’ve sat through a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We did run a recent vote on Sheablo, but it was more of a survey than an opinion poll, so it’s not exactly authoritative of fan opinions on the D3’s biggest gender/plot twist.

Here’s the full Behind the Scenes movie via YouTube. The Sheablo section begins at 17:40.

Tagged As: | Categories: Artwork, Bosses, Diabloii.Net Articles


You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
  1. *Walks out of the room fuming*

  2. I got incredibly bored at 1:26.

  3. I kinda like how the final design of Diablo turned out. While I’m not in love with the story, the reasons for making Diablo female make sense within the context of the game (especially if you don’t try to figure out why the other Lords of Hell all look as they do). Some of those concept art pieces are way off from what the final design ended up – making Diablo look like a woman/girl with demonic features wasn’t going to work (those actually remind me of some sketches I’ve made of a half dragon/half elf character). The end result, though, does – a demon with some feminine attributes.

    The end design of Diablo does look familiar to me though as she reminds me very much of the Queen from “Aliens” – she’s a large, formidable creature yet does have a certain amount of feminine grace to her appearance (and not just because she lays eggs! :)). I didn’t get this impression from the first time I saw Diablo in game, but once she teleports you to the “Realm of Terr-roh!,” the similarity (to me at least) is unmistakeable. So I guess it is appropriate to yell out “Get away from her you bitch!” if Diablo starts clawing at female character in MP 😀

  4. I think they did a pretty remarkable job with the concept. If you’re going to have a Diablo with feminine body features, this is how you should do it. It’s obvious that he emerged from a female host, without being at all “sexy.”

    You mostly only get the suggestion from the waist and hips, and the contrast in the size of the limbs/frame with the earlier incarnations. The chest plates are also a really nice touch – they suggest a female chest, but the way they separate and move insect-like when he breathes makes it obvious they’re not breasts, just a vestige of the host.

    I really think this concept for Diablo is a pretty brave one, and one of the things I really like about D3 more as I play. And it makes sense in context with the other games, as an explanation for Diablo’s changing appearance (else why doesn’t he look in D2 like he does in D1?) The first time out he isn’t really much bigger than your player, his form isn’t warped as much from the human form, since he took over a child’s body. In D2, he used a highly trained, full-grown male warrior. And of course, in D3, an adult female with interesting origins…

    • While it’s surprising when you first hear about it, I think the concept is reasonable. D and his brothers have possessed humans all through the ages; it must have happened a bunch of times during the Sin Wars, and surely one of them wound up in a woman’s body at some point.

      The problem with it in D3 was that we didn’t really care about Leah. At least I didn’t. Elsewhere in the BtS movie, they talked about Leah and her creation and design and how she was supposed to be really loveable and sympathetic, so that you’d feel terrible when bad things happened to her.

      I personally didn’t get that feeling, partially since they’d given us so many Sheablo hints that I was pretty sure where things were going, but almost since Leah wasn’t that interesting a character in the game. And as far as she was interesting, it was as just another character, not someone I felt a real bond with or wanted to protect or assist.

      • I agree with you. As we’ve all talked about before, the cartoonish plot and overly talkative villains really ruin any kind of connection the devs might think they’re building.

        I also think that the flattened learning curve also removes a lot of characterization from the enemies. It seems like you pretty much don’t face anything anywhere that you can’t handle easily until Inferno, when any monster can gib you. No real differentiation. In D1, you knew to fear the Butcher with a new character, the spitters in the caves, the dual succubi bosses in hell. In D2, your first run through Blood Raven, Andariel, Duriel, Oblivion Knights, Diablo, Pindleskin, Nihlathak, all posed very different and very real threats to your character that you had to plan for. I’ve yet to identify a type of enemy in D3 that can put the fear in me the way seeing those inward curling red flares did on my barb!

        Here, though, I was purely addressing the visual concept, which I definitely think is brilliant.

  5. More she-ablo/concept art coverage? Slow news day huh?

    • well we are dependant on what blizzards feeds us, its not like we could mod the game. and who would have thought that they become less communicative when the the game is released…

      before the game was released i was content with the lack of information because its simply too much to convey ; and they probably also did not want to spoil the “story”.

      i really wouldnt mind a weekly blog or something but currently there is no coverage at all.

  6. I was intrigued when it was first revealed but since seeing her in game and looking back at the art I don’t like the change. There are enough female baddies, (Cydaea is the best concept)…Diablo with a cinched waist and leathery boobies…no thanks.

    • well i guess that’s just because people generally objectify anything nowadays ? I was indifferent to diablo having a female appearance ; we are playing a fantasy game with magic and demons and shit – i don’t think it disturbs the integrity of the game. what disturbs the integrity of the game is the terribly straight cheap hollywood plot + terrible writing. i don’t think the game would have been any better or worse if the Diablo had a Male appearance, if this was the only thing about the game that changed.

  7. When the design team decided to go ‘Sheablo’ they should have went all in and made the critter completely femeinine, or not bothered at all and just scrap the whole Leah becomes Diablo concept. The female Diablo character would have been even more sinister somehow if it retained more of Leah’s innocent vibe, retaining most of the form except with a horn and tails or whatever… including her original voice, just sounding crazy and harsh, instead of the unconvincing monster voice they went with. In summary, run with the concept or dont bother.

    • Agreed. It’s probably the worst monster voice ever. And it’s not like you hear it once, it’s TER-ROAR, TER-ROARR! Anyone count how many times she actually says this?

      Oh, and when Tyrael meets Izual again, that’s classic. “Nyah nyah, look it’s your old Lieutenant hahaha!!! You guys are dorks and I stole the ball from you at recess nyah!! Boys are dumb! TERORAR!”

  8. I think they achieved their goal of making a female looking Diablo. What they failed on was following the story that this was the prime evil. It was a combination of all the prime and lesser evils and it came out looking weaker than any of them we’ve seen before. It was laughable thinking that stick would stand up against Imperious. Sorry but if you want the ultimate bad guy you’re going to need to make them actually look powerful and imposing.

    • “It was laughable thinking that stick would stand up against Imperious.”
      Despite the fact that Diablo’s hand was almost the size of Imperious’ chest?

      “Sorry but if you want the ultimate bad guy you’re going to need to make them actually look powerful and imposing.”
      Someone made a great point earlier about the alien queen in Aliens. She did the job.

  9. I liked the concept. I was really disappointed in D2 when Andarial didn’t have a penis. This is a huge step forward.

  10. Hard to think of a greater embodiment of failure than the transition from Okamura to Lichtner.

  11. I like the idea. The only negative comment about Diablo I have is more of concept than anything else, I like the way it looks, I think it is a good design. My question is: if Diablo is the Prime Evil, how come it only uses the same attacks it had in D2 + a couple new (like the terror realm and clones) and no clues about the rest? For example Baal´s illusions, Azmodan´s body limps falling around him, Mephisto´s poison attacks or the like? Just a thought…
    Also Diablo talks too much, another concept I didn´t like. Even thou you keep crushing his obstacles, he/she keeps talking nonesense. Iskatu is down, and then Diablo says how bad you are. Rifts are down, again more Diabla chat. Izual is down, another phrase, and so on…

  12. If poor itemization and lack of endgame/replay is the rotting corpse of the Diablo franchise and Activision is the grave digger… then the embarrassingly bad story is the coffin. The fact that the lord of TERR-ROAR had saggy breasts and spoke to me as if she was some kind of generic Scooby-Doo villain all through Act IV was just one of many nails in said coffin. The list (of course) goes on and on and on… RIP Diablo hope to see you gloriously reborn under better management. *sheds a single tear*

Comments are closed.