It must be awesome to have an artist in the family, and Miguel, admin of official fansite Diablo3-esp.com since 2006, is lucky enough to have one at home. His mother’s hobby is to craft socarrats – a form of traditional medieval art consisting of fired clay tiles painted in red and black.
She was persuaded to craft a socarrat in the image of her son’s favorite archangel, Tyrael. Miguel has been a fan of Diablo since 2000, and even though his mom isn’t into videogames herself, she accepted the challenge quite happily.
Q. What does “socarrat” mean?
Socarrat is the Valencian word for “burned” or “scorched”. It comes from the way a socarrat is cooked, since the clay tile is actually burned where the image has been drawn.
The first step is to perforate the paper and apply black dust to mark the silhouette of the sketch on the tile.
Q. What can you tell us about the history behind socarrat art?
Socarrats originated on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages, mainly in Valencia. They were generally placed between the wooden beams of old houses, sometimes in stairways, or even on the exteriors of buildings for decoration. They usually depict religious, magic, and social figures.
Q. How are socarrats made?
The tile is covered in quicklime dust, over which the artist draws the picture using red and black tones before the tile is fired. This gives the socarrats a very distinct appearance.
Here you can see part of the silhouette from the first step, and the beginnings of the red and black tones being applied.
Q: Where did your mother learn how to make them?
She has been making socarrats for years in the cultural center of our town in Spain. We have plenty of socarrats all over the walls of our house.
Q. What materials did you mother use for your Tyrael socarrat?
You just need a clay tile, the typical size of which is 30x15cm or 40x30cm. As I mentioned before, there are only two colors available to paint on the tile. The red color is made with ocher and the black color is a mixture of manganese and black carbon.
Q. What was the process of creating it?
The drawing must first be sketched. A semitransparent paper is used for that, and the paper is then perforated along the outline of the drawing. Then the black color is sprinkled over the punctured paper onto the tile. The black dust will indicate the outline of the drawing on the tile, making it easier to start painting the actual picture. The red and black colors are mixed with a bit of water and the artist paints over the outline with a small paintbrush. This usually takes a few hours, but not much longer. The socarrat then needs around eight hours in the oven before one layer of Bitumen of Judea is applied to darken the image.
The completed painting before being fired.
Q. What made your mother do this particular socarrat?
I suggested she do something different than the usual socarrat drawings. I chose this image of Tyrael because it seemed ideal for a socarrat. The original image is fully colored, but the red and black socarrat style gave it a different aspect similar to the Diablo III opening cinematic.
Q. Do you have any other Diablo socarrats planned?
Not at this time, but who knows? Maybe a Malthael socarrat to put next to Tyrael. Or perhaps the whole Angiris Council discussing what to do with the black soulstone! I just have to make sure that the image can still be awesome when painted with only two colors.
Q. Are socarrats easy to make at home?
If you can find the materials, then yes, absolutely. But I think they could be hard to find outside of Valencia. And of course you need a ceramic oven nearby to fire the tile.
Q. What tips would you give to other aspiring artists interested in making their own socarrat?
Familiarize yourself with the classic socarrat style and get to know its particularities. You can find more examples with a simple online search. Start with the smallest and easiest pictures and be very careful while painting, since the colors are like dust before firing and they can spread over the tile easily and ruin the drawing.
The finished and framed socarrat.
What do you think about this ancient art technique and the depiction of Tyrael? Would you try making your own? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re working on any Blizzard fan creations, be sure to tell us about them in our Community Creations forum!