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Aaron Aikman

Lead Technical Artist, Graphics

Diablo IV

Diablo IV


Leading the graphics tech art team which focuses on shaders, performance, procedural art pipelines, and problem-solving


  • Amplifying the work of my team and creating a supportive work environment with high growth potential
  • Anticipating future roadblocks and needs for my team and other disciplines
  • Driving initiatives and creating systems of support for content and engineering teams
  • Creating tools, shaders, and solutions for artists
  • Interfacing with artists and engineers to improve game features and performance
  • Empowering artists by providing graphics knowledge, tooling options, and general troubleshooting


5+ years (Sep 2018-Present)


Diablo IV OceanDiablo IV Trailer ClipsDiablo IV Trailer


Diablo IV won best Online Game from DICE

Nominated for best Multiplayer Game and Artistic Achievement by BAFTA

Nominated for best Multiplayer and Innovation in Accesibility by The Game Awards

and more!


Below you can see some images I contributed to. I’m responsible for the majority of environment related shaders - their functionality, performance, and look - as well as specialized shaders for effects like water, snow, ice, fog, clouds, skin, blood, cloth, rocks, terrain, etc. That said, everything you see is the work of a host of extremely talented people, from concept, environment, lighting, character, rigging, and vfx teams all the way to engineering.

GDC 2024

GDC Presentation Notes Images

I had the privilege to speak at the Technical Artist Summit during the 2024 Game Developers Conference. You can acces the [POWERPOINT] and [NOTES]. [GDC Vault] recording is also available.

GDC Presentation Notes Images

H2O in H3LL: The Various Forms of Water in ‘Diablo IV’

From oceans, rivers and puddles, to ice, snow and fog, water in the open world of Diablo IV’s Sanctuary takes many forms and has even more challenges to solve. In this talk, Aaron talks about the pixel and vertex shader techniques employed to create convincing shorelines, dynamically accumulating puddles, snow-topped rocks, ominous Helltide rivers, icy caves, and more. Maintaining performance across platforms is, as always, of paramount importance. Water requires many elements to work in concert, from lighting and rendering tech, to textures and material parameters, all the way to level art. Study the technical details and artistry behind how Diablo IV achieves believable water within performance constraints.

Art Blast

Here you can find a link to my [Art Station Art Blast] or you can view the whole [Art Blast]

Coasts represent some of my favorite ambient graphics tech in the game. Terrain sculpting, flow-map painting, foam layer painting, and a number of material parameters helped us to give dynamism to the water.

These techniques had to serve a variety of view distances.

Shores not only have a water line for terrain and rocks, but also puddles from the rain.

Puddles and dynamic wetness are a big part of the more rainy areas of the game.

Clifftops can show the features of the water below and the blending shader functionality used to meld actors with terrain. Foliage shaders were also an important part of my work across the game.

Rivers are another aspect of the game that was a ton of fun to work on.

River shaders center around flow and foam layers, but also do some tricks to create foam based upon flow speed and vert normal.

Helltide affects the saturation and brightness of environment art as well as turning rivers and coasts bloody, with the main objective being mood and low shader complexity.

Puddles also change their color, roughness, and spec.

Here you can see prop, ice, and terrain shaders with various snow effects and some parallaxed textures, all blending together via shader functionality.

The tech we employ for water also lead to some creative shader functionality for shadowed foam layers.

Getting highlights in the water to feel natural, but not distracting was a challenging goal.

Blizzcon 2019 Imagery

Click for high quality.

Diablo IV Environment HQ Cataclysm and Ocean

Diablo IV Environment HQ World Boss and Ocean

Diablo IV Environment HQ Vista

Diablo IV Environment HQ Snow

Diablo IV Environment HQ Fog

Diablo IV Environment HQ Dun Web

Diablo IV Environment HQ Dun Mass

Diablo IV Environment HQ Yurt

Diablo IV Environment HQ Icicle

Diablo IV Environment HQ Sand

Diablo IV Environment HQ Night

Blizzcon Trailer Clips

Clips from the Diablo IV Blizzcon Trailers where I worked on things like water, lava, clouds, sand, snow, wetness, fog, grass, and ice.

Click for high quality.

Diablo IV Environment Water GifDiablo IV Environment Snake GifDiablo IV Environment Vista Gif Diablo IV Environment Rock GifDiablo IV Environment Town GifDiablo IV Environment Inside Gif Diablo IV Environment Lava GifDiablo IV Environment River GifDiablo IV Environment River2 Gif Diablo IV Environment Sand GifDiablo IV Environment Snow GifDiablo IV Environment Snow2 Gif Diablo IV Environment Wetness GifDiablo IV Environment Grass GifDiablo IV Environment Icicle Gif

Quarterly Update - 2021 October

Below you can find hour-long youtube videos with ambient sounds from our Audio Quarterly Update.

Scosglen Coast

I worked extensively on the ocean shader seen in this video.

Scosglen Rain and Puddles

I also worked extensively on the tech that allows puddles to form in the terrain when it rains.


Announce Trailer

Rogue Announcement

Rogue Announce Trailer

Diablo IV Official Website

For more info please visit the Diablo IV Official Website

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Aaron Aikman is a Lead Technical Artist, Graphics with over a decade of experience. He focuses mainly on shaders, pipeline, and problem-solving.