One of the current issue with the incoming new models for Warlords of Draenor was the faces were too similar between each other, loosing some of the soul that current model have (for instance a more angry looking orc).
A special Artcraft has been published today showing some of the customization that will be possible in the near future, hopefully for the launching of Warlords of Draenor!
Hello, and welcome to Artcraft! I’m your host Chris Robinson, art director of World of Warcraft, and today we’re going to tackle something I know a lot of you have been looking forward to: facial customization options.
When we began working on the updated character models, we knew it would be a huge project, and we weren’t sure we could do it all at once. The idea originally was that a few races would be available at launch, and all the others would be patched in throughout the course of the expansion. While it wouldn’t have been ideal to see a mix of lower-quality and higher-quality models running around side by side, it did seem like the most realistically achievable solution at that time. Since then, though, we’ve committed ourselves to getting all of the original character models in by launch. It’s been a monumental challenge for us, but we think the effort is worth it, and the finish line is nearly in sight.
Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we’ve moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces—not to mention higher-resolution textures—recreating those same facial options isn’t as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you’d just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now—and make it look great—we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.
These more detailed face customization options were also originally part of our earlier “update-as-we-patch” rollout plan. Our initial idea was to release the new models with their base face, and then add additional options in updates over the course of the expansion. Again, that plan was based on the sheer amount of work involved in creating what are effectively all-new races (art-wise) on top of all of the art a big expansion like this one generally requires. But stepping back, we came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to be a good experience to have everyone playing with the same face geometry and a slight texture change, not knowing what their character would really look like until some later patch. In the end, we decided it would be best to tackle all of a race’s facial options at once. Up to this point, you’ve seen one facial geometry set, but very soon you’ll start seeing more finished products for each option in upcoming beta builds.
The original Dwarf model (left) has his teeth painted directly on his upper lip to give him a snarl. With the new models, which have fully modeled and textured teeth, a simple paint job just isn’t an option—it would look terrible. In the middle, you can see what that same sneer looks like right now in the beta test; on the right is what you’ll see in an upcoming beta build.
On the left, we have a pair of original Orc faces. The second column represents what you’re seeing right now in the beta build, showing texture variation but the same facial geometry. The third column shows a posing rig to demonstrate how we’re customizing each of the face appearances further. On the far right, you can see the final product.
We’re working hard to ensure all of the updated character models have the high level of quality you expect from us, and that we expect from ourselves. This revamp is a truly enormous project that we care deeply about, and we know you feel the same. We’re looking forward to seeing all of these new, high-quality, awesome-looking models running around Azeroth, and we hope you enjoy seeing the characters you know and love in a whole new light.
Since the last Artcraft about the male Tauren, the wondering about how will look-like the revamp female model was a little silent. Today Artcraft is focus on the female this time!
We’re here with a brand-new Artcraft! I’m your host, Chris Robinson, senior art director on World of Warcraft, and today we’re showing you where we’re at with the female Tauren.
The original female Tauren had a lot of issues with too-angular geometry and stretched-out textures. It’s not her fault—it’s just what we had available to us at the time. Our new process has allowed us to add a lot of detail to her hair, fur, horns, and hooves, to build a far more detailed and expressive face, and to add a lot of definition to her musculature (while retaining her shape and silhouette).
One other change of note: Warcraft character design is commonly known for its stylized long arms, large hands, and big feet, but the female Tauren’s hands were just completely out of control. We brought them down to a more consistent size with the other updated models, and were also able to add a ton more detail and dexterity in the process.
We hope you enjoy her new look—let us know what you think in the comments!
Today, a new Artcraft was published on the official french community website only before being removed, until now we have the english version. That Artcraft is dealing with accessories, before Cataclysm, items like Librams, Relics and other tokens were possible to be worn as relics even if they were not visible on the players. For Warlords of Draenor however, Blizzard is thinking of adding visuals for quivers, librams and other classes related items.
As a Paladin on my main for over nine years now, this is one of my delicious dream that will be accomplished. Back in Warcraft III, I just loved playing Arthas or Uther just because they were holding their Librams. As Blizzard said, for the start only an Alliance model will be available on the players, but I hope for the future more specific customization, like for instance an Argent Crusade Libram, a Hyjal’s Quiver. Again Blizzard, bravo.
Hi, I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and welcome to a special edition of Artcraft focused on an idea that’s still quite early in the inception phase: class accessories. For a long time now, we’ve felt that our character classes could use some more visual customization options, and we’ve heard you might be thinking the same thing. When I play WoW, I see Hunters pulling arrows from thin air, firing shot after shot with no visible clue as to where that ammo is coming from. I’ve heard Druids speak fondly of mystical objects called Idols, and listened to Shamans talk of Totems. And my Paladin seems to have developed a strange hitch in his gait due to the lack of a Libram at his side.
While some of those items once existed in-game as gear for the now-retired “Relic” slot, you’ve never been able to actually see those items on your character. We’ve been cooking up some concepts for how we might be able to bring that sort of class-specific visual customization back in the form of purely cosmetic class accessories—and while we’re not here to herald their imminent arrival, we thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peek at what we’re conceptualizing from an art perspective, and have our item-design guru Owen Landgren give you some insight into how they might work.
Before we show you the goods, keep in mind these are still way early in the design process, and getting them into the game will likely need to wait until after you’ve faced off against the Iron Horde. But this is something that’s been requested so frequently, we thought you might appreciate knowing we’re working to make it happen (eventually). So without further delay, here are a few concepts for you to take a look at!
As you can see, these concepts are all somewhat Alliance focused, at least for now. We’re thinking we’ll have Horde and Alliance color schemes for accessories whenever it makes sense. And while we’re planning on creating the “obvious” accessories for the classes that once had Relics, we have a lot of ideas for accessories we think would be awesome for all of the classes. Don’t let that stop you from sharing your own ideas with us, though!
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at what we’re working on in the art realm, here’s Owen to explain the designers’ early thinking on how these might be worked into the game:
“Back in ye olden days of Cataclysm and earlier, the Relic gear slot provided some classes with an additional item that would impart character stat bonuses. We always thought it would have been cool to show these Relics on your character, but aside from the generic quiver for Hunters wielding a bow, the artists just didn’t have time to do the concept justice. We were also faced with some unique design challenges, including questions about how much additional unique artwork would have been required for each new tier of raid and PvP gear. However, once the Relic slot was retired and the visuals could be divorced from gearing mechanics, the idea of bringing these back as a character customization feature became something we talked about more and more.
Our goal with these class accessories is to offer players a whole new path to customizing the look of their character. While you might decide to wear the same armor as your friend, choosing different accessories allows you to communicate something extra about your character. As a Rogue, are you the swashbuckling buccaneer with daggers on a bandolier and stashed up every sleeve? Or are you the poisoner, carrying bubbling, smoking vials filled with terrible concoctions? Perhaps you’re the shadowy figure that lurks in the dark, replete with darts and throwing stars to fell your enemies from a distance? As you obtain new looks, you’ll be able to mix and match thematically—if a particular Hunter gear set looks better with a longbow and quiver than a blunderbuss and ammo pouch, the option is yours. Mix in Transmogrification, and the visual combinations are nearly endless.
“We envision that class accessories will be rewarded from a variety of accomplishments in World of Warcraft. These could be as simple as attaining a new level, or as monumental as conquering a vicious raid boss. We want each player to have access to multiple accessories, but have some rarer accessories that take more effort to obtain.”
—Owen Landgren, Game Designer
Hey there—Chris again. As we mentioned, these are still just some early ideas and concepts, and we hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse behind the scenes. We know a lot of you are excited about the idea of having new ways to customize the look of your characters, and we look forward to sharing more as we continue to make progress. Thanks for reading!
In an older build of the Alpha of Warlords of Draenor, the new model of the female Night Elf was datamined before being said to be just a draft. Today Chris R. published a new Artcraft of the second version of the Night Elf.
UPDATE : Chris Robinson posted on his twitter account during the night that female Night Elf will have fangs in theirs final version.
Hello, and welcome to Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director on World of Warcraft, and in today’s edition we’re going to give you a first look at the new female Night Elf model. As you probably know, we’re in the process of updating all of the original character models, along with the Draenei and Blood Elf, to improve their texture, polygon, and animation fidelity. Let’s get this going with some comments from Tyson Murphy, our lead character artist.
Hi all—I’m Tyson, and on behalf of everyone on the art team, we’re excited to be able to give you a first look at our in-progress female Night Elf model.
This is a good opportunity to talk about the iterative process we go through with all of the art we create, especially with the updated player models. We don’t call anything truly “complete” until it’s in the game and fulfilling all of our (and your!) expectations. This means that when it comes to concept art, modeling, texturing, rigging, and animation, everything is always up for debate and change, and we’re rethinking and revising continuously. Creating these updated models is a huge team effort, and we’re constantly considering feedback and suggestions on what we can do better. We’ve committed ourselves to this process, and the female Night Elf provided a unique opportunity to put it into practice.
The female Night Elf was actually one of the first models we started, but as we began to develop our other character models, we also wound up refining the overall look we were going for with the models and our processes for creating them. Ultimately, we felt that in order to do the female Night Elf justice, we needed to revisit her model with fresh eyes and continue iterating based on what we’d learned from working on the other models. The Night Elves have such a distinct but subtle character, and we spent a lot of effort in trying to help that come through.
As with all of the updated character models, our goal is to keep everything the original model accomplished intact, while using the additional fidelity to realize characteristics that we weren’t able to fully represent with the lower polygon counts and texture resolutions. Overall, we’ve made her new model a little more defined, made some of her proportions a bit more realistic, and added a bit more muscle tone. We wanted to visually communicate that she is a fully capable warrior huntress, and small details like muscle definition help highlight that. We also put additional focus on her hands and fingernails, giving a very slight point to her nails to provide just a hint of a more feral nature.
Last but not least, the all-important Night Elf ears. In the original model, these were quite literally separate pieces of geometry effectively tacked onto the head of the Night Elf. In the new models, we’ve taken care to fully integrate the ears into the geometry, which leads to a far more natural and high-quality look.
I’ve asked Tamara Bakhlycheva, who also worked on the female Night Elf model, to add a few closing thoughts.
Hi all, I’m Tamara from the World of Warcraft art team. Being able to work on the female Night Elf has been a great experience, and the team has put a lot of effort into preserving the iconic Night Elf look—beautiful, wild, and dangerous. I hope you’ll enjoy playing your new Night Elf as much as we’ve enjoyed creating her.
Chris here again; thanks for reading, and we look forward to sharing more about the ongoing process of bringing the art of Warlords of Draenor—and beyond—to life. Thanks!
Lugìa: A few moments ago, Blizzard published another Artcraft about the revamp of the character models, and this time it is about the female Draenei (not a April Fool this time!), enjoy that space-goat !
Medievaldragon: I wish to point out to our visitors that this ArtCraft is only a sneak peek. The developer assigned to the development of the female draenei model hasn’t finished. Once the model is finished, it will be sent to the animators where the model will be tweaked for some time to add facial and body animations. Blizzard might have something more juicy to show at a later time.
Hello again! I’m Senior Art Director Chris Robinson, and today we wanted to give you a super quick look at our current progress with the new female Draenei.
After the April Fools’ joke we wanted to ensure you weren’t waiting too long to see where we’re at with her actual character model update. Keep in mind that she’s still in-progress, and doesn’t have any animation to pose her body or face.
Animation is a big factor for the female Draenei specifically, so it’s important to keep it in mind when comparing the two. The original female Draenei has some fairly extreme posing that happens when she’s animated. If you were to see the static model of the original without any posing you’d see that it looks very similar to the new one. With her pose applied her shoulders stretch backward, her pelvis rotates forward, and her chin lowers—causing her head to angle downwards. The curvature in her lower back, and why the head shape looks slightly different, are also due to the new model not having the same posing applied yet. She also looks a lot taller! Ultimately all of those things will be addressed when we animate the new model, they just don’t take place until she’s rigged and sent on to the animation team.
We hope you enjoyed this super quick look at where we’re at right now, and we’ll continuing sharing more in-progress art as we go forward. The next article in the Artcraft series we’re planning is a look at the creation of the Spires of Arak, a new zone coming in Warlords of Draenor. Thanks for stopping by!
Senior Character Artist Joe Keller did the majority of the work on this revamp, with direction from our Lead Character Artist Tyson Murphy (@tysmurph), and myself (@artofcgrobinson).
This morning, a new Artcraft has been published on the official World of Warcraft community website, unlike the previous one that was a little April’s Fool, this one is legit and is about the creation of the male Tauren, with more details than previous Artcraft this one contain videos of the animation of the new model.
Hey there everyone, I’m Steve Aguilar, lead animator for the World of Warcraft animation team. Today we’re showing off the male Tauren, and with some help from the rest of the animation team, we’re going to give you a look at the animation processes we use to bring this big guy to life.
Before we even started animating him, we already knew the Tauren was going to be a blast to work on based on all of the detail the character art team added.
As we begin applying animations, we’re extra careful not to stray too far from the original. It’s important to us to retain the essence of the original animations, because how a characters walk, move, and carry themselves help to define their personality. We use all of the original animations as a starting point, and then go through the process of cleaning them up and adding additional articulation. Let’s delve into what that process looks like.
The normal “stand” animation is one of the most important animations because this is what you, the player, see the majority of the time. When you stop moving or walk up to an NPC, the stand is the key pose that is being used. A huge chunk of animations also rely on this pose so they can easily transition into and out of it.
When we import the original stand animation onto the new model, we then look to see if there are any weight shifts, odd rotations, or hitches that we need to fix. After we’ve cleaned up the pose, it goes through another sanity check to see if other animations will still be able to transition into and out of this new stand pose. If we happen to change the pose too much, it can cause a domino effect and possibly harm all the existing animations.
After touching up the pose, we move on to re-animating the standard idle motion. Slight changes on how muscles move, limbs are carried, or feet hit the ground can get across a better sense of weight for whatever creature it is we’re animating. Tweaking the male Tauren was a lot of fun because we were able to add a lot more weight than the previous model had and make the Tauren feel bigger and beefier. Another thing that stood out was the lack of motion on the nose ring, braids, and especially the face. With the addition of a facialrig, we were able to get his brows, nostrils, ears, and cheeks to react with his breathing motion. Getting these subtle motions to work added so much to the simple standing pose, I imagined the Tauren looking up at me and saying “thank you.”
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the old and new models.
Next up is Kevin to talk about the face rig and what that process entails.
Kevin “Snap ‘n’ Point” Rucker
Since the facial animation system worked so well with the Pandaren in Mists of Pandaria, with the updated models we wanted to add the same life and emotion they deserved. In the past the character models only had a jaw bone that could be animated, but now we’re able to add movement to the brows, eyes, cheeks and mouth. We’re able to properly make them smile, look angry, and talk.
We start with a base mesh and add joints to specific spots that will allow us to mold the face. We then addinfluence, or “skin” the mesh to those joints and shape them into poses: jaw open, eyebrows down or furrowed, for example. We hook up those poses to main controls to make the process of animating the face faster and more cohesive between several animators. For instance, instead of having to move 9 individual joints to shape the eyebrows, we just need to touch 2 controls which include a sub-set of attributes for more detailed shaping. After that if we still need to tweak the poses, we can always go back to the original sub controls for additive fine tuning.
We also create a “face file” with several preset expressions the animators can use while working. It’s a lot faster than creating a new pose from scratch. If they need a sad or angry face, they can start from the preset ones, and then adjust from there to make it more unique.
We also create several mouth shapes, or phonemes, for use in talking animations. Again, posing the face is time consuming, so having a jump start is extremely helpful. It also makes the character feel like it was animated by one person, when there’s actually a big group of us working on them at one time.
Jeremy “Goonies never say die” Collins
On a certain level, how you move in the game is one of the most important things you experience as a player. It’s your main interaction with the world around you. For Warlords of Draenor, we wanted to improve the locomotion of WoW’s player characters with brand new rigs. These new rigs are capable of doing so much more in terms of fidelity of motion for our characters, and we wanted to showcase that as much as possible.
Everyone who plays WoW is familiar with their character’s idle and run animations—those are the two you see the most. We wanted to really take a look at what made the old player model animations successful, and what made them so iconic. Our job was to then retain the spirit of the old animations, but clean them up so they would look epic on the new rigs. That proved to be a really fun task. Part of the joy of cleaning up an animation like the Dwarf male’s run is going back and seeing what the original animators were thinking about when they first worked on these characters. Some of these runs and walks were animated over 10 years ago!
The first thing we did when we cleaned up an animation was ask ourselves a series of questions. What are some of the areas that could use touching up? Does the center of gravity on the character feel skewed? Is the character leaning appropriately when moving in a direction? How can we shift the timing to give this animation a greater sense of weight?
All of our rigs are manipulated with the use of controllers. Controllers are curves that drive the joints the tech artists have placed that ultimately deform deform the model you see. When we open an older animation, we’re manipulating what is called “baked data.” Baked animations have keys on every attribute on every frame. In some cases, it’s necessary for us to delete some keys to make the animation curves easier to manipulate. Here’s what we see inside of Maya. Every one of those colored curves represents rotation or translation of that foot controller.
Once we had identified what needed polishing we went straight into Maya and got to work. A popular method of cleaning up locomotion animations would be saving the contact poses, major breakdowns, deleting the in-betweens, and smoothing out the motion from there.
Emotes were also super fun to work on. We would often times shoot video footage of ourselves acting out emote animations for reference—and no you don’t get to see them. We’d then use that reference as a jumping off point for setting key frames in Maya.
Glass Case of Emotion: Part I
Carman“Boba Muscles” Cheung
For the majority of the character cleanup phase, the team focuses on three main things: cloth, hair and the face. Cloth includes a front and back tabard and a cape. Hair can be anything from a back ponytail, a front ponytail, pig tails, beards of varying sizes and shapes, or a combination of all of these. We also add facial animation, which adds a lot of character and life to the model. Occasionally, we will also fix minor posing issues or any errors, like jittering.
All of our character animations are hand keyed, and not dynamically simulated within the game engine or created through motion capture. This allows us to have complete control in shaping the movement and style for each character, and it adds a unique life to the characters you can’t really get any other way.
Glass Case of Emotion: Part II
David “Coffee Corn” Edwards
My favorite part of the entire process is adding the facial expressions, or fixing up the timing or posing of a character. It is astounding how adding a simple facial expression can instantly bring a character to life. It’s always incredibly rewarding to take an old animation and see what even small changes can do to vastly improve it.
As a contrast, the most difficult part of the process, at least for me, is having to hold myself back from wanting to fix or adjust every little thing for every single animation. Due to the sheer volume of animations that exist for player characters, our goal of having updated models in time for Warlords of Draenor, and the need to animate all the new creatures and objects going into the expansion, we have to prioritize our time. We’ve broken the cleanup passes on character revamp animations up into phases. Phase 1 has all of the locomotion animations (walk, run, etc.) as well as all the emotes and spell casts. Phase 2 deals with the combat animations (attacks, stuns, etc.), and phase 3 is a catch-all for the remaining animations (swimming, fishing, etc.). Regardless of the phase, every animation is touched in some form or fashion, but phase 1 gets the most love since those are the animations are seen the most.
At the start of each animation we always focus on cleaning up the body first, since this motion drives all of the secondary animation. Below is a video showing the finished product after it has gone through the cleanup process.
That’s All For Now
Thanks for reading and letting the animation team share this part of their process with you. I hope we’re doing justice to one of your beloved characters, and that you can see the amount of love we’re applying to not only the male Tauren, but the animations for all of the characters in the game. Have a great day, and you stay classy WoW players!
Blizzard senior art director Chris Robinson posted the second part of the new ArtCraft series. Today he focuses on the new female orc 3D model for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.
This new model is beautiful as expected considering the before and after comparison. More detailed. More expressive. Take in mind this is only a few animation shots. We’ll get to see more over time. This is just a sneak peek.
Welcome to the third edition of Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director for World of Warcraft, and today we’ll be discussing the revamp of the female Orc model. As part of that, we’ll touch on our overall character redesign philosophy, show before and after images, talk about our art process with this particular model, and give you a glimpse at some of her awesome facial expressions courtesy of our animation team. — read more
Bashiok posted a new chapter of the ArtCraft series that aims to provide fans a glimpse into the work of the artists and the new features they are working on for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.
Just in this ArtCraft, seven developers in the Art Team offer insight into the artistic development process of the Garrison and some of the buildings, and props.
Chris Robinson (senior art director)
Cory Stockton (lead content designer)
Wendy Vetter (lead artist, dungeon team)
Eric Browning (lead prop artist)
Jordan Powers (associate artist)
Eric Braddock (associate 3D artist)
Jay Hwang (senior 3D artist)
Chris Robinson: Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and for this second entry I’ve gathered a group of Warlords of Draenor developers to talk a bit about Garrisons—specifically, how our artists are working closely with the game designers to ensure that the visuals we’re crafting support their design goals.
We’re not really going to get into the details of how Garrisons work here, like specific mechanics of their design. Think of this more as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our art process with two of our groups: our dungeon art team, which is responsible for all the Garrison’s large buildings, walls, gates, and so on; and our prop art team, which is focused on the profession buildings and all of the awesome details you’ll find inside of them. — read more