Visualizing Nhani Moonfall

With my plans to revise the Tyrande model somewhat held back by the fact that there’s several details – especially texturing ones – that I haven’t quite figured out how to solve just yet, I wanted to in the least test out some of the changes I’ve been wanting to do; things like the eyes, testing a new rigging method, added hair mobility and soforth. So, I needed a model that’d be simpler to upgrade.

I’ve been wanting to construct a somewhat definitive-ish Nhani model for some time – her last model was from before Hani Foonmall had her revision 4, meaning that Nhani’s own model has been lacking the added physique and renders with her lately have all been done hijacking Hani’s model. I had a false start earlier with the scout armor, but that idea ultimately collapsed when Nhani took an entirely different character twist. I spent some time thinking about whether there was an in-game warrior armor set that felt like it could be iconic enough for a custom appearance.. but none really seemed to work. I mean sure, in-game I happily have her decked out in Tier 9 and Tier 10 and it works well, but it isn’t really iconic Nhani. So, I needed another approach.

For all its faults.. her earlier armored dress look actually somewhat works – it bridges a gap between an official robe and some degree of Sentinel armor, and spices it with just a dash of ancient Greece. Though the knee-length skirt does make her seem rather young, it implies a flexibility that a full-length skirt wouldn’t; I always pictured Nhani as being able to go all Prince of Persia or Altaïr on a moments’ notice, so implying that mobility was always part of the intention. That said, I was never quite happy with the old silvery blue-ish colouring; with Nhani’s own pale blue-grey hue, a silvery blue dress just seemed off somehow. Nhani always worked better with earth colours, so I wanted a dress with those sorts of tones.

Many of the tweaks and changes were about detailing – like the eyes, the shinguards, the pendant.. I really wanted to put the eyes through their paces and see how they came across, especially when no longer stuck in a perpetual stare like the preliminary Tyrande model. For reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet, Nhani’s eyes look less bright than those of Tyrande, but I’m willing to accept that as a character trait at the moment. The pendant I’m glad to have there as it’s been a reoccuring element in her character description. The shinguards.. you may not believe this, but they’re actually kitbashes of the Dragonstalker shoulderpads; minus the whole dragon face, obviously.

There’s some not so visible details either – I added a few more polygons to the face in order to soften a few shapes and remove (or in the least diminish) a strange sharp highlight that tended to form. I also changed rigging method as mentioned earlier – up until now, I’ve been relying on the Physique modifier because I had a handy tutorial on it, even if it had a tendency towards being.. temperamental.. at times. Some months back however I was told there was another modifier – Skin – I could be using, and after some googling regarding the differences between the two.. I effectively found out that Physique is outdated legacy stuff and I should be using Skin instead.

Oh. Uhm. Okay. Let’s try that then.

Skin has its own issues of temperament, and while it’s made some tweaks I initially did to combat Physique effectively irrelevant.. it’s introduced its own quirky elements that I’ll have to figure my way around over time. It does make adjusting which vertices belong to which bones a whole lot easier though. Except for.. well.. the aforementioned quirkyness. It doesn’t make rigging quicker so far, but it does make it easier to adjust things after the fact.

Of course, one of the essential parts of any Nhani Moonfall model is how she needs to look like she can pick – and win – fights; she’s a force to be reckoned with, and to some degree needs to look the part. The armor, the dress, the weapons.. there’s a careful balance between elegance, mobility and power to walk. The sword is a modified dagger, chosen because it seemed the most fitting – and Elune-themed – weapon I could think of. The shield was a harder choice, and I actually spent quite awhile thinking about what to pick. On one hand, the Sentinel Huntresses in WarCraft III had tall tower shields, on the other.. Nhani needs to be quick on her feet. Ultimately.. the shield I picked (and promptly tweaked) was chosen because it struck me as being as much a weapon in its own right; it’s not just a piece of extra armor, it’s an optional defensive off-hand weapon that could almost be likened to a Moonglaive.

(Click for Large)

It’s an interesting ensemble – on one hand, it’s meant to look similar to both Sentinels and how both Tyrande and several of the other sisters on the second tier of the Temple of the Moon are depicted, but that the same time hold a distinct individual touch. She represents a great deal, both as a Priestess of the Moon as the all but iconic Priestess Moonfall; she needs to be able to carry all of that, while still looking sufficiently grounded and down to earth. Of course, she can never wear something like this in-game – it’s too much a custom kitbash, and the game itself is too reliant on game mechanics to make it work.

Of course, there’s always the chance that Cataclysm will bring some new outfit or character twist that’ll radically change how I picture her. For now however, this works.


31 Responses to “Visualizing Nhani Moonfall”

  1. 1 Frostsaben
    March 28, 2010 at 17:09

    I live the third picture from the top, where the shows her teeth, that really makes her look savage in a way, just like a night elf should look in my opinion. Congratulations on making a great looking model!
    Now all she’s missing are leaves in her hair and you’re done.

    About eyes shining more on Tyrande, I belive it could be related to the more darker face-tatoos.

    • 2 Nhani
      March 28, 2010 at 17:18

      I actually had a separate hair model where she had leaves in her hair, but it didn’t quite look right somehow; I’d suspect part because her hair is already green enough as it is or just the leaves not being a good and proper shape or whatnot.

      I’m fine with her being without, really; it suits her in a way – same way she has little in terms of jewelry or other adornments; just her simple headdress and her pendant.

  2. March 28, 2010 at 17:28

    The shield seems a bit Draenei-like in my opinion.
    Dont get me wrong i love Nhani’s outfit and i do like the comparison you draw with Altair or the Prince, but to me a shield doesn’t fit that image.
    I would’ve gone with Bow, Quiver and Sword but that’s just me.
    Is there a further story why you picked that model of a shield?

    • 4 Nhani
      March 28, 2010 at 17:46

      I was thinking largely small-to-medium size and reasonably ancient greek-ish to go with the overall theme. It was simply the one that seemed most most appropriate those parameters, since with the edges it does offer some functional resemblance to a Moonglaive.

      Bow and Quiver isn’t really Nhani; sure, yes, she can use them, but it’s never been an identifying aspect of her. She’s less an archer and more a Sentinel Huntress; I was actually considering a shield more like that of the Huntresses for awhile, but ultimately skipped it because not only does World of WarCraft lack appropriate analogues, but the Huntress shields were also really huge. Entire tower shields – you can’t run with that.

      This is small enough that she can have it along her back while running around without it really impeding her that much. Actually, part of the point with a shield is that it still – in theory – leaves her off hand free to grasp onto things, which an off-hand weapon wouldn’t.

      As for a potential Draenei secondary theme.. I don’t mind that too much – the moon emblem is a rather dominant element of it still, and I’m fine with the implication that it might’ve been a gift she recieved.

      • March 28, 2010 at 18:49

        When i think Priestess of Elune i think a warrior women astride on a panthers laying down Elune’s rightious law using their bows. Bit conservative on my side though.
        At first i wasn’t even thinking as seeing the Draenei influince as a gift from a certain ‘friend’ of Nhani’s, however it does sound plausible.

        However i’m getting a Xena vibe of this, though a lot less leather.

        • 6 Nhani
          March 28, 2010 at 19:13

          They’re generally described to be martially competent in a wide array of weaponry, and seeing Nhani’s past it makes sense for her to be a little non-standard anyhow. The whole ensemble is inspired by both World of WarCraft and WarCraft III, so there’s precedent for several interpretations, including Tyrande wielding a Moonglaive.

          For a Xena comparisson, seeing how she also has roots in ancient greece, I’d say there’s definitely grounds for some similarity.

  3. 7 TheNic
    March 28, 2010 at 20:27

    looks fine to me 😉 but you have gotten something here that I really miss in WoW, skirts that does not go all the way down to the feet

  4. 8 Messai
    March 28, 2010 at 20:30

    I love this outfit. If only it were available in-game 😦 Give greek arena battles with that armor ;p

    I love the wallpaper you made out if it ❤

  5. March 28, 2010 at 20:40

    Speaking of wallpapers, I wish that Orc male characture shows up soon, my membership to the Horde does not allow Night elf only wallpapers on my desktop 😦

    • 10 Nhani
      March 28, 2010 at 21:20

      All in good time; I have a visual design, but.. haven’t actually gotten started much with it yet. Unfortunately, Arc One takes its sweet time getting anywhere, so we’re still quite some time away. Hopefully.. it’ll pick up pace once we get out of the blasted mines.

    • 12 Thalis
      March 29, 2010 at 10:08

      Mine almost requires Night Elf wallpaper 🙂 This one is very nice, although it won’t replace that one about Te’len.

  6. 13 LolDrood
    March 29, 2010 at 01:44

    I really like how the eyes are looking. I think a key part to making them work is going to be in how you shade the whites (dunno the technical name, sorry <_< ), varied with how zoomed in you are. Differing to the Wc3 boxart

    Closer in, ie image 2, it might work better to have a lighter white. The darker whites works very well with farther-out shots 4 and 5.

    Knee-length skirts would be awesome to see, Nic. I'm not sure how they'd look on gnomes, though…

    • 14 Nhani
      March 29, 2010 at 07:39

      Ultimately, I can’t swap texture based on distance, so it’s largely a careful balance of light and colour between the eyewhites, the irises and the pupils. The problem is compounded further by how this is simply done by parts of the texture being inherently lit by themselves, which means that while they’re clearly visible in pitch black, in full brightness, the difference becomes less noticeable.

      It needs to be a single solution that works “enough” over the widest array of cases.

      • 15 LolDrood
        March 30, 2010 at 22:34

        Stay tooned to future installments, in which I demonstrate that I know nothing about how 3D model rendering works.:D

      • April 3, 2010 at 16:14

        Unfortunately, I find the eyes on both the “new” Nhani and Tyrande to be a tad… unsettling…

        I think I prefer the standard “glowy eyes” like they are in-game… or maybe I’ve been hanging around High Elves for too long…

        Either way, you’ve clearly been working really hard on it! Its a phenomenal job, but its just that little black sliver creeps me out to no end! XD

  7. 17 Myrion Starblade
    March 29, 2010 at 05:23

    The new eye models you’re using still give me the shivers…
    And I don’t know why =/

    • 18 Synchronizor
      March 29, 2010 at 06:22

      Yeah, I can’t say I’m a fan of the new eye look either. If there are going to be visible pupils like that, I imagine they wouldn’t be as clearly defined as that. The eyes also seem to be lacking that glow that is so ingrained in how Night Elves come across visually. The Battlecry rendering of Tyrande has struck a good balance there in my opinion. The pupils can be made out, but are not so distinct that they depart from previous Blizzard art.

      • 19 Nhani
        March 29, 2010 at 07:33

        “previous Blizzard art” doesn’t really work as a good collective term because previous Blizzard art doesn’t agree with itself how exactly the eyes actually look and work. There’s a whole lot of depictions, going from a full light source like Draenei to the WarCraft III cover art to the Battlecry image.

        Interestingly enough, the World of WarCraft high resolution texture is actually more towards the latter two, even if the game tries to depict it closer to the former with the extra glow surface.

        There’s a few things I can tweak; it’s ultimately a texture effect, not a model one. It’s an interestingly polarizing change though, with some thinking it looks great and some others being creeped right out.

        From my own perspective, I like the change with how it actually makes the eyes clearly defined to be able to look in different directions and doing expressions, not to mention actually feels like it helps selling the whole Predator aspect. It actually feels like it’s closer to the artistic intention than the fuzzy, undefined glows I’ve relied on earlier.

    • 20 Nhani
      March 29, 2010 at 07:17

      They’re bright, that’s why. It’s the same way characters that are supposed to be supernatural and creepy are semi-often visualized with light yellow or white irises – there’s just something creepy about it. A friend of mine remarked that it’s an instinctual fear of predators that does it, but I actually don’t know what exactly causes it.

      That said, I’m actually fine with them being just a little creepy; sourcebooks have been fairly clear in pointing out that the Night elves do somewhat unsettle the rest of the Alliance between their appearance and nocturnal behavior.

      • March 29, 2010 at 09:26

        Speaking of i wish they gave a source on how they actually joined the Alliance, it’s allways been a bit of a mystery how they got accepted.

        • 22 Gordrake Thunderhoof
          March 29, 2010 at 11:08

          They gave up their ancient tree to save Azeroth. After such a sacrifice, how could the Alliance say no? After all, humans could never understand the gift of immortality, let alone the pain of giving it up.

      • 23 Frostsaben
        March 29, 2010 at 12:13

        Indeed it is, most races are even now scared of night elves in a way.

        In fact, if we were to think even of the WotA books, although I can’t say I’m a fan of overpowering characters in there, but this is not the subject, when Rhonin and Krasus reach the night elven lands in the anomality and see a night elven patrol, their first ideea is to hide, not try to go and explain the situation. Sure, they were tehnicaly a mage and a high elf at first sight, but still the night elves were their allies from Mount Hyjal, yet they got scared of them.

        There’s also a paladin in Ashenvale, who sais it’s been hard to get used to the night elf ways and had problems fitting in if I remember right, he also still doesn’t seem very confortable there.

  8. 26 saila aka wester
    March 30, 2010 at 08:07

    man i wish that was how i locked ingame but that of course i dough my speedy computer would be able to draw it.

  9. 27 Nirene Feathersong
    April 1, 2010 at 23:04

    It would be a splendid idea if Blizzard sort of “borrowed” the whole idea with these new eye models for the in-game night elf characters in Cataclysm. Of course, it would cause some tweaking on their side aswell, not to make the poor kiddos with crap computers crying about how they can’t play with such high-resolutive models – no offense ofc. They’d prolly keep their old, ususal fuzzy-glowing eye models for the lower resolution options, as they do with most other stuff.

    And as for the outfit, it would really be a change of things if they added knee-lenght skirts to some cloth wearing classes, perhaps druids, hunters and/or shamans, but any other class would just look bad. I mean, warriors with skirts…? Nu-uh, not in your life! Perhaps paladins (remember tier 2), but not warriors.

    • 28 Gordrake Thunderhoof
      April 2, 2010 at 12:08

      So…that’s saying the Scots, the Greeks and the 300 are effectively not meant to be wearing garments that effectively are skirts designed for freedom of movement and, in some cases, battle? That they were completely wrong? Not to mention the barbarians in other games that wear skirts all the time if they could…

      • April 2, 2010 at 19:49

        The Spartans did have chest armour though.
        300 was fictional history, i mean have you ever seen Rhino’s like that in the zoo, or wolves?

      • 30 Nirene Feathersong
        April 4, 2010 at 20:44

        I were looking from an in-game perspective. But hey, you do have a fair point, so I won’t question it. However, if you imagine warriors wearing plate leggings that look like skirts you too would think “That really look out of place”. No, if anything, then warriors should wear cloth/leather/mail skirts if they want to resemble a greek or scottish warrior, from a role-playing perspective. Beside, Blizzard haven’t always been the RP-friendly type.

        • April 5, 2010 at 14:24

          True, i wish you could actually have proper uniforms like the guards/druids/priestesses have, that actually look nice then using a shield that’s made of a turtle’s shell and fighting in your plate undies. Its because of those undies i stopped playing on my belf blood knight…

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