Random Render: All The New Ones

I generally like to do a random render post whenever I have a new, updated model done that I consider final enough to warrant it – not just for the sake of showing it off and garner praise feedback, but also to try it out and get some practice with it; since all models are essentially unique no matter how many pieces of topology they might’ve had copied from others, each model will always have its own unique set of facial expressions and posing quirks. Obviously, the difference is rarely that huge, but it still exists, and still takes some trying to get used to how a new model holds and works and not with it.

While it’s technically Raene Wolfrunner’s turn for one, she kind of got swept up in the whole let’s show off all of them at once! theme that page #248 randomly ended up with, so instead of a Random Raene Renders post, you get a Random Group Renders post.

One of the things I’ve been working on with what we can collectively call Revision 5 after Hani’s model (as she tends to be the most up to date by default), apart from improved eyes and faces, is to make the characters more individualized. In World of Warcraft, the difference between two characters of of the same race and gender is often down to simply hairstyle/helmet, shoulderpads and texture – and while several combinations of these can radically change the outwards impression, it doesn’t really serve to give a character a very striking silouette, which is something you kind of value when making animated or comic characters.

Preferrably, a character should be recognizeable by silouette through shape and posture alone.

That’s part of the reason why you’re seeing Hani back in her old boots instead of using the larger, clunkier ones that the R5 model included as option – I’m still undecided as to whether the new, thicker boots is better or worse for the purpose of making her silouette stand out; at the end of the day, her frayed trousers really feel like they say a whole lot more about her than the thick boots do, and the thick boots model seem to work better for other characters, all things considered.

Which brings us to Raene, who does get to wear thick boots. Raene’s model was one that – like Tyrande – I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do with it before I could really get going with it. I knew I wanted to backtrack a bit and take her closer to the World of Warcraft Sentinel armor since far too few seemed to associate her prior redesign with the Warcraft 3 Sentinels. On the other hand, I still wanted to have her keep her own individual flair and stand out in a crowd of Sentinels.

The way I approached it was ultimately to picture Raene Wolfrunner as having been a scout before she was given a command – that she ultimately prioritizes mobility and flexibility over other tactical considerations. As a result I aimed for an armor that felt like it could be a more lightweight, Scout-ish Sentinel outfit that still matched up along with the main Sentinel armor that’s used in World of Warcraft. I kept her asymetrical design – a glove on the right side, a bracer and shoulderpad on the left – part because I think asymmetry can make for rather interesting character design, part because it struck me as a good character element for her. While I generally don’t depict her with a bow, I do think she’s quite a competent archer, and with her weapon of choice being a polearm, she does have more theoretical reach than most close combat fighters.

Dagri was another aspect I wanted to put some time in – while Korra does move about and emote more, Dagri is the one specifically marked as Raene’s pet, and while I admit to overlooking him earlier in Beyond the Tree, I’ve come to like the idea of Dagri being an important thing to Raene, which in turn gives opportunity for quite a bit of potential. His model is a fairly quick piece of work – it only took me a few hours to go from the in-game model to a full poseable, which I found quite impressive seeing how bothersome the model was to work with. The default model is pretty low poly, and uses a few rather cunning modelling tricks across its design – tricks that while they work great in World of Warcraft, make the surface shading in 3ds go absolutely stark raving mad. So much of the time was simply spent trying to work around that.

It’s far from a perfect model – it’s fairly quick, doesn’t have nearly the detail of humanoid characters and exhibits several rather glaring deformity and clipping issues with several poses, but for what it is, it works well enough. I actually found one of the greatest obstacles of my working with Dagri is that I don’t really like dogs – sure, I can stand or even enjoy the company of ones that aren’t all that obnoxious, but on a whole I don’t like them, so my experience and knowledge with canine body language is.. limited, at best. It’s a whole lot more than any prior attempt at including him, however, so hopefully it’ll come across well.

There was really one thing I felt I had to do with Dagri, and that was to change the eyes (what a surprise!) – the in-game wolf textures just have this faux glowing eye going on, which works, I guess, but really doesn’t do them any favors when it comes to doing expressions. And since Dagri never struck me as having to be some kind of great magical super-wolf, I decided to give him ordinary, human eyes. It’s not perfect, but now he can at least attempt to do puppy eyes, rather than be stuck in a permanent snarl.

Still, it could be worse – it’s not like he’s the same inconsistent mess as the Worgen female model..

Anyhow, I’ve rambled long enough, so on to the pictures. You know the drill – clicky for larger ones.

And of course, I couldn’t resist a brief stop by that alternate reality where Beyond the Tree is some kind of studio production and the actress of every cast member is significantly different from their actual role, leading to situations where Te’len snarls into phones, Hani is all mellow and sipping good wines, and.. Tyrande is a dog person, I guess. Anyway, yeah.

Also this one, because it was fun to randomly throw together. No, I don’t know where it came from – but not that anyone should be surprised at my mind randomly coming up with image ideas for the heck of it by now.


14 Responses to “Random Render: All The New Ones”

  1. 1 Iscarti
    January 30, 2011 at 17:55

    Hani is a ladies elf

  2. 2 Jim
    January 30, 2011 at 23:38

    You wanted to say “Hani and her harem”. Heh.

  3. 3 LolDrood
    January 31, 2011 at 00:46

    Argh! Dammit, Nhani, you can’t just dump this much awesome all at once! The younger fans aren’t trained for it, you’ll warp their fragile little minds.

    Fun fact re: female worgen. You know that cloth headpieces from wrath, the circlet one with drapery on the sides of your face, and the back of your head? Apparently, on female worgen, this head pieces removes your ears, leaving you with holes in your head that one can look through.
    Since you mentioned it.

    The only non-priase feedback I can think of is the sandal feet. Eesch.

    Heh, the Hani/Tyranda dynamic is always interesting. Seven and a half foot tall tiger-snake-lady getting completely taken apart by Priestess in a dress.

    I like to think that Te’len is getting her ass kicked in a game of iphone Scrabble with Areen. We’ve all been there. Goddamn vowels.

    Awww, who’s a good puppy? Who’s a good puppy? Yes you are! You’re going to spend the day at the park with auntie Tyrande!
    The in-game wolf models ARE very… minimalist, to be sure. Yay for giving him actual eyes, and removing the random floating spots of fur.

    I’ll just leave this here. For no reason. No reason at all. 😐

    It’s a shade risque, but pretty work-safe.

  4. 4 Gordrake Thunderhoof
    January 31, 2011 at 20:09

    To that last picture, I say “Hey Hani…you should get better dreams.”

    With that comic plug out of the way…they are looking awesome. I love the Silly Dagri picture too, made me laugh. Brings back memories of when I had a pet dog. Friendly and playful, but protective. You’ve done Dagri justice, from what I see here, honestly. Also, for your charge one…I take it Dagri is the tank? Or is Hani going all DK and tanking without a shield?

    …imagine if Warriors could do that…

    I can only imagine, though, that there’s a lot of work you want to still do on Tyrande, after you had seen the anniversary wallpaper with her in it.

    • 5 Xel
      January 31, 2011 at 22:02

      Haha, awesome quote, Gordrake; it’s very fitting.

      On the note of warriors tanking without a shield, technically you can if you out-gear the content by enough. Certainly hard to do with a fresh expansion, but once the game gets more advanced it is possible and fun; I’ve seen similar situations with Ret Pallies and DPS-spec’d DK’s, even Kitty druids back in Wrath content. In a more lore-focused sense, I think it is fair to assume Hani’s skill and physical superiority over her foes allows her to operate in a very similar manner.

      Okay! On to the prai-err, feedback! Dagri looks AWESOME! I’ve always liked the coyote-style wolf model over the heavy orcish wolf, mostly because of their array of idle animations which seems to give them more personality. The model update only builds on this personality aspect, and it really works very nicely. I’d kill for a pet that looked like this Dagri.

      On to the elves, Raene’s model looks great. I didn’t notice before if you always had those boots colored purple, or if you expanded to make more of the boots colored, but it works really well. Maybe I just didn’t notice, I don’t know. The group renders are all fantastic and were a lot of fun to view, especially the last one (hail, the conquering heroine!).

      Oh, and female Worgen….as if it wasn’t bad enough they didn’t get a racial mount (Running Wild is cool, but that doesn’t excuse the race not getting a mount, in my opinion), the female model looks terrible and sounds worse. The males are fantastic and a lot of fun; the backstory is jaw-dropping, especially for Blizzard, but those femme Worgen need a heavy overhaul.

      Cheers, Nhani, keep it up! Your work just keeps getting better.

  5. 6 Tali
    February 1, 2011 at 07:34

    As always, your renders are wonderful. Your skill astounds me.

    (Oh: I’ve been following for a while, though I think I commented only once before.)

    What delights me the most are the amount of details – I’m a fan of details!

    However, what made me want to comment was your statement on canines’ expressions. Having owned several dogs (including one currently), I feel confident in saying that out of any animal out there, dogs have expressions that seem the most human. They have eyebrows, and their lips are capable of smiling (seriously. A friend trained his dog to smile).

    You shouldn’t have too much of a problem with canine expressions – after all, the best, and main, way to tell a canine’s mood is by looking at their tail. A friendly dog holds his tail either at level with his body or high up (and naturally wagging).

    You’ll do just fine! 🙂

  6. 7 Gorrefrog
    February 6, 2011 at 14:56

    Your models are far beyond anything i have ever tought of what could be made, i realy hope blizzard could update many of their ingame models, as i dont think they have done ever. They can learn a thing or two from your models im sure of it.

    Keep up all the great work.

    Greetings from Kazzak EU

    • 8 Xel
      February 8, 2011 at 07:49

      Well, I remember they did tweek the models lightly during Classic, especially leading up to the Burning Crusade expansion. However, I don’t think the player characters of the original races for the game have been updated much at all since that time. I’d go back to Alliance full-time tomorrow if they’d just update the Night Elves to the same level of texture and character that they spent on the Blood Elves. Then, WoW never really compared to other games when it came to character customization; they’ve never needed to, I guess.

    • 9 George
      February 13, 2011 at 08:59

      Personally, I think Nhani should pull a Fargo and get hired by Blizz in the graphics department. I’d love to see Nhani-designed character models; they’re so much more expressive, and while older machines might have issues with them I think for everyone with a computer THAT old there’d be a person drawn in by the modernized graphics. Also, it would just be awesome to see one of the gang as a questgiver- maybe do a chain where Tiny rides your character for a while.

      • 10 mogh
        March 3, 2011 at 08:14

        It’s not about making “old” machines run WoW. It’s about allowing people with laptops and netbooks to get in on the action too. Honestly stationaries as well as gaming laptops combined are probably in minority these days. Extreme minority, in fact.

        • 11 Nhani
          March 3, 2011 at 11:04

          Honestly, seeing how there’s often a minimum amount of performance you can expect out of current hardware even when powered down to laptop levels.. the kind of laptops you’re talking about would count as old on simple factors such as being multiple generations behind on shader support and whatnot. Unless you’re looking at extreme budget laptops with things like Intel HD graphics or what have you, the gap between ‘average’ and ‘enthusiast’ actually isn’t as huge as it once was.

          This doubly so because performance requirements have actually have remained fairly stationary for PCs the last few years due to most AAA titles now generally being made for consoles.

          As a fun aside though, consider these sets of numbers that I stalked down:
          The (now over six years old) standard night elven female model weighs in at a low 1234 triangles. Compare this to the draenei female model at 2054, the worgen male at 3436 and the (ear-less, since modelviewer has issues with their ears) worgen female model at 4469.
          For further comparisson, Hani Foonmall with full equipment and clothing goes at 5764 triangles with meshsmooth off, and that’s with a lot of extra polygons just for the sake of preventing strange deformation and maintaining shape through the meshsmooth modifier. So newer models in WoW lacking expression? It’s not due to lack of polygons.
          (of course, it’s important to realize two things in this comparison. A. Hani Foonmall’s model wasn’t made to be in a game, and therefore there’s quite a few “wasted” polygons in there just to make things easier on me, and B. With meshsmooth on – which is how I normally do the renders – Hani’s model suddenly jump up to 23’262 triangles, which is definitely not very performance-friendly)

          My point with these numbers is that what makes World of Warcraft able to run on fairly low-spec machines isn’t really about polycount or lack of expressions – especially with some enemy creatures out there actually being quite expressive. It’s about things like shader model, multi-texturing, post processing, so forth. Sure, polycount and texture size does matter when it comes to how much you can shove onto the graphics card how quickly (or how much you can have space for), but seeing Worgen models they clearly expect to have the space for it.

  7. 12 GRYFFYN
    February 27, 2011 at 21:16

    I’ve always pictured Raene with a bow blasting the hell out of everyone. Perhaps it is because of an incident long time ago when I was leveling my warrior. It was in Aastenar and a level 50 horde decided to harass the town. He was more than a match for the sentinals there UNTIL he agroed Raene. Between her pet and the endless flights of arrows raining down (pun intended) he got stomped and didn’t come back.

  8. 13 Iasion
    March 5, 2011 at 10:35

    Great work! I especially like Raene’s killer legs. An athlete like that could win any gnome punting contest. :p

  9. 14 Raukangren
    March 29, 2011 at 23:51

    Ahhh, oldschool scenery… Oh how much will I miss thee, Darkshore and Ashenvale… Good times, good times, yeah.

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