Random Render: the Spark of Light

If there’s one model I’ve really been unwilling to touch for some time, it’s that of Areen Lightspark; a fact stemming more from a technological standpoint than anything. Her model was a real bother to assemble – the problem is that none of the default gnome poses actually stand up straight, and older versions of Modelviewer didn’t have the option to export initial pose, so the first time I worked on Areen’s model I pretty much had to try to compensate for that first, and could only start with the actual model after that. It was a whole lot of extra work, and I really didn’t want to have to go through it again.

Then modelviewer gained an export initial pose function, and suddenly I started thinking what I might change with her.

The impression I always wanted with Areen’s design was always that she’s a Paladin – more than that, she’s the genuine thing, far more Uther than Arthas. Part of her creation was really as a response to what my overall experience with Paladins have been on Earthen Ring – far too many have been petty, vain and far more interested in self-advancement than the Holy Light. With Areen, I wanted a character that simply was that good, that noble, that honest.. who does the good thing, the right thing, no matter how hard it might be, or how much it might come back to haunt her later. Someone who does the right thing for its own sake, and doesn’t compromise herself simply because doing the right thing might not be convenient at the time.

And, by being a gnome, she’s all that from someone you might least expect it from.

Of course, I speak down on many of the Paladins I’ve met in World of Warcraft, but it doesn’t count for all of them – in fact, as I’ve mentioned in the past.. it was a human paladin character, Avari Lucien of the Order of the Silver Hand guild, that ultimately inspired a series of events that led to the creation of Areen Lightspark. And while the in-game Areen eventually fell to a darker twist of fate.. the in-comic version has remained steadfast, and it’s interesting to think that if not for that one evening of a human paladin trying to explain the Holy Light to a curious but confused gnomish researcher.. Areen Lightspark would never have existed.

So, moving on to Revision 2 – there were a few things I wanted done with Areen; apart from just general tweakage based on that I’m steadily learning more techniques and becoming more experienced with 3D.. I wanted to add more apparel the way Hani has her backpack and Te’len has her knife sheath and pouch.. just small things that would help her stand out and better play the part of a Paladin. The tome was one of the first things I wanted – one of my standing memories of the Paladin hero units of WarCraft III was how they had this tome with them and how they would open it up and glance into it when they cast their spells. I wasn’t sure how I might fit one, or if I might be able to fit one at all, but I wanted that kind of detail. Secondly.. the hammer – swords in all honor, World of Warcraft paladins are often iconically portrayed with a hammer, and Hani already has a sword. It felt like a hammer might portray the image of a holy knight that much stronger.

The other details, the small cape and the shoulderpad.. they were things I simply thought of at the time – I remember, again, the WarCraft III Paladins having this parted cape behind them, and I felt putting something some visual reference to that in Areen would be fitting, and.. the shoulderpad I stumbled on at random. I was looking for the shoulderpad she originally had to see if it had updated textures in any form (even though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t have) and stumbled upon the Alliance Paladin Tier 9 shoulder.. and decided it actually matched really well with the rest of her armor. I didn’t like the spikes though – far too large, cumbersome and likely to clip with things, so I took to edit it. Cut it down into a smaller, more manageable form and matched that up. I thought it fit right in – matching the whole silvery white, gold and blue colouring.

While like with Hani and Te’len I’m intending to actually provide some sort of reasoning how she comes across her updated gear in the actual comic.. it’s nice to have an updated version, and while like any other model I’ll need to get used to it.. it feels like she’s taken a few steps closer to the whole Paladin iconography.

But, let’s get to the images. Like usual, click for larger versions.

As for the last.. while I considered to have another actress sort of composition.. I admit, I couldn’t think of one. So instead, I’ll leave you with a varied mix of semi-action poses without backgrounds for your amusement.


16 Responses to “Random Render: the Spark of Light”

  1. 1 Lander
    February 22, 2011 at 01:11

    ah Nhani, why don’t you get hired to do Graphic design for Blizz? Clearly you get more about the Paladin look than the current bunch they have.
    For years we have wanted the Libram to show up on our characters, still waiting.

  2. 2 LolDrood
    February 22, 2011 at 03:50

    What Lander said. How hard would it be to add a box that flops around to a model?
    Wait, actually, please don’t answer that. This massive “OMG WHY DID YOU ASK THAT?!” light just went off in my brain.

    “With Areen, I wanted a character that simply was that good, that noble, that honest.. who does the good thing, the right thing, no matter how hard it might be, or how much it might come back to haunt her later. Someone who does the right thing for its own sake, and doesnโ€™t compromise herself simply because doing the right thing might not be convenient at the time.”
    But where in the world is there in the world, a gnome so extraordinaire…?
    C’est moi, c’est moi, I’m forced to admit. “’tis I”, I humbly reply.

    I’ll be pissed if this whole story leads to Areen fleeing to Gnomeregan with her illicit lover, Malfurion, thus forcing Tyrande to ride to war with her best and most loyal knights, and allowing her illegitimate daughter to usurp the throne, plunging Darnassus back to pre-constitutional feudalism, though.

    I’m digging the new shoulder armor, but it does provide a sharp contrast to how painfully outdated the rest of her ensemble is. I blame Bliizard.
    Speaking of silly ornamentals on plate gear, http://www.wowhead.com/item=61466#. without the spikes and… head fin? That’s s snazzy hat. Looks good on nelfs, too. Apropos of nothing, but that’s been niggling at me for a while now.

    Also, the last pic makes me wish there was some type of Areen-based action side-scroll platformer game. I would totally play it. And treasure it, just like my Areen plushie. Run to the right, run to the right, double jump, collect librum pages to unlock power-up, BAM! hammer strike! take that, mushroom! I am all UP in your business!

    Random Renders are so awesome ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. 3 Xel
    February 22, 2011 at 08:05

    The new Areen Lightspark is great; I can’t wait to see her implemented into the webcomic proper. If there’s one thing you gotta hand to Blizzard, it’s their iconographic lore. The Paladin hammer, purple elves and the notion of a noble-hearted orc leader. I think this is some of the appeal to the Warcraft world that draws so many people in: fantasy that we are all familiar with, but with a twist. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that I love Areen’s new hammer, and the cloak, libram and shoulder upgrades look fantastic. Keep it up, Nhani!

  4. 4 Cobs
    February 22, 2011 at 09:12

    I love Areen.


    Luverly updated looks. ^_^

  5. 5 Eucep
    February 22, 2011 at 20:21

    Hmm, new look is very good and I like it, but being a visual critic, I’d like to point at two things. Just suggestions that I’d think would improve her look even further.

    First off is the effect of the ‘painted on’ armor that wow uses, perhaps adding a belt, like the big belt model added in wotlk that is actually a model add in stead of a skin, would break up the visual.

    Secondly is that despite her being a paladin, she is also a gnome. Even with her dedication, I’d expect her to have some symbol of gnomeregan on her. Even something hardly noticable like a cogwheel earring for example. Or perhaps that could be something for above mentioned belt.

    • 6 Nhani
      February 22, 2011 at 20:42

      The first point is fair enough – there’s a decent amount of counterpoints I could make about how I think a belt specifically would actually detract from the overall appearance (since I actually love how the armor is defined around the waist and whatnot) buuut.. I’ll also admit that I could’ve made a cut around the waist to add a few lines in the actual model where her undershirt meets her leggings and along her chest armor. I felt the texture suggested the shape strongly enough that I wouldn’t need to which in turn saved me quite a bit of work in figuring out how to either segment the model or optionally morph those shapes away. In short: I got lazy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The second point though.. no, actually, I disagree. I don’t see why Areen would need gnomish heraldry, keepsakes or trinkets anymore than Hani would Night elven ones – while Areen would want the best for her people, she’d accomplish that through the Holy Light, not through being a gnome. And while I can’t really see a situation that would force her to make such a choice, it’s important to realize that if Areen had to choose between furthering her people and furthering the Holy Light.. she would choose the Holy Light.

      • 7 Eucep
        February 23, 2011 at 18:08

        Ah, then I misunderstood the way Areen is in her beliefs.

        Those noticable belts is something I like since one was introduced as a key item in the comics around Varian, when he got the belt of Lothar, which the in game character now wears.

  6. 8 Jesper
    February 22, 2011 at 21:12

    Finally a visible libram ๐Ÿ™‚ But i always imagined it look like a heavy piece of work hanging from a strap over the shoulder. If you use modelviewer, look at the special 2H weapon animation equipped with 1H and a shield it kinda would fit in to Areen i think. Meh i really dont want to sound like a messersmith, i love your webcomic, and a new page or random render always make the evening a little better.

    • 9 Nhani
      February 22, 2011 at 21:28

      I was considering a larger tome at first, but.. there’s issues about clipping and posability. Ultimately, I felt a small one would be better than none at all.

  7. February 22, 2011 at 21:25

    I think she could use a belt or harness of some sort… I cant shake the feeling that the book is “Velcro’d” on to her waist…

    Aside from that, its an amazing model! I wish I could render my characters with such detail!:D

    • 11 Nhani
      February 22, 2011 at 21:30

      I was actually asking around a few friends of mine to see whether it looked okay there or not; the general response I got back was that there’s enough to imply that the top golden ring around her waist looked belt-ish enough to suggest it’s attached to that somehow. Either that or, I guess, magnets.

  8. February 23, 2011 at 03:37

    Pure Awesome. She just became my wallpaper.

  9. 14 Robin McKinley
    March 3, 2011 at 21:52

    Yes, the mace definitely fits her better than the sword. Adding in the tome and cape reminds me of how the draenei paladin was portrayed in the official cinematic for WoW: BC. The overall look is very good and will be nice to see it in the comic. ๐Ÿ™‚

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