Artcraft - A First Look
The new Human Female character model is here!

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Hi, I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and this is the first in a series of articles we're creating to bring you all closer to the development of the player character model revamps we announced at BlizzCon. In this series, we'll give you an inside look at the process we go through to do one of these revamps, discuss the kinds of art issues we're addressing with the new models, and provide a bit of insight our future plans for their continued polish.

We're happy to begin our series by sharing a first look at where we're at with the Human female. While future articles won’t always be about revealing a new model, we thought this would be a great introduction to the approach we take for every one of these redesigns.

We’re looking at these model revamps as a sort of “spiritual update” to the art content that currently exists in-game—except we’re completely redoing them from scratch. That includes the base model, skin tone variations, customization options (e.g. wrinkles, scars, moles, earrings, etc.), hairstyles, and any skin variations for NPCs you see out in the world, like Iron Dwarves or Leper Gnomes. We’re pretty excited about some of the ideas you've given us for new customization and skin options you’d like to see, but our first goal—which is already a monumental endeavor—is to make sure that the visual content that currently exists is brought up to or surpasses the level of quality you see in current boss models, the Pandaren, and central NPCs like the new Vol’jin model.

With the revamp, we’re completely overhauling every aspect of the player models, but our goal is to do so while retaining the core look and feel that has always made them your character. We'll feel like we've succeeded if you see the updated version of your character and it still feels like you’re looking at the character you’ve been playing for the past however many years—only someone has finally focused a lens.

To achieve this, we’re increasing the polygon count significantly (in some cases going from less than 1,000 to over 5,000), more than doubling the texture resolution, increasing bone count significantly to support updated animation and facial expression, and retouching nearly every animation for all of the characters. For animation alone, that’s roughly 180 animations per character, times 10 races in both male and female variants, equaling approximately 3,600 animations. We’re also incorporating the rigging technology we introduced with the Pandaren into every character to provide better posing, smoother animation, and the ability to pull off some fantastic facial expressions. In the weeks and months ahead, we’re going to be bringing you in for a closer look at some of the processes, challenges, and results of this revamp process.

What you’re looking at here for the Human female is a single face option and a single skin tone on the base model without any animation or posing. When developing the base model we keep the expression on the face as devoid of emotion or expression as possible, as that allows our animators a greater range of motion when they start posing and morphing the face into different expressions. If we were to put any amount of expression—even a slight smile or mildly angry eyebrows—in the base model, that would carry through to every animation, and we'd end up with some very confused-looking characters.

Joe Keller is a senior character artist on our team and was responsible for the lion’s share of modeling and texturing the Human female. Here's what he had this to say about this challenge:

“Everyone is pretty familiar with the Human character models in WoW, but working on these updates gives us a chance to embellish and fill in the blanks. For the Human female this meant we could give her more muscle definition and personality in the face while still staying true to the overall look and spirit of the original. Hopefully this will also help show her as more of the capable fighter that she is.”

This process has been a welcome challenge for all of us on the World of Warcraft art team. We’ve all wanted to address the player models and bring them up to a more current fidelity for some time now, and we’re as excited as you are to get these models into the game. We hope you’ll enjoy this series as we invite you to meet the team and see more on our development process.

Thanks so much, and see you next time.

Previously Previewed Models

This article was originally published in forum thread: Artcraft – A First Look - New Human Female Character Model started by chaud View original post
Comments 512 Comments
  1. LittleJin's Avatar
    2 weeks for this since announcement, 3 months after wod announcement. it is shiny and nice but trully dissapinting presentation. I would expect both genders at the same time. and definately more interesting race than humans. night elves for that matter - I'm eager to see NE male, how they managed to fix body proportions and mind numbing casting full of sticking thumb into forehead
  1. Xytal's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJin View Post
    2 weeks for this since announcement, 3 months after wod announcement. it is shiny and nice but trully dissapinting presentation. I would expect both genders at the same time. and definately more interesting race than humans. night elves for that matter - I'm eager to see NE male, how they managed to fix body proportions and mind numbing casting full of sticking thumb into forehead
    Honestly, I think they have a lot more done than they are willing to show. Blizzard is all about holding on to something until they think it's ready... but then again, you can't blame them. When they mention something is coming and then they can't deliver because of an issue/bug/etc. people flip out like they had their hearts broken.

    Hell, we get more talking now than we ever did back in Vanilla, so I consider ourselves lucky we even get this kind of preview. =)
  1. Easo's Avatar
    Would bang.
  1. Nurabashi's Avatar
    Would like to see some animation of the model. Hair moving, etc.

    Also, GIVE US TROLL!
  1. Sarix's Avatar
    Welp I'm staying human
  1. Ytlayol's Avatar
    :| I was expecting maybe a video clip showing animations of at least a couple characters. Its been a few months since blizzcon so I thought they would've had more to show.

    But from what I saw now it looks interesting enough that I'll wait until they release animations before I can really say how I feel about them.
  1. pocky_rin's Avatar
    Looks like Zooey Deschenel don't you think? Not a bad thing but the resemblance is striking
  1. docb22's Avatar
    why did the eye color change?
  1. chrisorie4's Avatar
    It's kind of concerning that they've only gotten so few models thus far into the development of WoD. Beta seems further away than ever
  1. Suggs's Avatar
    Worst looking model to date, glad im not alliance.
    Ahh well it will keep the kiddies fapping to there chars a bit longer.
  1. Les Grossman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by heerobya View Post
    Wow. Amazing. I can't WAIT to see all of the new models.
    You'll be waiting about 1.5 years at this rate.
  1. Frozenbeef's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pocky_rin View Post
    Looks like Zooey Deschenel don't you think? Not a bad thing but the resemblance is striking
    What a coincidence...

  1. Heyer's Avatar
    Guys read the blog... They stated in that pose the face is devoid of any emotion, that's why it looks like she's staring into your soul.

    Overall, I'm pleased
  1. Amithyst's Avatar
    Eeeeh... she looks even more emaciated than she did before :/ cheeks look sunkin in and her waist is to thin. It's an improvement don't get me wrong, looks a zillion times better obviously. That's just my nitpicking.


    "That includes the base model, skin tone variations, customization options, hairstyles, and any skin variations for NPCs you see out in the world, like Iron Dwarves or Leper Gnomes. "

  1. Xytal's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Frozenbeef View Post
    What a coincidence...

    That caught me off guard, almost let out a massive laugh in the library. =\
  1. tss's Avatar
    Absolutely fantastic. This is the best update yet IMO. It really puts into perspective how much work is going into these things. Anyone complaining needs to realize that many things are being worked on at once and that there is a pipeline for these things... you can't rig and animate a or texture a model that isn't done. They aren't pumping these things out one by one, but they sure are cranking them out.The pace is reassuring to me. Don't forget that they never guaranteed they'd all be ready for 6.0 or even launch, in fact they've warned against that assumption. I'm sure it's a goal though, and I think it's possible.
  1. Buster-'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyoor View Post
    1.) They said that you would recongnize your avatar after the change. I dont see that. It wont feel like a hotted up finnish on your previous avatar, it will feel like a new one.
    2.) I expected so much more from this update. This looks like it would be from like 2006-2008 (I agree that it is better than the previous models, but it looks old if you compare to anything else)
    3.) The hair still have VERY noticable straight lines and angles. Hair should be soft. Only difference I can see is that it has got more parts to it, it doesnt seem softer in the edges.
    4.) 1000 polygons 2004 and only a bit over 5000 now? Seriously? This is what makes up your avatar. It is the most important thing in the game! (To compare: Lara croft had 32,000 polygons on PS3 in 2008.)

    Changing things that will feel old on release is just stupid!
    You need to remember a couple of things first. Firstly, when developing a video game, you have to take into account the target hardware and figure out the maximum number of polygons that the hardware can handle in a single scene at any given time. There are ways of improving this, by suing various algorithms to reduce polygon, triangle and pixel detail counts for objects that are further away, allowing you to have higher levels of detail in the foreground, however, thats a programming issue.
    In this case, your example is Tomb Raider which is predominantly a single player game where there aren't that many characters in a scene at any one time. Now take into account a 20 man raid, where all 20 characters will be visible on your screen using the 5000 polygon model they have mentioned, suddenly, thats 100,000 polygons being rendered just for player characters, plus the polygons for boss models, adds, and the scenery in general and you will be looking at a massive number of polygons being rendered on your screen at any one time. Compared to Lara Croft, where there might be two or three character models being rendered on your screen at any one time at 30,000 polygons each, thats 90,000 polygons roughly in characters alone, so technically, they're similar.

    Also, to those who say that WoW game engine is old and not very sophisticated and advanced and therefore not allowing graphics to be better etc, again, thats not true. WoW game engine is as advanced and in certain areas far more advanced than Frostbite, Unreal Engine and CryEngine. It's rendering sub-systems are in fact very good with most modern rendering techniques implemented. But Blizzard turn down the limits of it for the WoW as a game, mostly down to some of the reasons I have already said as well as the fact that they like to allow it to run on quite old hardware still. Just like Unreal and CryEngine can and have been used to make games with graphics that don't look particularly good, it is the same for WoW's game engine, the only thing is, you don't see it used for other games where the graphics capabilities could be really pushed such as FPS games etc whereas with Unreal and CryEngine, you do. The areas in which it is better are primarily its networking functionality, MMO's naturally need very complex networking code to handle everything with Wow being the biggest in both number of players and its World size for the most part, their systems have adavnced significantly, well beyond most other networking technologies of other games development studios.

    In summary, WoW's problem is the numbers of people that it has to potentially cope with at any one time, always has been, the fact that it is an online game doesn't help either. Most FPS games have their graphics turned down slightly for online play compared to the single player just because of the extra overhead that the networking puts onto the hardware.
  1. Tyandor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyoor View Post
    You wont.
    • There are never ever 1000 in direct line of sight of you so that the graphic card needs to render it.
    • Armor cover a lot of it (that doesnt need to be rendered more than today). Not everyone will be naked you know.
    • Graphic cards now can handle more than 5 times what they did in 2004
    • The amount of polygons on the avatar (on this level) is not what makes graphic cards have the biggest problems.
    • Compare to any other MMO game out there and you will see that 5000~ polygons for an avatar is quite low.
    • My example of lara croft was from 2008(!) on a console...
    - I'm pretty sure that 1000 was an exaggeration, but still even if you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't need any computation power whether it be from the GPU or CPU.
    - The texture is still put on the model. The armor will look smoother if a model has more polygons aka the look of armor is directly related to the player model.
    - They can, but you underestimate the impact on how quickly that processing power is taken once you increase detail level. Games often rely on tricks to keep poly counts low while still having the visual appearance of a higher polygons. This hasn't changed one bit since then.
    - until you hit a city on a high/full server. I'm pretty sure that I will see a performance impact on my relatively recent machine once this hits.
    - tbh I haven't seen any numbers of those.
    - Lara croft was a single character. The amount of polygons used on that one is usable if there aren't too many of them. Upgrade every model to that level in WoW and nobody will be able to run it. Also old consoles run on very low resolutions to begin with which is necessary to be even display that kind off stuff. A lot (almost everything) is upscaled to HD resolutions. Also a game like Lara Croft can be controlled in what you see on your screen and as such you can control the load. In WoW you can look almost anywhere. That's the damn reason WoW has a slider for how far you can look in the distance in the first place.

    If Blizzard would up it too much you would lose a big part of their player base. Someone remembers Crysis? Also remember while it had good graphics (provided you could put it at least on high, otherwise the original Far Cry would look better) barely anyone bought is because hardly anyone could run it properly? So yes you get '2007' graphics, but to be honest my old 2008 (core2) machine already had problems with the '2004' graphics when it entered a 25-man raid. Don't underestimate the amount of people that have that kind of systems. Computers simply last longer for most purposes these days. Blizzard knows this and isn't stupid enough to eliminate half of their player base this way. Not everyone has the latest gaming rig + WoW appeals to more people than the hardcore PC-gamers.
  1. voskopoula's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Frozenbeef View Post
    What a coincidence...

    With some different lips/mouth she looks like rabbitbong/yoni the wow stream player

    from the neck and up at least :P
  1. Littleshashi's Avatar
    These things are going to look DISGUSTING good in machinima. Like, seriously, people are going to start demanding them in full fledged youtube series.

    Good job so far, Blizzard.

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