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  1. #1

    Skins, Models, Skeletons and You!

    Skins, Models, Skeletons and You!

    I'm shocked that so many WoW Players use the terms "skin", "model" and "skeleton" incorrectly every day on forums, in game, and else where. SO! I've decided to create a simple visual guide to help you guys use the terms correctly! ^_^

    Note:If you notice any inaccurate explanations regarding how rigging and modeling works, keep in my this is just to simplify things for people who aren't savy with the 3d arts!

    1.Skins
    2.Models
    3.Skeletons and Animations


    1.Skins (Also known as textures)

    One phrase EVERY WoW player should be very familiar with is "Reskinning" and "reskinned" and other similar phrases. Its a phrase that means to take an existing model and replace it's usual "skin" with a different "skin." Most WoWers have "reskinning" confused with the act of using an entirely different model on an existing skeleton (more on that later) so here's a quick example using some pictures from Petopia to describe what "reskinning" is!

    Here is a standard wolf model.....everyone has probably seen these guys in Elwynn Forest before....



    ....and here's another wolf model....



    Notice how this model looks exactly the same as the traditional wolf model. That is because they are using the same exact model....except they are using two different color skins. In the most basic sense, a skin is LITERALLY the skin of a model....its the thin layer of art that gives it color...sort of like how our skin gives us pigmentation and color. Strip the skin away and the models should look identical. THIS right here is an example of reskinning.

    Now I want you to check THIS out....this is a fox model. They use the same skeleton and animations as wolves....



    They reuse the skeletons and animations right? So its reskinned correct? Nope. Its a unique model thats using an existing skeleton. The skin for foxes was made to fit the model of a fox. If you literally "reskinned" a wolf and attached the fox skin to it it'd be in the shape of a wolf (head, ears, body and everything), but it'd be the color of a fox, in color only...not shape. That is not what reskinning is. This, below us, on the other hand....

    and = Reskinning (In the most basic sense,reskinning just changes the thin layer of color that covers a model.)

    2.Models

    Models are probably the simplest thing to figure out. They're the big 3d objects you find in-game. A model is comparable to your muscles and meaty innards! It's what gives you your shape (well fat does that too but lets keep it simple). That's about it and I REALLY don't think I need a visual example of what a random model looks like. Just log on and look at your character to see one! But what I do want to do is go indepth with a very common example where people confuse skins and models.

    This is a proto-drake model with the plagued skin on it. We all know what proto-drakes look like.

    and here's a Fire Hawk....


    If you see both of these creatures move around you'll notice they move exactly like each other! So Fire Hawks are reskinned Proto-Drakes right? Not exactly. The two models share the same skeleton (more on that later) but have totally different models. If they were reskinned that means if you stripped the thin layer of color off of the Proto-Drake it would fit perfectly around a Fire Hawk's dragon head and dragon tail....oh wait they don't have those things. So how could a dragon skin fit around a bird that's ignited on fire? Well they aren't reskinned...and they don't share the same models.....you can tell they have two different models because they are shaped completely differently.

    and = Two unique models that share the same skeleton and animations. I'm not entirely sure if there's a short term for that, but if there is I'll edit it in right... Here: ()

    3.Skeletons and Animations

    And finally we have Skeletons and Animations. These are comparable to our own bones...in a sense. A skeleton is this...

    (Random 3D Dragon Model from not-WoW)


    Those are the bones of the model and the thing that gives the model it's animations. I've come to understand that this is the hardest and longest part of 3d modeling...rigging the models with a skeleton which is why you see reused animation so much, because the game has only a few months to make as many as possible and not a few years like a regular non-patch based game.

    I do not have a video, but an example you should all be able to understand is how all dragons share the same skeleton. They all swipe the same, they all walk the same, the all fly the same, the all breathe fire the same...they all have identical animations...because they share the same skeleton and animations. And thats all anyone needs to know about skeletons and animations.

    Is it "reskinning" if you use a different model with the same animations? Nope, because remember, skins are only the thin layer of color gives models texture. What is it called when using an original model with an old skeleton from another model? I'm not 100% sure there's even a turn for that. (Reskelling?) But if I figure it out I'll put it right here: ()

    Here is an example of two well-known dragons that use the same skin AND skeleton....but different models....
    VS

    Notice the horns and head shape are completely different. That means the models are different. Obviously they are different colors too so they have unique skins as well. BUT they share the same animations. Different model, different skin, SAME skeleton and animations. Its not reskinning.

    And that's pretty much it. I hope this at the very least helped people figure out the difference between reskinning models and totally unique models.
    Last edited by Bombkirby; 2011-10-24 at 05:04 AM.

  2. #2
    A much needed clarification, thanks. You should maybe also add images showing and explaining how extra polygons can help so much on existing older models of the vanilla races. The improved Illidan for instance.


  3. #3
    where'd you get that skeleton model? are there more?

  4. #4
    Good one! This is something that a lot of people seem a bit confused about, and I'm sure this clarification will help.
    Those who search for meaning in something will always find it - even if it's not there. Apophenia and pareidolia, gentlemen.

  5. #5
    High Overlord Zhoom's Avatar
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    Pretty good information. Thanks ^.^

    You fear which you cannot control, but can you control your fear?
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  6. #6
    Fluffy Kitten Krekko's Avatar
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    This should get stickied and cited.
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  7. #7
    The Patient Sabence's Avatar
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    Very helpful, good post.

  8. #8
    Stood in the Fire cpillow's Avatar
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    thank goodness. i hope people actually read this and learn. maybe we will get less QQ?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by kage View Post
    where'd you get that skeleton model? are there more?
    I think you can use the program called Wow Model Viewer to see those skeleton models.

  10. #10
    I am Murloc! -Zait-'s Avatar
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    Lets get this stickied, it's brief and to the point but gives good info



  11. #11
    this helps alot plz make this sticky boub

  12. #12
    The Insane Kaleredar's Avatar
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    Just to help emphasize your point on the vast difference between skins and models:

    Alright, so here we have the Swift Razzashi Raptor.



    And here we have the turquoise raptor:



    People might be inclined to say "These are the exact same model! The Razzashi raptor just has an armored skin!"

    Well this... simply isn't true. In fact, let's see what happens when we switch the skin of the Razzashi Raptor with that of the turquoise raptor (bearing in mind that, if they were the same model, they should easily be interchangeable)



    Not copacetic, is it?

    So "Seperate models" aren't merely constrained to starkly different appearances, like that of the proto drake and fire hawk. They can merely be the difference between a few armor plates as well.

  13. #13
    Dreadlord
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    Fantastic, well done.

  14. #14
    Oh thanks for all the compliments guy. I just thought we needed something simple to teach people the differences between the terms.

    ---------- Post added 2011-10-24 at 06:37 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Yig View Post
    A much needed clarification, thanks. You should maybe also add images showing and explaining how extra polygons can help so much on existing older models of the vanilla races. The improved Illidan for instance.

    snip
    Mind elaborating? It sounds interesting but does it relate enough to simply teaching people the basic terms?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bombkirby View Post
    Oh thanks for all the compliments guy. I just thought we needed something simple to teach people the differences between the terms.

    ---------- Post added 2011-10-24 at 06:37 AM ----------



    Mind elaborating? It sounds interesting but does it relate enough to simply teaching people the basic terms?
    A simple way would be to compare Jaina's old model vs new model vs regular female human model ( http://www.wowpedia.org/Lady_Jaina_Proudmoore )

    awesome info btw!!

  16. #16
    Herald of the Titans Syridian's Avatar
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    Seems a little pedantic, but its a good post. (Does it really matter if people say model instead of skin if we know what they mean? etc)

  17. #17
    Great post, thanks for putting it up. It drives me nuts when people use the wrong terminology, ESPECIALLY when they act like they know what they're talking about when they clearly do not.

  18. #18
    The hardest things - animations - are still quite good in the current game. What is bad is that old characters are really low-poly (male orc muscles ...) and has totally horrible textures (tauren hairs ...) I can't see any reason why they don't want to simply increase polygon count and add more detailed textures. They're just making excuses about people being used to the current models where no one wants them to actually change them.

  19. #19
    I can see this post being useful. Good going, Bombkirby.

  20. #20
    High Overlord Queen0fCups's Avatar
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    Excellent post, Bombkirby, thank you for the info!
    Quote Originally Posted by Vyomesh View Post
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