Hello, and welcome to Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director on World of Warcraft, and in today’s edition we’re going to give you a first look at the new female Night Elf model. As you probably know, we’re in the process of updating all of the original character models, along with the Draenei and Blood Elf, to improve their texture, polygon, and animation fidelity. Let’s get this going with some comments from Tyson Murphy, our lead character artist.
Hi all—I’m Tyson, and on behalf of everyone on the art team, we’re excited to be able to give you a first look at our in-progress female Night Elf model.
This is a good opportunity to talk about the iterative process we go through with all of the art we create, especially with the updated player models. We don’t call anything truly “complete” until it’s in the game and fulfilling all of our (and your!) expectations. This means that when it comes to concept art, modeling, texturing, rigging, and animation, everything is always up for debate and change, and we’re rethinking and revising continuously. Creating these updated models is a huge team effort, and we’re constantly considering feedback and suggestions on what we can do better. We’ve committed ourselves to this process, and the female Night Elf provided a unique opportunity to put it into practice.
The female Night Elf was actually one of the first models we started, but as we began to develop our other character models, we also wound up refining the overall look we were going for with the models and our processes for creating them. Ultimately, we felt that in order to do the female Night Elf justice, we needed to revisit her model with fresh eyes and continue iterating based on what we’d learned from working on the other models. The Night Elves have such a distinct but subtle character, and we spent a lot of effort in trying to help that come through.
As with all of the updated character models, our goal is to keep everything the original model accomplished intact, while using the additional fidelity to realize characteristics that we weren’t able to fully represent with the lower polygon counts and texture resolutions. Overall, we’ve made her new model a little more defined, made some of her proportions a bit more realistic, and added a bit more muscle tone. We wanted to visually communicate that she is a fully capable warrior huntress, and small details like muscle definition help highlight that. We also put additional focus on her hands and fingernails, giving a very slight point to her nails to provide just a hint of a more feral nature.
Last but not least, the all-important Night Elf ears. In the original model, these were quite literally separate pieces of geometry effectively tacked onto the head of the Night Elf. In the new models, we’ve taken care to fully integrate the ears into the geometry, which leads to a far more natural and high-quality look.
I’ve asked Tamara Bakhlycheva, who also worked on the female Night Elf model, to add a few closing thoughts.
Hi all, I’m Tamara from the World of Warcraft art team. Being able to work on the female Night Elf has been a great experience, and the team has put a lot of effort into preserving the iconic Night Elf look—beautiful, wild, and dangerous. I hope you’ll enjoy playing your new Night Elf as much as we’ve enjoyed creating her.
Chris here again; thanks for reading, and we look forward to sharing more about the ongoing process of bringing the art of Warlords of Draenor—and beyond—to life. Thanks!