Friday, 18 November 2016

October-November Blender Dump

This week's been awesome; with the LARP out of the way, I have no obligations and no plans whatsoever, and am free to do what I love most - Blender art with the occasional break for playing Warcraft. And something fantastically lucky happened: someone poked me in-game and asked for Blender support, but turns out they know much more than I do, including programming. I connected them with Marlamin, my own friend and treasure when it comes to digging Warcraft files and developing tools for making art, and now Marl is trying to make even more tools to make my life far easier. It always feels like christmas, when he gives me a new tool; so this week I'm one happy camper.

But until that's done - the blender dump from the past month or so.

I discovered how to model things on a surface, and suddenly I can make backpack straps and other paraphernalia that sits directly on the body. I practiced this by making Seeyra this crazy jewelry, and since it looked very nice and courtesan-y, I spent an hour tweaking some in-game dress into her scandalous nightgown. I'm very happy with this.

The Bloodstorm Clan commission reminded me how important it is to work with a person you understand. I had fun making the hair and other details, but aside from that, I think the end picture I produced isn't very interesting, which is a shame.

Our guild is a remake of an older one with the same concept - archaeology. The older one had this 'gnomecorder', a military issue type radio, which in the new guild everyone thought was a walkie-talkie - so I made the image for everyone to see how large it is ('small' doesn't feel like cool steampunk! In fantasy, if it's technology and small, I think it's better to be magic). 

I don't know how to model, but luckily, Warcraft has enough engineering items, so I combined engineer workshop parts with a jukebox's parts. And so everyone's clear on how large it is, I made Edvann model it for us:

Then we have Khadrun and Sister Lombard learning the truth about jailer demons' size. I learnt nothing new or exciting in making this one, aside from being reminded that I should learn to make my own bump maps. 

Funnily enough, there's a sketch of our characters from nine years ago (almost to the day), with rather similar expressions; I love such little closures. I also love remembering I've been friends with someone for nine years.

Next is Sejda, Kiddo's character - another friend for ten years, from the very same ancient, mythological guild; this isn't brilliant, artistically speaking, but I love having the tools to capture moments I'd like to remember. But! I did have to model a tongue, and since I didn't fix its colour, it turned out way too red. Something to remember, although I kind of hope I won't have to model tongues too often, it feels a bit intrusive.

I have several close friends in the guild - husband, Kiddo, Khadrun - but there's one player I've never met and yet her descriptions, emotes, demeanor and liveliness made me fall entirely in love with her. Every little thing she does is magic, the short story she wrote about her actress character's performance on stage being no exception. I spent two hours combining three different garments and some glitter on this dress and it's not quite what I had in mind, but it tells the story well enough.

Look at that texture! What a mess. I wish I had the patience to make that necklace properly 3D.

Next we have Harrigan saving Nicolette. It's a wonder I've been blendering for a year and this is my first 'man-carry-woman-rescue-hurr' picture - I'm an old fashioned romantic and have sketched a hundred like this one since I was twelve - but this one's challenge was Harrigan's scarring, because it's asymmetrical, and wow human textures, except for faces, are not. Plus, I combined textures from a roast turkey, peeling car paint and crumpled plastic bags to make those burns. Still not optimal - gotta work on the contrast on the edges - but again, it tells the story, so I'm pleased.

Another personal favourite is this one, because I discovered there is an OCEAN GENERATOR in Blender! I had a field day with that one. I discovered that giving the water a glass material works nicely, and then slapped some foam texture on top of it all. Of course, the cool transparency of the water is entirely invisible in the final lighting, so I'll just have to find an excuse to make MORE OCEANS. And I got to toy with the gryphon model, and I managed a rather cool pose on poor Beatrice. I'm even okay with her lighting, which doesn't happen often.

After every expedition I make a post-expedition photo, stemming from one I saw from a real dig, with everyone looking sweaty and happy and bandanas on their heads and dirt on their overalls and it just felt so atmospheric. The concept changed a lot since we rarely play the actual archaeology, but I still make the end photo to sort of encapsulate the feel of the whole expedition. So here's us after Azsuna:

The fun about this one was making the broken pottery shards Nicolette is sitting next to; I didn't want to manually have to slice a jar and arrange the pieces, and to be fair, Blender pretty much has tools for everything that's stupid to do manually - you just have to dig the tutorials. So I found something called Quick Explosion, then something like 'drop to floor', et voila. 

Another bit of fun was making that artefact in the centre - our own guild's legendary artefact! - and I know it looks exactly like that treasure chest from Ulduar, but it totally isn't, look, here's a closeup. Many tweaks, and I remade the gears and slapped on the rune circles and all.

I try not to make too many images of my own character (it feels too self-worshippy); this one had to be done though - my character mind-frying a dreadlord's brain with guilt. And her being the angsty goth that she is, she's all I am so sorry to be hurting you! Please crane your head lower so I can better rip your brain apart. And her hand looks weird because I still don't know how to resize body parts without them distorting horribly when moved.

But that demon. That demon. Wow monster models have a very limited range of expressions (mostly 'mouth open' and 'mouth closed'). I needed more control in this one's case, so I took a human head (those have many controllers on their face and allow a lot of creativity with expressions) - slapped the demon texture on it, then stitched that head to the demon body. It was very fiddly and clanky, and certainly needs more work if I ever want to make better demon closeups; it's a fun future project I can look forward to. File that alongside the MORE OCEAN.

I later got to use it while making the main villain's portrait (same guy, mind). Aaaand I forgot to blend the face and the head. That's what they call in Hebrew 'only half a job done'.

So those 'polaroids' I've posted here are part of our guild's 'The Story So Far' page, which I've made art for (because visuals sink into our mind better than words). I had a field day making those, but I'm posting the one I'm least pleased with, because it has an issue that's been bugging me for a year now, and I still haven't managed to solve it: when the lighting on certain facets on the model goes bonkers. It could be normals, or shading, or whatnot, I tried it all and got it wrong and it's driving me nuts; this could be such a lovely model if I didn't have that pesky issue.

So that's the art from the past month; I'm all hyped about new tools from Marl, and we have an expedition starting in three days, which usually ends with lots of fun art to make. Then there's commissions, which I do in a rather lazy and enjoyable rate, and the endless joy of tackling Warcraft with friends. Life is fun.


  1. Nan the Mistweaver17 December 2016 at 07:32

    These are freaking works of art! I'm blown away
    Your modeling, creaticity, light and colour is on point.
    True art, in my perspective

    I feel very inspired to begin using Blender myself, any good advice on were to start?
    I've already worked a little in 3ds max, but I feel like that isn't the best program for me.

  2. Hey there Nan! Thanks for the kind words. I must point out, though - I barely model anything at all; 98% of the stuff I do is based on exporting Warcraft models.

    I had zero knowledge in 3D and I found Blender to be easy, if somewhat un-intuitive in the interface department. The controls are a little confusing, but after you get used to that it's quite easy; and I find the solution to most problems online.

    I can't remember how I picked up the basics, but I think Darrin Lile ( is great - very clear and slow, very gradual. Once you get through the basics, the best source I found is Andrew Price, known as Blender Guru ( - his stuff is far more advanced, but professional, in-depth yet simple, and very clear.

    The only other advice I have is - once you're there, don't work with the Blender Internal render engine. Go straight to Cycles, it looks much better, not to mention allows far more freedom.

    Good luck,

    - Bell