Welcome to the Artist at Work: Bringing Heroes To Life panel here at Blizzcon 2018!
Today we’re going to have 6 artists, 3 at a time presenting for us. Today they’ll be focusing on Malthael for the art today. We’ll have a number of questions from the audience that I’ll include. Today we have Luke, a concept artist, next is Andrew a senior 3d artist and finally we have Steven a technical artist, for the first part of the panel.
We come back to Luke and talks about what are some of the things he has to consider when bringing a character over from another IP. He says the main thing is trying to keep true to the source material but at the same time simplifying it, taking consideration on how complicated his armor is and keeping the feel of the armor but not having the insane level of detail it has in Diablo. Moving onto Andrew and what he is working on is a “Block Out” where he takes pieces of a character to add details to it before transferring it back into the main editing program Blizzard uses. Onto Steven, working on rigging and how the models will be able to animated, giving models things like range of motion and making sure that models will move in an appropriate fashion, like an arm bending at the elbow.
Coming back to Luke the presenter notes that there’s a lot of movement in his concept art and asks if that’s something he normally does. He responds that he tries to give a neutral pose but has character behind it he feels really helps the animators in their job. Moving back to Steven, he also notes that what Luke does is pretty helpful in how the concept of a model’s animation should work out.
An audience member asks the question about how many polygons on average a character model will use. Steven takes the question and says it depends on the asset but notes that the average is 12,000 but the upper limit is 15,000 polygons. Steven also jumps in and notes that in game and cinematic will vary wildly noting that some cinematic will use upwards of 750,000 polygons.
Another question from the audience is how they work on character movements in terms of mounts, how do they mount up or like characters who can run on all fours like Diablo. Luke says that he thinks about is there a cool way that a character can move that doesn’t involve just getting on a horse. Brings up Diablo as an example and notes that he can ride a horse but can also do his iconic Diablo Charge. Notes that Azmodan riding a horse is silly and doesn’t really work because of his extreme size so they have to come up with creative ways to have those character mount up.
They move onto Andrew asking what stage he is in his process and he talks about working on the additional details on his model. Audience question to Steven asks if there’s any programs that are beginner friendly and he mentions that Modo is pretty friendly. But notes that almost any program will be an industry standard and highly recommends that prospects just pick a program and learn all they can about that program.
A question to Luke asks if he ever has a great idea for a skin but can’t implement it because of how the “silhouette” of a character interferes with how that character will be viewed. Like Ragnaros needs to be red as an example. Luke says definitely, but they always try and work around it to make cool ideals happen. He also notes that some characters can be difficult to work around like Stitches and Butcher being similar due to them being big bodies with cleavers.
One more question from the crowd asks if Fenix’s walking animation was difficult to animate and the group passes the question to the next 3 members.
Moving onto the next 3 presenters we have Karina who is the lead animator for HotS and will be showing how they animate characters. She notes that she uses concept art to see how a character will move in her mind and if she needs an idea she goes to someone like Luke for concept art and if there are problems she will go back and kick the work to Steven for improvements. Up next is Thomas, a senior effect artist. Specifically he’ll be showing off how Wraith Strike will work. Finally we have Miguel and a user interface artist.
Moving back to Thomas, and notes his job is basically taking something like Malthael’s teleport and making it look great. Moving back to Miguel he will be showing us an icon for Malthael. In making icons he notes that he wants to make sure that all icons have a unique silhouette.
We have a question from the audience asking if there’s any difficulty in animating transforming characters, like Ragnaros. Thomas notes that there’s a lot of collaborative work between all the teams to make something pop and work goes back and forth between all the teams working cohesively. We come back to the Fenix question, Karina responds with “Yes, there was” but notes his animation set was not as high but because of the way he moves they had to take many many things into consideration.
A con goer asks if team members “wear many hats” or in other words to team members do more than one job or are they locked into what they do day in and day out. Miguel brings up he mainly does UI art but he does to many things relating to UI so he does spread his time out among other things to assist HotS.
A question for Karina about Malthel’s wings being simplified on stage. Karina comments mentions there’s a “bone count” for Malthael, and during the process the simplified wings get swapped out for an entirely new set of wings. Steven notes that there are several things that are added on to make sure that get added as well. Karina adds that she doesn’t pay attention to clipping on the model just at first, but looks get adjusted.
Karina talks about clothing and how complicated it can be at times to animate, and notes their programs have an ability to turn off cloth physics, but in Malthael’s case it was rather complicated to get just right at first, also noting the ribbon “tech” that came with Auriel is always getting improved.
A question from the audience asks how the team determines on how clothing will affect hitboxes. Karina comments that this is something they work on closely with programming and notes that there’s two different “boxes” that they work on, a collosion box and a hitbox, noting that the two are very different in the grand scheme of things.
The panel wraps up and thanks everyone for their time.