The War-Ka

This project was modeled over a week, and I did two passes on the texture that took about a weekend each. A lovable yet dangerous mount- happy to gallop across the beaches of Timeless Isle and paddle through Azeroth's oceans into either battle or a sunset.

The War-Ka's final render, part of the final presentation.

The War-Ka was more of an adventure than a project. During the process, I modeled a creature I had designed from scratch, intentionally pursued professional critique on my textures, better understood how World of Warcraft artists use value, learned how to optimize UV space, and so forth. There is a bit of a story behind this one, so feel free to scroll down to read it after the general summary.

The purpose of this project was to understand texturing software, improve creature modeling skills, and develop a beast from concept to finished model. I can confidently say all of that was achieved and more, and found a new love for pushing my own work as far as I can. I taught myself a significant amount of 3D Coat skills and how to properly use UV space optimally through research and observation.

The Origin

Before moving to Chicago, developing texture skills felt like a pipe dream. I had no technical knowledge of 3D modeling other than to use Autodesk Alias for 3D printing product prototypes. I spent hours upon hours sketching creatures and characters to use for contests and applications such as the Blizzard Student Art Contest, which is actually when the design was visualized. You can see the original concept page below, and while I've come a long way artistically since then, the idea was there:

To design a mount with the purpose of filling a gap in World of Warcraft's mount registrar: an amphibious mount like the Azure Water Strider. 

Having the Strider or the Abyssal Seahorse available to players spoke to me the desire for interesting mounts with extra quirks or characteristics. It would be easy to make another standard flying or land mount, but I find great satisfaction in solving voids intentionally- in solving problems. It would be more interesting to me to create a mount that could walk and run as well as swim through seas or, at the very least, across them.

Original creature concept page from 2014.

Original creature concept page from 2014.

Sketches began in 2013 while I was still in Cincinnati studying Industrial Design, but then suddenly, I was in Chicago, studying Game Art, and it felt achievable. I made the first model sheet with self-taught Photoshop skills for a digital design class. Done. The base mesh was made in a few days during a fundamental 3D class. Done. I realized how sloppy it was the following summer and quickly cleaned it up. Done. This was truly the moment that I fell in love with texturing, though: the introduction to 3D Coat. I opened it on a Friday night, was clumsily comfortable by mid-Saturday morning, and bursting with excitement about the possibilities within a few hours. It felt like home.

I posted some screenshots on Polycount, several Facebook groups, the World of Warcraft Subreddit, and Artstation, and the model was put up on Sketchfab. I got some incredible feedback from some incredible artists, took another weekend to make some adjustments, and finally had the result with which I was satisfied. It would not be the same without critique, and I am infinitely grateful for the online digital art communities that provided that. Extra-special thanks to the Facebook communities Ten Thousand Hours and Brushforge.