Frozen in Porcelain

Human female from WoW reinterpreted in 3ds Max

About 3 weeks ago, I handed in my 3D character Carl Fredricksen from “Up”. I didn’t expect 3ds Max to stick with me, I thought I would leave 3D modeling behind, but the prospect of importing other characters I knew, characters/avatars from WoW, and deconstructing them, seeing them in a new light, meant that I’m still occasionally fiddling with the program.

The picture above is a human female with the bun hairdo. I stripped her naked i.e. I took away her original texture. I gave her a glossy crystal material as hair instead. Her skin has a white slightly matte surface. As the rendered picture show she doesn’t smooth that well, but the result of that import error is still quite interesting. Our avatars are made up of polygons, little faces that all combine into a larger mesh. They are normally smoothed to look better, but without it, the actual geometry is revealed.

Male dwarf from WoW reinterpreted in 3ds Max

Botgirl’s fascinating video “Transworld Syndrome” reminded me of what I was doing. And maybe what I ultimately wanted to do was to bring my characters into other worlds, such as Second Life or elsewhere. Vaneeesa uses the expression “it’s where I grew up” about Second Life, and I can almost say the same about WoW, at least WoW was my tipping point.

This also means I find more identification in my WoW characters, due to all the time I’ve spent with them – as them. Not only did the thought occur to me that I could basically make my own avatar now, albeit a rough newbie one, but what I would really love, would be to step into another world as my WoW characters and continue their exploration into other parallel universes – of course this is strictly forbidden, so it will never happen.

Another doll-like image, this time the root of my online identity – Ironyca. She’s a blood elf priest in WoW, but in 3ds Max she’s a figurine frozen in porcelain.

The irony is that I’m hanging on to a character which barely is unique. The matrix of options presented to you when you create your character is so limited that many of us end up looking fairly identical. Making a new alt can pose the same issue, I have too many night elves (a priest and a rogue), but I want a druid too. I’d have to look to the Horde to get at least some variation to my collection, there is not enough variation under the same race.

Therefore I’m also tempted to reinterpret my characters exactly as I see them, only limited by my 3ds Max skills. The problem is that I haven’t been adventurous enough in my imagination, I barely know what to change about these uniform characters of mine.

Ironyca with original texture in 3ds Max

Some of the things about Ironyca I’d change are mostly concerning her pose and animations. Putting her in a new more powerful, maybe even provocative pose would probably be one of the key changes I’d make to her.

The rest is a matter of exploring my characters again, outside their natural habitat.

Author: Ironyca Lee
I am a WoW blogger and game analysis student.

11 thoughts on “Frozen in Porcelain

  1. Reblogged this on Ironyca Stood in the Fire and commented:

    Ooh, I get to reblog myself!

    I wrote this post as a contributing author on “I Rez Therefore I Am”, a virtual world blog, about bringing WoW characters into a 3D modeling program, re-skinning them and hopefully also in the future posing them. I feel like a virtual studio photographer when making these 3ds Max renders, it’s a lot of fun.

    Check it out if you want to see a few WoW characters in a whole new way, outside of their natural habitat.

    1. Oh nice!

      I have to say I like the BE priest the most, only because I play one 😛
      The top two look like paper cuttings which I like too 🙂

      1. Yeah actually, it does look a lot like paper.
        Now I feel like looking into replicating paper, could be fun to try and make an origami character.

        1. Ironyca these are wonderful! Please if you can give a brief outline of the steps involved to bring WoW characters into a 3d modeling program. I have a program that I can’t remember the name of right now that I can use to do simple animations and it contains pretty much all of the standard characters. I don’t recall if it has an “export” function to save them as Wavefront .obj files or any other format which I can bring into 3ds, Blender, Maya or Poser/DAZ Studio.

          I miss you guys on the EU servers 🙂

          1. Thank you!

            I can tell you what I did, but I am clueless about any other programs or methods, I am still just a beginner 😀


            Get WoW Model viewer, the latest version (I’ve had issues with previous versions not importing correctly). This may be the program you mentioned you already had.

            WoW Model Viewer is a free program that lets you open up WoW 3D files.
            It’s what some WoW machinima artists use to animate their characters in their movies. You can access ALL files from that program, even items that are not available to players in game, it’s pure playground for making both machinima and images like the ones I did.

            This is the latest version at the moment:


            Be warned, WoW Model viewer is generally REALLY buggy. It’s coded as a community project, meaning it’s free but not hugely pro, nor updated that frequently.


            Open it up and from the file list on the left hand side, choose a character. Toggle hair, skin color, features on the right hand side to customize your character.


            When you got your character as you want him/her/it, go to files > export model > FBX or Wavefront OBJ.


            Open 3ds Max (or another 3D program that handles the file types that WoW Model Viewer exports to), and import the file.


            Have fun!

      2. Hi Cymre! Wow, I just visited your blog, Bubbles of Mischief – so much great work over there!

        That’s funny that you and Ironyca both like the one that you’ve played the most. I mean “funny” as in interesting, but not surprising. Most parents would rather have their kid’s fingerpainting magneted to the refrigerator than any Picasso they could dream of. I think we always appreciate most that which we have some personal connection to.

        The fact that Ironyca’s “paper polygon avatars” look so familiar… yet are simultaneously unique, I think inspires both our taste for “Pattern” and for “Variation”

        Thanks for visiting over here Cymre!

    1. What I would really love, would be to step into another world as my WoW characters and continue their exploration into other parallel universes – of course this is strictly forbidden, so it will never happen.

      To paraphrase Majic’s comment to Botgirl in Transworld Syndrome:
      Fuck that, you’ve gotta do it!!
      (profanity my own)

      We’ve already been thru the whole “I’m not a lawyer warning” but I do think that if you’re not selling this and raking in bundles that you’ve deprived Blizzard Entertainment of, that it should easily fall within “transformative” “Fair Use” “Educational” project / exercise.

      You know Moni & I are dying to walk around (on a secluded private island, of course! 😛 as one of your “paper polygon” creations.

      One of my favorite SL experiences is when you first rez hair, before any of the textures or transparency have loaded, and you just see a lot of grey volumegons – so cool – like edgy anime or something. Anyway, these “paper sculptures” are SO beautiful – WoW – haha, no kidding, WOW!

      Do I have it right, unlike your Carl character, these peeps are NOT rigged? So they’d have to be rigged before they could move in a world or exist as other than a pillar of salt?

      I’ve been sitting on a copy of 3dsM for a while now… I guess you guys are gonna finally force me to use it… wait… but… I thought I was going to finally try to make an AR Layar project… wait… but… what about Blue Mars Mobile… wait… but… wouldn’t that stuff eat into my blog posting time?? Oh gawd! So many virtual projects! So little waking time! Beings that spend 1/3 of their existence unconscious are bullshit!

      Beautiful, beautiful work Ironyca! And thank you so much for joining us over here on iRez, what with your own blog, life, and everything else on you plate!

      1. Yup they are not rigged, they are instead very very frozen 😉 But rigging isn’t the worst, they are bipedal anyways and I’ll just ignore facial animation.

        I’d much rather apply a new walking animation, that would be soo cool. You never see them walk in any other way in WoW, there is only ONE way to walk (for each race/gender). I did succeed in importing a rigged character as FBX, but I didn’t figure out how to manipulate the biped.
        Basically, I might not be far away from a test run, it’s just finding the time to do it, as you also point out, sleep is such a waste! But I get giggly just by thinking of it, you might have tempted me 😛

        One of the themes of my WoW blog/personal repository is exploration, and THIS would be mind blowing within WoW exploration. The amount of bragging rights I would earn – oh yes!
        *rubs hands*

        1. IDK about WoW, but in SL architecture worlds like SL, OS Grid, InWorldz, Reaction Grid, etc… you can use a .bvh animation file to move or pose your (rigged) avatar. You can use the paid program Poser or the free program QAvimator, or others, to make them.

          Also, all of those worlds already have many walks and other animations available. As MONI can probably tell you, “SEXY WALK” is probably the most common, but there are MANY others… including fun stuff like “broken puppet” walks that flop around “with no strings” etc…

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