From Azeroth to Pandaria: The WoW Art Panel

Posted Sat, Oct 22, 2011 by Saia

The art panel is always a highlight when a new World of Warcraft expansion is announced because it means one thing: concept art - and lots of it.

The panel covered everything from how the raid sets are created to props. That said the main focus was on the creation of the Pandaren, the look of the race and their homeland. This covered everything from the look of their buildings to designing the actual areas. Yes, apparently the Pandaren are based on pandas, which are bears that don’t hibernate. Who knew eh?

The process of world-building is always once of the most fascinating and the panel treated attendees to a shedload of gorgeous art, including a sneak-peak at some of the dungeons, the denizens and, of course, the crates. Oh and let’s not forget the barrels!


This could be the Pandaren racial mount!

Perhaps some of the surprising info comes from the off-hand remarks. The panel when into details like the focus on animals, a key component of Chinese myth. Certain animals have connections with a colour, element or direction and this has been added into Pandaren society in the form of four totem animals: the white tiger of the west, the red crane of the south, the jade dragon of the east and the black ox of the north.

The Pandaren model was originally made five years ago and the current model took several months to create. It’s a lot cuddlier than their original appearance.

The other important idea when making models is that it needs to look like all the animations were made by the same person. There’s actually a small team and they made around 800 animations per expansion which is a massive number. Also worth noting is the level of detail in the Pandaren, little nuggets like the fact there are ten times number of bones in the Pandaren than in older toon models. As a result they’re more expressive and their belly jiggles!


Blizzard created a whole new written language for the Pandaren!

There was also a look at a racial mount, which may or may not be in the final game: a floating mount powered by a goldfish in a bubble!

The level of detail and the lengthy process is actually quite breath-taking. The devs touched on the Pandaren mind-set, upon their personal belief systems and how this shapes how they live, their society and how they view the world. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the language they created. It’s obviously modelled on written Chinese and we were treated to a ‘translation’ of one of the scrolls - as well as the literal translation which was much less poetic. But it’s a great glimpse into the creation of the next expansion!

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