Thursday, October 23, 2014

Returning After Hiatus

Hi, Friends! I haven't been playing World of Warcraft much. Several months ago I reached critical mass with my inventory, which no longer allowed me to wear new armor or clothing without vendoring some extremely valuable items to make room. I wasn't really able to take my screenshots because I was getting tired of recycling the same outfits.

Without inventory space, it's not possible to do professions, dailies, etc., in order to make money - so that coupled with my armor collecting meant I was perpetually broke, as well. I wasn't really interested in leveling up other toons, so I haven't been playing much at all.

But now that Worlds of Draenor is on the horizon and several new pets have popped up in the lands, I'm back for more adventures! I took some extra time to recently earn my legendary cape as well, since it's being removed from the game. The best part of the pre-patch is that many inventory issues have been solved! With the extra void storage tab, reagents vault, and toy tab, I cleared up a big portion of my packs, so I can start collecting and screenshotting again! Hooray!

One thing I'm not particularly happy about is my new look. Let's just say I've "had some work done". I'll try to keep my complaints succinct, because I think people are growing weary of hearing about it. I spent several days studying at my new face and body, and I've concluded that while the look has improved overall (especially the expressions animations), the human female eyes and mouths could use a tiny bit of tweaking, to give them a less plastic-doll or startled expression.

Here's what I would do if I could tweak the models. I think even these tiny changes would be a vast improvement:

And here's an edit with the most minor tweaks, just to fix her startled expression:

I also hate that my old plate bikinis no longer have cute, round, breast cups on the human female, but are more like long, droopy, bewb-socks. I noticed the horde races still had their cute little cups. QQ :(

Anyhow for my first screenshot back to the game, I decided to do Xu-Fu, with my new legendary cloak. Taken at Temple of the White Tiger:

See you all in World's of Draenor! Good luck catching all the new pets!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost Cub Found!

Yuki found!

The Lost Cub Hunt has ended! My adorable Cub, Yuki has been found safe and sound, with her Snowfrolic Fox friend in The Hidden Grove! Thank you to everyone who participated. 

I'd like to start out by saying I've had a huge smile on my face all week. I received hundreds of correct entries for The Lost Cub Hunt, but was overwhelmed by all the wonderful responses that accompanied many of your entries. Your kind comments, and your clever and heartwarming tales, poems, and screenshots of the hunt were such an unexpected delight! I always enjoy my give-away contests, but this one was especially fun for me because of all your positive feedback. It has really encouraged me to hold more give-away contests in the future. I'd like to once again thank for keeping the pet collecting community so well informed, and for featuring my contest in the news.

Edit: The first place Lost Cub Hunt reward Spectral Kitten Loot Card winner is Louice Adler! Congratulations, Louice! Runner-Up and winner of the Nightsaber Cub Loot Card is Schioel of Mal'Ganis! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spectral Kitten Loot Card Giveaway!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and received a pet or two from Greatfather Winter.

Did you make your New Year's resolutions? I sometimes find that New Year's resolutions can be difficult to keep, so this year I've resolved to simply enjoy life more. I resolve to follow in the footsteps of the Snowfrolic Fox!

Unfortunately, the new year has started off on a slightly unhappy note. My beautiful Winterspring Cub has wandered off and gotten lost, and I need your help to find her. I will be giving away a very rare Spectral Kitten Loot Card as a reward for one lucky participant in my Lost Cub Hunt.

The Lost Cub Hunt begins at 12:01am (EST), January 5th, 2013. In order to be eligible for the reward, you must follow the contest rules and the guidelines of the hunt

I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment below, but once the Lost Cub Hunt begins, DO NOT share any of your hunt discoveries!

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pilgrim's Bounty and the Portrait Process

Happy Pilgrim's Bounty! Don't forget your world event quests and the meta achievement for your Plump Turkey pet! On the subject of succulent birds, my friend Robert (Kalán - Stormrage) and I were talking pets the other day, and he told me about an idea he had for a combat pet: a Turducken! Awesome. I would love to see that in the game! Pilgrim's Bounty also offers festive attire if you're a clothing collector. Unfortunately, non-transmogrify items.

I've owned so much clothing and armor over the years that I have most of the older sets memorized by now. Sometimes I'll know exactly what set will be paired with a new pet the moment I add it to my collection. Other times it's more of a process. In the past, there wasn't much in the way of resources to search for a specific look. With the advent of transmogrification, several useful resources are now available for hoarders collectors, from mods to websites. I haven't decided yet if that makes it easier or more complicated! While transmogrification has certainly made it much easier to find just the right piece, auction house prices have gone through the roof. Bargains can still be had if you're patient and persistent, however. If I find an interesting piece or prop at a decent price, I'll pop it in the bank for a future shot.

So I've decided to post an example of the process of taking one of my pet screenshots, start to finish. If you get through this entire article, chances are you'll be left wondering why on earth I put so much work into every single portrait. I can assure you I often wonder the same thing.

When I earned the Jade Tentacle, my idea for the screenshot was  to try to recreate the giant squid scene from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A long time ago I earned a quest reward called Buckler of the Seas, which is a shield shaped like a ship's wheel. I've been wanting to use it for a nautical themed shot, so I figured it might work well here. I'd also recently picked up a goblin Promotional Cap as a quest reward, which looks a bit like a navy cap. I shopped around for some non-pirate nautical clothing without success - so I decided to dig my tuxedo out of mothballs and pair it with Astralaan bracers for the captain sleeve "stripes".

Next I needed to find a backdrop. I wanted a submarine deck, so I scouted around. The submarines in Vashj'ir were in a dark cave, so the lighting was poor. I found submarines in Uldum and Gilneas, and settled on the Gilneas sub. In order to get a nice close-up of the pet and outfit, I need to zoom the camera quite far in. I'll then move around the setting inch by inch, pointing the camera from several directions. This may seem tedious, but it allows me to visually frame the shot while zoomed in. I'm trying to find suitable lighting, but more importantly, I'm trying to balance and frame the composition to include relevant objects in the background. This step can take an hour or more. Zoomed in, there isn't much on the submarine deck that says "submarine", with the exception of the wheel lock on the deck door. I choose the door as my backdrop.

Once I've found the spot I like, I need to pose my pet and then myself. This can be fairly easy if my pet is cooperative. I'll feed my pet a biscuit and simply lead/turn him into the right spot, then move into position. Unfortunately, not all pets are cooperative. Some nod off to sleep, wander away, burrow, or fidget (idle animations). These pets typically reset their position based on where I happen to be standing. This used to frustrate me, but I've grown to kind of enjoy the challenge of posing uncooperative pets. The Jade Tentacle posed a different issue. It's a stationary pet, only bursting out of the ground near where I stand. Once it's up, however, it stays there until I move. In this situation, getting it to burst out of the ground in just the right spot was the challenge. Since I wanted the tentacle to appear as if it were climbing up onto the deck and not poking through the hull, I had to get it to burst from the steps leading up to the deck. Another 15-20 minutes tick by.

At last I've got my pet positioned! Now I move back into my pose, re-frame the composition and finally take the shot. Not so fast... now I wait. 

"Wait? What for?", you're probably asking. 

I'm waiting for that perfect moment. I want to capture the pet at the moment it looks best, whether it's blowing bubbles, breathing fire, the upbeat of wings, or in the case of my Jade Tentacle, whipping around me. More than once I've waited what feels like ages to capture an idle animation, only to open the image later and discover I blinked! More waiting. Click. Click. I'll get a few extras, just to be sure, then I'll select my favorite from the bunch. Done!

Except I'm not liking any of the shots.

Sigh. I've now decided I'd like it to be more of an action shot. You know, where it looks like I'm fighting off the tentacle as it attacks the submarine. For this, I need an attack pose. For an attack pose, I need a non-friendly mob to target, and of course there are none in sight. I decide to recruit a friend to help. My friend Michael, who is always happy to help me, flies out to Gilneas and challenges me to a duel on the deck of the submarine. I can now target him on the far end of the deck and put myself in an attack pose. I reposition the shot. Click. Click. Click.

Nearly another hour and more than 60 screenshots later, I think I finally have my shot. Oddly enough, even after all the fuss I'm not completely thrilled with the final Jade Tentacle portrait. I may decide to re-shoot it some day, but for now it's finished. I posted this article as an example of the screenshot process. Believe it or not, this is somewhat typical for every portrait. At just over 200 portraits in my gallery, I only have 250 (and counting) to go! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Back On Track!

Hello, friends! It's been a year since I posted last. I took a break from World of Warcraft before the release of Mists of Pandaria. I'm back and collecting pets before I'm even high enough level to tame the zones I'm in.

I just wanted to let everyone know I'll be posting a real update here soon, as well as going back to repair all the broken image file links. I would love hearing from you! Let me know how your collecting is going or if you've seen anything worth spotlighting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Latest Pets

I purchased a Guardian Cub yesterday. If you haven't gotten yours yet, you really should! It's a truly adorable pet, with several cute animations including a somersault, sitting up, comical yawn-roars, and my favorite: standing up to swat at a firefly but ending up in a belly-flop on the ground. So delightful!

The Guardian Cub pet matches the Winged Guardian mount, one of my favorite mounts in the game. Whoever at Blizz created these two creatures deserves very high praise. As an animal artist, I can really appreciate the skill and artistry involved. This is level of quality is what keeps me excited about World of Warcraft. Well done, Blizzard!

I'd been using my new favorite add-on (Mogit) to find an armor set for my Guardian screenshots and found Ornate Mithril armor. I remembered I had reshot my old Pet Bombling portrait where I was wearing that set, opting instead for the sunscale set. Ornate Mithril armor was a very good match for my Guardians, but sadly I had vendored it after I took the Bombling screenshot. Then I discovered that the quests to learn those plans were removed from the game, making this armor increasingly difficult to locate. Blacksmiths with the Ornate Mithril set should keep this in mind for the transmogrification process. Luckily, my new friends in Militis Justica came to my rescue, crafting a new set for my screenshots!

Hopefully many of you were lucky enough to attend Blizzcon, or at the very least purchase the live coverage, and were rewarded with the delightfully demented Murkablo! Purchasing Blizzcon is well worth the money, even without the pet reward. But this hot new pet spews fire, belches smoke, blows a giant smoke ring then leaps through it, and even hovers overhead spraying fire down on everything below. My eyebrows got badly singed during this shoot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hallow's End and Day of the Dead festivities. My only wish (which I am sure many of you share) is that the Macabre Marionette become a permanent pet. I guess Day of the Dead tradition is to invite the lost to return to the living and celebrate for a day, so I should just enjoy him while I can. It's only fitting. 

Hoping 4.3 goes live soon! I can't do much with such a full inventory! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fish Story Winners!

I really loved reading everyone's fish stories in the comments. It's always nice to know there are other people out there besides myself who have dedicated so much time to add to their collections. The winners of the Bloat loot cards are:


Congratulations, winners!  Please email me to claim your cards!

A couple of months ago while talking pets with my friend Jen, the subject of Dragonwrath achievement pet, Lil' Tarecgosa, came up. We were both very excited that her guild was working on the achievement. I told her that although I loved my guild (The Basin), sadly the legendary staff was a distant goal for us so I'd be unable to add that pet to my collection for a very long time. The next time we talked, she told me her guild was offering me a membership for a chance to get the pet. I could not believe their generosity! After much soul-searching and discussion with both guilds, I decided to temporarily leave my guild and join Militis Justica. They finished the staff shortly after, and the guild got the pet. It took longer than expected for me to grind my reputation to exalted, but I eventually got there. My favorite new pet, Lil' Tarecgosa, has such special meaning for me. I want to thank Militis Justica for such a generous gift, and The Basin for their understanding of my deep affinity for Warcraft pet collecting.

Over the next several weeks hope to be farming armor pieces for my Lil' Tarecgosa screenshot with my new friends in Militis Justica. 

I've also been having fun putting together other sets in anticipation of the 4.3 transmogrification feature. Thanks once again to my friend Jen, I learned about an amazing new add-on called Mogit. This mod lets you search for armor, sorting by class, material, slot, color, level, etc. With this mod, I was able to find and complete a new set that will likely be my main xmog look. I'm very excited about this add-on. It promises to be invaluable for my armor collection and screenshots!