Anatomy: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (WoW)

I’m actually working on a post that’s not about video games, but unfortunately it’s going to take more time than I have today to do the research. So instead I’m doing a quickie anatomy lesson picking on World of Warcraft. I was tempted to pick on Crapping Frost Mage again, but considering that I used it for a gender swap already I decided that would probably be cheating. (Also, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.) So I went with this wallpaper instead, which features one of the oldest pieces of promo art still in use from the first game:

Oh man. Where to begin…

So first of all, note how small her head is. Now because her feet are cut off, it’s a little hard to tell exactly how tall the figure is, but the average human is 7 heads tall and she is definitely way taller than that. There is some variance to be had, some people don’t conform to 7 heads exactly. But the difference is also never that large. Also, she’s got a serious case of gravity-defying sphere-boob as well as some missing organs:

If you stack the heads up and make an estimated guess of where the feet would be, it looks like she’d be around 8-8.5 heads tall, which is just kind of freakish. I know that those proportions are commonly used by comic artists in order to make the female figure more “statuesque”, but that sort of thing is ridiculous in my books. I want my women to look like actual women, not statues.

Also of note, her waist is actually narrower than her already too-small head, which kind of freaks me out. There’s no way she’s wearing a corset, because that would require her midriff to actually be covered. Unless she’s using magic to create a magical corset forcefield, which just seems like a waste of energy. I mean, aren’t adventurers in WoW supposed to be out to conquer evil? Corset spells seem like they’d just be too big a drain on mana.

Now, interestingly, even the artist seemed to be wrestling with the results of the too-small torso, because he attempted to make the shoulders wide enough to support the head and overcompensated. The result is that if you follow the curve of her back and ribcage, her shoulder isn’t actually connected to her ribs. Her arm is apparently just floating in space, which I’ll admit is a pretty neat trick. I imagine it comes in handy for getting things off of high shelves if you can pop off your arm and send it floating around.

And, of course, she has sphere-boobs that practically have their own anti-gravity fields, but that goes without saying at this point, I suppose.

So with all of these things in mind, I sketched my corrections on top of the image:

Now I’ll admit that I think I may have made her a bit on the unhealthy side if she’s anywhere past about 18. If she’s still got a teenage metabolism, then this is fine and healthy, but if she’s older then not so much. But we’ll presume that summoning arcane forces burns calories and call this close enough. Even with a potentially problematic waistline, you can see the vast difference between this figure and the original. Her waist is not quite double the size, and her boobs are actually affected by gravity now.

And just to make that a bit easier to see:

Yikes. That shoulder thing is just weirding me out. If you’re going to continue making ridiculous cheesecake art, Blizzard, can you at least make sure that their joints all connect correctly?

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

39 Responses to Anatomy: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (WoW)

  1. Mirasiel says:

    I wonder, is the male blizzard art anatomically just as bad or just the female stuff?

    I ask because I suck at art*, my stick men (and women) all look deformed and I have a hard time um, mentally picturing the changes you laid out clearly. I do recall however when I started playing wow that some of the male art seemed to have men who were 7 feet wide…

    *Yet I can do technical schematics really well but that different I suppose.

    • wundergeek says:

      The anatomy for males in Blizzard artwork seems to follow standard comic conventions of being correct but hugely exaggerated. I always sum it up as saying that men get anatomy+ and women get anatomy-.

      • bhlaab says:

        The small waist I can write off as cartoon exaggeration, even if it is for strictly sex appeal purposes.

        Stuff like the tits being in the wrong place and face the wrong direction just so the cleavage is at a more advantageous angle is just terrible, however. Especially with the arm thing.

  2. Mazed says:

    Blizzard, and most specifically the Warcraft art team, seem to be distinctly uncomfortable with females in general. They seem torn between attempting to make them adhere to the same ‘bulky’ style everyone else has got, and feeling an obligation to fetishize them for the benefit of the male demographic. They can’t reconcile both, and the result is stuff like this–that weird-ass shoulder problem you pointed out is an obvious symptom.

    This blog already covers just how awful most of the females in Warcraft promo art are.

    The issue, fortunately, doesn’t extend to the in-game character models so much, particularly the human, night elf, orc, dwarf, tauren, and goblin women (all genuinely good, minus a few stupid animation gripes for dwarves and night elves), but sadly this tends to last only as long as they remain lightly armored. It’s blatantly obvious that any time they design new equipment it’s done on a male frame. Shoulder armor’s appearance on my female human death knight makes me die a little inside. The only benefit there is that they’ve been moving away from the ridiculous mail-bikinis in early designs.

    On the subject of males: Promo art does them generally well, as they’re obviously quite comfortable working with their big-and-bulky style, but the issue is flipped around with the in-game models. Back problems on many Horde races, awkwardly bloated draenei, and I’ve never met a soul who doesn’t think the human male model isn’t utterly goofy-looking. For decent male models, see: worgen, blood elves, dwarves.

    Blizzard can still do well with female designs–promo art and preview screens for Diablo III demonstrate this. I wish the guys on that team would give the Warcraft team some pointers.

    I, for one, look forward to smashing skulls as a lady Barbarian in all her ripped glory. (the “eww, she’s got man-arms!” comments from greasy fanboys on preview articles are just icing on the cake)

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      I tend to give a bit of charity to people that aren’t actually drawing humans, but WoW art really pushes it. I’ve never seen stuff that garishly ugly, and I’m a veteran of 90′s comic books. The bra/undershirt thing she’s wearing in particular had me thinking her breasts were lopsided until I took a better look. Terrible design.

    • Pai says:

      I seriously think some of the Blizzard modelers have a thinly-veiled fetish for body builders. The way that Draenei males are ridiculously swollen to the point where they don’t look muscular so much as inflated with a bicycle pump just makes me wonder what the modeler was thinking — since Draenei in concept art and the intro movie to Cata were much more normally shaped.

      • wundergeek says:

        I always saw it as them having a superhero fetish, actually. If you look at the anatomy of males versus females, it exactly mirrors what you find in superhero comics.

      • Farseer Lolotea says:

        Now, I don’t see why people keep coming up with complaints like that about the male draenei model.  They don’t look “swollen” to me; they look heavily but sleekly muscled.  If there’s an issue, it’s with their proportions; they’re a bit top-heavy.  Not to a Mr. Incredible degree, but even so.

        The female draenei model, on the other hand, stands less like she’s unguligrade than like she’s wearing heels.

        Now, I’m not really going to address the dimorphism as a whole here; people’s response to “toning it down” is always to try to turn the males into bishies.  (Draenei are canonically a big, imposing race.)

        • Personally, the only part of the male draenei model that looks “swollen” to me is the forearms. Because they’re so huge for their length and bigger than the upper arms, it looks like a bad case of edema to me. I usually have this issue with models that Blizzard employs the “Top Heavy Guy” build on, especially when they have no wrists.

          Even though it’s a cartoony style, I still think it’s silly to make the forearms noticeably larger than the upper arms.

          @promo art

          Wow, I haven’t seen that a while. It’s even sillier than I remember. I’m glad that this terrible anatomy usually doesn’t extend to the in-game models, the female worgen model kinda-sorta being an exception.

      • Pai says:

        Blergh, I meant ‘intro movie to Burning Crusade’.

  3. Meg Thornton says:

    Okay, we’ve got the poor woman’s anatomy back in proportion. Now can we get her standing in a pose which isn’t likely to have her lower back aching like crazy about thirty seconds into the posing process? Why not having her standing straight up, rather than bending over backwards (okay, okay, the reason she’s bending back in the original is to show off the Amazing Gravity-Defying Sphere Boobage, but once the AGDSB is removed, can we stand her back up so her shoulders are centred over her hips?). As someone who *is* top-heavy IRL, I can report that when trying to emulate the pose the figure is standing in the main thing I feel is unbalanced. If I were going to be doing it for any amount of time, I’d want the staff I was holding placed on the floor (vertically) in order to provide a counterbalance for the way my weight is being twisted about.

    For the curious, the main areas of strain I was feeling within about 10 seconds of attempting that pose were in the lower back (lumbar region) and the muscles on the front of my thighs (because you’re stretching those by attempting to balance when leaning back). I wound up having to bend my knees and adopt a rather wide-legged stance in order to be able to hold the pose for more than a couple of seconds. The extended arm wasn’t helping either, and if I had to hold the pose for a long period, I’d be feeling a lot of strain in my shoulders and upper arms, not to mention my neck.

    • wundergeek says:

      Oh I definitely agree, but that would have involved re-drawing the image entirely – something I didn’t have time for yesterday. But yes, I am SO TIRED of the “outthrust ta-tas” school of magic casting.

    • Mazed says:

      It is for the exact reason that you described that I eventually recustomized my one draenei female character as a male.

      Looking at that model from behind for too long was making my back hurt.

      (that and night elves have way cooler attack animations.)

  4. ana says:

    how do you know she’s not wearing a pushup bra?

    • wundergeek says:

      Even with a pushup bra, there’s a limit to how high your breasts will go. I don’t wear pushup bras myself, so I can’t say this with 100% certainty but I’m pretty sure her boobs are too high to be the result of a pushup bra/bustier.

      • Justin says:

        I’m pretty sure that they aren’t too high for what a push-up can achieve. The angle makes it difficult to judge accurately, but they seem to rest at a similar height to my ex’s, who wore such bras. The amount of lift an expensive, Victoria’s Secret bra can achieve on a set of C or D cup breasts is quite significant, which I’ve seen first-hand because of that ex. There were times where it seemed like she could rest her chin on them if she tilted her head forward.

        Of course, they also push them together, which hers don’t appear to be, and typically don’t exist in midieval fantasy settings anyhow.

        • wundergeek says:

          Considering how much engineering goes into modern bras (no really!), I would agree that it’s doubtful they would have that kind of technology handy.

          • Mazed says:

            Heh, technology in Warcraft = Whatever they feel like. They have full-fledged aircraft and vehicles (motorcycles and cars, to name a few). I’m pretty sure there are nuclear reactors somewhere too. Pushup bras would be easy enough to pass off.

            Not that anyone in their right mind would wear that stuff to a FIGHT, but such things seem to be a presiding theme in many an article here.

            • Farseer Lolotea says:

              I’m sure some enterprising gnome (or goblin; while you can’t really weaponize underwear, you can certainly sell it) has invented push-up bras in-universe. 

              But yeah; wearing it in a fight is kind of the issue.  Our mage friend is in corset territory.  A bra that got that kind of lift wouldn’t be at all practical for adventuring in.

  5. Anne says:

    Ick. I knew she looked exaggerated, but it’s nice to see you critique it from an artist’s perspective. Always like these posts +

  6. N says:

    (not related to the post, sorry I don’t know where to post interesting links related to the blog.)
    Bethesda: 102,247,681,536,000,000 Unique Character Variations, And Not One Woman

    http://www.crit-hit.net/102247681536000000-unique-character-variations-and-not-one-woman/

  7. Justin says:

    So I have a small question. A lot of the things you complain about, particularly with regards to sexualization of female characters, you say wouldn’t be such an issue if it were applied equally across gender lines. I’m curious why exaggerated height, as in how many heads tall the characters are, even when applied equally, is such a sticking point for you? I am not judging, or trying to argue against your opinion, just curious. You have a very different viewpoint and mindset from mine when it comes to this stuff, so I am interested in understanding yours better. How much leeway do you give an artist to tweak anatomy for their style before it becomes unacceptable to you?

    • wundergeek says:

      I guess I have a problem with anatomy “tweaking” when it goes beyond improbable but still within human physiological limits. When it passes into anatomically impossible, that’s when I have a problem with it. I think it says a lot about the attitude of game devs toward women that they literally distort the women in their art in such a way as to make them not human so as to appeal to male viewers. It’s problematic, because it’s just part of a larger trend in our society that contributes to a standard of beauty that isn’t attainable by any real female human being. And you can’t just handwave and say that it’s just fantasy or it isn’t real – there’s a reason why eating disorders are so endemic to our society, after all. The prevalence of eating disorders didn’t occur in in a vacuum.

      As for male anatomy… I would also say that I dislike how muscular the WoW men are as well, as I have a suspicion that becoming that muscular isn’t possible without chemical assistance. In the end I refrain from commenting on the men because bodybuilding isn’t a topic that I’m at all knowledgeable of. Anyhow, I don’t think I’d take exception with every male model. The Blood Elves are quite slender and the Dranei are literally big blue tentacled aliens. I go back and forth on the orcs – technically they’re aliens too, but they look like green Neanderthals so maybe I should hold them to a human standard.

      • OUT51D3R says:

        Male Blood Elves were originally designed to be skinnier/more Bishie.

        http://kotaku.com/209895/blood-elves-declared-too-femme-put-on-steroids

        Male Night Elves are -really- ridiculous looking. Blueberry bodybuilders. I would never play one.

        The male trolls and undead are really cool looking though.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        I’m not really sure how being tall makes a woman especially sexy. (I guess that it could maybe make a domme more imposing, but that’s not really the case here) I’ve yet to see spam in my email about her all-natural seven foot height. Maybe this is another fetish I never heard of because it only appeals to heterosexual males.

        Or do you just hate it for being bad art?

        • wundergeek says:

          The 8 heads tall as an ideal of human form is something that’s been around for a while. Leonardo da Vinci considered 8 heads to be the ideal, despite actual people averaging around 7 (plus or minus half a head). It also has strong modern cultural roots coming from comic books. Comic artists always draw their figures as eight heads tall, and often more than 8 heads tall. It gives the figure statuesque proportions and makes them look “heroic”. It’s especially noticeable when you look at super-bulky comic characters like the hulk, but almost all comic characters have those exaggerated proportions.

          Myself, I don’t find it attractive (to me Bayonetta is freakish, not sexy). And the reason I dislike it is because it’s yet another example of the ideal of feminine beauty being defined as something anatomically impossible for 99.9% of human beings.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            Ah, okay. Not really into superheroes that much. This may or may not have been from girlfriends bitching constantly about how terrible current runs are. (My theory is that sex workers like superheroes because those are the characters that most closely resemble themselves.) Closest I get is Marvel’s Hercules book.

            I am curious though: how is this about a female beauty standard if men and women are both drawn this way? (And yes, I know the difference between male and female superhero art. Just specifying height here.)

            • Ikkin says:

              I am curious though: how is this about a female beauty standard if men and women are both drawn this way? (And yes, I know the difference between male and female superhero art. Just specifying height here.)

              I obviously can’t speak for Wundergeek, but I think that’s down to the fact that, while the male superhero ideal is clearly intended to be imposing, everything else that could make an eight-heads-tall female character intimidating is stripped away to the point that that interpretation doesn’t work anymore.

              Plus, the super-tall-but-rail-thin ideal is used for fashion design drawings, which seems like a pretty good hint that it’s a beauty thing.

            • wundergeek says:

              Pretty much what Ikkin said. But also – male superheroes get anatomy+. The baseline starts at male human anatomy and is exaggerated for heroic effect. FEMALE superheroes get anatomy-, where the baseline starts at male human anatomy and stuff is removed until the result is anatomically impossible. There’s a pretty fundamental attitude difference between the two.

  8. Ivan says:

    Ok so I read some of this and even though I am a male I have to agree with the baseline thought of this blog, overly sexual content in games does not help sales and speaks poorly of the entire gaming community, but I have 3 things to point out now: a) I would very much like to read your opinion on the Witcher games( started reading this blog in 2011) b)Please give me an opinion about League of Legends( and a rant about their newest skin for Kayle would be something that interests me, I mean she is a knight from another world wearing an old and powerful piece of unisex armor, why did they give her a skin with a ,,breastplate”?) c) No insult meant by this ,but I would like your opinion on why this: http://www.gamesofdesire.com/3d/island-girl/(a bit of warning: the rest of the site is the usual hentai game crap), is the only hentai game with a (semi-)realistic depiction of a real sexual encounter I can find on the net?

    • Ivan says:

      the site is without: (a ;at the end sry about that. first time actively participating in a blog.

      • wundergeek says:

        1) The Witcher is creepy and horrific. All of the major characters (from my understanding) are male, and women are LITERALLY collected like trading cards. That’s just fucking awful.

        2) Chainmail bikinis are stupid and awful. League of Legends is particularly bad about this, since on the forum threads I’ve read people will say “well it’s all about the backstory”. No, it’s about showing her bewbs.

        3) Your link still didn’t work, but um. A porn warning would have been appreciated.

        • Ivan says:

          1) All the main characters are not male, there are several female characters that are independent and one of them even though she is a hooker does not have a sex card to be gained(you can not have sex with her), also the whole trading cards thing was the only dumb thing they did with the sex options in this game, you see all witchers( the protagonist included) are infertile and as such are used by the women of the lands they live in as a method of having sex without the risk of getting pregnant, in other words the sex cards you can collect include: a not so bright peasant girl who has an ongoing relationship with a traveler who brings her flowers for her giving it up( on a side note you find the bastard dead on a road outside her village flowers in hand and that is how you get that one), a promiscuous girl who you save from a rape and then escort to her house( you do not get any for just foiling a rape and even after you escort her you have to find and bring her favorite wine to the date spot for a card to be gained), a witch(but you can only get that one when she offers herself out to you to save her from getting burned at the stake but it is a complex morality choice where the good option is to save the witch, since the villagers who want to burn her are about as clean as an unattended stable full of horses, not to say that she is not guilty of some foul deeds but unlike the villagers she will try to be a better person if you protect her, but you do not have to have sex with her to do so), and so on of all the women you meet in the streets most will be uninterested in having a conversation with you let alone sex, so your sex options are limited to the local nymphomaniacs, some heat of the moment no pregnancy risk events, a couple of moral choices( in all but the vampire encounter the sex is optional, I know it is a stereotype and a dumb one too),a demigoddess that can not get a date(not even a bit of romantic dialogue) on the fact that she is that powerful so either the men find themselves unworthy or they are just downright freaked out by her(and yes they masturbate about her behind her back witch since she is a demigoddess is a fact that she is aware of, painfully so), and of course the love quest which gives you a choice between two independent women( a healer and a sorceress) and then you have to court them before you get any good pictures(ok you can do the sorceress in the tower once when she gets wounded in the first boss fight but: a) she either gets wounded killing a big bug that is the distraction, and that you yourself can not take on directly but have to stun to even be able to hurt it or she gets hurt fighting the entire main raiding party on her own, and she gets most of them too;b) she has had a crush on the protagonist for a better part of her life, even if you do not chose her she saves your but at the end of the 3rd chapter when you are captured she transports you out of there with a spell). Now about calling witcher creepy and horrific, you are half-right you see it is not set in that black and white censored world you get with most high fantasy RPGs, instead you have a world of moral greys that is well done and realistic (the sex parts do not feel like something that is added for fanservice alone, although a few of the sex encounters I have skipped on the fact that they embody the stupidity that can be found in real life, you can argue me on that and please do if you have a thought there), but it also represents an early medieval land, read the history books it was not a pretty place to live in.
          2) Um League of Legends does not have chain mail bikinis, leather or cloth bikinis yes but no chain mail or full plate ones. Second you are right most female characters in the game have their boobs shoved one way or another but for some of them it is a character statement and others have been given visible boobs for no good reason( Lux to name one, I mean she is wearing full body armor her breasts should not be that visible), but my original post was about Kayle whose main skin is a full plate unisex armor, the only way you know if she is male or female for certain is to either read the backstory or to chose her as your character in witch case you hear her decidedly female voice, and they went and gave her a skin in witch she is both unmasked and with boob room on armor, that is just stupid fanservice thing used to make their users buy premium currency and spend it there.
          3) Hentai means animated porn, and from now on I will give a warning with such a question sorry about that.

          • LilithXIV says:

            Ivan, you should space your posts into paragraphs instead of just one big one. Otherwise people will have a hard time reading this.

            To Witcher, I will simply say.. the sex cards are enough to find the game not worth it and unappealing really. Because it treats women as not collective sex objects, trophies to ‘conquer’ :\ On the ‘it’s history so sexism is fine’ thing.. it’s a fantasy world.. the sexism is only there because the writers wanted it there.

            • Ivan says:

              No it is not the simple: ,,it’s history so sexism is fine thing”; the world of witcher is based on the time period around the fall of the western roman empire when people(some of the women included) thought that a woman had an active and unending libido, also I said it about the cards thing: it’s crap, but also you are correct the sex thing is there because the writers wanted it there but the world of Witcher is one that is made to be a type of reflection of our own world, not an escape from it, it is a style certain European writers use and it does not advertise itself with sex every time, take Dampyr for example I have read up to and number 37 and it only had a naked female in 4 numbers and I found that, and yet even though in Europe Dampyr is at number 120 and something, in America it was not published beyond number 7 so that speaks about what Europeans are interested in and what Americans are interested in, so to clear the air about Witcher it is a RPG that is trying to adapt a narrative that is usual to be found only in books(comic or otherwise) and has only so far been seen at all in the gaming industry in some point and click adventures, and even there it was transfered poorly into the gaming medium, so about the sex thing: they did it wrong in Witcher one, and I am uncertain if they will do it right in Witcher two, but I can tell you this playing Witcher one felt like I was being led trough that type of narrative so I did close my eyes to the sex thing as it was the only thing they got wrong and fanservicy. And it was optional: in almost all quests your options are not tied in to a sex card, you do not have to do it if you do not want to.

        • Ivan says:

          OK so the porn game thing, and yes the rest of the site is the usual porn game site crap, but this game is as I said semi-real, you have to court the girl by first collecting flowers, then you have to get her in the mood with a sponge bath and then you can have sex in the game, the girl does not have twin jugs on her chest, but the game’s auto button is also the turbo button, and the time that passes in game is about 1/4 to 1/2 off the day of the game events, also unlike most porn games this one took me a whole hour to complete(I might have been slow at it) unlike most others witch take 5 minutes tops. So my question about this one game ties in with this blog because: a) the girl looks real, no big M class boobs, and she does not let the guy into her pants just like that you are shown that they spend most of the day with one another before bathing one other and then getting it on;b)most porn games are in fact the very thing you talk about in this blog: two-dimensional women, with bikini suits and unnatural proportions( witch are worse then in any video game I have read about in your blog). So my question is: I am a single male in the early 20s and all that I could find at all real on the free internet porn game community was this: http://www.gamesofdesire.com/3d/island-girl/ ;You are correct in your blogs that sex does not sell video games, but my point is if only one of all the sex games I have played was not, in my opinion, overly sexualised what does that say about what are a young male interests, because you can be sure that at least one of the males in any game creative team has been to one of these sites and seen the insanity that is there and though of it nothing more than ,,this is the expected thing”. Again sorry about the lack of a ,,this is a porn game warning”.

  9. FarisScherwiz says:

    Yeah, a lot of art in WoW is really off. I guess they have a bunch of different artists because it seems to jump from one end to the other (and everywhere in between.) Like this one is awful, while this one here: http://www.securitycurve.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/jzcxof0.jpg
    Looks to have better anatomy.

    Also, I’m 27 and have that physique you drew in blue. I don’t have an eating disorder and I’m not unhealthy, that was a little unnecessary. :|

    • wundergeek says:

      First off, sorry about my comments. I’m always very self-conscious about things like that in my work because there’s a fine line between a figure reading as “athletic” and “anorexic”. It’s something that I’m always watching out for, and I was a bit unsure about where that drawing fell on that spectrum.

      As for that piece, the anatomy is better. The breasts are shaped like actual breasts and not like spheres pinned to her chest. I’m not too sure about her waist, though. It still looks too narrow to me, but maybe she starts her day with 200 crunches. The outfit makes it hard to tell. (Of course the pose and costume are still ridiculous as well.)

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