VFX artist Stephanie Anderson on the love and care which goes into Total War: Warhammer II ’s bloodiest effects.
More is more
The BloodfortheBloodGodII pack adds extravagant gore to Warhammer “It can be quite excessive at times,” admits Anderson. “You end up drenched in a sea of blood with decapitated limbs all over the battlefield.”
The meatiness of gory explosions when a unit is cleaved at the waist took some tweaking. They needed to be gross but not too over-the-top. “When the chunks got too big they took too much of the focus,” says Anderson.
Tech developments mean
WarhammerII can handle more blood and particle effects than games like RomeII and Shogun2. Thus you can now have “a full blood explosion complete with flying gibs when units are cleaved in half”.
It’s not just about showpiece spurts; effects need to peter out over time. After the ‘gosh!’ moment of a waist cleaving, the stump falls to the floor, blood pulsing. Artists then tweak and rebalance the effects until they’re satisfyingly gory.
Realistic references are a starting point for new textures. Anderson spent a lot of time looking at pig carcass images to help with the gory chunks in the blood decals. It was surreal at first but she says, “It normalizes after a little while.”
“We use 12 different particle emitters to create the blood explosion, and most are small simulations that wouldn’t look like much on their own,” says Anderson. But they come together via delicate layering to make believable, satisfying effects.
LEFT: The blood explosions form crimson fireworks, which are visible from a distance, and help bridge the gap between adding gory detail to the battlefield, and keeping the action legible for players.
BELOW: This prototype animation shows the Terrorgheist treating a unit like a bloodied ragdoll. The gory trail helps emphasize the arcing motions as it’s thrown into the air.
RIGHT: Prototyping the effects of a powerful swipe from a Greenskin troll. There’s a shower of meaty chunks from the Empire soldier, each trailing blood plus blood patches on the ground, and blood spurts from the torso stump.