This is the Owl Moon Priestess. The icon for this hero is already in the Warcraft III game, located at ReplaceableTextures\CommandButtons\BTNHeroMoonPriestess.
So, basically while Reforged was being made (back in Spring 2019), I made a caricature of myself by making a Discord server called "Save Owl Moon Priestess." Basically it really grew on me ideologically that if Reforged -- when it came out -- was going to celebrate the history of Warcraft III, then it should also celebrate that history by including characters such as the Owl Moon Priestess from the Reign of Chaos Alpha as a hidden SD model in Reforged for us users to find and discover and use in our custom maps. Also, when I was a kid I had a stuffed owl instead of a stuffed bear, so I was probably just partial to the idea of this model for no good reason.
Here is the text from the #mission channel on the Discord (posted 02/01/2019):
Our mission statement on this server is that Owl Moon Priestess model file must be added to a future WarCraft III patch as a "hidden model file". This means including it in the archives even if there are no references to it in the game. The reason for adding it is for inspiration and excitement regarding WarCraft III, that is all.
Including a BLP0 or MAX/TGA file is sufficient because the community has War3ArtTools on 3DS Max 5 released by Blizzard from when WarCraft III was created.
The community also has BLP0 parsers.
This is the model. There are fan based REMAKE copy models, but the only remaining true version of the model (if it has not been deleted) is held within a Blizzard office for a WarCraft III Alpha build.
Owl Moon Priestess as SD Reforged DLC is also acceptable!
You can find pictures of the Owl Moon Priestess hero like the ones above if you dig really hard through the Warcraft III Alpha archives that some fans have maintained in the dark corners of the internet. I attached all of the pictures that I have found of the original model to this bundle, although the primary display icon is a screenshot of my own.
Sometimes when I ask people -- even people who are deep into Warcraft III modding -- if they know of any way to find the original model file for this hero anywhere on Planet Earth, they tell me that I should look here: HeroMoonPriestess
And that's funny because the model at that link is just really clearly a fan-made recreation. It's literally the Priestess of the Moon from the release client of Warcraft III stapled onto the owl. It's an inventive way to make a close fake, but it's not the nearly the same as the original model.
The night elven rider was reworked or possibly entirely remade between the Blizzard model in the Alpha photos and the model available riding on the tiger in released game version (and thus in the garfield model linked above that is a fan creation based on the tiger rider).
The way that Garfield got his owl is by attempting to reconstruct the Blizzard version from leaked data in the Frozen Throne game files -- specifically, the Portrait model of the Snowy Owl. That portrait file was made in a hurry by Blizzard artists during the development of The Frozen Throne. The artists wanted a higher resolution owl than the Snowy Owl critter, so they literally took the old Hero Moon Priestess asset that was available to them at the time, deleted the rider, and replaced the texture with the Snowy Owl texture (which fit because the art had been reused as a recolor when making the Snowy Owl originally).
The way that Garfield got his owl's texture file is again because of this kind of leak. The Sentinel spell in the release version of Warcraft III shows signs of being a mostly sepia recolor and down-sample of the original Hero Moon Priestess unreleased Blizzard model. In certain texture editing software, the Alpha channels of the Sentinel spell owl's texture contain a dark outline of the rider lady where she was painted over with black to remove her from the texture, but the Alpha channel of the file was not removed.
So, I continued to want the original version of the model and I continued to never be given it by anybody. I told them that I know the original model was in a binary format that nobody would understand anymore, with its textures being a whole folder of mip-map textures instead of a single BLP. But on the Hive, as a community, we have parsers for the ancient unreleased Blizzard formats.
So I told Kam while he worked on Reforged that if they ever found this old asset at Blizzard they should send it to me, regardless of file format. I also emailed more recently before rumors said that Team 1 was dissolved at Blizzard or whatever, and I emailed to the Public Relations of the Activision Blizzard, and I asked them:
Hi Blizzard Public Relations,
I wanted to ask if the model art asset still exists for the Owl-riding version of the Priestess of the Moon on Warcraft 3. This model was featured in 2002 footage of Warcraft 3 prior to the game's release but the model was never published. So I was hoping to ask if I could get access to this old model file for Warcraft 3 custom maps.
I have all the old technology I have been keeping, including a parser for the 2002 Warcraft 3 beta BLP images format, as well as a Windows XP Virtual Machine that has Discreet 3ds Max installed with a license from 2004 and with the War3ArtTools plugins. So if this old art asset exists in any format on Earth, I can port it to run on Warcraft III: Reforged to use it in custom game maps with my friends. And I was just wondering if there was any chance of the 3d model art ever being made public. My goal here is to continue to celebrate the legacy of Warcraft III along with Reforged and to continue to enjoy everything the game is and has ever been.
I will include an attachment on this email containing some pictures of the 3D asset that I am referring to.
I know that this request might be impossible to fulfill if these old art files were damaged or lost in the last 18 years there in the Blizzard offices, or if there is not a legal way to share them with custom map developers. But that's also why I was asking. I have no deadline. If you email me back in a month or in six months, that's still cool. I am just someone who enjoys Warcraft III.
Ultimately, on 11/22/2020, the great purpose of the Save Owl Moon Priestess Discord Server was proven to be a lost caused for all time. Planet Earth will never have this 3D model file -- like old books in lost human eras with corrupt leaders doing the book burning, this piece of artwork is lost to the human race. I know this truth because I said to Kam on Discord:
I found a video online of someone training the owl moon priestess hero at E3 2001
but the training bar never finishes
so no additional content for me of how exactly it should look
wouldn't it be fun to play this build in multiplayer just to see how different it was?
So, in the spirit of Warsmash liberation and freeing myself from the past by creating something new that is meant to be identical to the past, I decided to try to recreate the model as best as I could despite myself being more of a programmer than an artist.
To this end, although I did not use the content from the Garfield model, I performed similar model blending, but I sought to expand upon it in the following ways:
There will be one united texture for how the original model actually was, and it contains both the rider and the owl in higher resolution than the Sentinel Spell texture. So, I used the AI Topaz Gigapixel Free Trial to enhance the resolution of the Sentinel Spell texture as the basis for my custom texture file.
On my custom texture file, I then transplanted pictures of the old screenshots of the Blizzard artwork along with some hand-drawn doodles of my attempt at recreating the old skin of the way the rider looks in the pictures. I tried to use and follow the original Blizzard Alpha-channel layer from the leaked down-sampled texture of the true, original Alpha Moon Priestess rider data that is left behind as a footprint in the Sentinel Spell texture.
For my transplanted texture, I combined some of the art files of the Reign of Chaos tiger rider night elf lady with the rest as well.
I added team color to my custom derivative of the Sentinel Spell texture to try to align with where we see it in the Blizzard model. This includes the forehead of the owl, as well as the strip along the wings and the strip above the tail.
After doing the model merge of the upper half of the tiger rider lady onto the custom model and retexturing it to use the unified texture file, I did strategically placed model splicing to try to combine the two models together, and used the Retera Model Studio "Optimize->Minimize Geosets" function to union the geosets of the two merged models together as well to be in the spirit of how this kind of Blizzard model would have been formatted.
I did numerous animation tweaks to the body positions of the rider on the owl so that she would fit better and be closer to how the original Blizzard artwork appears to have looked in the pictures.
On 11/23/2020, I did a comparison pose between my attempted restoration and a screenshot of the original:
We can tell that the merging point between the rider and the owl is the most shoddy because it is the part for which I have the least restorable information to work off of (being not much of an artist myself).
Some people have a theory that the original model's texture colors would have been different from the color palette that I have available based on the AI-upscaled version of the Sentinel Spell. This might be true. But I have a theory also that the difference may have been the older Reign of Chaos pre-release game's lighting colors.
Below I have a video where I tried to play on my custom recreation Warcraft III modding engine, "Warsmash" where I sought to emulate the lighting colors from the Reign of Chaos Beta, and my theory is that the owl colors actually are not very far from what we see in the old Blizzard screenshots:
After all of these efforts of mine to recreate the original, I became aware that there was another screenshot of the original that I had not previously seen that confirmed for me that my design was missing a flappy sort of cape behind her back, which I came back later on 03/08/2021 to try to add back into the model.
So, the model uploaded here is my current latest version, including the flappy cape on her back, which I attempted to animate by hand rather arbitrarily because I have no way of knowing how the original might have been animated. I can already tell that my reproduction cape does not fully match the original. Feel free to modify this model or continue to seek a closer 1:1 match against the original lost artwork as much as you like.
Or, as always, feel free to modify the model however you like. I might have spent all this time trying to recreate it, but in a certain manner of thinking, it's more or less Blizzard's original artwork anyway. [Dramatization: This took me hours to "create" in the ways listed above. It is not actually Blizzard's original artwork.]
And, if you are a Blizzard archivist, by the Titans send me the old file to upload as a replacement for this fake fan model here on this site!
I don't think I have that file, but if I wanted it, I would generate it very quickly and easily by importing the animations onto the release version of the Tree of Life (they are stored in its portrait file).
Edit: I found a screenshot of something I made one time that was inspired by that idea:
is that worth uploading? was a quick import job in RMS and some fun with a custom texture as I recall...