Creating a Character, Part 1: Thought Processes

Now that I'll be more visible, I think I should do something worthwhile. So I'll be posting an occasional article or something on various subjects, and today's is on character creation in Hero Machine.

Now, just in case anyone wonders how I'm qualified to do that, let me tell you that I have half(ish) an associates degree in graphic design. So there.

Anyway, the first thing I usually do is figure out at least one of two things--Why am I doing this? and Who is it for? Take the recent Fantasy character contest as an example.  (These are my first two entries. Click away! And don't worry when it says "download attachment," it just displays it.)

When I did the fearsome Fierra, my intent was to build on a character I created years ago with the newer tools and abilities of HM3. I've figured out quite a few things since the 2.0 days, and a Photoshopped Fierra of back then can't even touch an incomplete Fierra in HM3. (Incomplete only because my browser crashed from the interwoven awesomeness, apparently.)

A brief look at Fierra's design history

This is a character I love and cherish, and her story, though not the main one in the overarching epic I'm trying to write, is still important and fulfilling to me. So I did it because I wanted to meet her, and I did it for me.

Now look at my Epic Fail Monk again (see above. No, higher, high--there ya go.)  Obviously not one of my best works, but I tried to do a number of things I hadn't seen tried before. (Anyone who did try, I'm sorry that I haven't seen your version yet. And yours probably looks better anyway.) The downcast face, the slumped shoulders, the pants and vest masked to show movement, and the grass growing beside the path were all things I wanted to try.

But that was exactly what I was doing. I was using him as a testbed. I tried something different, to get better at the program, and show new ways of doing things. The tall grass was done with the bandages pattern (turned 90 degrees and squashed flat) and the top of the grass was just the random wear pattern. But it gave the picture a look of depth and life, more so than just a blank screen. We saw the world he was in.

So, in effect, I did it to learn, and I did it for everyone.

I know that inside of a week, someone will use something from that and create a REALLY awesome piece of artwork. Go right ahead, Mystery Artist. Knock me out of the park. I had fun, and I learned something. Maybe some of it was learned what NOT to do, or what I need to fix next time (btw, decrease the width of the mouth for a more effective slanting-downward look.)

Next topic should be "How do I make the character I want?" Until next time, true believers!

(I'm so getting sued for that...)

And, for a superhero-related capper, a hugely popular fan-made trailer:

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