Character Contest 53 Winner!

Having slowly dug out of the big snow storm that hit Durango on Move Day, and having stolen my wife's laptop and USB cellular internet doohickey pending the delayed installation of the permanent Internet hardware, I am happy to finally present the best of the entries for Character Contest 53! I'll list all the Finalists in alphabetical order, before announcing which of them is the overall winner.


I like a lot of things about Anarchangel's "Gold Digger". The play on words is great, with the gold skin and the professional outfit. The thugs flanking her are great, too. The simple slanted brick wall with the shadow gradient works really well to set the scene without being obtrusive. Plus, no blood and guts, while still being evil!

Asder's "Copia DeSiluz" (hope I got that right) features a strong, consistent color scheme and outstanding surrounding elements. I love the ethereal, menacing feeling the composition evokes.

Atomic Punk's "Dr. Menudo" was one of the better "scene" submissions. While the character herself isn't terribly menacing, the surrounding environment most definitely is. I particularly liked the medical charts and the partially vivisected soldier in the background.

I love Blue Blazer's "Mossback". It reminds me a lot of a Godzilla-like sketch I did for HERO Games a few years ago, with an appealing yet monstrous vibe. The consistent colors, the choice of items, and the teeth hidden in the shadows of the face are all outstanding. This is a character that jumps off the page and demands you find out more about him. Points off for the use of non-HM fonts for the name, but that's forgivable with such a nice concept and execution.

Captain Kicktar's "Pharaos" shows how good an image you can get when you have a very clear and focused idea of what kind of character you want to build. There's not a lot of extraneous gimgawery (I literally just made that word up) cluttering up the visuals; you get exactly what this guy is all about with a glance. I particularly love the face, I think that's really well done.

Dawn's "Acolyte" drew me in partly due to the nice use of consistent item selection, but mostly for the way she really looks like she's taking a step. That's not terribly easy to do, but that skirt in particular meshes with the one raised leg to make the effect work.

DiCicatriz did his usual outstanding job this time around, and I highly recommend you check out all of his "insane asylum" inmates. I chose "Sear" to represent the collection, as I particularly loved her design and the use of the flame effects. They're all really good, though.

Doomed Pixel's "Spectre" is a great example of how to create a convincing spirit character. I like the red eyes and the way the tattered cloak shows through the body. My only minor quibble would be to wonder where his right arm is, but it's a neat image.

I admit, I like Haxxx's "Satyr" mostly for the head and mouth. Sue me.

I've said a number of times before that Imp and I share a design brain (as well as a disturbing physical similarity), but I confess that his "Coldheart" is not a character I could have come up with. I love it, perhaps because of that. Excellent fundamental character design, great use of colors and effects, and a fantastic name all combine to make a killer image.

You don't have to work very hard to sell me on a full-figured gal, but Kyle worked hard on his "Bertha" anyway. A really nice concept well-executed.

I think Papa Krok's "Aire Bizkit" pretty much speaks for itself, its evil seeping from the page to virtually tickle your nose. Let's just say I've wrestled with this foul demon a time or two myself, so I can definitely vouch for the fact that he's to be avoided at all costs. All of Papa Krok's entries this week were outstanding, I highly recommend you check them all out as soon as you can, you won't regret it.

SpellChgeckingQuill's entry reminded me of a Bond film poster, and is one of the strongest images this week, in a design sense. Very cool.

Sutter Kaine's "Lord Wrath" is a great old-school type super villain, complete with nifty tortured scream. I love the outfit and the effects both. Great job, SK.

Watson Bradshaw's "The Phantom Doctor", despite struggling with its creator's unwillingness to name his files correctly (ahem), is a stellar example of setting a scene. The use of that floor piece as a table to force perspective is downright inspired. Everything works together to create a convincing atmosphere of evil, including the sinister doctor himself. Really well done, Mr. Bradshaw.

Finally, this week saw the triumphant return of Zyp, who for my money is one of the truly gifted creators regularly using the HeroMachine software. The images he gets out of this thing routinely leave me stunned, and his design sense is impeccable. Looking at his stuff makes you really appreciate that "design sense" is a real thing, and he's got it in spades. Check out all of his entries, they all show at least one thing that make you stare at the screen in amazement.

The one I chose to highlight, though, is "The Pilot". That drop shadow is outstanding, totally reinforcing the sort of world-weary sense you get from the rest of the character design. I love the use of colored lines, the stark white scarf almost bifurcating the figure, and the slightly shabby look of his clothing. A great submission, Zyp, I'm so delighted to have you back!

I hope you have enjoyed reviewing these Finalists as much as I did. Truly outstanding work, one and all, I thank you for sharing them with us.

Of course, there can be only one overall winner, and with so many great submissions to try and choose from, I had a really hard time. I finally decided to go with the character that most tugged at my heart strings, as it were, because if there's one thing that makes for a truly great "bad guy", it's the ability to make the audience sympathize with him (or her or it) despite the evil on display.

And the person who I thought did the best job of exemplifying that is the often-nominated, and always outstanding, Blue Blazer for his "Mossback". Something about that character just really appealed to me.

But everyone did an outstanding job, I am humbled at the creativity and imagination you all (and that means everyone, not just the handful of Finalists I had to go with) display each and every time out. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and I hope you enjoy letting your creative juices flow as much as I enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor.

28 Responses to Character Contest 53 Winner!

  1. Wait, are you saying I won?

  2. That is indeed what I am saying. Congratulations, Blue Blazer! Well done!

  3. Once again I fall just short. But how can I possibly be upset about losing to such incredible competition. A well deserved win Blue. Congrats πŸ™‚

  4. Watson Bradshaw

    Way to go Blue Blazer,Congratulations. One hell of a tough contest this week with a lot of great entries. Thanks Jeff for the mention (and hint about the file name, sorry):) Some others that I thought looked unique and didn’t get highlighted were.
    asder’s dark god
    mindless’s G.O.O.P.
    papakrok’s fuhrerousRex
    doomhelsing’s the whitch
    blueBlazer’s Charade
    zyp’s alien queen

  5. Captain_Kicktar

    Actually, Phaos’s name is Phaos, no extra letters, I think it comes from an Old English word, but I can’t remember what.

    And congratulations Blue Blazer, well deserved.

  6. Woohoo, congrats, BB! I have had loads of fun using your head (in HeroMachine, of course πŸ˜€ ), so I look forward to seeing what nifty prize you pick this time around…

  7. as a first time contestant, it looks like im gonna need some practice before im even gonna be able to compete with you guys! congrats Blue Blazer, you deserved it!

  8. Thanks everybody! I know exactly what I’m adding to HM3, if it’s approved by the Creator.

  9. Sutter Kaine your guy is like granny goodness from DC but definetlry more manly and powerful congrats.

  10. @Blue Blazer: Congratulations!

    @All: Tons of good stuff this contest. Perhaps the goriest and most disturbing contest to date. ;p

    Special nod to Zyp’s Pilot, a most admirable villain.

    @Jeff: Thanks for the honorable mention. Dr. Menudo is thus far exclusive to HeroMachine. She is my first recurring HM character.

    Ever declare a winner for Caption Contest 89?

    By the by… I see the “thumbs up” vote on many blogs. Been trying to find and adapt the code for my own websites. I think it would be a neat addition to HM for quick feedback (as opposed to PollDaddy).

  11. Maybe I should quit. I work for hours on my entires and never once even get an honorable mention, other than Anaal Nathrakh. Which was months ago.

    I mean, I put a lot of detail in my entires and I try my best. Work for hours trying to do the right combinations and stuff, and the bond movie poster and the Magneto ripoff white haired guy gets mentioned instead?

    No offence to other users but COME ON! I’m tired of being thrown to the side while other people with plain and dull entries win or even get mentioned.

    I quit.

  12. spidercow2010

    Congratulations, Blue Blazer; long overdue. Nice, nice work all.

    Now that it’s over (let the whining begin!), may I ask if anyone else felt, like me, that there was a shortage of evil facial elements available? Snarly mouths, for instance, or truly crazy or angry eyes? For that matter, grabby-snatchy hands? I went into this contest with a specific image in mind and simply couldn’t find what my mind’s eye demanded. Yes it’s true that, paradoxically, operating within limitations can be liberating, and that the guy who actually looks like Snidely Whiplash is nothing compared to that ordinary-looking cuss over there petting a wolverine — truly evil types don’t go around LOOKING evil — so maybe it was a mistake to try to find evil-looking features. But my point is I couldn’t find em. Well, it’s HEROmachine, after all, but sometimes you want your HERO to have a little crazy going on. Anyway, was it just me?
    And a corollary question: Somewhere way down the road, what about a ‘housekeeping’ survey/vote to find out if there are elements that nobody EVER uses (I’m looking at you, eyes) which could be replaced by new & improved models? Does anyone else feel the need? Or, again, is it just me?

  13. Congratulations BB, and everyone who got an honourable mention. I was slightly dissapointed that Lucifer wasn’t given a mention, but it’s not too big a deal, there’s a lot of great characters that didn’t get a mention either.

  14. I know it’s frustrating Krimzon, but there’s no need to throw other participants under the bus. Everybody works hard on their entries; everybody puts in the hours. Art is just so subjective, it can be hard to look at something that doesn’t impress you and try to figure out why it does impress somebody else…but all the same, it does.

    I’ve puzzled for years about why anybody would willingly pay for a comic drawn by Frank Quitely, for instance. I realize I’m in a minority, but I think his work is just butt-ugly. All the same, I’m given to understand that he doesn’t care about my disdain and continues to draw stuff that I personally hate and other people–blind people–absolutely love. You just never know what’s going to strike another person’s fancy.

  15. even though i didnt win, i still think you should look at this.

    Caedis,king of madness.

    http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j357/nickmiester97/?action=view&current=Badgerking-Caedis_king_of_madness.jpg

  16. Krimzon, I like your stuff, and I’m sorry you’re feeling bummed. As Imp says, it’s frustrating sometimes to have these things due to a subjective opinion of just one person (me), but the takeaway is not to give up, but to try and learn to appreciate the value of doing the work for itself, and not for what anyone else (especially not just one someone else) may think of it.

    In other words, creativity should be its own reward. If the only reason you draw is for validation from others, you’re destined to be disappointed. The only true satisfaction comes from within.

    Having said that, I can only choose so many finalists each week — as it is, the 17 or so in this week’s batch took a long time to compile. I generally go for the ones that jump out at me as I scan through the entries for being unique or different or just really well put-together, along with how well they fit the theme of the contest. Sometimes I pull one out just for a single element, like an innovative use of a background or something, while there are other compositions that are “better” as complete images.

    But it’s all subjective, and just because I choose one over another doesn’t mean one is better than the other, or that the unchosen one is bad. That’s just life in an environment where resources (in this case, time and space) are limited.

    For a while I’d just pick Finalists and let everyone vote on the one they thought should win, so at least at some level I’d be removed as the sole judge, but people got frustrated with the extra week’s wait.

    Anyway, I hope you decide to keep being creative, whether it’s with HeroMachine via these contests or with some other outlet.

  17. Oops, that was X-stacy who made that comment, not Imp. Apologies.

  18. spidercow2010: I do think the facial elements in general could use some updating, yes. Agreed.

  19. Atomic Punk (11): I really wanted that thumbs-up voting thingie available not only for posts, but comments as well, and even installed the plugin. Unfortunately I have hosed up the basic template so badly that it doesn’t work at all for some reason.

    One of my long-term goals is to rewrite the site so it LOOKS the same, but underneath still works the way the default template does so I can use that plugin (along with a couple of others I’ve tried to install but that fail).

  20. Congrats to the winners. I’ll post my personal faves in a bit.

    @Krimson: I am still smarting over Voodoo Medusa’s snub! -but Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder!

    @X-stacy: I am a little confused: were you consoling Krimzon or calling Jeff blind? If I add the two paragraphs together. . .

    @spidercow2010: we definitely need more EVIL in HeroMachine! ;>) (or more legwear!)

  21. Sutter_Kaine

    Krimzon – Thank you for providing your insightful critique of my work (I assume “Magneto ripoff white haired guy” was a reference to my character). I undertstand that you have busy a schedule producing brooding yet elegant masterpieces (certainly on par with, say, the works of Hieronymus Bosch) and greatly appreciate that you took the time to offer some constructive criticism regarding my own paltry creations. Inspired, I went back to look at some of your work to see how the master does it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what looked like Hawkman with some armor slapped on and wearing a dress (88). Obviously, someone is posting derivative characters under your screen name, perhaps out of jealously over your awe-inspiring originality and ubridled creativity. Just thought I’d give you a heads up.

  22. Well, I didn’t intend to call Jeff blind, but possibly I might have in my attempt to be sympathetic. I confess, my first instinct was to simply tell Krimzon to get over himself, but I’m trying to listen to my better angels this year. And since I don’t look at the contest submissions, who am I to say he’s not the best in the field?

    Having said that, I just went and checked the thread, and…um, yeah, I’m siding with Hebert’s picks.

  23. Congrats Blue Blazer and finalists and the freaking amazing evil entries!!! I agree, It was good to flex some evil nodes on that one. MORE MORE MORE…

  24. “Oops, that was X-stacy who made that comment, not Imp. Apologies.” And Jeff’s man crush on Imp continues. Just admit it Jeff, you’ve got Imp on the brain πŸ™‚

  25. @Spidercow (13): I agree completely that we need more facial stuff. I DO use the various eyes a lot, though, so I vote we keep ’em. I like to overlay them on the various pre-made faces to give a little bit different look.

    @Anarchangel (25): Hebert’s just jealous of me because I have all of his dashing good looks, plus a full head of hair. πŸ˜€

  26. Jeff, I’m sorry man. I was having bad day and I was pissed off about some personal problems and it was just one of those days where everything just goes wrong and I took it out here. Apologies.

    Sutter_Kaine, I really don’t care what you say because I at least work on my characters and work on a real story. I’m proud of my work, regardless if they win or not. Btw how exactly does my “Dark Kingdom” character look like Hawkman, other than the ears and wings? It was based on a story I’m writing too. I didn’t even have Hawkman in mind when I made him anyway, just a raven-like evil king. Whereas you just made a generic dull Magneto ripoff, you have no room to talk about who looks like who. Take you at least 5 minutes to make your Magneto ripoff? Amazing background on that btw, the white really blows me away. Talk to me when you’re not making dull garbage.

    Everyone else, congrats. Great job. I was really amazed by “Phantom Doctor”. Exellent work on that.

  27. All righty, that’s enough personal sniping. Criticism should be constructive, not vindictive, and should generally come only when asked for. I should’ve nipped this in the bud earlier, but regardless, this discussion is now closed.