Open Critique Day #14

It's time once again for another Open Critique Day!

If you have a HeroMachine illustration or another piece of artwork you've done that you'd like some help with, post a link to it in comments along with your thoughts on it -- what you think is working, what you're struggling with, etc. I will post my critique of the piece, hopefully giving some tips on how to improve it.

Of course everyone is welcome to post their critiques as well, keeping in mind the following rules:

  • Make sure your criticism is constructive. Just saying "This sucks" is both rude and unhelpful without giving specific reasons why you think it sucks and, ideally, some advice on how to make it better.
  • Each person should only post one illustration for critique to make sure everyone who wants feedback has a chance.
  • I will not critique characters entered in any currently running contest, as that doesn't seem fair to the other entrants. You can still post it if you like for the other visitors to critique, but I will not do so.

That's it! Hopefully we can get some good interaction going here and help everyone (me included!) learn a little bit today.

(Image via NaniScribbles.)

128 Responses to Open Critique Day #14

  1. Ooo… I didn’t want to be the first one, but I was looking forward to the next critique day with this picture already a week ago. She is supposed to sit on women’s saddle, but she looks more like as if she was half way to jump down. Anyone else been playing with that horse-companion?

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=211431335540970&set=a.201686679848769.61050.100000223159388&theater

  2. Here is a character I recently made. This is an Azer, a DnD race that’s similar to the dwarves except they originate from a fire plane. He’s riding atop a hell hound, who the Azer domesticated over hundreds of years. Hope you all like it.

    http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f349/singalongsong/Haast.png

  3. unknownblackpaper

    @ Dinne Jinn: I really like the concept of this image but one way you could give it more motion is to change your character’s face a wee bit so we see 3/4 of the face then straight on. This can be done by choosing a head with the color shading a bit heavy on either the left or right side, then adjust the face items so that sit more to that side. Adjusting the ears so that more is seen more then the other also helps this illusion.

    For the horse, there is another more “ride-able” one in the vehicle section of the companions that may be better to work with.

  4. Me, Myself & I

    Dionne Jinn (1) if you move her up and to the left (her right) she would be positionned better for riding side saddle. I would also suggest using a skirt that is more curvy at her left hip.

  5. unknownblackpaper

    @Jake: Tip for the flames, lower the transparency for one or both colors to give it that see though look. I don’t know, I always see flames being see though.

  6. unknownblackpaper

    Last contest was a bit of an ego kick for me since the image of mine that qualified took the least time where the others took several hours @_@ Granted it was the most unique but. . . Oh well.

    Throwing this in the ring just to see.
    http://i843.photobucket.com/albums/zz360/engetsunoaori/unknownblackpaper-syrenka.png

  7. alphaalpharomeo

    Sentinal

    Advanced Armor made by the military to fight a world filled with superpowered beings…..It doesn’t matter whether they are good or evil the US government wants to reclaim the world as their own without any interference…

    http://s961.photobucket.com/albums/ae99/dhabirunner/The%20Brotherhood/?action=view&current=Sentinal3.jpg

  8. Thanks from the tip, blackpaper (3). I had completely missed that other horse. I do like it more for this purpose.

    That is not exactly a skirt, MMI (4), it is a cloak from the backplane section. The skirts were all too sraight to be much use for me in this case. But trying to re-do the whole thing with that other horse, I’ll see how does it turn out. Thanks.

  9. Me, Myself & I

    These aren’t an entry for critique Jeff. Just an example for Jake (2). Building on unknownblackpaper’s comment, here are a couple examples of fire that you may want to review for your image. These might have been like what you were trying to accomplish.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6781672/MMI-FireballLARGE.jpg
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6781672/MMI-Pheonix.jpg

  10. Dionne Jinn (1): I think the others have covered this pretty well, and since I don’t actually use HM for making very many images (other than for general testing), I think they’re much better able to help you on that than I am.

  11. Me, Myself & I

    Of course knowing when to stop is one of my biggest challenges. I was very happy with my background from a previous submission but the actual character felt like a bit of an afterthought. I guess what I’m trying to establish is whether the image was sufficient without the character? If so, which framing option do people find more appealing? Of course any other feedback or critique’s I never thought to ask about would also be welcome.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6781672/MMI-There%20Will%20Be%20Blood%20.%20.%20.%20I%20Insist.png

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6781672/MMI-Blood%20Moon%20Background%20Framed.png

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6781672/MMI-Blood%20Moon.png

  12. @Dionne Jinn and @unknownblackpaper having a character riding using HM3 is not always the easiest thing to do. Tip #1; Look at some real pictures of people riding, look at how their bodies fit to the animal. It is hard to sit straight legged when you are sitting on a mount, because most of them are rounded.
    @unknownblackpaper, your mermaid’s head is to far forward, if you back it up and line it up more with the right shoulder would make her look better.

  13. Thanks for the tip, unknownblackpaper. I made another Azer with transparent flames and he came out pretty cool. For Haast, I was trying to make him a bit of a darker character, hence the darker flames.

  14. Update from last week:
    I offered the community these two options:
    http://www.personbear.com/croquet/calendar/4-Apr.jpg
    http://www.personbear.com/croquet/calendar/4-Apr-Dress.jpg
    and, aside from suggesting I fix the hand, people seemed to want a compromise, so I came up with this:
    http://www.personbear.com/croquet/calendar/4-Apr-new.jpg

    Now for this week’s entry in the Croquet Pin-Up Calendar:
    http://www.personbear.com/croquet/calendar/5-May.jpg
    (white is only a color in the expanded croquet spectrum, but I thought white and black seemed like a pretty good match here… and there’re always the sunglasses)

  15. Jake (2): The biggest challenge with any kind of “riding” pose is getting the legs to look like they’re bent at the knee. Hanging straight down like this makes it look really unnatural and awkward. Hopefully one of the other regulars here will come up with a recipe one day I can post on the best way to achieve the effect.

    Beyond that, I like the concept of the figure with the smouldering colors and fire hair. I think a couple of other guys gave you some good tips on making awesome flames, so I don’t need to repeat it.

    My only other suggestion would be, if you’re going to do a very simple “shapes” kind of background, I think it’s better to go totally abstract. Doing something like this where it looks like ground and sky but isn’t forces the viewer to see them as ground and sky rather than as pure design elements. In other words, I’d go with a simple circle or square, and not a side-to-side set of planes.

  16. http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m600/logosgal/Four%20Seasons/Springwidescreen.png

    I’m doing a series of women representing the Four Seasons. I’m pretty happy with the way the other three have turned out (here, for comparison), but Spring is giving me lots of trouble. My biggest concern is the face: http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m600/logosgal/Four%20Seasons/Springheadshot.png It’s supposed to be joyful and exuberant, but to me it reads as somewhat…high? (Which is still an improvement over before I changed the eyes, when she looked absolutely manic.) I’m not sure if I’m using the wrong eyes or the wrong mouth or positioning the eyebrows just a little wrong or what.

    I’m also not sure I like the pose, especially for the legs/feet. She’s supposed to look like she’s dancing, with her right foot just touching the ground and her left foot in the air, but even after adding the shadows I’m not sure it doesn’t read like her left foot is on the ground behind her.

    I’m also unsure about the colors, especially in her clothes. And whether or not I should do more (or less?) with the background, besides crop it so you can’t see the edges of the floor.

    Also any other general comments are much appreciated. 🙂

  17. unknownblackpaper (6): I feel ya, and if it makes you feel any better, that happens to every creative person from time to time. The quick and easy one can often have that spark of uncomplicated creativity that we can’t achieve on ones we slave over. Weird but true.

    On this one, love the effect of the stuff below water, you definitely achieved the desired result there. And the mermaid tail is awesome. The fins are capes, right? Anyway, the shark silhouette and general layering on the ocean floor are all really well done. I also love the upper surface of the water, that makes a fantastic illusion.

    The image doesn’t work as well on the upper part, at least for me. Her head is a little too far forward, making it look disconnected from the body. In general that upper half of the body looks stiff and not part of the freely flowing stuff going on below the water. The boulder also looks off — I think it’s because the horizon line of the water goes behind it. Maybe if you were to layer whatever that gradient is over the water, so it’s also over the part of the boulder that’s below the water line, that would help.

    But, a great image overall!

  18. alphaalpharomeo (7): I’m going to go short-form on this one.

    He looks fine, but generic. I’ve seen a lot of essentially this exact same configuration. I’m also having some trouble differentiating the arms from the torso, possibly due to the poor JPG output from the program, but I think changing the grays you use there a few steps up or down would help.

  19. MMI (9): You know what would be great? A “Flames” recipe!

  20. MMI (11): I didn’t feel like the character was an afterthought. I do think the background’s better than the character, but that’s a long ways from saying I didn’t like the character — I did and do. I really liked the way you used the vivid red of the cloak to tie in the black-clad figure with the darker red and black background, that’s a great touch.

    In terms of frames, I like the black-framed one much better than the one with just the white frame offset from the edges.

  21. Rosco (14): Miss April looks good!

    Miss May looks fine overall; I actually like the classic white look quite a bit and the glasses are a nice touch.

    I’m not as crazy about the line color for the figure, I feel like there’s too much red in it so it ends up drawing too much attention to itself. A darker choice with less red in it would help a lot, I think.

    Also, she seems a little … is “tall waisted” a word? I mean to say, her torso seems too short for the length of her arms and legs. I think either that needs to stretch up a bit, or the limbs need to shrink down a bit, and/or the head needs to be a smidge smaller for it all to work together.

  22. So this image has a story behind it. At work one day I brought my sketchbook in and was messing around with it on my lunch break. My boss liked my art work so asked if I could draw something for her. She LOVES Tinkerbell and wanted me to draw one. But she didnt want just any Tinkerbell, she wanted a SASSY Tinkerbell. So after a lot of thinking I finally came up with a “sassy” Tinkerbell. Let me know what you think.

    http://fav.me/d2j2g1g

    The reason Im posting this here is because I want to get some critiques on my coloring. This image was done years ago. It was the very first image I colored using Photoshop so my later stuff looks way better. If anyone has some tips for the coloring on this image please let me know.

  23. logosgal (16): What a fun image! I definitely get Spring from it; love the colors and the music and the overall vibe it gives. She does look exuberant (at least in the general pose). Well done!

    Oh, almost forgot — love love love the little satyr kid. That’s a hoot!

    I think the problem with the facial expression you’re feeling comes from the eyes looking half-lidded. If you can either choose a set that’s more wide open, or stretch these vertically so they’re taller than they are now, I think either might help quite a bit. It may be that the mouth works better as-is with the eye changes, but if not you might try making it just a little bit wider for more of a big grin than the sort of slight smile with an open mouth vibe you get now.

    In terms of the pose, I like it but I don’t get “dancing” from it. I get more of a “Taking a step forward” feeling from it. For dancing, I think you have to go with something where her shoulders and hips aren’t parallel to the ground; dancing is all about movement, but having your shoulders and hips square is all about being solidly rooted.

    Hope that helps!

  24. MScat (22): I’m assuming that if you did this years ago and have been coloring in Photoshop ever since, you’ve probably learned quite a bit more than we have!

    First of all, the lineart itself is really nice, I definitely get Sassy from it. Well done on that.

    For the coloring, my general process in Photoshop involves getting super clean black and white line art (not pencils, inks) with no haloing of white pixels around it and nice crisp blacks. You can dink around with Levels to get the blacks where you need it.

    Then I duplicate the layer of inks, set its property to Multiply, preserve transparency, and color that layer, keeping the original line art on a separate (lower) layer. That makes sure the blacks always stay black and only the previously white bits get colored.

    I also use the lasso tool with a Tolerance of around 10 or so (depending on the size of the image). I lasso the areas I want shaded (for instance) and fill them with the darker shadow (or lighter highlight) color. That helps get away from the splotchy looking effect you get with the brush tool (like I think happened in her thighs).

    Hope that helps! And since you’ve learned a lot in the meantime from what you said, maybe you should go ahead and tell US what YOU think you would do differently with this one from your more-advanced perspective now.

  25. I see what you mean about the splotchy looking effect. Yeah it deffinately helps. Im still a novice at Photoshop even though Iv been using it for years now. I do amazing digital art but when it comes to coloring an image I still strugle. Lately Iv been working on getting my black lines cleaner. I deffinately think my coloring has come a long way. This pic I had color going everywhere! It was a big mess, good thing my boss only asked for a B&W image…the coloring was just an experiment.

    OH BTW: MMI you should deffinately do a flames recipe. I have been trying to get my fire to look right and STILL cant get the kind of effects you do.

  26. logosgal (16): First of all, great image. Very vibrant and lots of fun.

    Now to the constructive part. Perhaps you need to move the eyes and eyebrows down a bit. They seem a little high on the forehead. Maybe even enlarge the eyes a smidge as well so they stand out more.

    I hope you don’t mind but I played around with it in Photoshop to illustrate my thoughts…

    http://forums.ugo.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=76262&d=1301067935

    Thanks for sharing your great composition.

  27. I’m submitting a pic that I know does *not* work.

    http://i604.photobucket.com/albums/tt121/whittierstrong/Whit-Society.png

    Some context: I submitted this pic for the “bad guys” contest about three months back. I went with a concept of “we’re all the bad guys sometimes” by trying to depict the flame wars that go on online. One unfortunate bit is that I used the Export feature, which cut off the bottom of the pic, which said something like “+ 3,021,876 more comments”, which would have helped to sell the point.

    Because this was a contest entry, I was restricted to fonts found within HM3, which hurts a bit of the verisimilitude. I think my general concept was good, but have not been able to figure out how I could have better executed it. Suggestions?

  28. Captain Kicktar

    http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac111/Kicktar/HM/Faz-Ral1.png
    http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac111/Kicktar/HM/Faz-Ral2.png
    Faz-Ral is a mercenary, and the swords he wields were created by Graylore himself (You have no idea who he is do you? Graylore is a really good blacksmith). The snakes were put in with GIMP, since you don’t have any good snakes in HM3.

  29. Dionne Jinn (1): I took a crack at this — check it out and see if that’s closer to what you were going for.

    I think the key is getting the leg closest to the horse’s head looking like it’s held much higher at the knee than the other one.

  30. Whit (27): Yeah, I think you’re right — the built in fonts are what really lets this down. And I don’t know that it’s possible to do it much better given that limitation. Although, probably if I were doing it, I’d have YouTube open in another window and I’d try to replicate their user interface (colors, layout, etc.) as much as possible to try and help sell it.

    But yeah, the fonts are the real weak point, and that’s not your fault.

  31. Remember my Growling Stone? Well, he brought his buddies and created a Rock band “Growling Stones”!
    http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/084/5/f/growling_stones_by_malfar-d3cf6nm.png

  32. Oh, and Whit, you’re right, it’s a great concept.

  33. logosgal (16) I recently did a pose where I have someone trying to keep their balance whilst walking on a narrow beam. I found that just rotating the torso 2 or 3 degrees helps a lot in giving movement, once the limbs are situated to give the feeling that the person is righting their balance. Also, I tried gesturing my arm like you have her right arm, and couldn’t quite pull it off. I’d rotate the right hand just a few degrees clockwise, I think that would look more realistic.

    Overall, though, fantastic concept! I like the way you did the ground and the clouds in little planes, it helps it feel a bit more psychedelic.

  34. Captain Kicktar (28): No good snakes?! I am outraged, sir, OUTRAGED!

    Kidding.

    Overall the design is fine, but kind of monochromatic. I’d love some different gray values somewhere, like maybe in the sleeves or gloves, something to break up the same two colors throughout the entire figure.

    My other observation would be that he must be hella-strong to dual-wield claymores. I’d have to throw the penalty flag if I were DMing that game 😀

  35. Malfar (31): Ha, that’s a hoot! Really nice job. Their expressions are priceless.

    My only two suggestions would be for a) the keyboard to go BEHIND the “head” of the drummer and to do something to make the ground look more like sand or something.

    Otherwise, though, great job and a really fun image!

  36. MScat (22) i love it, give Tinkerbell my favs. And i also want to learn how to coloring in Photoshop.

  37. Me, Myself & I

    Jeff Hebert (19) I’m on it Jeff.

  38. Captain Kicktar

    Yep, I expected the monochromatic response. And I think Graylore must have enchanted the swords to be extra light.

  39. http://i1143.photobucket.com/albums/n629/Mashlagoo/Suk_and_Portal_Finish02.jpg

    Ever since I made the portal I wanted to have somebody stepping through it. With how masking works now (thanks Jeff), the task is much easier.

    I am bothered mostly by the charater’s back leg (it is obviously a composite of several legs w/masking). The idea is for her to be tentatively stepping forward and down through the portal. Just, something about that leg bothers me. Any feedback is welcome though.

  40. alphaalpharomeo (7): I like the general concept. I wonder what kind of effect you’re going for, though. If you’re looking for something that looks like 1980s Transformers/Gobots TV animation, it’s on target, though a bit of background would really help to sell the image. If you want something more realistic, there are a few things you can play with. First off, you can play with different shades of red using the Custom Colour feature. Slight variations in shade from one body part to the next would give it some depth. Also, the gradients available in Patterns are great for giving something a metallic shine–just make sure you determine where your source of light is and keep it consistent.

    I haven’t played with the mech pieces much since they’ve been added–you’ve inspired me to experiment. 🙂

  41. The tutorial that helped me the most in figuring out how to color line art in Photoshop is this one:

    http://www.melissaevans.com/tutorials/colouring-line-art

  42. Portal
    http://img269.imageshack.us/img269/6816/portall.jpg
    German assassin who has the power to create inter-dimensional pockets in which he can store an unspecified number of weapons and ammunition.He can also use his power to teleport anywhere in the world virtually instantaneously but he can become severely fatigued so he limits himself to short distances.Portal can adjust his power so he can teleport ammunitions directly into the barel of his gun giving others the illusion the he cant run out of bullets.

  43. Mashlagoo (40): I see what you mean about that back leg/foot not looking quite right.

    I wonder, what if you had the leg going behind the lower rim of the portal instead? So rather than her taking this big huge stride through it, she’s stepping over it like you would if you started out right at the edge of the opening, like climbing over a fence. That would let you mask the bottom part of the thigh just above the knee behind the lip of the portal and you wouldn’t have to mess with the lower leg at all.

    Just an idea. The rest of the image his great, nice job on it!

  44. Alex (43) My main concern is that the lines of the gun blend right into the lines of his left leg. Angle out the arm and gun slightly, problem solved. BTW I think you nailed the arm-in-the-portal deal.

  45. Alex (43): I like that guy! That general concept could easily slip into “generic henchman” territory, but you’ve given him a real sense of flair and personality just in the general costuming and tattoos and such. Then when you add in the portal effect it goes to a whole new super level.

    Great image and design, I like it a lot. Not too much to say in terms of improvements, though, I think you pretty much nailed it.

  46. I’ve been experimenting with fire and light effects.

    http://forums.ugo.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=76177&d=1300533918

    Opinions?

    I know that the hair needs work but what else could be improved?

  47. http://borlavlit.narod.ru/73a9deafdf63.png
    This is Baba Yaga, an old witch from Slavic folk tales. She lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs behind the fence with human skulls on it.
    She is sometimes good, sometimes bad, she can eat children or help heroes, she can fly in a mortar, swinging broomstick behind her.

  48. Anarchangel (47): Love it! Great stance and costume design. The hair concept is fantastic too.

    I’d probably do a little less glow on the fire, and I’d probably scale the wings up a bit so they look like they’re shrouding her a bit more. Right now their lines on the inside edges echo her arms and head to the point where she looks a little constrained, but I think making them bigger would make them look more like they’re surrounding her without suffocating her.

    That was one hell of a rambling sentence. Hope you can decode what the heck I was talking about.

    Anyway, love the image, she looks great.

  49. Rozenstal (48): Great job! I like everything about it, except I’d probably try to make the highlight color of the logs more of a light brown rather than the bright white, as currently they look a bit too neon.

    Well done though, it’s a very nice illustration.

  50. Rozental I like your concept (I’ve always been a fan of the Baba Yaga legend) and you pull it off nicely but my eye automatically goes to that hand.

    It just looks oddly placed. The thumb seems to be the on wrong side.

  51. Thanks Jeff (29). That is exactly what I want from that picture. I’m currently having a go with the other horse from the vehicle-set (re-doing the whole thing with it, actually, since it is easier than replacing the horse in the original). I’ll be back with possibly both results at some point, next critique day at the latest.

  52. Here is my most recent creation, DreamPolice. Like I wrote in the forums, her story would either be either a crimefighting dreamself or a murdered guardian angel partner. Anyway, I’m concerned with the coloring of the astral figure. Let me know what you guys suggest.

    http://forums.ugo.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=76239&d=1300908946

  53. Taking a break from goblins, and going back to historical figures in the new game system I’m making, here’s Dusu M’akti, a Vanguard Mage (basically a mage with some armor training) and one of the best friends of Joles K’seir Milandred, who is the father of a previously posted character, and also the leader of a revolution that led to the downfall of a tyrannical regime and formed the Kingdom of Milandria.

    Dusu prefers lightning spells, as is obvious. When I was designing the character, I think I started with a more exotic modern JRPG design in mind, which is why his abs are showing. I dunno. Half of me likes it, the other half doesn’t, and neither half really knows why.

    http://forums.ugo.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=76265&d=1301070749

  54. Jeff (50): The house is made of ligthsabers))))

  55. ams (53): AWESOME! Love love love it.

    The only extremely minor suggestion I would have would be to play with the line color in that one set of energy arcs with black lines. But even that I don’t know about for sure, black might actually be the right color after all.

    Fantastic concept and execution, just great.

  56. Rozenstal (55): Then I would use something else because that white effect is not working. Maybe simple square Insignia with a gradient pattern applied or something, I dunno, but the lightsaber house doesn’t come off as logs at all.

  57. Mashlagoo, great job on the portal, it looks excellent.

    Here is what I’m submitting, a version of my Character Alpha. I was going for an action pose of him running and gunning. I want to see what I can improve on to make it better.

    http://i751.photobucket.com/albums/xx155/Vampyrist/Alpha5.png

  58. Jadebrain (54): I like the helmet and the armor a lot. The areas that I think need some work (particularly with transparency) are the lightning bolt spell and the tattoos. Work with varying the alpha values on the various colors so the lightning doesn’t look so solid, and so the tatts look more like they’re part of his skin. The lightning bolt tattoo, honestly, I think you could lose altogether, it just doesn’t look at all like it follows the contours of the skin like a real tattoo would.

  59. Thanks, Jeff! I had alot of fun creating that image.

  60. I’m fairly new here, well to the blogs anyway. But I’ve been playing around with the Hero Machines for awhile. Noticed this today and thought “what the heck, so what if I’m a noob.”, so here you go; Some of my latest ones. =)

    http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/xx279/Toria980/Forestspirit.png

    I was kinda just experimenting with this first one, but I was going for a tree/forest spirit feel.

    http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/xx279/Toria980/Gargoyle.png

    And here is my Gargoyle Character, shes pretty quick tempered, but she is very loyal and protective. And similar to Demona, she uses magic sometimes from spell books and such. (obviously, why would they not know that’s magic? *facepalm*) Still haven’t given her a name though..

    http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/xx279/Toria980/UnusualDuo1.png

    I’m not quite sure what this ones supposed to be. But I wanted to do an elf, and the picture looked kinda empty with only one person, and I was feeling lazy at the time. So you have her friend there too.

    http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/xx279/Toria980/Untitled-1-1.png?t=1301071213

    This is the mos recent one, of which I non-cleverly titled “Battle Mage”. However, I’m also getting a Dragon-slayer vibe from this character, but I think I’ll stick with Battle Mage for now. And again, she has no name yet, but even so, I think this is my favorite out of the bunch.

    Sorry if this is too long, kinda went overboard sense I’m not really that social on the internet. And I guess I just wanted to throw it all out there at once. And yes, I know, I suck and backgrounds. Hopefully I’ll get a little better they more I work on how to make them right.

    *Phew!* That was a lot of writing for a first post…

  61. that a very ooooold doodle i did i think in high school…tho most my doodles are from then as collage and graduate level school leaves no time to draw like i use to…ah, oh well

  62. Nick Hentschel

    I don’t have very much time to spend on OCD today: I now work a night-shift job, so that I get up around lunch, and head out of the house at 5. Therefore, I won’t be able to enact any suggested changes today, only read them in passing and think them over. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from me.

    Anyway, I thought that I would submit my last couple of “Zodiac” contest drawings for opinions, since they’ve drawn very little comment. We’ll start off with “Aquariusaurus,” the benign creature that I developed for the Aquarius contest. The loose concept was for a Godzilla-size sea monster… who just happened to be a hippie. I think I did a neat little special effect, showing him popping out of the water, with his lower body submerged and darkened. However, i was never able to do anything that showed the scale of him, next to tiny little people, buildings, or vehicles. Also, his “hippie” accoutrements were a bit rushed, and I couldn’t get his hand up for the peace sign. Any other comments?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/huskybike/5455127166/

    The next was my Pisces drawing, “Filet of Soul.” [Alternate title: Monkfish.] THIS one actually received some attention, as i seem to have inspired several people to try the cross-legged position. Inspired by a silly animation that I saw as a kid, this was a sort of sea-creature/mystic, hovering and levitating over the waters. A “portal” behind him is meant to show a rift to other dimensions being opened up by his higher consciousness, and it’s in a brazenly artificial, geometric shape, in order to look as jarring and unnatural as possible.
    I tried two variants: one in which everything was more or less lined up vertically, and another one in which I shifted stuff to the sides to look more “organic,” and I also fine-tuned his features. Feel free to look at them both:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/huskybike/5533213648/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/huskybike/5544250117/

    The yin-yang “aura” around him was inspired by those pictures of Buddha, wherein he seems to have two halos around him, one around his body, and one around his head. (“Mandorla,” I think, is the word.) I was more flexible about it in the second drawing.

    Fire away!

  63. Vampyrist: A really nice character design, clean and simple.

    For me the main thing holding it back from going to the next level is the background. The grays are so close to the grays of the figure that I have trouble separating them. I think even just a lighter gray on the road would help him pop a lot more.

    The other thing I think needs work is his left (our right) leg. I think you’d probably be better off going with the pre-drawn legs from Body-MaleStandard, third screen, bottom row, first item. From there you can mask various pants to it so they don’t overlap the back leg.

    Finally, I think the gun would probably be better without the smoke coming out of it — that kind of obscures the barrel and makes it hard to make out what it’s supposed to be.

    Hope that helps … it’s a really nice character and image. With just a little tweaking I think it could be great.

  64. Wow, I was typing way to fast there, I don’t even want to know how many spelling errors I made…

  65. Zarae (61&62): Aww shucks, too bad you haven’t kept up with the drawings, this is nice! Good basic design, nice lines, some nice shading. I’d probably want to tighten up the musculature a little, as in spots they get to looking a little puffy. And I’m not sure what’s going on with the dragon’s front right arm; it starts out on the opposite side of the body and then seems to cross over in front of the left arm and the tail. Probably moving that out a little from the knee and putting it behind the tail would help put it in the proper spot.

    Nice work though, I appreciate your sharing it with us! And it’s never too late to pick up the ol’ pencil again 😉

  66. Tori (62): Welcome to the blog! One of the rules for me on Open Critique Day is, only one critique per person. Otherwise there’s just no way for me to keep up. So if you could pick one of those to get feedback on (at least from me, other folks are welcome to do whatever they like), I’d appreciate it.

    Thanks!

  67. Anarchangel (47) The thing that jars the fire effects, for me, is the highlighting on the wings. That set of wings looks like it is sort of wrapped around the character. With her hair and hands lit up like that, the interior of the wings should be bright, and the outside shadowed.

  68. Nick (64): Same thing as with Tori — if you could pick just one of those for me to comment on, that’d be great. Again, other folks are welcome to talk about both if they like, but for me it’s just one per person. Otherwise I can’t keep up.

    Thanks!

  69. Excellent point by Bael (69).

  70. Nick Hentschel

    Well, I was hoping that EVERYONE would comment, not just you, so there’d be room for both pictures. But if I have to pick one, let’s work with the most recent image from the Pisces contest.

  71. Oh! Sorry ’bout that. Ok, just the last one is fine. 🙂
    And thanks for the welcome! 😀

  72. I´ve under a lot of pressure due to lots of problems, a tests and other stuff that you might not care about jejeje, and i haven´t done anything that is up to my real potentital ´cause i didn´t enjoy doing some characters, but now i am chill and i really wanted to do something like that and it was really funny, so here it is.

    the st. gravekeeper

    http://i1190.photobucket.com/albums/z456/asder0072/Open%20critique/StShuktheGravekeeper.jpg

  73. Logosgal: Since the seasons are mostly outdoor phenomena, Autumn should be depicted outside like the rest of them. There are some nice leaves in insignia set that you could use to set the scene.

  74. Arioch (72): Nice! There’s a lot going on in this outfit, but I think you manage to carry it off well. The flame effect on the sword is nicely done and I like the general configuration of the armor.

    The only bit I would suggest you tinker with is the background star. The black line overpowers the figure a bit, and in general pushes the entire element too far into the foreground. I’d either lighten that line color up quite a bit, or remove it altogether if you want to stay with the star. Given how much is going on in the figure, I think you might actually be better off just getting rid of it completely and letting the character stand on his own, he’s strong enough for that.

    Nice job, thanks for posting it!

  75. Nick (64 & 73): That would be why I said other folks are welcome to comment on them both 🙂

    Of the two Pisces arrangements, I definitely like the more organic one better. In the lined-up one, Saturn ends up looking kind of like a hat. Which is neat on its own, but probably not what you were going for.

    I like the pose, I can see why people would be inspired to imitate it. And I like the concept of him floating over the water in front of the moon.

    For me personally, the portal doesn’t really read as “portal”, particularly with the very sharp and angular edges. I have to wonder if the entire image might not be stronger if that element were deleted altogether, leaving him floating in front of the moon. I think it would help focus on the figure, and make him feel more “floaty” and mysterious. Either that, or come up with a way to make the edges of the portal less regular, so it looks more vibrant and alive rather than scanning as a purely graphical element.

    The only other suggestion I’d have would be to change the line color of the water to something non-black, in the blue or gray family. The distinct color of the line makes it stand out too much, looking either solid or like an oil slick or something.

    But, a cool looking guy in a great pose!

  76. Bael (69) I know what you mean and completely agree but the problem is that those wings simply can’t be coloured like that. The outside and inside are both covered by the prime colour option. And the inside is naturally shaded darker.

    To be honest the wings were a last minute addition and I’m wondering if she might just look better without them.

  77. Tori (62 & 74): Nice! I like the fundamental character design a lot, from the costume to the colors to the accessories. A very well put-together figure, giving enough detail to be convincing without being overwhelming. I’d say “Battle Mage” definitely fits. I also like the framing element of the box in the background. Overall, a really good design and composition.

    One area that could probably use some tweaking is the shoes. The current dark grey color is so close in value to both the cape and the dark purple background that the shoes get lost. I think either moving the bottom edge of the background box up a bit so the feet stick out more, or changing the shoes to a lighter gray, would help them separate visually.

    The other area I’d work on a bit would be the energy effect, specifically the white color that encloses the crackling energy dots. My issue with it is how regular the outline is, making the edge between it and the dark background really severe, to the point where it looks almost like a paper cutout. I’d try changing that color to completely transparent (0% alpha) and see how that looks. That should make the energy crackle be the edge, and with less regularity it should work better with the background.

    Maybe not, too, but it’s worth a try at least.

    Anyway, great job, I’m glad you decided to join us and share your work!

  78. Jeff(44): I was initially going to do that, but I thought the character would appear as though she was just standing there. Not a bad idea, but not what I was looking for.

    I really wanted to give some impression that she was moving forward. Then the idea hit me. I accidentally discovered how to “shade” something to give the impression of depth (seen in the original images back leg). I used that on the back leg with your suggestion. I think the results are a definate improvement.

    Original:
    http://i1143.photobucket.com/albums/n629/Mashlagoo/Suk_and_Portal_Finish02.jpg

    New:
    http://i1143.photobucket.com/albums/n629/Mashlagoo/Suk_and_Portal_Finish_04.jpg

    I might move the shaded area slightly up some… to suggest more bending of the leg.

  79. http://th04.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/i/2011/084/0/b/djinn_caravan_guide_by_spazticarwen-d3cfjbd.png

    An experiment with lighting and texture. I’d love any suggestions on how to add backlighting.

  80. Id like to post another one if that’s ok…Jeff i know you can’t critique it but I would like to get feedback from anyone else if its ok. 😉

    http://i979.photobucket.com/albums/ae274/capttravis/Wonder_Woman2.jpg

    I tried to make a modern Wonder Woman. I went more for the greek inspiration with this one. Please tell me what you think. Tell me if there’s anything I can do to sprouse it up a little

  81. Tori (62): That first image is nice! I like how you used the braids to make a more “scale” like effect. Of the ones you posted that ones my favorite

  82. Thought I’d throw in my Aquarius design. I admit, there were more visually interesting submissions that made the cut than mine, but looking for general impressions and whatnot. For example, does it actually look like an effective advertisement?

    http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/Myrowire/Hero%20Machine%20Contest%20Entries/myro-aquarius_water.png

    Also, can’t believe how quickly OCD is filling up today.

  83. Nick Hentschel

    Thanks, Jeff. The saturnesque planet was moved in the second pose for precisely the reason that you mention. So, it’s nice to kow we’re on the same page.

    I’ve tinkered with it a bit now, and yes, I’ve removed the portal and altered the sea-color. But while the result (which I don’t have time to post; I need to get down to business for the day) is cleaner and more serene, I worry that it’s a bit dull, so I’ll need to do more tinkering. Maybe next time?

    Meanwhile, everyone feel free to post comments of your own on my drawings…

  84. Anarchangel (42): I love the glow effect it worked great. I personally like her hair it is a great looking character

  85. Whoops i meant Anarchangel (47)

    Jeff that tutourial you posted (42) was a big help!

  86. MScat (82):Well, I can definitely see the more Greek influence to her design, I’m wondering if it would help if there was maybe some carryover from her traditional outfit in there. Maybe some nod to the eagle pattern in the leather armor she’s wearing.

    Mostly, and this just might be me, but I’m not sold on the face selection. I don’t know why.

    Otherwise, I really like it.

  87. MScat (82): Thanks! 🙂 Though to me it looks more like markings or tattoos. The funny thing is, That was one of the first ones I ever made with Her Machine 3, and I didn’t know how to use the mask tool at the time, so It took forever to get them where I wanted them to go.

    And btw, Very cool design, I like how you gave it a more roman feel. Also love what you did with the lace-up(?) part, using it for armbands it very neat. Though the only thing that throws me off is the red and blue colors. They just seem a little dark for the character, but that’s just my opinion.

  88. Doh, I really need to pay more attention to what I’m typing..just glancing back up I can see lots of typos..

  89. Debbie Jackson

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?fbid=151234224939152&set=a.151233451605896.33851.141798722549369&theater

    Asari Aiko, thief/assassin from the Dark Ages Pokemon campaign we’re running at home, PS edited in parts as some of the items wouldn’t fit the altered body shape for a fourteen-year-old..

  90. Mscat (82): I have to agree with Myro (88) on the face. A more regal expression might be better.

    PS: Since this is the internet and I feel compelled to split hairs this looks like more of an Ancient rather than Modern version of Wonder Woman. This doesn’t matter visually though.

  91. Melis (81): If the idea is to get the effect of back-lighting, I’d suggest making the edges of the character lighter, and the center of the character darker.

    Here’s a good example: http://www.heromachine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/watsonbradshaw-drifter.png

    Watson did a great job here of shading the center of the character’s face, while leaving the edges exposed to light. I hope that helps.

  92. Tori: yeah I know what u mean about the dark colors. It was my attempt at making a realistic costume one that would look good on a movie screen.

    Myro: my idea for this costume was that shed wear this armor first before leaving her island home then when she arrives in man’s world she changes to the modern outfit. I didn’t know how the eagle would fit into the design but I can try to incorporate it. This outfit was inspired by the NEW costume that doesn’t have the eagle but I’m not against it if I can figure out how to fit it in there.

    dblade: I just chose the face because I was lazy and was focused on the outfit. Your right this one isn’t modern I was doing it as like a live action movie and did this as her warrior outfit she wears before switching to the sleeker more modern look. I’ll redo the face though when I get more time into a more “Wonder Woman” face

  93. Melis (81): Very nice djinn character! The setting is great and I love the colors you chose throughout. The silhouetted bird in the sky is a really nice touch as well.

    The only bit of patterning I’m not sure about is using the same smoke in the ground at his feet as in the stone around him. Those are two very different materials, so having the same pattern on them doesn’t quite work.

    The only real backlighting kind of effect I’ve seen with HM has been where I think they make two of whatever the object is, put one behind the other one and scaled up slightly so a thin edge of it shows around the one in front, then color the rear one all-white (or whatever your highlight color is). Sometimes they’ll put in a gradient on the front one as well to increase the effect.

    That’s more of a halo than backlighting per se, but it’s as close as I think you can get without using something like Photoshop on the base image.

    I’ll defer to the other, more accomplished HMers out there on that score though.

  94. Myro (84): I think like one of the earlier posters, you’re being let down by the lack of font support in the program. Those fonts just aren’t as effective as they need to be for this to really come across as an ad, and that’s not a slam on you — that’s a limitation of the program and there’s not much to be done about it until or unless a bunch more fonts get added.

    I think also for this to be an ad, you’d have to be talking about it being a poster like you’d hang up in a bar or liquor store or whatnot. And for that, I think it would need to be more realistic, particularly in the background (and specifically the sun). Or they’d do something cropped a lot closer in, like you see from a Google Image Search for “Beer poster”.

    I realize this is an ad for water, not beer, but the look you were going for, I think, is much closer to a beer poster. And a Google Image Search for “water poster” is very disappointing.

    Anyway, I think it’s a nice image that for the most part is let down not by a lack of skill on your part, but by a lack of programmatic support for decent fonts.

  95. ummm… What happened to my post? 81?

  96. Debbie Jackson (92): I saw this one on Facebook a few minutes ago and as I said there, very nicely done! This is definitely one of the best Anime-style faces/heads I’ve seen, she looks very natural and convincing with the rest of the image.

    Good color choices, nice item selection, good pose. All in all a really nice piece. I like what you did with the capes particularly, that’s a nice dynamic look.

    About the only thing I can think to suggest might be to lose the brown tassel on the belt pouch. It gets a little lost with the other stuff going on in that region, and causes a bit of visual confusion where it crosses the knife. Not a huge deal — it doesn’t look BAD or anything — but I just wondered if it might help everything in that area pop a little more.

  97. Mashlagoo (81 & 98): Hm, looking at it now, I think to get the dynamism you’re wanting you’re going to have to do a lot more tweaking. Rather than try to explain it with words, I created a quick sketch of how the pose would look were it drawn by hand. Part of the problem you’re having is that the whole upper body is very stiff and the hips and shoulders are parallel, which makes you think of a body at rest, while you’re wanting it to say movement. So the sketch shows the way the hips and shoulders would be if she were really taking a step forward.

    Hope that makes sense.

  98. ok here is an upcoming character model for my Sci-Fi story i am gonna attempt to write
    his name is Jacen and is a mixture between the imperial agents of Star Wars and the Spectres off of Mass Effect this is one of many models i have created.
    http://i1107.photobucket.com/albums/h385/R_A_F/HEROMACHINE/Jacen.jpg

    also if any of ya’ll have any ideas for my story i will greatly appreciate it
    (it’s amazing im 15 and my imagination ani’t all that good!) 🙂

  99. First of all I give a very big Thank to Jeff
    That tutorial is very awesome.

    Old – Uncolored hand draw
    http://th08.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/i/2011/084/5/5/katana_girl_2_0_by_tarkarra-d3cf2jk.jpg

    New – Colored
    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/084/2/0/katana_girl_2_0___colored_by_tarkarra-d3cfwgu.jpg

    I need more practice for my drawing skills.

  100. Jeff(100): Yes that is very helpful.

  101. MScat (95): Okay, in that case, my suggestion would end up being more of an Easter egg. I was trying to think of ways to make her look more “Wonder Woman-y.” Still, a small or faded eagle emblem might be possible, just as a suggestion.
    On the other hand, dblade and I are right about the face, and dblade really locked onto why I didn’t like it.

  102. Jeff (97): I actually added the sun in last, and I think I still need to work on the concept of “less is more” in my designs at times. So, you have a point, sometimes when I look and see the big empty space around the sides, I should seriously think about cropping it out instead of filling it in. Something to think about anyway, thanks.

  103. Here’s a simple one I did last week. I got the idea while browsing Imp’s repository and someone made a comment that there were no German superheroes… so I thought I’d give it a try:

    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_l2fkIkO0sAM/TY0JaCyrnXI/AAAAAAAADlY/VXQpLqwygjI/s800/The%20German.png

  104. Oh and the top of the head IS meant to be “negative space”

  105. Worf (105): Whoever said there were no German superheroes has obviously not read X-Men, otherwise they might recall a certain Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler being from Germany. I’m sure I could come up with others if I put my mind to it.
    I like the design as well.

  106. @Myro(107): Nightcrawler IS german, but he isn’t exactly going around shouting it from the rooftops. I got the idea that THAT was what the commenter wanted. A “Captain Germany” of sorts….

  107. Worf (108): Point taken. Anything comics have come up with in the past as a “Captain Germany” has usually been a Nazi-type villian along the lines of Captain Nazi or Baron Zemo.

  108. This is the new version (complete re-doing) from my previous post (1) using the help from all of you who commented on it. How do you find it now? It is unfinished, with no background and some of the items earlier picture sported missing (I’ll be adding them later), but I like the positioning more now.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=214992518518185&set=a.201686679848769.61050.100000223159388&theater

  109. Herp derp! I think what I meant to say (109) was “Captain Axis,” not “Captain Nazi.”

  110. Dionne Jinn (110): I think you should narrow the portion of the dress on the right, and it might be raised a touch too high now, but you’re definitely on the right track.

  111. I’ll try to fix that, thanks Myro (112). But first I need to flip the whole damned thing around, since now she is sitting on the wrong side of the horse. All the pictures I found from the side saddle indicated that it is the right leg that is closer to the horse.

  112. my homemade jedi outfits, ceremonial and jedi adventurer, tell what i can add or what you think either one is fine or both if you want, thanks in advance.

    Ceremonial http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1579636&l=b34507474d&id=1589732210

    adventurer http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1579637&l=2da341a13d&id=1589732210

  113. my homemade jedi outfits, ceremonial and jedi adventurer, tell what i can add or what you think either one is fine or both if you want, thanks in advance.

    Ceremonial http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1579636&l=b34507474d&id=1589732210

    adventurer http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1579637&l=2da341a13d&id=1589732210

  114. sorry my post was awaiting moderation
    just in case both get through

  115. Aaron (101): I like it! This is probably my favorite one you’ve done so far. I like the general sleek design, the circuitry pattern, and the positioning of the uniform elements. Very nice!

    My only suggestion would be to maybe do something a little different with the gun colors, as right now the reds match up with the red pants stripe and the gray matches up with the gray pants stripe, so they sort of get camouflaged. Not sure exactly what colors to do, but even a brighter red and lighter gray would probably work. Or swap the two colors.

    Well done!

  116. Worf (105): Dies ist eine sehr gute Super-Helden, wie ich es!

    Simple, clean, effective, and a great “patriotic” style of character. The flame hair is nifty, too. I can’t think of anything to suggest for changes, I think it’s great the way it is.

  117. Tarkabarka (102): Not bad, glad you liked the tutorial! It really helped me a lot.

  118. Dionne Jinn (111): MUCH better!

  119. Myro: Like I said im not AGAINST putting an eagle on there…i just don’t know where to put it. I personally like the face but I can see what you guys mean. I’m gonna keep working on it and next week I’ll post the results

  120. ajw (115): Those are really cool! I’ve tried my hand at kitbashing before and it is NOT easy, I am super impressed.

  121. @Jeff(119): I may have to play with that flame hair once that flame tutorial comes out…. 😉

  122. OK folks, I’m going to bow out of this thread at this point; although you’re all more than welcome to make yourselves at home and continue the discussion of either anything already posted or anything new you want to add, I’ll not be participating from this point on.

    Many thanks to everyone who either posted an image for critique or shared their critiques with others, this was a particularly good session! Have a great weekend.

  123. thanks jeff, the ceremonial outfit is made from socks and hot glue.

  124. http://i1107.photobucket.com/albums/h385/R_A_F/HEROMACHINE/Jacen2.jpg

    heres the newly updated one srry i couldnt get to the computer

  125. @Worf:
    Super Einfall. Vielleicht mache ich jetzt auch einen österreischichen Superhelden. Sollte halt nichts mit Fussball zutun haben.
    Short Transfer:Very good idea. I make a austrian hero too…
    no joke…or…hm no.