Open Critique Day #49

My full-time (non-HeroMachine) job might keep me from actually getting to these before this evening, but it’s time 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 guidelines:

  • 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.

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 45 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

58 Responses to Open Critique Day #49

  1. OCD!!! Brilliant! I was hoping we might have one today.

    I’m having hard time with the interlocked arms I have in this image.

    Must thank Atomic Punk for his help on the forum with it, as at least now her arm doesn’t look like a tentacle… Also other helpful tips are wellcome. (On the plus side, it has some of the best eyes I have done, don’t you think?)

    And if anyone else wants to give feedback on another one, I would appreciate it. I think I should do something about her back, it looks too stiff, but that is no major issue:

    Image

  2. oh jeez! those are incredible!

  3. http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/307/c/5/the_hunter_by_malfar-d5jtzqp.jpg

    One of my old characters, I believe I hadn’t posted him here before.

  4. This here is Blue Rebel. Think Batman, but in like a post apocalyptic setting, failed technology, little resources, and the character himself isn’t very merciful.

    http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k312/theshookman/BlueRebel.png

  5. Here is Raphael, an angelic warrior with the ability to turn his arms into metal. His pores release a sort of mercury-like liquid metal that hardens as soon as his arms were completely covered. He also has healing abilities and can release energy bursts from his eyes at will.

    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/307/a/3/raphael_2_by_mcknighthc-d5ju4mt.png

  6. Finally I have the sense to do this early.

    Anyways, here: http://i295.photobucket.com/albums/mm156/Tuldabar/Heros/Star-Crossed.png

    I don’t have much comment, and I worked this up just to practice really, but I know the arms look wonky. I tried to go as bare-bones as possible while retaining the essentials.
    And the guy’s face looks abnormally large, for some reason…
    Thoughts?

  7. Idk why that white line is showing up at the bottom. It wasn’t there when I exported the photo. Oh well.

  8. Dionne Jinn: OCD!!! Brilliant! I was hoping we might have one today.

    I’m having hard time with the interlocked arms I have in this image.

    Must thank Atomic Punk for his help on the forum with it, as at least now her arm doesn’t look like a tentacle… Also other helpful tips are wellcome. (On the plus side, it has some of the best eyes I have done, don’t you think?)

    It’s a really nice illustration, first of all. Great job on telling the story and setting the scene.

    As far as the arms go, it looks pretty good except that there’s no upper line on her forearm that ends before it hits the outer edge of the arm, so it looks like the inner curve of the inside of the elbow. Maybe if you use the forearm-only piece for the forearm, then a different piece behind it to fill in the negative space that you currently have shaded. But make all the colors of it the same as the line color of the forearm.

    I don’t know if that will work but it is worth a shot.

    And yes, nice job on the eyes :-)

  9. Dionne Jinn:
    OCD!!! Brilliant! I was hoping we might have one today.

    I’m having hard time with the interlocked arms I have in this image: http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/307/c/4/marianna_and_yanez_walking___wip_ocd_edition_by_dionnejinn-d5jtxrs.png

    Must thank Atomic Punk for his help on the forum with it, as at least now her arm doesn’t look like a tentacle… Also other helpful tips are wellcome. (On the plus side, it has some of the best eyes I have done, don’t you think?)

    And if anyone else wants to give feedback on another one, I would appreciate it. I think I should do something about her back, it looks too stiff, but that is no major issue: http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/305/6/c/the_pear_of_labuan___wip___updated_by_dionnejinn-d5jnj0n.png

    Personally, I love the interlocking arms, I think they’re very well done. As for the second photo, I can see what you mean with the stiff back… It looks like she has no support behind her. I would say to sit her up more, but I think that would take away from the whole relaxed look that’s going on there. The only other thing I can think of is somehow put something behind her to show that she is leaning on it for support. Perhaps make edits to the couch?

  10. Malfar:
    http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/307/c/5/the_hunter_by_malfar-d5jtzqp.jpg

    One of my old characters, I believe I hadn’t posted him here before.

    I like him! Nice outfit choices, the axe looks cool hanging in the belt sash, and he looks like a coherent concept.

    I’m not a huge fan of the background. I’d mask it onto a circle or something so it is a design element and not a big plane that sort of confuses the eye as to whether he’s standing or floating. It flattens out the whole thing and you lose the character a bit in it.

    Good job, though.

  11. Harlequin:
    http://www.heromachine.com/blog/wp-content/forum-image-uploads/tarkabarka/2012/10/Harlequin_Seraph_Megaera_RM.png

    This is a remade of Seraph waterbender character. The character name is Megaera.

    Love it! The anatomy on this one works really well and the perspective is spot-on. I like what you’ve done with the background as well.

    My only minor quibble would be to try moving the hand that’s on the rock up a layer so it’s over the wrist wraps. Something about that layering seems off, though you may try it and decide it looks better the way it is.

    Great job!

  12. The Shookman:
    This here is Blue Rebel. Think Batman, but in like a post apocalyptic setting, failed technology, little resources, and the character himself isn’t very merciful.

    http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k312/theshookman/BlueRebel.png

    Nice! Good action pose, excellent color scheme (blues in the foreground and greens in the background), and I like his outfit.

    I don’t have a lot to suggest as far as changes, it looks good to me as is.

  13. blaq_aries:
    http://i1180.photobucket.com/albums/x406/blaq_aries/CaptXaviertheBlack.png

    Very nice pirate looking fellow. The item choices are all good and I like the setting. I think the coloring needs a little work — the deck and wood being the same shade of brown as his boots, belt, and gloves creates a bit of confusion. I’d go a few tones darker on the ship.

    I’d also do a different line color on the big wave. It gets muddied where it intersects with the lines of his hat, and I have a hard time differentiating what’s going on there. You might even try white — kind of an odd choice but it might tie the big wave into the background sea better.

  14. mcknight57:
    Here is Raphael, an angelic warrior with the ability to turn his arms into metal. His pores release a sort of mercury-like liquid metal that hardens as soon as his arms were completely covered. He also has healing abilities and can release energy bursts from his eyes at will.

    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/307/a/3/raphael_2_by_mcknighthc-d5ju4mt.png

    I like the way you have the grey in the upper arms bleed into the metal of the lower arms, that gets the effect across perfectly. The red and black of the costume work well, too — it makes him look modern and militaristic without going overboard.

    I’m not 100% sold on the wings and the eyes. I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be energy or what. I am not sure what you were going for so I can’t make a good suggestion, but they don’t quite seem to fit with the rest of the design as-is.

    Good job, though, he’s interesting!

  15. Tuldabar:
    Finally I have the sense to do this early.

    Anyways, here: http://i295.photobucket.com/albums/mm156/Tuldabar/Heros/Star-Crossed.png

    I don’t have much comment, and I worked this up just to practice really, but I know the arms look wonky. I tried to go as bare-bones as possible while retaining the essentials.
    And the guy’s face looks abnormally large, for some reason…
    Thoughts?

    Especially for a quick study, I think it’s good! The faces don’t look weird, they have personality. Obviously it needs more time and work, but I think the bones are great.

  16. Jeff Hebert: I like the way you have the grey in the upper arms bleed into the metal of the lower arms, that gets the effect across perfectly. The red and black of the costume work well, too — it makes him look modern and militaristic without going overboard.

    I’m not 100% sold on the wings and the eyes. I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be energy or what. I am not sure what you were going for so I can’t make a good suggestion, but they don’t quite seem to fit with the rest of the design as-is.

    Good job, though, he’s interesting!

    Thanks and actually, yes, that is opposed to be energy on both the eyes and the wings. Should I change the wings to grey with light red outline? would that work better as the energy signature?

  17. mcknight57: Thanks and actually, yes, that is opposed to be energy on both the eyes and the wings. Should I change the wings to grey with light red outline? would that work better as the energy signature?

    I’m not sure, to be honest. Try maybe the star pattern turned almost invisible, or double the wings and make the double almost transparent and offset by a few pixels, something like that. For the eyes, I think even just a white dot or maybe gradient dot would help, something to make them not so flat.

  18. Thoughts on Nexus? He’s the principal character of a magic-based story I’m working on…

    http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l607/DiCicatriz/Nexus_Rev_X_Ulises.png

    I’m looking for ways to make him more interesting. I was thinking tattoos, but I didn’t want to detract from the sigils emanating from him…

  19. DiCicatriz:
    Thoughts on Nexus? He’s the principal character of a magic-based story I’m working on…

    http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l607/DiCicatriz/Nexus_Rev_X_Ulises.png

    I’m looking for ways to make him more interesting. I was thinking tattoos, but I didn’t want to detract from the sigils emanating from him…

    Love it! The glowing sigils, the space wrap, the overall physical design, it’s all awesome. As usual.

    I agree you should probably leave the upper body alone or you risk getting it too busy. But maybe some sort of seam work or an inlaid design on the pants?

  20. The Atomic Punk

    My design for the Gamma World Character Challenge: Andrah

    Looking to make her visually more female without adding the obvious. In gritty campaigns and writing, I prefer non-mammal species to have few human traits. Real-world lizards do not have mammaries.

    Might be hard to do, since a lot hinges on references such as biology (pheromones, scents) or anthropology (costumes, rituals). Not easy to show a picture of a new species and have someone instantly tell the creatures’ sex. Still, worth mulling over some techniques.

  21. Jeff Hebert: It’s a really nice illustration, first of all. Great job on telling the story and setting the scene.

    As far as the arms go, it looks pretty good except that there’s no upper line on her forearm that ends before it hits the outer edge of the arm, so it looks like the inner curve of the inside of the elbow. Maybe if you use the forearm-only piece for the forearm, then a different piece behind it to fill in the negative space that you currently have shaded. But make all the colors of it the same as the line color of the forearm.

    I don’t know if that will work but it is worth a shot.

    And yes, nice job on the eyes

    Hah hah. Thanks. I gave it an attempt. The edit is really minor one, but I think it did help a bit. Here: http://www.heromachine.com/blog/wp-content/forum-image-uploads/dionne-jinn/2012/11/MariannaYanez231.png

  22. The Atomic Punk:
    My design for the Gamma World Character Challenge: Andrah

    Looking to make her visually more female without adding the obvious.In gritty campaigns and writing, I prefer non-mammal species to have few human traits.Real-world lizards do not have mammaries.

    Might be hard to do, since a lot hinges on references such as biology (pheromones, scents) or anthropology (costumes, rituals).Not easy to show a picture of a new species and have someone instantly tell the creatures’ sex.Still, worth mulling over some techniques.

    Really cool illustration, Atomic! I like!

  23. The Atomic Punk: My design for the Gamma World Character Challenge: Andrah

    Looking to make her visually more female without adding the obvious. In gritty campaigns and writing, I prefer non-mammal species to have few human traits. Real-world lizards do not have mammaries.

    Might be hard to do, since a lot hinges on references such as biology (pheromones, scents) or anthropology (costumes, rituals). Not easy to show a picture of a new species and have someone instantly tell the creatures’ sex. Still, worth mulling over some techniques.

    Nifty! I think it’s ok that it doesn’t scream “WOMAN” since it’s an alien-ish species and we wouldn’t be able to tell. You have good subtle cues in there, though, that I think work pretty well.

  24. Dionne Jinn: Hah hah. Thanks. I gave it an attempt. The edit is really minor one, but I think it did help a bit. Here: http://www.heromachine.com/blog/wp-content/forum-image-uploads/dionne-jinn/2012/11/MariannaYanez231.png

    Excellent!

  25. http://i1260.photobucket.com/albums/ii579/barbario1/barbario-drider.png

    i just did this one today. i covered up the naughty bits.

  26. http://oi46.tinypic.com/21ocuvb.jpg

    This is a work in project that I’ve been struggling with for what seems like ages. I’m pretty sure the basic idea is fine, but for some reason it just looks kind of… off…

    Note that this is just a basic “scetch” (that’s why his left arm is missing), but I really like having the foundation of the design done from the very beginning.

  27. Jeff Hebert: I like him! Nice outfit choices, the axe looks cool hanging in the belt sash, and he looks like a coherent concept.

    I’m not a huge fan of the background. I’d mask it onto a circle or something so it is a design element and not a big plane that sort of confuses the eye as to whether he’s standing or floating. It flattens out the whole thing and you lose the character a bit in it.

    Good job, though.

    Well, I’m sometimes too lazy to make a background, but I don’t like plain white one, so I change it to some colorful piece of nothing :)

  28. Malfar: Well, I’m sometimes too lazy to make a background, but I don’t like plain white one, so I change it to some colorful piece of nothing :)

    Plain white is better than a color, because white reads as empty/negative space while a color reads as “something”. Then the eye wonders, is that a wall, or a plane of some sort? Why is the figure standing in front of it?” If you don’t want to put effort into making the background support the figure, then from a compositional standpoint it’s far better to leave it empty.

  29. Alphaalpharomeo

    Hey mine was second on here, what happened to it?

  30. barbario:
    http://i1260.photobucket.com/albums/ii579/barbario1/barbario-drider.png

    i just did this one today. i covered up the naughty bits.

    Nice! I had a spider-woman character I did back in my Champions days, too.

    I like the composition and the subject. The only adjustment I might make is to give the woman some sort of expression — she’s about to off an orc and she’s being threatened with fire, she seems like she’d be scared or mad or something, but she’s just blank.

  31. Alphaalpharomeo:
    Hey mine was second on here, what happened to it?

    I’m not sure, I don’t see it in “pending” or “trash” so it doesn’t look like it came through the WordPress admin. Can you repost it?

  32. Weilyn:
    http://oi46.tinypic.com/21ocuvb.jpg

    This is a work in project that I’ve been struggling with for what seems like ages. I’m pretty sure the basic idea is fine, but for some reason it just looks kind of… off…

    Note that this is just a basic “scetch” (that’s why his left arm is missing), but I really like having the foundation of the design done from the very beginning.

    I think it’s good so far. The two areas of potential concern would be that his knee should be in front of his arm, I think, and I’m not sure about the orange smoke. If you’re going for something on fire back there, cool, but if it’s supposed to be mist from the waterfall then not so much.

  33. Alphaalpharomeo

    I only have access to my Ipod right now and can’t figure out how to cut and paste

  34. http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac111/Kicktar/HM/DoctorDokuChushaki.png
    Doctor Doku Chushaki, main bad guy of my semi-post-apocalyptic world, same as my last few people are from. His tests are the source of Criana and the two mage’s powers.

  35. Alphaalpharomeo: http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac111/Kicktar/HM/DoctorDokuChushaki.png

    No worries, whenever you can get to a computer to post it is fine, even if it’s tomorrow or whatnot. I don’t have the original comment anywhere in email or on the admin panel so it never got to me.

  36. Kicktar:
    http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac111/Kicktar/HM/DoctorDokuChushaki.png
    Doctor Doku Chushaki, main bad guy of my semi-post-apocalyptic world, same as my last few people are from. His tests are the source of Criana and the two mage’s powers.

    I like the design. I wouldn’t ordinarily go for green and orange but it works pretty well here. All of the components come together well and seem like they’re part of a well considered concept.

  37. I wanted to make a rose fairy, I think the shirt turned ok, but I think I want the skirt longer and I ? the top!
    Comments?
    http://i1162.photobucket.com/albums/q539/kjell17/rose2.jpg

  38. Keric:
    I wanted to make a rose fairy, I think the shirt turned ok, but I think I want the skirt longer and I ? the top!
    Comments?
    http://i1162.photobucket.com/albums/q539/kjell17/rose2.jpg

    I would agree completely that the top is good but the skirt does not read as a skirt. The lines are jaggedy and thick, and the lines just look like a wad rather than organized cloth. Definitely needs some work there.

  39. OK folks, we’re done for the day. Thanks!

  40. Nick Hentschel

    DAMN!!! I missed it! I *desperately* need advice on a character I’m drawing, and I haven’t had any time, all day, to participate in OCD. And by the time I do, it’s over!

    Grrrrr……..

  41. Ok, Nick and alphaalpharomeo can still post.

  42. Thanks for the advice!

  43. TOOL:
    I know its late but here

    http://i1224.photobucket.com/albums/ee363/cameron_stanley_84/My%20Characters/TOOL-Merc_zps4de77be5.png

    Very nice as is, but you may wish to darken the vest it is almost flesh tone, and I don’t think you were going for a horror “it’s made of human skin” moment?

  44. A kind of redesign of the Rocketeer, imagined in a world similar to that of the film “Waterworld” but just a little more urbanized. Lemme know whatcha think! :)
    http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/288/8/2/rocketeer_redesign_by_master81385-d5hya5l.jpg

  45. The Atomic Punk

    Thanks, Jeff, and glad to help, Dionne Jinn.

    Master81385: I will offer a critique if you send me a PM. I like what you are trying to accomplish. But I’m wary that might comments might be misconstrued as harsh. Then again, I’ve always liked “misconstrued” as a deflective response.

  46. Thanks the advices. Sorry for the late reply but i ill a little bit.

  47. Damn you Jeff. (not really, just venting)

    You had to hold OCD on the Friday that I wasn’t home…. (Ok, so I wasn’t home Saturday either as I’m posting this at the end of the day)…..

    Oh heck… another two weeks of wait….. :P ;)

  48. @Keric, I was kinda going for a jungle/desert camo mix. I can see how it may look better a shade darker. I haven’t made anything in a while. I kinda felt burnt out there for a while and had to take a break from HM. I have so many different characters I didn’t know what else to make. I can’t even find the umph to get into any of the contest lately. I need to find a way to get out of the rut I feel I have been in and break through my usual design to take it to the next level.

  49. Nick Hentschel

    Jeff Hebert:
    Ok, Nick and alphaalpharomeo can still post.

    Thanks, Jeff. I was actually thinking about waiting another week, since I want to get as much input as possible, but I can’t turn down such a generous offer.
    Okay, so this one deals with a sensitive issue: depicting a disability. Simply put, the character I’m drawing is blind, and I’m trying to render it accurately. What I’ve tried to do is put oversized, whitish irises in his Zyp-ed eyes, to create the effect of someone who’s got cataracts. But I’d like an honest opinion of how effective it is, and if someone has a better suggestion, I’m listening.

    Anyone with personal experience of this subject, PLEASE speak up!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/huskybike/8152727274/

  50. @ tool re: I need to find a way to get out of the rut I feel I have been in and break through my usual design to take it to the next level.

    I don’t know if this will help or not (but worth the mention) turn on your Ipod (or equalivant) and listen to your favorite song(s). Then try you interpet the hero of the song into HM. Do NOT worry about how it looks, and do NOT spend more than 1/2 an hr on it.

    I did it tonight and will post it to the 30 Characters Challenge
    Tomorrow. I hope it helps

  51. Nick Hentschel: Simply put, the character I’m drawing is blind, and I’m trying to render it accurately. What I’ve tried to do is put oversized, whitish irises in his Zyp-ed eyes, to create the effect of someone who’s got cataracts. But I’d like an honest opinion of how effective it is, and if someone has a better suggestion, I’m listening.

    Interesting, my first “30 Characters Challenge” character had one blind eye as well, so I was dealing with the same issue just a couple of days ago.

    What I settled on was having the entire iris and pupil being very, very pale, just a few ticks of aqua blue above white. I kept the outline of the iris to give it some structure, but I think it would be worth eliminating it completely and just having a milky-white iris.

    On your version, I think the white pupil is good but the darker iris ends up making it still look like a normal eye, just in negative. I’d try making that blue much lighter and see how that looks.

  52. Nick Hentschel

    Jeff Hebert: Interesting, my first “30 Characters Challenge” character had one blind eye as well, so I was dealing with the same issue just a couple of days ago.

    What I settled on was having the entire iris and pupil being very, very pale, just a few ticks of aqua blue above white. I kept the outline of the iris to give it some structure, but I think it would be worth eliminating it completely and just having a milky-white iris.

    Jeff, this may sound very creepy, but I had a premonition that someone would say EXACTLY that!

    On your version, I think the white pupil is good but the darker iris ends up making it still look like a normal eye, just in negative. I’d try making that blue much lighter and see how that looks.

    I’ve been wondering about that, too. I’ve often felt that the character’s eyes seemed too small and dark. I’ll thin out the color, and see how it looks.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to look at this: I’m touching on a sensitive topic here, and I want to make sure I do it right.

  53. Nick Hentschel

    Okay, Jeff, I “washed out” the iris, and made some adjustment to the size of the eye. Overall, I think it looks much better now:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/huskybike/8155149749/

  54. Nick Hentschel

    Thank you, Jeff. Other people’s comments are still welcome and appreciated, but thank you for taking the time to help me, here.

    Now, to work on his pose, his cane, and other attributes: you may seem him on another OCD yet! ;-)