Category Archives: Cool Characters

Neat characters submitted by HeroMachine fans.

Character Of The Week: Vampyrist- Effigy

I originally wasn’t planning to do a COTW this week, I figured most people would be too busy with festive pursuits to have time to spare, especially considering its Friday. However, it would seem Vampyrist has other ideas. I nip on to the forums for a quick look, to see if anything has been posted whilst I was having my dinner and this is what I was greeted with.

Vampyrist is one of those classic ‘machiners (not a term I tend to throw around lightly) who have a style that is truly their own, much like AMS or dblade, you can try and copy it as much as you like, but you’ll never get it exactly right, it will never look as good as what he does. And this is as fine an example of the breed as I have ever seen.

If we just set the obvious aside for the moment, we’ll kick off with something that has always impressed me about Vampyrist’s work. He always seems to do very minimal shading at first glance, you notice a few sports of highlighting on the pants, the glow from the flames that is reflected off the leg, and you don’t really think too much more of it. Then you look again and you notice the very subtle shadowing on the left foot, then the chin and the stomach and then the arm and chest. His subtlety with shading on his characters always gets me. It shows you don’t have to use masses upon masses of light and shadow to get the result.

And now that that’s out of the way, we can move on to the obvious. Masking the skeleton onto the flame effect (*wheels out COTW slogan board*)- simple but so effective. Now this is where you use masses and masses of light and shadow to get the result. I’m not even going to bother trying to count the layers of colour here, it would be pointless, but you have to give Vamp massive props for how good this looks. The fire looks so real and alive, you can feel the heat, and the black, almost charcoal look, of the bones in the flames contrasts so wonderfully against the vivid colour engulfing them. Best examples, just look at the right hand. And that right eye looks positively evil (as I’m sure was the intent). If people are still umping and erring over what to nominate for the Hall Of Fame (nominations are still open btw), you could do a lot worse than to nominate this.

Note: Obviously there won’t be a COTW next week, I doubt much will be popping up on the forums next week and anyway, I’ll be too busy to write it. Though you can of course expect a review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special on Thursday.

Character Of The Week: RobM- Sublimation Silver

This weeks COTW was a hard one to decide. There were a few that at different points of the week I was planning to write this post about. In the end I had to go back and go through them all and basically see which one I would have the most to say about. And this wonderful piece of surrealism came out on top.

Now, obviously the most striking thing about this piece, is the fact that his head and shoulders have been reduced to bubbles. If you just look at the lowest bubbles, you can see where Rob has masked the hands and arms to the energy. Plus the fact that some of the bubbles are skin coloured, you really do get the impression that this person is actually dissolving.

And then, once again, Rob is being sneaky and testing me on my skills in try to explain how he does these effects. I am of course talking about the white shine he has created on the chest and legs. And I’m kinda at a loss. I at least figured out that the abs come from the really muscular Male-Alternate body and the glow effect on them is the shading circle set to colour 1 as the skin colour and colour 2 as white, but I actually have no idea how he did the chest. Rob, once again I must ask you to explain your methods.

Now, I have literally now just spotted one thing that needs to be changed on this piece before I could truly say its perfect. The feet. They aren’t the same colour as the rest of the skin. It’s not that noticeable when you first look, what with everything else going on in this picture, but now that I’ve noticed it, it’s really nagging me. But otherwise, I would have to say that this picture is sublime (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Character Of The Week: Candruth- Alien Woman Portrait

It’s funny, I always try to feature different people for CotW, just so I’m not repeating myself. However, I’m spectacularly bad at it, as I’m sure those of you who remember the original run will know. But it seems there is one person who I just can’t stop featuring, as this will be their 3rd or 4th time getting CotW.

Ok, I will say straight off, this isn’t as good as the last of Candruths works we featured on CotW, but that one was a masterpiece. But I have to feature it, simply for the same exact reason I always feature Candruths art, the flipping’ attention to detail on the shading and highlighting. If I could just draw your attention to the wrinkles around the nose and the mouth. Look at that lighting, really properly look. You have the base purple skin colour, then you have a slightly lighter violet colour, then that cream colour for highlights. Add the black shadow shading and then you have another purple to accentuate the contrast in colour (though this could be a mixture of the lighter purple and the black, but it looks to me like another colour). Most people just have base colour, highlight colour, shade colour, done. But obviously not Candruth. And then you have those eyes. Not only are they superbly creepy, but they also seem to have at least 5 different colours in there for shading and highlighting (green, cream, pink, very light purple, white and a darker purple) added onto the base colours. Honestly, Candruth does more shading on her characters eyes than I do on my whole characters. And that’s saying something. And just when I think I can stop going on about the shading, I see the neck. And the shadows on the hood, making it melt seamlessly into the background. God, so good.

Oh, and does anyone else think Star Wars when they see this picture, or is it just me?

Character Of The Week: AMS- The Ankh

Ok, I’ll admit I was a tad mean with this weeks CDC curveball, but it’s not fun to be predictable. But the fact that he couldn’t enter it into the contest didn’t stop AMS from carrying on his redesigns of his character The Ankh, whom he entered into the HM1 contest and then recreated for the HM2.5 Contest.

So, it’s an AMS picture, y’all know what to expect. Fantastically simple costumes that still manage to knock your socks off (see the top, which is a nice combination of two tops and some shoulder items, masked so they all fit together like they were a single item), peerless shading (do I need to give examples here?), posing and expression (look how fierce the expression is) and that finishing touch that just takes his work that extra little way (in this case the background, which appears to be a combination of three different background techniques. The first being the stars, which are masked to a background square. Then you have a gradient circle, which is also masked to a background square, to give the black corners. Then finally, over the top of the previous two elements, there is the gradient square, which is set to Colour 2 as White and Colour 1 is set to 0% alpha, then flipped upside down, so it looks like the background is fading into the white base. Well, that’s how I’d do it anyway). So yeah, your standard AMS work. That is to say, it’s freakin’ sublime.

Character Of The Week: DiCicatriz- Crag

Now there’s a very particular reason I chose this weeks COTW and I want to see if anyone realises before they get to the end of the post. So, everyone, please take a look at this.

Ok, well for a start it’s DiCicatriz, so that means the shading is awesome. You can just feel the cold emanating from him, with those icy blues and the stark white highlights. But that’s not the reason.

Then we have the contrast of the picture. The cold blues and whites of the foreground character stand out brilliantly against the warm reds oranges and browns of the background. Still not the reason though.

Then we have the costume. Admittedly I would have preferred it if the pure black didn’t make up most of the colour for the costume, it does mean much of the detail is lost, but it works against the very light body colours. I do like the fact that DiCi has used some of the lesser seen items, the disk shoulder pads (not sure what they’re called) and the giant clawed gauntlets. It makes the piece stand out more. But again, that’s not the reason.

The reason I chose to feature this picture, is because of his face. He’s Regice ;) . Ok not really, but he looks quite like him. Seems like someone else is as hyped as I am for the new Pokemon games ;)  .

Character Of The Week: Nug- Cyber Mask

Difficult decision this week. There’s been at least 3, maybe 4 pictures that could have been featured this week, but I’m going to go with this one by Nug because it gives me a bit more to talk about.

Lets kick off with the best bit shall we. As I’m sure everyone has noticed, the colour on the visor here is truly stunning. The warmth and the depth is gorgeous, it really adds to the sunrise reflection effect that is being portrayed here. It also doesn’t drown out the rest of the reflection, nor the face beneath the visor, which is good, making the image seem more realistic. I also like the fact that Nug put small highlighting shines in some of the hexagons on the visor. It’s a little detail that just adds that little bit of polish to the image and just takes it that little bit further.

Nug said on his thread that he wasn’t to happy with the hair on this picture. I personally can’t see the problem. The slight glow that he has added makes the hair seem more natural than it would if it were just left unshaded. That combined with the fact that you can actually see the individual hairs for the most part gives a natural looking hair style with an un-natural edge, a very pleasant and eye-pleasing juxtaposition.

However, we now come to something I haven’t done in a while, what’s wrong with the picture. Nug is right, this picture isn’t perfect, it could be improved. And for me, it’s the jaw line. The metal part of the helmet is made from a cyber-torso, which is fine and the item works well for its purpose, but I don’t like how Nug just left the bottom edge as it was. It gives the character an oddly shaped square jaw and it looks odd when you look at the characters chin. If he had masked the torso item to the same female head he had used for the chin, Nug may have been on to a real winner here. But just that one bit makes it fall short of perfection. But only just.

Character Of The Week: RobM- Monument Builders Of Sirius

Ok, I’ve gone and broken my own rules again, because this picture was actually posted last week. But I already had written last weeks COTW post when this was uploaded and when I went back and looked at it again I thought to myself “I should probably feature this one next week”. So I’m going to.

It’s not  often that we get a picture where I actually have to go into Heromachine to try and figure out how it was made and then, an hour later, I come out none the wiser. Rob if you could enlighten us as to how you managed to blend the grey portion of the face so seamlessly with the rock face, as well as how you managed to get the grey sections patterned without the white bits being patterned also, because I couldn’t get it to work when I tried to do the same, I’d be very grateful. It’s such a great effect  and it really annoys me that I can’t explain it….

Hang on. I just zoomed in on Preview and had a look at the face more closely. Are those background-floors? You sneaky bugger. Those are the wood/ stone texture uneven floors turned sideways! *facepalms* How did I miss that? Time to whip out the COTW slogan of “simple but effective” once again.

Anyway, my favourite part of this image  isn’t actually the planetoid face, it’s the character carving it. Rob was the person who, if not created, at least made known the technique of backlighting with his CDC33 winning entry Moonsrise. And he’s used the effect to great… effect (?) again here. The effect is, once again, stupidly simple, you create and pose a character and then make the colour full black, so the character is a silhouette. Then you make duplicates of the items/ body parts that you want to be backlit, and make the copies slightly bigger than the originals, place them behind the original body parts so that they are slightly showing, and change the colour so it is the colour you want (in this case yellow, but white is more striking). The effect can be quite stunning when done well, as Rob shows us here.

Character Of The Week: Zyp- Katana

I will apologise for the excessive amount of hyperbole and fanspazzing in this weeks post, however, if you look at the title of this post, look at the name, who it is that is being featured, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Yes, that’s right, after an extended absence, “the man after whom the technique of shading on heromachine is named after” has returned. Zyp is back. And he immediately makes everyone else look amateurish. Apparently this was meant to be an entry for the Going Japanese contest, but he missed the deadline, zypping probably. All I can say is, if this had been an entry, it probably would have been a much closer contest.

Anyway, onto the actual justification bit. And, although the picture its self should provide justification enough, I feel compelled to talk at length about it (so what else is new?). We’ll kick of with the character. The pose just screams badass, she looks at the ready to slice and dice with that katana and the expression on the face would suggest that she couldn’t care less who said katana slices and dices. It’s such a wonderfully aggressive expression. It basically sets the scene for the picture, gives it the depth needed for the rest of the image to tell a story.

Next we have the composition of the picture, by which I mean the background elements, the angle of the focus and the colours. I love the fact that this picture is on a slant. It means that the focus of the picture is not centred, which draws your eyes around the image more than having a straight central focus would.  Your eyes are drawn from their default centred position to the right so you see the face, then you are drawn around the picture in a clockwise motion, down the body, around the floor and up the sword until you reach the sky, then back to the face. It’s so easy to take in the entire picture just by following the elements that make it up. This is helped by the wonderful use of soft and warm colours. The pinks and yellows of the sky set of the greens and greys of the middle focus perfectly, and the two contrasting colour schemes are combined on the main focus, the character, in such a way that they don’t clash or contrast but work together, making all three layers of the image fit together so naturally. I must also mention the fact that Zyp has changed the line colour of some items where he is including the reflection of the sunset on the character. I know I say this a lot on these posts, but it’s such a simple idea that works so well. Attention to detail and a bit of extra creativity can turn a picture from a great one to a masterpiece.

And finally, the obvious thing that one has to talk about when critiquing a work by Zyp. Really what do you want me to say. He’s Zyp, you expect me to trash talk his shading? Look at that freakin’ sword. The subtleness of the colour differentiation on the clothes. The block shadows on the arms. That sky. And of course the aforementioned sunset reflections. *shakes head* What am I meant to say.

“We are not worthy” *throws self to floor Waynes World style*

Character Of The Week: Candruth- Portrait of a Blue Eyed Woman

I fear I would be neglecting my duty if I didn’t showcase this picture for this weeks COTW, even though it was originally posted last friday, just before the last COTW went up. But, technically, I pre-schedule these posts the day before, so I couldn’t have featured it last week, so I can feature it this week. So for those of you who missed it, here’s Candruth’s latest piece of Art.

Anyone remember that amazing portrait SeanDavidRoss did for the faces contest a couple of years back? It’s in the Hall of Fame, so if you don’t, go find it. This piece reminds me of that, and that is very high praise indeed. There’s not very much to the picture apart from the shading/ lighting, so that’s what draws your eyes. And it just looks gorgeous. Ok there are some messy bits, some of the shading does spill over into the eyes, but the lighting looks so natural and realistic that it doesn’t seem to matter so much. The attention to detail is stunning. It took me a few minutes to realise “hey hang on, there’s something going on with those eyes, I don’t remember seeing eyes with pupils like that in heromachine before”. And I was right. Canruth has actually done minute dots of colour and shade in the pupils, which just adds that much more depth to the look of the piece. Even those little fleshy bits in the corner of the eye that no-one knows what they’re called (in before someone says it in the comments) look like they’ve been shaded. And there’s the extra bottom lashes. And the shading around the cheek bones. I’d hate to think how long this whole thing took, or how many layers the final piece came to. Well done Candruth.

Character Of The Week: Linea24- Lilac Rose’s Mishap

If you really need me to explain why I’ve chosen this weeks featuree (is that a word? It is now) as Character Of The week, I’d suggest you get your eyes checked, and possibly return them to the manufacturer, because they’re obviously faulty.

See what I mean? Linea says it’s all just insignias, but I think it’s more likely witchcraft. If I didn’t know she’d used heromachine I wouldn’t believe it was heromachine. Linea has a talent for making cats and this is a fine example. The pose might look simple, but I can’t even imagine the patience required to get it to work and look so seamless. Of course, there are still some bits that could do with some attention; the paws in this case, they could do with some features, such as definition between the toes so they don’t just look like blobs, but overall it’s incredible. Then we have the background. The glow effect works really well as a contrast against the black, grey and dull browns of the rest of the background. I also like the fact that the glow is reflected, not only off of the rest of the background, but off of the character its self. It shows that the character is actually interacting with the surroundings, which shows real thought on the part of Linea.

Stunning work.