Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Advice and hints on how to create the perfect character illustration.

Character Design Help

Hi all, I’m back. I missed posting and talking to everyone. I’m not back to full power yet (and don’t know if I can get there), but I’m going to see what I can do. Over the years working with Hero Machine, I have noticed that some people need help getting a character just the way they want them. I have helped with giving recipes (I may get back to them here in the future) and trying my hand at doing the design and showing what I have come up with. Most of you know that I mainly do the plain Jane characters, not all the Zypping and extra shading, I like the way the characters look just the way they come out of the machine. I’m not saying the other ones are not good, because they are great, it’s just not my cup of tea. So to get to the topic at hand, “Character Design Help”, here is the way this works.

Ask for help with any designs you need too. If I can not answer the question, I am sure one of the other creators can put their two cents in and we can help you work things out. You can post a sample picture of the design you want to make and I will give it a try to see what I can come up with. Other creators are welcome to show what they come up with too. Remember this is a “help” post, if you want to share your characters you are welcome to post them in the forum, we would all love to see the work you do posted there. It really is a great place to share your art, or just to talk to other creators, it is a friendly place for all ages to visit and enjoy. Always keep in mind that we can not do copyrighted characters here, I know that there are designs and styles of characters that you would love to have your character look like, but we need to play it safe. This being said, ask for help with making the design and not for making the character. Try to keep your help request to one a week for now, until I am able to get my legs back under me. I will try to respond as soon as I can, I’m am not as fast as I was before. If your request is not answered with in the week posted it does not mean that it is not being worked on. I will try to let you know if I am able to help or not. Remember other creators are always welcome to help out.

As always, please forgive me for spelling and grammar mistakes. Thanks, Hammerknight.

Character Of The Week- 13th July

This week, we’re going to look at not so much a character, more a scene by the master of Heromachine comic covers; RobM.

Incoming Message

Now, the main thing that attracted me to this piece was the lighting, especially on the wrist projector and the right hand. There are some good hints here on how to get really bold lighting effects, so I asked Rob about how he did them and hopefully he won’t mind if I put up here what he said in reply:

“The wrist protector is one item from ItemRight Polearms with one gradient background shape masked to it and another laid on top. The masked gradient background shape has 25% second color and 0% line color. The pink glowing line color on the wrist protector is a result of the 25% darker magenta red gradient combining with the item’s 65% gray line color. Then there’s a second gradient background shape (the brighter gradient under the yellow disk) at 50% x 20% size laid on top.

The right hand is actually two hands. I masked the bottom portion with the thumb to an insignia so that I could use the darker prime color on the hand’s under side. The layer below is a full hand where I used a lighter color for the prime color. Then I laid gradient background shapes over each finger at strategic places with the prime and second colors at 50%. It’s tough to do shading on hands because masking works differently for hands than it does for other items.”

Whilst these might be the most striking aspects of the picture, it wouldn’t be half as good with out some of the finer details, such as the glow on the glove item underneath and to the side of the projection (especially on the wires, which can be very easy to overlook).

Also the projection its self is very well thought out. By a combination of a slightly transparent main focus (the helmet) along with the horizontal line effect and the clouds from the background items (masked to the beam) gives a very good impression of static interferance as usually seen in sci-fi war hologram communications.

Finally we come to the background. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t distract attention from the main focus of the piece in the foreground. By using earthy, dull tones and a lighter than black line colour, it contrasts with the clear, bold and precise foreground to give a distinct feeling of depth to the picture and suggest a murky, mysterious and dirty world beyond what we can see.

Very well executed.

Quick Tips

Today’s Quick Tip is; Hand Alignment. I am including a blank sheet if anyone wants to share their tips with everyone. Keep the size the same, no bigger then 6″x8″ or 600×800 pixels.Hand Alignment Quick Tips blankE-mail them to me at:

Quick Tips “Attention to Detail”

I posted this to the forums way back when, and I was thinking a quick tip here and there would be good to post here on the blog. If everyone likes the idea, I will post tips here and there from here on. There are a lot of tips in the forums, but I know that there are people that do not visit the forums that do visit the blog.

Remember to size the head to the body. Paying attention to these little details can make a big difference in the way your character looks. This shows the heads at x=100 y=100 and the bodies at x=100 y=100. Adjustments to the head or the body is needed to make the character look right.size-match

Using Windows 7's Snipping Tool to get a Character Image

(Many thanks to Forum Moderator and all-around great guy Hammerknight for the following tip! — Jeff)

Hi all,

I’m not the best with the computer, so when I find something that makes things easier on me I like to share. The other day I was looking for a cropping tool to use on my lap top, so I went to Yahoo search and entered “cropping tool”. What I found was great. There was a how-to article about the free Windows 7 Snipping Tool. I don’t care much for Windows 7 but the Snipping Tool is great. I didn’t even know that it was already on my computer. I went to search for it in the program search bar and it came right up. I hit the button and cropped my picture and saved it in less time then it takes me to use print screen. I tried it out with HM3 and it worked. It is one of the easiest things to use on the computer. You have a few choices to save in. No more, print screen, paste in Paint, crop it, copy it, paste again, and then save it.



We used to do a series of tutorials ’round these parts, which you can access here or here.

Since this came up in the contest thread, I just want to point out that anyone at all is more than welcome to put together one of these. Write it up however you like and email it to me, and if it seems like something helpful I’ll post it.

If you’d rather not be that formal, I’d definitely encourage you to post them on the “Tips & Tricks” forum. That’s open to anyone who’s registered and you can do it up however you like.

Sunset recipe by Nick Hentschel

Instead of the usual Power User Profile, we have a special treat today — Nick Hentschel has graciously put together a nifty how-to recipe for your own sunset backgrounds! I know he put a ton of work into this, so please let him know in the comments that you appreciate the effort and the willingness to share.

Note that you can click on most of these screen captures to see them at maximum size. Without further ado, I give you Nick’s recipe!

Continue reading


The always awesome Zyp has graciously put together a brief guide on how you can create incredible looking faces in HeroMachine 3 just like he does! I’ve always been impressed with the dimensionality and personality he gets into his characters, and really appreciate his sharing his secrets with us. Thank you, Zyp!

Stuff You Didn’t Know Was Possible in HeroMachine

[Panner is not only a fantastic troubleshooter and critique-giver, but he’s also an expert digital archaeologist, uncovering hidden gems of knowledge when using HeroMachine 3. He was nice enough to put together some of his findings here to share with the rest of the community, for which I’m very thankful. Enjoy! — Jeff]

HeroMachine has changed a lot over these latest months. In a short time we have seen the debut of a beautiful interface, extremely useful features, dozens of items to work with, and a forum for sharing creations. I don’t think anyone will contest that these changes have made the HeroMachine experience a lot more pleasant and a lot less exhausting.

Since HeroMachine is currently in alpha stage, there are a few oddities that can be exploited to reach results that are unavailable when using the program as intended. Here I present three such exploits that all produce results you might have thought were impossible. I hope this will be educational or at least entertaining!

Continue reading

META: Save issues?

I’ve heard disturbing reports from AMS, Hammerknight, and a couple of other folks that after a Flash update, they lost all their saved files and now can no longer save characters between sessions. Has anything like that happened to you? If so, could you please post in comments with your browser version, operating system version, and Flash version (which you get by right-clicking on the HM3 app and choosing “About Flash Player” from the flyout)?

I’m really hoping Adobe didn’t change something about the way they save Flash cookies in this latest release …

This is a good time to remind you that, as with any piece of software, you should back up your characters on a regular basis to avoid catastrophic loss. There are now three ways to do so:

  1. Save the text string of your character to a file using the “Save as Text” option in HM3 and pasting the results into Notepad or Text Edit or Word or an email or whatever you like. This is the most secure.
  2. Find the hmcharacters.sol file on your hard drive and copy it into a directory you control. You can also make a backup copy of the .SOL files that Flash uses to save your guys. I’ll probably keep the old (current) alpha version “live” for a little while under another name (so heromacine3a.swf or something). If I do that, then you should be able to go in and change the directory name where these .SOL files are kept to that name and still be able to access your characters:

    The saved Flash shared object library files (.sol for you Windows users) are LIKE cookies, but they are NOT actual cookies. They are not stored in the shared internet data files and will not be deleted if you erase all your cookies. You can only remove them by right-clicking on the movie, and going to Flash Settings, removing them there.

    In Windows it’s at %AppData%MacromediaFlash Player#SharedObjects\www.heromachine.comhm3 where %AppData% is a variable leading to your browser.

    On a Mac they are in HD / User / / Library / Preferences / Macromedia / Flash Player / #SharedObjects / / / hm3 / heromachine3.swf / hmcharacters.sol

  3. Export your images as JPGs or PNGs. This doesn’t enable you to live-edit them any more, but at least you’ll have the images.

I hate to think of people losing their hard work, and I’m trying to do a bit of digging to see if anything changed with the latest Flash Player update or what.

Edited To Add: Sure enough, Adobe has implemented much easier methods of deleting “Flash cookies”, which is what the HeroMachine save file is. You can get the details here. AMS identified the specific setting you need to change if you don’t want all of your saved characters to be wiped out the next time you close your browser after installing the update, at least in Internet Explorer: