Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

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

Open critique and help day

If you have a question about HeroMachine, or art, or comics, or why we park on a driveway but drive on a parkway (apologies to Steven Wright), feel free to ask in the comments and I won’t judge you.

On the other hand, if you have a piece of art, either from the HeroMachine or that you’ve done by hand, you can request a critique from me and the community at large in the comments, and we will judge that! Just a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Please limit critique requests to just one per person.
  2. If you’re offering your feedback to someone, please be constructive.
  3. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Finally, Hammerknight has managed to shake loose some time and sent in this excellent recipe for how to handle shading with HeroMachine. Many thanks to him!

How to Draw Batman in a Bar

I did a plain text version of this once, but I thought a video would be easier to follow. If you ever wanted to draw Batman in a bar using nothing but letter shapes (and who among us has NOT wanted to do that?!), here’s your chance to learn how.

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Otherwise, consider this your (late) “Help!” open thread, feel free to ask anything you like about how to do something in HeroMachine, or an illustration question, or all but one thing associated with the meaning of life.

Hand holding

Your Helpful Thursday guide for today is “How to Put an Item in Your Character’s Hand”, a question I frequently get from new users. The basic steps are:

handsequence
  1. Put whatever item you want to go in that hand on the canvas, positioned over the hand where you want it to go.
  2. With that item the active one, click the Mask button:
    mask-button
  3. Click on the hand you want to put the item into. Done!

Please feel free to ask any questions you like in comments, about this or any other topic.

Patterns and Open Help Thread

People still have a hard time with patterning and masking in HeroMachine 3, so I wanted to take a quick moment to show how to get custom patterns on your items. Also, if you have any questions about anything else HeroMachine related — like how to get a particular effect, for instance — just chime in in the comments and either I or one of the other folks here will try to lend a hand.

You can use any item in the program for a pattern, not just the ones in the default Pattern tab. First, pick the item you want to apply the pattern to (a basic male body in this case), then the pattern you want to put onto it. In the sample, I’ve picked the actual Patterns Standard set.

patternmenu

Next, choose the actual item you want to be the pattern, then color and scale it how you want to be sure it covers everything. Here I had to scale the leopard pattern up quite a bit to cover up to the neckline and feet. I also made the colors somewhat transparent so they’d look more like fur.

leopard1

Finally, click the pattern item to make sure it’s the active one. Next click the Mask tool and then — and this is important — click on the item you are trying to apply the pattern to, not the pattern itself. In this case, that means I clicked on the Leopard skin pattern, then clicked Mask, then clicked on the Body.

leopard2

That’s it! You can do this with flags (in the Background-Shapes set) to get a patriotic looking character, or anything else, really.

Feel free to post your “Help!” requests in the comments.

How to make jester hats

Many thanks again to Hammerknight for putting together (by request, mind you, how’s that for customer service!) this nifty tutorial on how to make custom jester hats with HeroMachine 3. Click on the image to see it at the original, larger, more legible size.

Hammerknight’s Posing Tips

Many thanks to Hammerknight for putting together recipe cards for two more poses. Let him know in the comments that you appreciate his work putting these together, and any requests you might have for additional help topics. Click on any one of these to embiggen it.

the-wave-page-1
the-wave-page-2
push-up-page-1
push-up-page-2

Hammerknight’s Poses 2

Many thanks to Hammerknight for putting together another great set of guides to alternate poses with HeroMachine 3.

Enjoy! As always, click on any one of these to see it at a larger, more legible size.

pose-one-page
pose-one-page-2
pose-two
pose-two-page-2

Posing preview

By request, Hammerknight is working on some recipe cards for alternate poses in HeroMachine 3. It’s turning into a monster so it’s taking a bit longer than he thought, but here’s a sneak peek at what is coming up hopefully next week. Thanks HK!

pose-sneak-peek
(Click to embiggen.)

Hand placement

Hammerknight has put together a great quick guide to how to properly place hands on your illustrations. HeroMachine 2 didn’t let you change anything from the default spots so it wasn’t an issue, but with HM3 you can rotate and move and flip the arms and hands however you like, and sometimes that can cause problems. Even we professional illustrators sometimes have to break out a mirror and check out how things are supposed to go, so I am sure you’ll find this wonderful guide very handy. Thanks HK!

Group shots

Hammerknight has put together a very comprehensive and enlightening guide to assembling group shots of your characters using photo editing software. It’s good stuff, many thanks to him for undertaking it!