Creating a Character, Part 1: Thought Processes

Now that I'll be more visible, I think I should do something worthwhile. So I'll be posting an occasional article or something on various subjects, and today's is on character creation in Hero Machine.

Now, just in case anyone wonders how I'm qualified to do that, let me tell you that I have half(ish) an associates degree in graphic design. So there.

Anyway, the first thing I usually do is figure out at least one of two things--Why am I doing this? and Who is it for? Take the recent Fantasy character contest as an example.  (These are my first two entries. Click away! And don't worry when it says "download attachment," it just displays it.)

When I did the fearsome Fierra, my intent was to build on a character I created years ago with the newer tools and abilities of HM3. I've figured out quite a few things since the 2.0 days, and a Photoshopped Fierra of back then can't even touch an incomplete Fierra in HM3. (Incomplete only because my browser crashed from the interwoven awesomeness, apparently.)

A brief look at Fierra's design history

This is a character I love and cherish, and her story, though not the main one in the overarching epic I'm trying to write, is still important and fulfilling to me. So I did it because I wanted to meet her, and I did it for me.

Now look at my Epic Fail Monk again (see above. No, higher, high--there ya go.)  Obviously not one of my best works, but I tried to do a number of things I hadn't seen tried before. (Anyone who did try, I'm sorry that I haven't seen your version yet. And yours probably looks better anyway.) The downcast face, the slumped shoulders, the pants and vest masked to show movement, and the grass growing beside the path were all things I wanted to try.

But that was exactly what I was doing. I was using him as a testbed. I tried something different, to get better at the program, and show new ways of doing things. The tall grass was done with the bandages pattern (turned 90 degrees and squashed flat) and the top of the grass was just the random wear pattern. But it gave the picture a look of depth and life, more so than just a blank screen. We saw the world he was in.

So, in effect, I did it to learn, and I did it for everyone.

I know that inside of a week, someone will use something from that and create a REALLY awesome piece of artwork. Go right ahead, Mystery Artist. Knock me out of the park. I had fun, and I learned something. Maybe some of it was learned what NOT to do, or what I need to fix next time (btw, decrease the width of the mouth for a more effective slanting-downward look.)

Next topic should be "How do I make the character I want?" Until next time, true believers!

(I'm so getting sued for that...)

And, for a superhero-related capper, a hugely popular fan-made trailer:

14 Responses to Creating a Character, Part 1: Thought Processes

  1. Niall Mor says:

    Welcome aboard, Damien! I’m really impressed with your characters. I too am trying (and mostly failing) to write origin stories for some characters I created in HM 2.5 and am eagerly waiting for some female character options to become available in HM3. The biggest glitch right now, though is that the finished characters look really teeny tiny. I’m sure our Esteemed Developer is working on the problem, RIGHT????? 🙂

    I’m also impressed with the Green Lantern Trailer. I’ve seen other fan-made GL trailers before but this is the best. You are gonna get sued by Marvel for using the “true believers” line and by Paramount for using music and dialogue from the new Star Trek movie. Hope ya got a good lawyer 🙂 !

  2. Um…awesome as I might be to some, I SWEAR I am not ever good enough to make that trailer. However, since it was non-profit, the creator is safe from legal reprisals. His interview is here and it claims, among other things, that fans of this trailer might be disappointed in the movie itself when compared to this masterwork, should it ever get released.

    I am, however, probable going to get nailed by Marvel, since according to Jeff they like doing that kind of thing…

  3. Whit says:

    Really cool seeing the transition from 2.5 to 3.0a.

  4. Thanks, Whit. Man, you should have seen how long it took to make that old sucker from scratch! Every major part of that 2.x model was handcrafted in some fashion. I just hope that one day soon I can figure out how to get the fur patterning just right in HM3

  5. RJ_McD says:

    D i think your one of the best here 🙂 and i am happy your Jeffs speaical helper

  6. The Imp says:

    Nice walk-through and impressive character.

    And yeah… I think any GL movie they make after that would be a let-down. 😀

  7. I dunno, Imp. I mean, maybe someone in Hollywood will actually read the source material, write an engaging script that gets noticed by a passionate director, who refuses to make any major story changes despite overwhelming studio pressure–and gets fired and some hack comes in and makes the same usual garbage. Yeah, you’re right.

  8. RJ_McD says:

    imdb says there is a lantern movie coming out in 2011 i hope they do it right gl is my favrite hero i hope they show hal as flawed not the squeeky clean guy he has been sience rebirth

  9. Jim Smith says:

    Superb man, I like the video and the characters are very impressive, Its really very nice seeing the transition from 2.5 to 3.0a. Thanks for sharing with us, and Keep it up.

  10. Ky2030 says:

    Hey Damien….

    In response to you have a clear picture in your head, Before I opened HM3 I knew I wanted to make a Roman Legionnaire. It all went smoothly until I had a little trouble working uot what to put on the lower half of him. So rather then relying on my mental picture (my brain is just too warped for that) I turned to the web and found me picture of a Legionnaire. With alot of flicking back and forth I final finsihed him

    Your inspiring Words Helped create the following

    Cheers for the pep talk

  11. I know what you mean there! I have certain characters that I just don’t have the right parts for yet, even though I want to make them. But your Roman looks pretty spot on to me. Good going!

  12. Jadebrain_Prime says:

    What I want to know is how you managed to get Fierra’s digitigrade legs to work. I’ve been trying to do that almost since HM3 came out!

  13. Just check the latest DamienBlog, it’s up now!