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:

  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:
  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.

29 Responses to Hand holding

  1. Gene says:

    But masking does not work on all hands – You were right Jeff, I was trying to mask with a hand that doesn’t normally make sense to mask with. I guess I thought it was weird because I’ve mask with lots of other parts,(insignia to skin for tattoos for example) and never ran into that before.

    It might also be worth mentioning that you can only mask one to one. You Can’t mask two hands holding a sword or staff for example. I’ve worked around that by using two staffs, shrinking them to half size and pushing them together to look like one, then masking each half to a hand.


    I didn’t do a perfect job on this one, if you look close enough you can see where they connect. I think I used a square from the insignia set, shrunk it, made the Color1,2 and line color the same as the staff and put it over the line between the staff.

  2. Jack Zelger says:


  3. Jack Zelger says:

    *SIGH* Sorry, folks. That was meant for the music thread. I realize that out of context it sounds like I just insanely shouted “Rifles!” for no reason. 🙂

  4. Jeff Hebert says:

    We’ve all experienced that Jack, no worries. Usually in Burger King, strangely.

  5. Gene says:

    Thats weird…Just the other day I was in Burger King trying to mask two staves together! and I think someone shouted ‘rifles’ at the same time.

    What are the odds…..

  6. violodion says:

    Wonder if this is best presented as, say, a short YouTube video with 3-4 examples? Could be re-used as “Help” on the HM3 page.

    Sadly, I don’t know nuthin’ about making such animations.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    I thought about that V. Something I still might do — luckily I have a handy app that does easy movies.

  8. thel says:

    i noticed you call heromachine 3 an alpha. you do know alpha in video games means production model. meaning it is bug free. i belive you are on gama which is planning stages and before beta.

  9. Jeff Hebert says:

    That is incorrect, Thel, Alpha is the correct designation for the early versions of code. There is no such thing as a gamma release. Please read up on the software release cycle at Wikipedia for more information. Generally it goes pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta (open and/or closed), Release Candidate (RC), Release to Manufacturing (RM), then finally General Availability (GA).

    We’re currently at alpha, which I have made open. The public was actually in on the entire development process to this point, which is pretty neat. With the next code release (whenever that is), it’ll be in open beta. This is still pretty much the first pass at the feature set and code base.

  10. thel says:

    ah wiki the not verry relyable. but ok. i didnt see any errors on it durring my look.

  11. Me, Myself & I says:

    I would like to say that one of my favourite features of the HM3 is the masking feature. I have a question relating to the masking feature with regards to the hands though. It appears to me (and maybe I am missing something so correct me if I’m wrong) that only certain hands are set to mask items into them naturally.

    I have put together a few examples of what I meen at this link. For each of these items I tried to mask them into the hands but the last two do not work the same.


    I was just curious if there was a reason for that? Of course not hand configurations are best for holding items but if you want a character to have a loose grip or hold something in their palm there is certainly an application for it.

  12. Jeff Hebert says:

    Thanks for putting that together, MMI. It’s accidental — creating the mask object is really touchy, I’ll have to go through and redo each of those.

  13. Me, Myself & I says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to cause you a whole bunch more work.

    Despite a few of the hands not working the same I still think its the best thing since sliced bread. 😉

  14. Cam says:

    *slaps forehead and sighs.
    I was wondering when you were going to get around to having hands that would work with items. It never occurred to me to mask the stupid thing, even though i’ve been using the mask tool to great effect so far!
    Sometimes I amaze myself with my stupidity. LOL

  15. Prometheus says:

    Still wont mask the mech hands for me.

  16. Erin says:

    Doesn’t seem to work for the female hands. Or it doesn’t work correctly. It puts the hand “inside” the item, instead of the other way around…

  17. Erin says:

    Ooh. Got it to work.

  18. Shane U says:

    Why doesnt it mask both hands!

  19. Jeff Hebert says:

    ShaneU, each item can only be masked by (or serve as a mask for) one other item at a time. Period. It’s a limitation of how Flash does masking and not something I can control.

  20. Susan R says:

    Maybe its just late in the day, but I’m missing something. What does masking give you that just tweaking the levels doesn’t?

  21. Jeff Hebert says:

    Layering can only put an item behind or in front of another item. Masking puts one item INSIDE another one. With hands, it can also make it look as if the hand is actively holding the other item. Imagine a hand and a sword. With layering the hand can be in front of or behind the hilt, but either way it’s 100% — no part of one will show up inside the outside boundary of the other. Now imagine the sword hilt held IN the hand. The fingers are in front of the hilt, but the palm is behind it. You can’t do that with just layering.

    Or load up an item from Patterns-Standard, along with any body. Mask the Pattern onto the body and you see it show up inside the outlines of the body, while outside the boundary of the body there is no pattern. With layering, it would be the opposite, and you’d only have pattern where the body is not, instead of where it IS.

    Play around with it for a bit and I think it’ll quickly become clear the huge difference between the two, much easier than trying to get at it by text.

  22. Susan R says:

    Thanks Jeff,

    I just discovered HM3 this morning, so my little geek heart is still all a tremble with the ability to make my own poses (not to mention all the new pieces parts to mix and match). I spent HOURS creating two belly dancers. Obviously there are a lot of cool toys I haven’t gotten to yet! 🙂

    But masking will have to wait. If I don’t go to bed now I won’t be up in time for work tomorrow.

  23. matt says:

    I cant get masking to work. i dont know what im doing wrong.

  24. Jeff Hebert says:

    Matt, I’m sorry you’re having trouble. It’s pretty straight forward.

    Load item A (the one you want to stay complete) onto the canvas. Like the Body torso, for instance.)
    Load item B (the one you want to appear only inside the borders of item A. Like a gigantic insignia, for instance).
    Click on item B so you’re sure it’s the current, active item.
    Click Mask. The cursor changes into a mask icon.
    Click on item A. Whatever parts of Item B were showing outside the borders of item A should now disappear.

    That’s pretty much it.

  25. logosgal says:

    Come to think of it, I had trouble masking items to hands not long ago (late last month, I think?). It seemed like it was only certain items and certain hands, though. I think I was working with pistols and female hands. I wish I could give you more details, but when it happened I didn’t have time to write down what I was doing or conduct a thorough investigation, so this may be the least helpful bug report ever.

  26. Me, Myself & I says:

    I wonder if the issue matt (23) and logosgal (25) is related to the observation I made earlier in this thread (11)? Not all hands mask correctly at the moment but Jeff said (12) that he was planning on going back and reworking a few of them.

  27. logosgal says:

    MMI (26): Oh, yeah. That was the other reason I didn’t mention it before.


    Me, myself, & I, even as a new user, i recognized that the second hand to appear in your image(11) was meant for the guns and tech, no offense dude, the sticking out finger is the trigger finger, so no-go on the sword masking

  29. Ryder says:

    what hands does the masking work on?