Open Critique Friday #3

We're closing on a new house today, so I will likely be pretty slow in responding to these. But respond I will! And hopefully all the other great, creative, intelligent folks who hang about here will also chip in with some commentary and feedback.

If you have a HeroMachine illustration or another piece of artwork you’ve done that you’d like some help with, post a link to it in comments along with your thoughts on it — what you think is working, what you’re struggling with, etc. I will post my critique of the piece, hopefully giving some tips on how to improve it.

Of course everyone is welcome to post their critiques as well, keeping in mind the following rules:

* Make sure your criticism is constructive. Just saying “This sucks” is both rude and unhelpful without giving specific reasons why you think it sucks and, ideally, some advice on how to make it better.
* Each person should only post one illustration for critique to make sure everyone who wants feedback has a chance.
* I will not critique characters entered in the currently running contest, as that doesn’t seem fair to the other entrants. You can still post it if you like for the other visitors to critique, but I will not do so.

That’s it! Hopefully we can get some good interaction going here and help everyone (me included!) learn a little bit today.

66 Responses to Open Critique Friday #3

  1. Jadebrain says:

    The idea for this one came as I thought of how I could integrate a laser guitar into a game I’m brainstorming. One thing led to another, and now we have Lenarr, Patron Saint of Awesome, whose followers play the blessed guitar, and the sound is sent to Lenarr’s ears, and, depending on how pleased Lenarr is with the performance, he will send his divine energy to the performer who channels the energy through the guitar and into the form of a laser beam.

  2. Captain_Kicktar says:

    Vorna was 8 when her parents were killed and she was attacked and left for dead, but then an herbalist saved her and taught how to use the saber. She then went off to kill the 3 mercenaries that killed her parents, and then was taught how to use the other sword by a woman who trained peasants in self-defense. The green bangs and the scars are characteristics that I’ve kept in all of them.

  3. Captain_Kicktar says:

    Oh, and currently, the third is the one I want critique on, the others are to show what I’ve changed so far.

  4. Watson Bradshaw says:

    here is one I did in the BRICK contest, just wanted to know what you think?

  5. Wesley Belk says:

    (@ #1 Jadebrain) I really like this idea, and its definitely a different use of the program that I’m sure Jeff will appreciate, the only nit-picky critique I have is that his eyes appear a little too far apart, aside from that, Great Image! It screams rock-n-metal-guitar-thrashing goodness!

    (@#3 Bradshaw)I think the concept is great, but in this case, I think “less is more” will be the key. Tone down on the amount of faces, and concentrate on their placement and their effect will shine through, the two headed effect is really good and also really good job on the feet! Also the color of his right arm doesn’t match anything, since you’re going for an assortment of “pieces”, then make sure something else is that color also, or have everything about the same color. Having one dark color throws the image off.

    (@#4 Rozenstal) Great pose!! I approve of everything of this image, except maybe its mouth, I dunno, it may be that because it seems to go behind his shoulder which makes the somewhat awkward pose even more awkward. I would go with either a different mouth or just make sure it layers over the shoulder pad. Other than that, an excellent image, in my opinion.

  6. Rozenstal says:

    Wesley Belk: Yes, I have understood, about what you speak. A little low.

  7. Danny Beaty says:

    This is something I did for the heck of it. It is based on a Poe story. Everyone feel free to critique.

  8. @Jadebrain: I don’t know why, but I signed up for UGO forums, but I cannot view posts! 🙁

    @Captain_Kicktar: Link, please.

    @Watson: Overall, nice. I like the chains, the feet, the tattoo, the left head with the bloody mouth. I especially like the setting. The Companion elements are strategically placed. Especially the guard on the steps.

    I think the knife is somewhat out of place. In the sense that how did a mutant locked down in prison get such a fancy weapon. But, that’s being to literal and “real” on my part. ;9 Maybe a shiv or a lead pipe?

    @Rozenstal: The right glove is awesome. The twilight / pre-dawn sky is really nice. Pose is nice, but I would re-consider the shoulder pads. The blood spatter is nice contrast to the blue skin.

    Without blood on the knife, it gives the impression that the lake beast lost the fight and is mortally wounded.

    Here’s mine for critique from CC 46:

  9. Rozenstal says:

    Danny Beaty (7): Smart idea! Only colors of a body contrast with each other a little!

    The Atomic Punk (8): It assorts it of the robot or repairs?

  10. Malfar says:

    Time flies fast! I swear the last Open Critique Friday was yesterday! Oh, time is so fast…anyway, this is my Golden elf. I don’t remember if I uploaded him earlier…

  11. Danny Beaty says:

    @Rozenstal: Thanks! The different colors of the body are meant to represent that some parts of the body are decomposing faster than others.

  12. Captain_Kicktar says:

    @The Atomic Punk: The pictures are in my first comment.

  13. Jeff Hebert says:

    Jadebrain (1): Love it! The stars, the lightning, the pose, the background, it’s all awesome. The only minor niggle would be that the facial expression is a little off somehow, but a very fun and cool image. Well done!

  14. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain Kicktar (2): While the basic pose and the scars on the arms are nice, I think the overwhelming same-tone yellow makes the entire illustration tough to process. You need some variety in there, and if you want to keep it all in the yellow family that’s fine, but mix in some different shades and tones of yellow.

  15. Jeff Hebert says:

    Watson Bradshaw (4): A nice monster, the multiple limbs and faces are cool. The feet in particular I think are the best such effect I’ve seen on this sort of construct.

    The only areas I can think to point to for improvement are on the sizing of the figures in the background. The robot on the right in particular is way too small for the perspective, he should be in front of that chair, but the chair’s way bigger than he is.

    Otherwise a nice job. For the contest, I just didn’t think it was particularly “brickish”, being more in the “big mean monster” sort of category.

  16. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rozenstal (5): I like it! The background in particular is awesome, and I love the skeleton hand. The leaning pose gives it a good monster-ish feel.

    The right hand could probably stand to be larger, it looks a little withered or shrunken.

    A very good monster illustration, though, nicely done.

  17. Jeff Hebert says:

    Danny Beaty (8): I like the scene composition a lot, it’s very clever. In terms of the illustration, I think probably it would benefit from the hole and the figure showing through it were closer-up, right now they kind of get swallowed in the brickwork.

    The monsterish figure itself is well done, I don’t have too much to add to the other comments about that. The colors work fine for me, though.

  18. MartianBlue says:

    *OFF TOPIC* (something I seem to be good for)

    I’m arranging my comics, would you consider annuals part of the main set, or more of a stand alone side series?

  19. Jeff Hebert says:

    Atomic Punk (9): I remember this one from the contest. I think my big hesitation with it was the coloring. The robot on the foreground has the same colors as the figure behind it, making them kind of merge into each other. I get disoriented as to the spatial relationships between the various background and foreground elements.

    Given the muted colors of the majority of the piece, the bright green of the priest figure seem out of place. A different tone of green rather than the bright neon-like color I think would have worked better, while still making those bits stand out.

    Overall it’s a good illustration, but those were the things that jumped out at me in terms of improvements.

  20. Jeff Hebert says:

    Malfar (11): I seem to be on a color kick today! I like the basics of the character, with the scaly dragon imprint on the shirt and whatnot, but the colors hold it all back a little. The gray hair against gray stone confuses the foreground-background relationship, kind of creating a bit of a visual block.

    Having blue, purple, and a different blue all in the lower body is also a bit off-putting. I think that might be as simple a fix as making the blue of the shoes either the green of the shirt or the purple of the belt.

    But overall a nice image!

  21. Jeff Hebert says:

    Martian Blue (19): I’m no good at organizing, but for what it’s worth, I’d consider the annuals as part of the basic run, putting them roughly where they fell in the publication schedule.

  22. alphaalpharomeo says:

    Superman Purple

    I came up with this during the children of superheroes contest. When Superman Red and Blue’s powers dispersed and he became the original Superman again, the power had to go somewhere. It went and impregnated Lois Lane who ended up giving birth to twin boys who could combine into one Superbeing, Superman Purple.

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    alphaalpharomeo (23): As it’s against the license agreement you agree to every time you use HeroMachine software to create images of copyrighted characters, I am unable to comment on your Superman Purple.

  24. Alex says:

    I wanted to make a modern tipe hero ,no spandex ,no capes.Just a guy who can kick major ass.

  25. Galahad says:

    MartianBlue (19): When I arrange my comics, I put the annuals at the end with any special editions, miniseries or one-shots, but still with that title. Just my way of doing it.

  26. Galahad says:

    This is on I started working on for the current contest as part of my whole “Insect Team” thing, but he doesn’t fit with the weather theme, so I didn’t use him for that. I still think it’s pretty good and would like to get some feedback on it. I did 2 variations on it, and I know we’re only allowed to post one, but the reason for posting both is I want to know if he looks better with or without sleeves. Other than that, the pictures are similar enough that you can critique it and it applies to both.

    Mantis with sleeves:

    Mantis without sleeves:

  27. Mad Doctor says:

    Captain Russia – the russian superhero!

  28. MartianBlue says:

    thanks fellas

  29. Myro says:

    YAY! Open Critique Friday once again, my favorite time of the week on the HM forum.

    This was my entry for CC 46.

  30. Haxxx says:

    Those are two Harpies I made because I wanted to test the taloned feet. Purple wings, willed panties and bare tops to reflect their wild side.

    What do you think about the pose, colors and shape?

  31. @Captain_Kicktar: Ok, I see them now. Wierd, the links weren’t there before, but are in order. Anyway, overall nice pic. I agree that the yellow needs to be muted or toned down. One trick that I like to use is adjusting either Color 1 or Color 2 from 100% to around 75%. I find it adds a bit of shading while retaining uniformity.

    @Rozenstal: The priest is sacrificing the robot to his god. Like a human sacrifice, he cut out the robot’s “heart”.

    I tried to merge stone and metal elements. But the colors did kind of blur. I like the colors that I used for the priest, though. When I design Central and South American characters, I use bright colors as most art and cultural references I use for inspiration are also bright.

    @Alex: Demo is pretty cool. I like the rag and goggles.

    @Roxinis: Black Knight is awesome.

    @Myro: I was considering “The Oracle of Delphi” for CC 46. But I didn’t want to look like a copycat. I like the marble effects. The statue in the background is inspiring. Especially the shadowing, which gives it the “in the wall” 3-D effect.

  32. Myro says:

    @Atomic Punk: Awesome, that’s what I was shooting for.

  33. zombotron says:

    @Roxinis: I get he’s a black knight, but overall, the figure is too dark. Very hard to see any details.

    @Myro: The shading on the collumn and the alcove dont match. Otherwise awesome.

    @Alex: Pretty cool. Is his name pronounced “DEH-mo” or “DEE-mo”?

    @Kyle: Very dynamic. You could even do her clothing darker, as it seems to be getting burned right off her!

    @AlphaRomeo: Take the pattern off his belt and chest symbol, and your good. Maybe have the pattern fade away down his legs.

  34. Jeff Hebert says:

    Just a quick note to say we are done with the closing, but now are headed to the house to check it out. I’ll try to do the rest of the commentary when I get back, later this evening, though it may run into tomorrow if my internet connection is crappy (as it has been most of the day — I did the previous comments at the library).

  35. Captian_Kicktar (2)
    I like the basic design but the face is alittle iffy, try to re-do the face and it will look alot better.
    Plus the cuts? Or whatever those are on the arms look alittle goofy in the HM3 version. I’d say it’s a decent character but try to sketch it out on paper it might look better then expected. 🙂

  36. (26) Alex, wow! That looks pretty cool! I’m going to have to make a little robot like that!!! Nice job with the shading and the dinky bot in the back! Why’d you want a “critique”? “Demo” is awesome!

  37. Me, Myself & I says:

    So I’m wondering what would have brought this to the next level?

  38. Myro says:

    zombotron (38) Technically, the alcove should be darker because it’s recessed, while the column is out in the open, but I may have overdone it. I think, at the time, I made the alcove darker to give it more contrast to the statue, and make the statue stand out.
    What surprises me is that no one has said anything about the hand placement. Frankly, it really doesn’t look like she’s supporting the lyre at all. I’m wondering if it’s just me.

    Any tips you guys can give me for Liongauge? I think he came out great. BUT, I’d like your opinions.

  40. Me, Myself & I says:

    Galahad (28)

    The 3 dimensional perspective in this image is really good. I liked the image both ways. If I had to pick between them I would choose him with the sleeves. There is a certain sense of consistency with them. Without the sleeves he appears a little broken up. I really like the background.

  41. Galahad says:

    Me, Myself & I (45)
    Thanks for the feedback. The only reason I was leaning toward no sleeves is that I think it goes better with the torn sleeves on the jacket.

  42. Myro says:

    MMI (42): I have to appologize, as my insomnia has turned me into a bit of a basketcase today, so if anything I say seems odd, you’ll understand. I stared at your picture for a few minutes, and really, the best I can maybe come up with is maybe if you use a stronger background. Otherwise, I really have nothing. In many ways, I still feel like a novice here, so I’m not sure that I’m the best person to offer a critique anyway.

    Nicholas (44): Interesting take on a griffin-type character. The hood/mask thing it is wearing over its head is throwing me off a bit, maybe because the eye isn’t readily visible, and, judging by the mouth, you looked like you used a Xenomorph head, but it gives me the impression of something more ominous (?), but I liked it nontheless.

  43. Xenomorph? Not really what I was going for but ok, and I like the head, maybe that picture of him does not look quite is good because the eye is only visable after and enlarge…it might look better on DA. Also thanks!

  44. Myro says:

    Nicholas: Xenomorph. Y’know. Like, Aliens.

  45. Jeff Hebert says:

    alphaalpharomeo (25): Nightspider is interesting, I like the idea of the pattern throughout his outfit. The logo and the belt are a little hard to make out, though, you might try making those with different background colors, or maybe not applying the pattern to them at all.

  46. Jeff Hebert says:

    Alex (26): Ooo, I like that a LOT! Very impressive visual, that pattern on his shirt is awesome. The colors are great and the headgear with the kerchief and the goggles are perfect as well.

    I like the idea of the tattoos, but I don’t think they quite work, maybe just due to how gray they are. I’m not sure what it is exactly, they just seem more like shadows than actual tats. I also agree that the logo on the belt doesn’t quite work, I think you need something bolder there, like maybe making the paw the actual buckle, instead of inscribed on it.

    But I love the overall character, a really nice job.

  47. Jeff Hebert says:

    Galahad (28): To answer the immediate question, I like it better with the sleeves. That way it looks like he has a uniform, and the coat is worn over it. Otherwise, when combined with the torn sleeves of the trench coat, it looks like he’s just sort of homeless and is wearing whatever he can find, wandering around in the cold wishing his arms weren’t freezing.

    The torn sleeves are an interesting issue, at first I thought they were pretty cool, but then they started to bug me. I think the issue is that the rest of his outfit is pretty sleek and high-tech, yet he’s got this ratty coat on over it. I’m not sure why he would wear it, it kind of is incongruous with the overall look of the character.

    Which, to be clear, I like — the colors and choices are good, he definitely comes across as a solidly conceived guy.

    I also like the setting a lot, the clouds and gradient sky work really well.

    The only other costuming comment I would make is regarding the belt, which also doesn’t seem to quite fit. It’s a military style belt for holding up a holster or pants, neither of which he seems to need, as he’s wielding swords and sporting spandex.

    Hope that doesn’t come off as too negative, I like the illustration a lot, but those were the areas that I thought might help make it even stronger.

  48. Jeff Hebert says:

    Mad Doctor (29): All I can say is, if Captain Russia’s going to go around in THAT outfit, he better be fully stocked on vodka.

  49. Jeff Hebert says:

    kyle (31): I think this is really close to being awesome, but even as-is I think it’s very good. The concept of making the facial features sort of holes in the flames rocks, that’s a really nice touch. Actually the coloring of the body in general is spot-on, I like it a lot, especially with the more traditional black-line clothes on top. It’s a great effect.

    Where I think it misses the mark just a bit is in the flames surrounding the figure, and in the smoke. The flames for some reason seem really busy to me, maybe the line color there should be either absent or some other fire-shade? It’s hard to tell from the picture but it looks like they stayed black, which I think detracts from the cool no-line look of the body itself.

    The smoke behind just doesn’t pull its visual weight. You’ve got this awesome fiery foreground figure, but then plain black and white lines behind. I think if you did that in smoky grays with layering and gray lines it would really add to the overall “atmosphere” (pun intended).

    But I like it a lot, a great idea well done!

  50. Jeff Hebert says:

    Roxinis (32): I’ll agree with the other guys here, everything is just way too dark to get any detail at all. It SEEMS like a cool knight-type guy, but I honestly can’t really tell for sure as it all just blends in together into almost a silhouette. Sorry, man 🙁

  51. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (33): I love her expression, headdress, and costuming, I think they’re great. So definite A+ on that.

    Where I think there are problems are in some of the areas the other guys mentioned. The lyre doesn’t look as if she’s holding it like you would a lyre for playing, but rather as if she’s clutching it to her chest in a hug. If that’s what you were going for, cool.

    I like the statue in the alcove, but a different shading choice might have worked better, maybe one that’s dark in the middle fading out to lighter on the sides. Although do I have such a thing in there? I made it all and can’t even remember, duh! If the light source is coming from off to the left, you might get that shading pattern, but it kind of comes off like the right side is shallower than the left side or something.

    Finally, the column doesn’t work at all for me. I definitely give you props for the attempt, but it doesn’t scan as “column” at all when I look at it.

    But like I said, the most important stuff is very good!

  52. Jeff Hebert says:

    Haxxx (34): I like it better with the hair, and without the tail. No-hair with tail looks like a vampire or something to me.

    Also, I’m thrown a bit just by the name “harpy”, which to me means it should be a female head and torso with bird wings and lower body, but this is more of a human with wings.

    The beak also doesn’t quite work for me, the angle it’s at seems not to fit on the face properly.

    The flesh coloring on the top wing vane is cool, though, I haven’t seen that effect before and it makes it look more like the wings are part of her rather than kind of stuck on.

  53. Jeff Hebert says:

    somebody? (37): Love the background! The orange gradient looks great beneath the stars, it really adds some dimensionality to the composition. The figure and coloring on her are great too, the pose makes it look like she’s a little chilly and getting impatient waiting for someone.

    The only thing I can think to suggest in terms of an improvement might be to do some of the same innovative line coloring in the ocean part of the background as you’ve done with the rest of it. Right now the black there doesn’t quite work for me.

    Fantastic job overall though, I like it a lot! A very good composition and complete illustration.

  54. Jeff Hebert says:

    MMI (42): I liked Father Gunmetal! I actually had him in the initial cut for a Finalist, but he got left out in the final edit, more because I felt like the others were just a little stronger.

    My favorite part was the spear knife, I think that works really well. The crucifixes built into various parts of his uniform were cool, too, that was a nice touch.

    What holds it back from “the next level” for me, anyway, is mostly the shield. It just seems too big and bulky and unnecessary in a world where people are wandering around with guns. I mean, I get that in a post-Apocalyptic world the gunpowder weapons are few and far between, and for the sword-wielding melee guys you need some basic protection, but that thing’s just honkin’ big. Toting that around the wastelands or whatnot would be a real hassle.

    All of that aside, visually it just dominates the image. You kind of lose the impact of the guy himself behind that big wall.

    Anyway, hope that helps. It’s a good image and concept, like I said it made the initial cut, but for what it’s worth that was probably why I left it out of the final results.

  55. Jeff Hebert says:

    Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43: I agree, it’s a neat take on a griffin type of concept. The human arms are a cool touch and the head is good. I also like the positioning of the wings, very dynamic and believable.

    I think the most important concern is in the positioning of some of the elements in the head region. The way the gray chest feathers (assuming that’s what they are) run smack into the line of the lower jaw makes it look like he’s got a beard. The the deltoid line runs right into the teeth line, and you’ve got the wing tip sticking out right there as well. It’s just a bit of a traffic jam. I think if you literally cut out the head and moved it forward about half an inch it would make a big difference.

    Nice job, though, thanks for sharing your original work with us!

  56. Jeff Hebert says:

    And with that, we bring another Open Critique Friday to a close! Thanks everyone for stepping up and making your comments, I appreciate it and I am sure the originators do too.

    Thanks also of course to everyone brave enough to put yourselves out there for critique, that’s never an easy thing and I applaud each of you. Well done!

  57. Myro says:

    Jeff (56): Actually, I was the one thay brought up the hand placement, something I wasn’t even paying attention to, until after the contest closed. I think attention to detail is something I need to work on. May end up re-doing the entry on this week’s contest as a result.
    You’re not the only one unhappy with the column. I worked that one for an hour, before I let it go. Maybe if I masked the railgun barrels together it would have been more convincing, also given it some more width. Your suggestion for the shading on the alcove was spot on, I wish I had thought of it at the time.
    Thanks again.

  58. Galahad says:

    Jeff (52):

    Thanks for the feedback. I put the coat on him hoping to make him more than “Generic Spandex Hero”, then got to thinking that the sleeves would get in the way of movement with the swords, which led to “What f he just tore his sleeves to free up his arms for better movement?” The belt is just there to tie the coat in to the outfit and because I think spandex without a belt is ridiculous.

  59. It supposed to be more like a lions main. But thanks for your imput guys! Also I know what you meant Myro!
    : D

  60. Rozenstal says:

    Jeff (53): I knew that you something such will tell!!!
    In general the Doctor showed me all pictures with “the Russian” complete set, there much that is.

  61. david says:

    hely the prize items taking! not the open critique friday.become nemw prize items!!!!!!!!!!!!