Open Critique Friday #3

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.

(Image © Judith A. Worley.)

42 Responses to Open Critique Friday #3

  1. Rozenstal says:

    Hurrah! At last, has waited!
    Evil is life…

  2. Malfar says:

    Fully mechanized police trooper, a cop without any thoughts or fears – a Cybercop

  3. alphaalpharomeo says:


  4. Danny Beaty says:

    This is a redo of my character Countess Chronica von Payne.
    She is a dominatrix with the power to impose her will on men. Her mental powers do not work on women.


  5. Me, Myself & I says:

    Rozenstal (1) I’m thinking there are a few copywrite issues with this one so I suspect that Jeff won’t be able to offer a critique. Regardless I think the image is pretty cool. The characters at least. I’m not crazy about the background. These guys are all pretty colorfull and purple is hard to mach with many colors. I suggest black (or shades of grey), it goes with anything.

  6. Me, Myself & I says:

    Danny Beaty (4) It certainly gets the point across!

    I think a brick background would seem more fitting than the cross hatched back ground.

  7. Me, Myself & I says:

    I think if I was going to redo this one, the new clouds Jeff added would help.

  8. Rozenstal says:

    Me, Myself & I Says (5): I after all don’t say that I have thought up characters, I have only made them on HeroMachine. And the official image the work I too didn’t name. So copyrights are hardly broken.

  9. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rozenstal (1): I have to agree with MMI, those are pretty clearly characters copyrighted by other companies and as such, a violation of the license you agree to when using HM. I can’t offer comment on them as such.

  10. Jeff Hebert says:

    Malfar (2): I’m not the best judge of mech type characters, as that’s not something I’ve ever been too much into, but I’ll give it a whirl.

    I like the three-tone-blue color scheme you’ve arranged, although I’d probably make the lightest blue a bit lighter still to help it pop more, particularly in the shoulder areas.

    The items are cool, I like the big forearm-mounted gun particularly.

    I feel like it needs one or two additional items somewhere, as currently it looks good but somehow incomplete. Maybe a holstered gun, or something more on the head, or … I dunno, something.

    But a good job for sure!

  11. Rozenstal says:

    Jeff (9): To tell the truth, I at all didn’t know that on HM there is a license. That I not the American, for me isn’t a crime Perhaps affects to draw characters of another’s companies (if, of course, not to use these drawings in commercial objectives).
    Anyhow, now I will put something another.

  12. Rozenstal says:
    Sidekick-skeleton with an explosive belt.

  13. Me, Myself & I says:

    That’s OK Rozenstal (11). A lot of us have trouble understanding the ways of American’s. 🙂

    Oh, ohhh! (MMI ducks. . .)

  14. Wesley Belk says:

    Rozenstal (1) — Even though they are copyrighted, its still a good composition of characters and you’ve retained the best of each villain, though I feel something is off on Magneto’s hand. But nonetheless, its a good tight image, and I agree a background color change would’ve made the characters really pop. You’ve done them justice and I doubt Marvel will be hurting for any money that you may have made off the image. <–*sarcasm*

    Malfar (2) — I agree with Jeff, a bit more differentiating shades of blue will make it really stand out, also to complete the Mech image, throw another character that shows the difference in size and something for the background, that'll really bring the image together as a whole, I think.

    Danny Beaty (4) — The characters are good, they are protrayed as they should be, and I agree, a different background would've been better, also.. It's more difficult but you could have the guy on his hands and knees, like a dog. But then you would've got that message on the chest…

    MMI (7) — As always your images are very well done, and this is no exception, excellent work on the sunset!! It's amazing it even looks like its reflecting off the bottom of the clouds! Great image!

    Rozenstal (12) — This is an interesting character to say the least, reminds me of Deadman, he could continue blowing himself up, but would always come back or what-have… Though its not that obvious the belt is explosive, but since the size of it is large, you know its important, but I would maybe do just a bit more to highlight it and let the viewer know, "Hey, that belt's important, it does … stuff!" Lol! Good job!

  15. Jeff Hebert says:

    alphaalpharomeo (3): I’ll be honest, this one needs work. I like the basic bones of the character, especially the head and hair. And the essential T-shape costume is a classic.

    But the diamond logo on the chest, framing nothing, doesn’t add anything to the design and in fact makes you wonder what was supposed to be inside it.

    The black and scarlet color scheme CAN work, but here it just seems to weigh the figure down, especially combining onto the weapon hands like that — he looks like he’s getting dragged down.

    In general, if you’re going for a very simple, no-frills character like this, every single element and color has to be perfect. And I don’t think that’s the case here, from the mask to the colors to the boots to the belt, it all needs more thought and attention.

    That’s a little more direct than I prefer to be, and I hope I haven’t been too harsh, but I definitely want to be honest and try to help it get better.

  16. Jeff Hebert says:

    OK folks, had to spend all morning helping to x-ray one of our mini-donkeys (bad news, massive arthritis) and now have to run into town. But I’ll be back in an hour or so to continue the critiques.

    In the meantime you are all doing a great job of providing feedback, I appreciate it!

  17. Myro says:

    MMI (7): I am generally in awe of your work, and this is no exception. The effect with the sun was well done.

    Admittedly more clouds might help the image (which I guess were not available when you had originally done this). But excellent work IMO.

    The character is pretty simple, but it also works. The only criticism I would offer though is that it looks like the gemstone on her pendant is tucked under her toga/dress. It would look better if it was put on an upper layer. Admittedly this is a small detail, and I took a few views to catch this, but…

    Still, overall, excellent.

  18. Myro says:

    Okay, I did mostly construct this as a gag on the banal internet question “Who is better, ninjas or pirates?” Especially the newer version, “Who is better, ninjas or pirates? Zombies are also acceptable.” Because we all know the answer is that Zombie Ninja Pirates are a force that would even leave Galactus quaking in his size 75′ boots.

    Critique will be welcome, but mostly I’m showing off my quirky sense of humor, and my obsessiveness at giving in to the creation of the random idea that pops in my head. Admittedly, I didn’t work on this one very long.

  19. Myro says:

    Oh yeah, one last thing. I was meaning to ask this, but Rozental’s picture reminded me. (btw, nice work on capturing character designs, Rozental. I basically tried to teach myself to use HM3 by reconstructing licensed characters with it. I just recently moved that library over to my photobucket account.)

    Jeff, I know you won’t do critiques of HeroMachine creations of licensed characters. Does the same hold true of sketch work? I’ve been meaning to get back at trying to draw (whenever I can find the time).

  20. (i forget which nane i use) says:

    dont have alot of pix so i reckon this one. (and our photobucket is working again!)

  21. Me, Myself & I says:

    Well I’ll be Myro (17), I think you are right. I made the change as you suggested; is that more like what you had in mind?

    Thank you for the kind comments. I’m almost blushing (well I would be if I was less narcissistic :)).

  22. Jeff Hebert says:

    Danny (4): Looks good! Mean and/or fun, but good 🙂 No real suggestions for improvements, I’d say you whipped it into shape just right. Ahem.

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    MMI (7): Great job! The use of the landscape as sea (right?) is inspired and works great. I agree the later, much better clouds would help but since they weren’t available then, you can’t really be held to blame. The sun and reflection effects are also very well done.

    The character’s good too, although I think the version I am seeing is the one with the pendant outside the toga. If so, good choice, that works.

    The only suggestion I would have might be that she looks a little … thick in the neck area. Maybe move her head up to elongate and thin the neck out a bit. But if the more muscular look is what you’re going for, that’s cool too.

  24. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rozenstal (12): Very nice! Definitely looks like an undead super hero, which is pretty cool. The costume and coloring choices are all good.

    The only bits that don’t seem quite right to me is the right arm, specifically the hand, which is at an odd angle given the way the forearm bones are drawn. Rotating the hand inwards would help.

    Also, the background sky is a bit plain, I think if you were to apply one of the gradient patterns to it, it might help add some depth to the image.

    But I like it!

  25. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (18): I’m going to have to go with Zombie Ninja, as his outfit and such all come off better than the pirate. Besides, the pirate’s actually a skeleton, or else a really really bad-off zombie, and thus is not nearly as cool.

  26. Me, Myself & I says:

    Myro (18)

    You must read the Commissioned web commic?

    Well you certainly do have a sense of humor. One that appeals to me at least (I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad sign though). The image does what it was meant to do quite well.

    One thing that I thought might help is not in changing the existing elements but rather reducing the space to the left of the ninja. The characters seem a little off center. So in other words, remove about a half inch of the left side.

    For just a gag, I think this is a pretty cool image!

  27. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (19): I can comment on hand-drawn work no problem even if it’s of copyrighted characters. The problem comes if I give even the appearance of approving of using the HeroMachine to create copyright violations, as someone tried to sue us for that in the past. Like Caesar’s wife, I have to stay above even the appearance of impropriety.

    Unlike Caesar’s wife, however, I do not get to conquer Gaul, which sucks.

  28. Me, Myself & I says:

    i forget which nane i use (20)

    This is a pretty neet character which I like on its own.

    Comming from me, this may sound strange but I would suggest a simpler background. There is a little bit to much going on in the background. here is so much color and so many details I found myself spending most of my time looking at the background rather than the character.

    Less is more sometimes I guess.

  29. Jeff Hebert says:

    i forget which nane i use (20): This was a contest entry in Holy Moley, right? I very much enjoyed it at the time, and in face I think I had it in my “finalists” group at first.

    There are a ton of great elements here, from the basic design of the character to her hair to t he carpet to the cat with its shadow to the great elements on the mantle in the back. All fantastic. The colors and gradients in the background are also stellar.

    I think the reason it didn’t make the overall Finalists on that particular contest was that it doesn’t really say “Cleric” to me. It says ninja, or fighter, or warrior, or maybe thief, but definitely not a prelate.

    In terms of improvements, the thing that most jumped out at me originally was the roof, which looks like grass. Only if it were turf, it wouldn’t be green on the INSIDE, would it?

    The shadow on the cat also I think would have been a lot better if you’d set the line color to 0% alpha, and the two interior colors to maybe 50% or 30%, so the grain of the floor would be visible through it. Currently it looks ike spilled ink more than a shadow, it’s so black.

    Finally, though it’s not your fault but rather mine for drawing them that way, the boots don’t match the orientation of the character. I definitely need to update those.

    Fantastic job, though, I like it very much! I just didn’t think it fit the theme of the contest as well as the other finalists.

  30. Alex says:

    Cyborg type character!I tried to make something different than the standart mech parts.

  31. Me, Myself & I says:

    Alex (30)

    That is bloody slick, I like it a lot! Many of the cyborg images i see made with HM3 seem like the robot limbs don’t quite fit on the body but this is really a tight mix.

    I would like to suggest though that you find a way to make his pants look like they go over top of his cybernetic implant rather than under it.

    Really though, well done. I think this is my favorite cyborg I’ve seen on this site so far. Even though they aren’t my favorite genre, you inspired me enough I might even try to make one.

  32. (i forget which name i use) says:

    haha…i mispelled ‘name’…

    but thanks yall. yeah, it was inna contest, but i just like feed back since its a someone else’s character. and i dont have many pix yet.

  33. Myro says:

    Jeff, thanks for the comments, and I admit I may have tried too hard to incorporate all three elements Into the characters (although katana cutlass is a cool idea.) Truth be told, sometimes I just try out ideas just to see if they can be done. And this one turned out better than my attempt to recreate Chewbacca riding a squirrel, killing Nazis on HeroMachine (for the record: total abject failure. I abandonned it before it could be finished.)
    Good to hear that I could still use copywritten characters in drawings though. I’ve had an idea involving a Captain America mash-up that’s been percolating in my head for a couple weeks that I’ve started working on. I know some people think messing around with Cap can be seen as a comment on American patriotism, but I’m Canadian, so 😛

    MMI: Looks much with the pendant on the outside now. Also, there’s a Ninjas v. Pirates webcomic? I’ll go look for it. And thanks for the comments. I kinda cooked this one up quick, so I didn’t notice how badlu framed it was, but you’re right. And I’m happy that on some level, you appreciated what I tried to do.

  34. Me, Myself & I says:

    Myro (32)

    It actually has a few different running themes. Every few months it comes back to a story arc with Ninja’s and/or Zombies. There have even been a few that contain Ninja Zombie Cthulhu (the comic seems to turn to that at least once a year). he also did a Seseme Street kind of Zombie Alphabet theme skit for a bit there.

    Here’s a link to the comic.

  35. Hmm………What do I need criticed-ed on…..>o>
    Hmm….I always like this day….I gotta think of something…

    This is dark child. please tell me which ones you like best and what I can do to improve her…thanks!

  37. 35 brian] wow! Nice Jetpack dude! Only thing that could be improved is the feet size they look kinda dinky otherwise awesome character!

  38. Vampyrist says:

    Hey guys, I would like to know your opinions on my character Rune. He is one of my personal favorites and is my universe’s resident sorceror supreme.

  39. Jeff Hebert says:

    Alex (30): Nice job! I love the chest bits and the cybernetic arm particularly.

    The only part that doesn’t quite fit for me is the cybernetic leg, it’s just so much bigger than the human one. I keep thinking he’d walk with a limp.

    But I agree with MMI, a very good illustration.

  40. Jeff Hebert says:

    Brian (35): Very nice! Love that helmet how it’s used here, very nice choice. The colors and the items are solid all the way around. I am not as crazy about the feet in that flying pose, he looks more like he’s standing rather than hovering. If hovering is what you were going for, the pointed feet together would probably be better, but I like him standing as it doesn’t look like the rockets are actually firing. Good job though, I like it!

    Nicholas (36): Since this is more than one image, I’ll limit myself to just saying I like the second to last one best.

    Vampyrist (38): I like the effects around the hand and staff, that’s cool. The basics of the outfit are nice, too. I don’t like the brick background as much, unless he’s supposed to be very tiny, as it makes him seem Atom-sized. But overall well done!

    And with that, we’re out — time to lose myself in Fallout: New Vegas.

  41. Antonio says:

    I made this character, and I want to know what everyone thinks about it.
    Title is “Wraith of Ash”
    Character name is “Ashley”