Open Critique Day 7

It's time once again for another Open Critique Day.

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 any 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.

52 Responses to Open Critique Day 7

  1. Alex says:

    Tommy ”Guns” Malone
    Old School Mafia

  2. Alex says:

    Oh I’m first AWESOME!!!

  3. Panner says:

    Upcoming RPG character. I’m not crazy about the belt, but other than that I’m happy.

    @Alex: Love it. I particularly like the jacket and pants. Is it intentional that the lips are the same color as the skin? A darker color might give the face more character, I dunno.

  4. Danny Beaty says:

    Hi all! This is a redo of my redo of The Panther. I replaced the yellow with gray.

  5. Danny Beaty says:

    Everyone feel free to critique!

  6. Jeff Hebert says:

    Guy Diga (5): Which one of those do you want commentary on?

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    Alex (1): Nice job! I love the pinstriping on the suit, especially since you went the extra mile by making separate pieces so the stripes would align to the item instead of being straight vertical. The detailing on the vest is great, too.

    I don’t have a lot to add, I think you nailed it.

  8. Jeff Hebert says:

    Quies (3): I don’t recall the last version before this one, but she’s looking great. The figure stands out from the background well, and the water looks great.

    I think the only minor suggestion I’d have might be to make the line color of the toe ripple semi-transparent so it would look more like a disturbance of the water rather than something laid on top.

    But otherwise, great!

  9. Jeff Hebert says:

    Danny (6): Looking good! I like the gray a lot better. I think you’re probably “there” at this point, well done.

  10. Myro says:

    Danny (6): I’m probably the only one (besides you) who kinda liked the yellow, but for the purposes of why everyone said the yellow didn’t fit, then, yes, the grey definitely makes it look more of a stealthy costume.

    Alex (1): Really like it. The way he’s holding the Thompsons looks really natural. Having just tried to fit a gun into that hand style, I know it wasn’t easy. In regards to Panner’s comments (4), I’ve done the same thing with the lips on male characters (left them the same color as the skin), however, sometimes if you leave the upper lip a slightly darker color, it does give the face more depth. Something to think about.

    Panner (4): I love your weapon choice on your character, it’s very unique. The star tattoo is also a nice touch. I’m not sure what to suggest about the belt, I actually thought it seemed to fit. The colors seem to wash together to me, making a lot of the picture seem a little flat, but I also have to admit I’m slightly color-blind on the blue-green scale, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  11. Jeff Hebert says:

    Panner (4): Nice! I agree, it’s pretty darn good already, I don’t think there’s anything major you need to do to it.

    I like the belt for what that’s worth, by the way.

    The two minor tweaks I might suggest would be to change the line color of the eye tattoo to a shade darker than the interior. And the only other thing might be to make the line color of the hair a really dark red rather than black, I think it would help add some dimensionality.

    But neither of those is an absolute, it looks good the way it is. Well done!

  12. Captain_Kicktar says:

    Her name comes from Arisha, which comes from Arina, which comes from Irina, which comes from Irene, which means ‘peace’. She’s a peacekeeper.

  13. Guy Diga says:

    @Jeff: whichever you Want

  14. Jeff Hebert says:

    Guy Diga (15): That’s not how this works. You post a character you want help with, tell a little about what it is you’re having trouble with, and we go from there. I can’t go through all 11 links and pick out one at random.

  15. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain_Kicktar (14): A nice looking character, if a little … I don’t know, plain? I keep thinking that maybe if the shawl/cowl thingie were the pale green instead of the same color as the breastplate it overlays, it might help everything pop a little more.

    Also, I’d probably nudge her mouth down a couple of pixels, she’s looking a little jaw-heavy for me. Though if that’s what you’re going for, never mind.

  16. Myro says:

    My entry on the Circus character contest. I admit, I did screw up the left hand, it was something that was pointed out to me too late for me to change it.

    I’m looking for advice beyond the hand though.

  17. Niall Mor says:

    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask this question, but I’ll ask it anyway. I’ve seen some HM3 characters in a pose with one leg cocked or raised up, supported by a wall or a boulder or something. An example would be Imp’s Robin Hood from the Friday Night Fights contest we just had. You can find it here:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get that pose. I’m guessing it involves using a bent arm from the body set and disguising it as a leg, but I can’t quite figure out how to do it. Can anybody help me with this? Thanks!

  18. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (18): You’ve done a nice job with the setup of all this, the woman on the target works surprisingly well. And I like the overall design of the knife-thrower.

    I think, though, that because the knives in the target have to be seen side-on, it hampers the illusion that they’re sticking in the target, particularly since you can still see the points. It ends up looking like they’re in flight.

    I think the colors on El Magnifico are also not what I would expect in a circus, where I always think primary bold colors and not pastels. Plus the yellow of his pants kind of blends him into the yellow of the floor. Speaking of which, I’m not super crazy about that floor. I get that it’s supposed to be sand or whatnot, but maybe if you Patterned the gritty/dirty pattern onto it, it might help sell it a little more.

    Finally, the woman on the target looks a little sanguine for someone with an axe sticking out of her forehead. I’d think she’d be either freaking out or dead, but she looks like this is just another day at the office, you know?

    That sounds harsher than I mean it, because you’ve done a great job with a difficult arrangement, but I think it has promise and warrants a more in-depth critique.

  19. Jeff Hebert says:

    Niall (19): Thanks for the reminder! By request, Imp actually put together a recipe card for that exact pose last week, and I meant to post it today. Which I just did, thanks to your reminder, check it out on the front page of the site.

  20. Myro says:

    Thanks Jeff (20). That entry was SUCH a nightmare. Believe me, if HM3 wasn’t crashing on me all the time, I totally wanted to mask the blades so it would look like they were embedded into the target.

    As for the woman, I did try to use the most horrified look I could out of the preset faces to cut down on the workload, but I guess it didn’t translate over.

    Maybe when I can summon up the energy, I’ll take another crack at that one. But the critique on it did help me get some closure on it.

  21. Niall Mor says:

    Thanks, Jeff! I just saw it and downloaded it. And thanks to Imp for creating it in response to my request. Imp, I really appreciate your taking the time and trouble to do this for me.

  22. Violet says:

    Okay, um this was just me playing around with the program as best I could. But I had some problems. My vampire-lady here lives in the mid-fifties, so I did my best to get her lingerie to look period (panties high on the hips), but my attempts at stockings and garters looked sad, so I did away with them. The hair was a brief nightmare, but it turned out great.

    …My big issue is the lack of a good cigarette holding hand among the selections. Almost all of my characters smoke, you see, so if anyone can give me tips on how to accomplish it I would be quite grateful!



    She wasn’t supposed to be chalk white, but I just couldn’t get any flesh color pale enough to suit my needs. And my plan for having a doorway, revealing a room beyond her, was nixed by the program almost as soon as I tried. Oh well.

    Anyway, how’d I do?

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    Violet (24): Well done! She’s actually very pretty, which for various reasons is a lot harder to do than it ought to be with HM. I think you got the underwear down pat, I love the hair, and the setting is spot-on.

    In terms of the cigarette hand, why not use the same one you’ve chosen for holding the glass? It’s that palm-up, casual hold I see smokers use fairly often.

    Sorry about the glitching on the doorway, that would have been a nice touch.

    If none of the pre-set flesh tones suit your fancy, try this chart. You should be able to plug the values into the “custom color” tab.

  24. Myro says:

    Violet (24): One thought on skin tones, especially in regards to a vampire character. If you set color 1 slightly lighter than color 2, rather than give the skin shading, it will make the skin look somewhat luminescent, which will give the illusion that it is paler than normal. I was playing around on HM3 to see how to explain it, but if you set color 1 to white, and color 2 to “Pallor Caucasian Light,” you might get the effect I’m trying to explain.

  25. Violet says:

    @Jeff: Thank you very much! And yes, it is hard to do a proper balance of beauty and expression with HM. That’s how I see it, anyway. I always feel like I’m having to decide one or the other.

    I probably tried that hand at the time, but I was also focusing on utilizing the masking tool to find one that hid the cigarette between the fingers best. I’ll try it again, though! Because I hatehatehate the one I have on there now.

    (That link does not lead to a chart. Unless I’m missing the chart…?)

    @Myro: Thank you! I’ll definitely use that!

  26. Jeff Hebert says:

    Violet (28): It’s a JPG showing a bunch of color swatches with the hex and RGB values needed to get them. Direct link is

    SomeBody (27): I like the general design and look of the character, and the scene is very good. The main problem I have is why he’s not see-through. Maybe that’s my ghosty prejudice showing, but it seems like something so commonly thought of as an attribute of a spirit that not seeing it is a bit off-putting.

    I’m also confused about whether that’s a mirror or a doorway behind him. I assume mirror, as we see his cane (?) reflected in it, but then I don’t understand why we don’t see HIM reflected in it, either. It’s vampires who don’t cast a reflection, right, or am I misremembering that?

  27. Panner says:

    Thanks Myro and Jeff! I’ll look into fine tuning the colors.

    @Captain_Kicktar (14): I just wanted to say a couple of things about the armors you used here. If it was me, I’d cut off the lowest part of the ‘bottom’ armor (the light green one) and replace it with something else. I just think it looks a little… off. On the other hand, I absolutely love the shoulderpads attached to the darker armor. It looks natural and appealing.

    @Myro (18): How violent. Anyway, I like what you’re trying to do with the left hand, but it’s a tough one! Perhaps this could be an option? I haven’t tried this myself.

  28. Myro says:

    Jeff (29), Violet (28): I think you need to be registered and signed onto in order to see the chart.

    Panner (30): Thanks. Should I get back to trying to rework El Magnifico, I’ll probably end up using something similar to that.

  29. Violet says:

    @Jeff & Myro: Yes, I registered and that chart is awesome. Thanks!

  30. Jadebrain says:

    You took me by surprise! Either way, here’ a hand-drawn picture of Reida, the character I entered last week.

    As for the object in the lower-left corner, it’s a rock. I know it looks out-of-place without a background, but A) I suck at backgrounds, and B) I needed to make it look like her foot was resting on something, as the foot and leg don’t look much closer than the other foot and leg, despite being in front.

    Also, I kept the baggy short-pants because, as I mentioned last week, it’s common attire in her culture, both for civilians and for soldiers alike.

  31. Jeff Hebert says:

    Sorry about that Violet! I didn’t even know I WAS registered on ReTouchPro.

    Jadebrain (33): Pretty good, man! Thanks for posting it, it’s neat to see non-HM stuff.

    Rather than typing it all in here, I took the liberty of bringing your image into Photoshop and making both written and visual suggestions. The file is here. hopefully you’ll find that helpful.

    You did a good job on it, I am so happy to see people drawing their own creations I can’t even tell you! Keep up the good work.

  32. Jason22274 says:

    Well, why not. Here’s Death Mistress, my entry from Random name 3, with some slight changes to the legwear from the original entry, and minus the background. I overall like the look of her.

    The one thing I wish I could convey is that the bone portion of her armor is actually chrome, not white. Not sure how to go about that though in any format short of hand painting it with chrome.

    Also, I used the Female skeleton abdomen for the legs. I’m curious on peoples take though on it as it doesn’t look quite perfect. I’m tempted to change the line color to transparent so the red of the pants shows through more, but don’t want to loose the definition.

    And yeah, the boots are horrid right now. Still a work in progress. Anyway, here she is: (I zoomed in and used screen capture to get more detail)

    Head shot only:

  33. Jeff Hebert says:

    Jason (35): I like the construction of the dress and leggings, and the helmet looks cool. The book is also nifty.

    I’ve never been a big fan of skull-boobs, but that’s just a personal taste kind of thing.

    Good job!

  34. Danny Beaty says:

    @Jeff and Myro: Thanks for your input!

  35. Danny Beaty says:

    I would like to change the Panthers’ insignia. In HM2, there is an insignia (a sideview of a cat’s head in three pieces) which I will use when it is added to HM3. I think the three-piece cat head will look much better.

  36. Danny Beaty says:

    Much better than the cougar/panther head in Head Animals.

  37. ajw says: this is my own made up civilization of pageans’s god of death necravian

  38. Zforce says:

    Group of star wars concept characters for an EU idea I’m working on. Sorry for the pixelation… I adjusted height after making them and converting to JPEG made it really bad. Be gentle. Choose the one you like the most if you don’t feel like commenting on all of them.

  39. Jason22274 says:

    Jeff: lol. Yeah, the skull boobs are a bit over the top (and way too obvious), but I couldn’t resist.

    Here’s a minor edit of her, btw. I finally came up with a boot design I’m actually somewhat happy with. Need to take the time to use insignias to black out the bit of bone showing on the soles, but what the heck. Also, I made the lines on the left leg armor transparent, but kept the right leg black for comparison. Still not sure which I like better.

  40. TheRandomHERO says:

    I started creating this guy with a story back ground in mind. I call him a Cyber-Knight. I have an entire back story about him and the origins of Cyber-Knights, but to long to put on a comment thing here. I’m curious to know what you think.

  41. Jeff Hebert says:

    AJW (40): Ooooo, funky! Very cool harpy look. The only bit that doesn’t quite work as well as the rest for me is the head, the oval flesh-colored skull portion kind of clashes with the rock eyebrows and doesn’t seem to go with the rest of it.

    But otherwise, I love it! These kinds of non-traditional, non-humanoid creations are so cool.

  42. Jeff Hebert says:

    Zforce (41): I really hate having to pick one out of a group of characters, it seems against the spirit of this endeavor.

    I think they all look good, though. If you’re unhappy with the pixelization of JPG I highly recommend exporting as PNG instead. The file size is bigger, but the quality generally is a lot better. Plus if you leave the background empty, you get your character on a nice transparent background, making group composites like this a lot easier to pull off in some sort of image editor.

  43. Jeff Hebert says:

    Aaron (42): I was unable to view that image, I’m sorry. It says “This content is unavailable.”

  44. Jeff Hebert says:

    TheRandomHERO (44): Love love love that energy saber, you did a fantastic job with that. Very very cool.

    I also like the blue and gray palette, that works great.

    My only suggestion might be to go with a dark gray line color throughout the figure instead of black, but that’s not a huge deal or anything, just an idea.

    Good job!

  45. Jeff Hebert says:

    And that wraps up another Open Critique Day, thanks to everyone for participating! I tried leaving it open much later this time around to accommodate some of the folks in the last one who said they couldn’t get to a computer in time, so hopefully that helped some.

    Given the holiday schedule coming up, we may not have another one of these till after the New Year, but we’ll see.

  46. Malfar says:

    Crap. I missed all the fun. Next time, then 🙁

  47. Fyzza says:

    Shouldn’t this be closed, seeing it’s like 4 days after it opened?

  48. Jeff Hebert says:

    Fyzza, would you like some other action to formally close this other than my comment number 49, “And that wraps up another Open Critique Day”? I generally don’t stop comments on these at any point, but if it bothers you I reckon I can do so.