Character Contest 58 Winners!

Many thanks to everyone who submitted an illustration for Character Contest 58: Simply Your Best. It was a real treat getting to see the pieces you feel the best about, and in my book your'e all winners already!

So while I'm obliged to pick out just a relative handful (and only one winner) from all of those submitted, I really think you all deserve a big round of applause. There was hardly a bad one in the entire bunch.

And now, on to the images!

First up is ams with "Rush 2", first seen in one of the Open Critique Days. The pose on this one is spectacular, a really convincing classic speedster. The orientation of the face, hands, and legs all sell the idea really well. The color choices are spot-on, I like the framing mechanism of the rectangular cityscape, and the speed swoosh behind the figure is great. Just an all-around fun and convincing image.

Anarchangel's "Doubletake 2" features two of the hottest assassins that'll ever be the last thing you see. I like the simple designs of the costumes, the spot red color of the belt buckles, and the elegant glow behind them that perfectly sets off their black outfits without being intrusive.

We also saw B. Clouser's "Warm Messer" in an Open Critique Day, and it remains one of my all-time favorite mech illustrations from HeroMachine. I love the big ol' fins, the simple but effective space setting, the great use of warmer colors to break up the cool blues and whites, and just the general look of the figure.

I thought Brad's "Ice Dragon" was a nice example of how you can make non-human characters with a little ingenuity.

Captain Brass' "Brass Family" portrait has three custom characters mixed in with two pre-drawn characters and they all look great together. I would totally want to read more about this group, kind of a "Family of Extraordinary Gentlemen" thing. The colors and costumes are all just great. I think he made excellent use of black areas as well to frame and support the overall composition. A really nice illustration, Captain Brass!

dblade's "Seductrix" was the first one that I said "Wow!" about when I opened it. I'm glad TheRandomHERO and Worf figured out that the background effect was achieved using multiple cleverly colored skylines, because I never would have known otherwise. The "ghost in the machine" figure behind the main one, the white hair and wings, the cleverly placed insignia here and there, and the great black claws with blue line color in the foreground make this one of the most striking illustrations to come out of the HeroMachine I've seen yet. Really nice job!

DiCicatriz' "Kid Chaos Possessed" has a lot going on, but it all still works pretty well. I have to confess this isn't entirely fair to DiCicatriz, but I've actually liked some of his other illustrations better, but they aren't eligible because they'd already won! Still, this one is darn good.

Felipe S. Card's "Amazons of Fate" are all three outstanding fantasy character designs, and they all look great together. There's nothing crazy or super complicated about any of it, he just concentrated on getting all the details right in putting together high-quality, believable, and interesting character designs. I don't think there's a false note anywhere, which is pretty astounding.

(Click to embiggen.)>

Hammerknight gives us "Death's Fiery Escape", a really cool concept executed very well. I like the grayscale tone of the majority of the piece, highlighted and framed with the flaming smoke behind the death figure. Really nice work. The clouds over the moon work great too.

As was the case with DiCicatriz, I feel a little bad for Imp because he has other illustrations I like better than this one, but they either won or were Finalists and thus weren't eligible. However, I do think the landscape he's assembled here (and nicely placed within the circle, with the figure stepping out of it) is excellent and the overall concept is neat.

Kaldath's "Firebird" may, as one commenter said, look like a "What If Hawkgirl Hosted the Phoenix Force" but I would totally buy that comic based on this illustration! The layering and transformation of the flames to make the phoenix aura is awesome. I love the way some of the flames are over the figure's limbs, reinforcing the idea that she is surrounded within them. Just a very powerful and great-looking piece.

This is a bit more gory than I usually go for, but what really catches my eye about Me, Myself, and I's "There Will be Blood ... I Insist" is the background. I love the combination of graveyard and trees in silhouette to make a great backdrop. Combined with the nice glow effect in the moon and the blood-red sky gradient, the whole piece ties together nicely and makes for an interesting composition. I'm just pretending like the severed head doesn't exist, or is a prop or something.

Myro's "Succubus Teleport" has a lot of spirit (ha ha!) and pizzazz about it. I like her expression, the way the hair hangs over one eye, the positioning of the bullwhip, the drop shadows (note how the whip shadow is OVER the hand, that's a nice touch) and the way she does look as if she's BAMFing into or out of a cloud.

PapaKrok's "Marshall X" features his usual creativity and attention to detail. Look at that gun! I'd totally buy that it was a pre-generated item, it just looks great. Both of the faces have real personality, too, which is often overlooked.

Pesky's "Evil Tree" is another non-human character that nonetheless really has character. It's a really clever effect, set off perfectly by the green fog and Aztec calendar backdrop.

Spidercow2010's combination of Snow White and Red Riding Hood works on a lot of levels. The striking bold red hood and cape frame the whole thing very well, allowing for more delicate colors elsewhere like in her diaphanous dress. The simple but strong pose works great too. And note how the lines of the waterfall by her head lead you down into the lines of green ground, making for a powerful dynamic sweep that draws your eye in and keeps it focused on the figure. A really nice character design and exceptionally good layout.

Tango's "Lord Talvar" also drew a "wow" from me this week. I love the clever use of various Mech parts to make a convincing high-tech ship or lab setting, especially the glowing blue pieces in the background. The tubes leading into the creepy figure and its hand-feet all come together for a disturbing, intriguing, and highly effective piece. Great job, Tango!

UnknownBlackPaper went the extra mile and actually put together a full-on two-page comic book spread!

Violet's "Travelers" features four interesting characters in a good setting, but what really caught my eye was the genuine affection you see between the centaur and the cyborg. I think getting an emotional reaction from the viewer is essentially what art comes down to, and Violet's definitely pulled that off here.

Watson Bradshaw's "Kid Turbine and Knight Bird" mostly makes it for the great setting (those statues are awesome!) and the background. The figures are nice, don't get me wrong, but it's the environment that sold this one for me.

Finally, we have Zyp's "Power Aztec", which is just a really solid, interesting super-character.

As you can see, picking just one overall winner from this group is even tougher than it was to pick the Finalists out of the general group of submissions. But hey, that's why they pay me the big* bucks.

Ultimately I narrowed it down to B. Clouser, Kaldath, dblade, Tango, and Felipe S. Card. From there I had to just go with my gut, and pick the one that genuinely made me go "Wow!" when I opened it.

And thus the winner is ... dblade, for "Seductrix"! The color palette, the composition, the subject, all of it just works perfectly. The capper was the simple but innovative use of the cityscape background to get that digital patterning, I really love that.

Congratulations to dblade, who wins his or her choice of either any item or portrait to be included in HeroMachine 3, or picking a "Sketch of the Day" theme which I'll then draw however I like.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, to our illustrious group of Finalists, and to dblade!

(*For very very tiny values of "big".)

51 Responses to Character Contest 58 Winners!

  1. Me, Myself & I says:

    Actually Jeff; my entry was a little more gory than I usually go for as well. I was really debating whether I should just go with that background by itself. I was quite happy with it. Enough so that I played with different framing options for it alone.

  2. unknownblackpaper says:

    Yay! Congrats dblade!

  3. NGpm says:

    Congratulations! That background is incredible! The whole thing is, but that background ….

  4. spidercow2010 says:

    I had exceptionally minimal expectations of victory this time out, given the competition, the call for that competition’s very best stuff, and the shortage of stuff I’ve done that I’m proud of that I haven’t already sent in. Found myself saying Wow and Damn in the same breath. A lot. So I was pleasantly surprised to see myself in the HMs even. As ever, thanks Jeff, well done all, and congratulations to dblade. I console myself a bit by bragging that that cityscape background only exists because it was my prize for winning once, so I feel entitled to 20% of all cash you receive from winning this contest. I will watch the mailbox.

  5. PapaKrok says:

    Freaking awesome!!!!! Congrats dblade et al! More, more, more….

  6. ThePerfectTense says:

    I… am in AWE. Holy smokes, these were BRILLIANT!

  7. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Considering the fact I have no life, I read and saw all these entries. And honestly, I knew that dblade’s would win. If it didn’t I thought Watson might. But eh, I liked reading all their storys. Violet’s sounds like it should’ve been an animated T.V. show! 😀

  8. CPrime says:


  9. Gargoyle323 says:

    Congrats dblade on a well deserved win! Great job on that background! Also congrats to all other finalists! Everybody did an amazing job this contest. I’m sorry I was unable to post an entry this week due to computer problems…Hopefully next one. Again,fantastic work this week by all!!!

  10. DiCicatriz says:

    Great turn out! Congrats to everybody 🙂 I see where Jeff was coming from, I might have tried to cram a few too many details into such a small space.

    Props to ‘Rush’, ‘Double Take’, ‘Guns of Mars’, ‘Firebird’ and ‘Power Aztec’ as my favorites. Fantastic designs all around though.

  11. Myro says:

    This was a tough one, I had already scrapped two possible ideas for the one I finally used, but frankly, there was so much “Wow” in the entries, I needed to come up with something good. I’d really like to thank everyone who took part for pushing me into creating what was definitely my best work so far.
    Anyway, the honorable mention this week is like a finalist nod, or maybe even a win (minus the shiny prize) any other week, that’s how stiff the competition seemed to be. Congrats to dblade, your illustration was truly stunning. And congrats to everyone else, it was a hard fought competition.

  12. ams says:

    Congrats to dblade, great showing by all, thanks Jeff!

  13. Anarchangel says:

    Wow. I didn’t think Doubletake would stand a chance in this contest with all the incredible creations by others. But the mention is very much appreciated Jeff 🙂 (Although they’re spies, not assassins…Not that I bothered to point that out though)

    Congrats dblade and everyone else. There was some truly outstanding work here.

  14. Knitesoul says:

    Congrats to all, pretty amazing images.

    Congrats dblade!

  15. goku111 says:

    hey mine was good

  16. Violet says:

    Congrats, dblade! And thanks for including me in the honorable mentions, Jeff! I’m afraid mine looks terribly pain next to all of the superb, polished entries. But my mini laptop makes just running the program a hassle sometimes, so patterns are usually hard for me to accomplish without sacrificing the body/items.

    My favorite was Tango’s. It was just incredibly awesome, with the colors and the little alien dude.

    @Nick (7): Thanks! That is how I thought about it as I wrote. I’m *much* better at character development and stories than I am with artistry. Nothing ever comes out how I want it unless I use words.

  17. dblade says:

    Holy smoke! I didn’t even write an acceptance speech! I truly didn’t expect this. There were so many excellent entries (Tango was my favorite).

    Thanks, Jeff!

    So now I’m not sure what to choose. I’m going to go through the program and see if there is anything that could be added to the mix. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking a wheelchair seen from head on might be nice to have. That would cover Prof X and some other character types. I’ll have to think on it and get back to you tomorrow if that is okay.

  18. Niall Mor says:

    Wow! These were all awesomer than awesome. Many of these look as if they could have come from commercially produced comics. I just doodle around with HM3, but you folks are using it to make art! PapaKrok, how on earth did you get that illusion of the gun barrel pointed straight at the viewer? I’ve wondered about how to do that but never figured it out.

  19. Niall Mor says:

    Hey Jeff, this could be a future contest topic: What is the best tip, recipe, or effect you’ve learned how to do with HM3? Maybe the winners could share their insights in recipe cards? I dunno, just a thought.

  20. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Violet 16]
    You must be my older female doppleganger….I have the same darn problem! XD

  21. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Violet 16]
    You must be my older female doppleganger….I have the same darn problem! XD
    And I really liked the little robot guy.

  22. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Dang nabbit! How’d it double post?! Jeff can you delete 20?

  23. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    I just realised, what about the Bounty Hunter contest? did I miss who won?

  24. dblade says:

    I think I know what we need. A BRAIN! For “brain in the jar” characters or horror scenarios. It would be great to throw in some spine too, but we need BRAINS!

    Hey, Jeff. I officially request a brain. (Insert jokes here)


    PS. And with a little courage we will make the Wizard of Oz hat trick (see Heart).

  25. dblade says:

    Scratch that. I just saw the Brain in the zombie head section. Hee hee. Now I know where I can get a brain. 🙂

    That wheelchair is starting to look good again.

  26. Gero says:

    I’m really amazed by all of these! I especially love Hammerknight’s entry, which reminds me of Chernabog from Fantasia, only more dark (if that’s even possible)…

  27. Kaldath says:

    @dblade, While it isn’t a normal wheelchair, in the companions vehicle section there is a Professor X style Hover wheel chair already, broken down into two parts.

  28. dblade says:

    Hmmm. That covers futuristic wheelchairs. I wonder if a good old fashioned wheelchair would be useful for folks. I will have to think on it some more.

  29. Congrats, dblade and everyone! Have to admit, this contest caught me by surprise. Been so long since Jeff limited us to one entry. Just too many good designs this time. So I just threw one out there.

    Personal favorites include Tango’s “Lord Talvar”, Imp’s “Guns of Mars”, Captain Brass’ “Family”, Dionne Jinn’s “DiscoQueen”, Vampiryst’s “Abyss”, Mr. Chowderhead’s “Dazzarelle”.

    Special nod to unknownblackpaper. I can only imagine how pain-staking that “Comic” must have been!

  30. Watson Bradshaw says:

    Very cool job by everyone this week, and especially Dblade. That background was stunning, great job.

    (23)Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43: yup, I won the bounty hunter contest with my old west drifter.

  31. LionStar says:

    Very creative everybody! i can see why yours were chosen because yours stood out so well! (out of curiosity is seductrix good? evil? or neutral?) btw for some reason when i see seductrix i think of her as either a potential enemy of the x-men or as a potential member of the avengers…

  32. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Well Watson, I cannot find the winners thingie. Where is it?

  33. dblade says:

    @LionStar (31): Very evil. Seductrix are basically cyber succubi. Although I created the Seductrix for an Alternity urban fantasy/Dark Matter setting, this version could fit in a supers world. Her outfit might be a little distracting to the other Avengers though. 🙂

  34. Jeff Hebert says:

    Nicholas, it’s a link in the right column where all the categories are listed, called “Contest Winners”.

  35. Jeff Hebert says:

    You could also have clicked on “Contests”. Or “Character Contests”. Or you could have done a manual search in the search box for “Bounty hunter”.

  36. dblade says:


    Try this link…

    Also on the right side of this web page you will see a list of blog categories. Just go to Contest Winners and start searching the threads within that section.

  37. dblade says:

    Dagnabbit! You done beat me on the draw!

  38. Jeff Hebert says:

    But you were much nicer than I was, so we’re even!

  39. The Imp says:

    My top three were Tango, dblade, and unknownblackpaper. There’s no way in hell I could have decided between the three of those as the winner.

    Congrats, dblade! Definitely deserving of a win.

  40. dblade says:

    Thanks, Imp. Good thing I wasn’t judging or I would have lost to Tango. I love creepy alien stuff!

  41. LionStar says:

    dblade that outfit will totally be everything but distracting have u even SEEN what the female supers are wearing these days? makes getting distracted a enjoyable experience 🙂

  42. nakiato says:

    congrats to everyone I really enjoyed the entry’s by captain brass and tango. Every Time a put in an entry in of of these contests I see other designs and I am like “wow I got a lot to learn”

  43. Jack Zelger says:

    Nice, these are all awesome guys.

    I was going to participate, but I’ve realized that I come up with characters easier when I’m given a concept to start with. I guess I need a little push to be creative. 🙂

  44. Blackjack says:

    Wow, these contests are no joke. Each entry was more stunning than the last as far as the capabilities of the program are concerned. I’ll have to keep my eye on this from now on, there seem to be many techniques to learn.

  45. Brad says:

    Hooray! I was a finalist! For one brief moment of HeroMachine history, I stood out!

    Well, it sure was fun. I would’ve added a background, but the image was originally created on my desktop which has since bit the dust. And you know how it is when you try to recreate something awesome, you’re never going to do it better than that first time. It really was just neat to be in the running. I’m not sure how I’ll step up my skills to be on par with everyone else, but I’ll darn sure try.

  46. dblade says:

    Well, I might need a couple of more days to decide on a prize. The wheelchair would be good but I keep thinking there’s some asset out there I should be remembering to request.

  47. Jeff Hebert says:

    There’s no rush, dblade, take your time.

  48. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    ..But I clicked on both those things. Why didn’t it show up?
    I always check that part of the site….. :-

  49. dblade says:

    Hey Jeff,

    I finally settled on my prize. A head that is cone-shaped ala Absorbing Man. And if you feel like it (and please forgive me for being presumptuous and pushy) throw in a more extreme cone-shaped head like that of Impossible Man or even Egghead. I was just thinking these could really add to the character design possibilities–aliens, bruiser types, etc.

    Daryl “The Pusher”

  50. Jeff Hebert says:

    You got it Daryl!

  51. dblade says:

    Awesome! Thanks, Jeff.