Open Critique Day #15

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.

119 Responses to Open Critique Day #15

  1. Rozenstal says:

    The goddess of mechanics:

  2. Mashlagoo says:

    How am I one of the 1st? Anyhow, I am sure you will
    recgonize this one Jeff. Yes, I redid the image again using the
    provided advice. It was very helpful. Took less tweiking then I
    expected, but there was still a lot of work (only 127 objects
    total). Original:
    New Pic:
    I had to change the outfit slightly to accommodate the new pose.
    Her bust seriously grew (much to my dismay). So-much-so that I am
    still considering having them “peaking” through the portal like her
    hands, leg, and head. I am mostly interested if the pose works, but
    please feel free to comment on anything in the pic. I think the
    shading on the back leg helps give the illusion of stepping up. Not
    sure if I should add some shading on the front leg. Maybe it is
    just me, but something still seems slightly “off” with her

  3. Malfar says:
    Just some quick, random but powerful cosmic-powered guy. His cape somehow doesn’t seem right, but I can’t figure what to do with it.

  4. William A. Peterson says:

    Rozenstal, it looks like she’d be kind of high-maintenance…
    Malfar, the cape looks good to me, but the pose reminds me more of a helpless civilian begging for assistance!

  5. Me, Myself & I says:

    OK, so I have a buddy who wanted a character portrait made
    up for him so I set to work with it. After soome feedback based on
    how he pictured his character I made some changes; – made him look
    older and more experienced. – made his cloak more worn looking (and
    less super heroish). – silver highlights on his armor instead of
    the dark yellow. Both versions are shown below in full view and
    close up. Does anyone have any suggestions on anything to add to
    make the character stand out? (incidentally Jeff, just looking for
    feedback overall or on the second draft not each image). First
    Draft Second

  6. TheNate says:

    Here’s an update of one of my HM2.5 characters. I’m working on more:

  7. Me, Myself & I says:

    Rozensta (1) it seems somehow flat to me. I think it is because everything is in shades of grey (except a little bit of skin showing). I would like to see it with more color showing.

  8. Watson Bradshaw says:

    this is my character “skyscraper”, Just wanted to see what you all think of it and how can I improve the image.

  9. TheNate says:

    Malfar – why are his face-lines flesh-colored? A darker colored makes it look more defined and harder; lighter colors make it look softer and chubbier due to the lack of contrast.

  10. Me, Myself & I says:

    Malfar (2) I know the shape you used to mask the night sky to was a cloak but it looks like a “V” framing the characters head. It confuses the eye a little so your not sure at first if its part of a cloak or the background. Regarding William A. Peterson’s (4) feedback, I think he has a point. If you lower the arms a little so they aren’t as high as his head that would probably make a difference.

  11. Me, Myself & I says:

    alphaalpharomeo (3) where is his bow?

  12. Watson Bradshaw says:

    rozensta(1) I like what you got going here I do think the Top that she is wearing doesn’t give her a lot of dimension, try adding breasts from the female body page and set color to transparent so you just have the outline and the top underneath will show through. Also I would rethink the staff, something about it seems to low-tech for your character. just my two cents.

  13. Me, Myself & I says:

    Watson Bradshaw (7) the way his legs are positioned it makes the building he’s straddling seem really thin. I think if you angled his left leg a little and spread his legs (. . . did that just come out of my word whole? I guess it did) it might make the building seem less like a movie set and more like a brick and mortar building.

  14. Mashlagoo says:

    1. Rozenstal – I like the idea and esp. the head/hair combination. The left shoulder (her right shoulder) looks off to me for some reason, more-so around the neckguard area. I havn’t used any of the mech stuff yet though… so my perceptions may be off. Also, her staff, all I can think of is a big pizza cutter (probably didn’t help that I had leftover pizza for lunch but I am still hungry).

    3. Malfar – The cloak seems to lack depth. So instead of looking like it is waving in the wind, it appears like a black mass behind the character. Maybe if you put the star layer that you have masked to the cloak behind the cloak, and then work with the color (alpha) settings on the cloak itself you would get the desired effect… perhaps like this?

  15. Mashlagoo says:

    Sorry for the off topic… but could anyone tell me why my first comment (appears #2 to me) has “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” beside it? Should I not be previewing my posts?

  16. Malfar says:

    Thanks Marshlagoo, I think that’s it. And yeah, MMI, you are right too.

  17. Captain Kicktar says:
    Sophia is of a race of tall, intelligent, proud, and curious people.

  18. Me, Myself & I says:

    Captain Kicktar (16) I like the choices of color for the dress and sash. They look good together. I’m not as sure about the shoe color. They seem to draw more attention to them being that color. Perhaps the same color as the dress but a darker shade would be something worth trying just to compare.

  19. TheNate says:

    Somebody – something about the snow and the expression makes me feel cold just looking at that.

  20. Me, Myself & I says:

    Somebody (20) I agree with TheNate (22) that it looks awfully cold although, at the same time, in the center of the gradient it is a really warm color which gives off a contrasting dichotomy. In other words, it feels cold but there is still hope that it might warm up.

    I actually like the contrast and if it is what you were going for than that’s great.

  21. headless general says:

    My first attempt at a group shot. Just wondering what you guys thought of the arrangement and posing of the characters. Comments on the characters themselves is also welcome.

  22. Me, Myself & I says:

    headless general (24) In my opinion, if there is one disadvantage with HM3 compared to HM2 is that it is much harder to produce group shots where the group actually appears as a group rather than a bunch of individuals. Mainly because most of the art and body shapes are straight on poses. With that limitation in mid, you’ve done a really good job. Its hard to get a feel for the character in the back because she is obscured by the others but to a certain extent that is unavoidable.

    One thing that doesn’t work is getting a large (two handed) object to mask onto two hands so invariably you end up with one hand holding an object correctly and the other not looking right. A couple strategies you might want to consider;

    1 – Change the second hand to being open and ajust the arm so it looks more relaxed and just rest the second hand on the staff. Place it behind the staff and it might look more natural.

    2 – Place the staff behind the second hand and use a small insignia piece, placed over the hand, to mask a second staff to. nce everything is layered it can look pretty good. Perhaps I’ll make a recipe to show what I mean.

  23. logosgal says:

    Mashlagoo (16): I noticed last contest that posts with a lot of links almost always had to await moderation. I don’t think I saw any with three or more links get through without it.

    “Aphrodite’s Plunge,” my second entry to the Pisces contest:

    No matter how I tried, I could not get the left foot to look the way I wanted. If anyone has suggestions on that, I’d love to hear them. I also might want to change the lines and shading on the left arm because it looks kind of funny the way it is. I’m also considering adding a cliff or something to the background, because right now I look at it and wonder, “what the heck did she fall off of?” Other general comments also appreciated.

    P.S. If anyone’s interested, here’s an update on what I posted last time. Still not quite where I want it, but with the suggestions I got, I’m getting a lot closer. Everyone was very helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. ams says:

    Here is a revision of a HM 2.5 character to HM 3. I liked my idea of doing a golden city in the clouds. Not sure on the colors. Let me know what you guys think/suggest?


  25. Alex says:

    He’s a mutant with the power to absorb ,store and transform kinetic energy into any other type of energy(chemical, thermal, electromagnetic radiation, gravitational, electric, elastic, nuclear).But if he stores too much energy without releasing it he will explode ,this has happend to him before but he survived with third degree burns on the right side of his body.He can absorb the kinetic energy of a bullet shot at him or the punches of an enemy without harm to him.

  26. Myro says:

    MMI(6): Their really isn’t a lot of contrast between the lower legs and feet of the figures and the dark background outside of the yellow circles, so it does tend to bleed together, but that’s just nitpicking.
    Well, the redo definitely looks like a more seasoned warrior, I’ll give you that, and I definitely like the silver trim on the armor over the old bright yellow. The only other thing I could possibly suggest to make him look older would be either to add a scar or two (suggesting a veteran of several battles), or to add some of the facial wrinkles in, playing with sizing, color, and alpha settings so he doesn’t look like a decrepit old man, but still has a bit of a more worn face. Or perhaps both.

  27. Mashlagoo says:

    Somebody(20): I like this image (I am a sucker for unique poses). However, the snow appears to only be falling behind the hill. Maybe some in the foreground would help?

  28. Me, Myself & I says:

    Myro (28) yah, I think I’d like more contrast between his legs and the background as well as his hand holding the helmet.

  29. Myro says:

    MMI (31): Maybe if you made the yellow circles bigger? Perhaps elongated them into ovals?

  30. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rozenstal (1): A solid image overall, but she seems a little squished in from side-to-side. I think the main contributor to that is her right (our left) arm. It seems like it’s crushed out in front of her and held at an awkward angle. I’d move it out further to her right (our left).

    Also her mouth seems a little high on the face.

    I get now that the “snow” effect is supposed to be … well, snow, probably, but it really blends into the sky portion, so it ends up looking like only the skyline has snow in it. Which in turn, when I first looked at it, made me think they were stars in a sky, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

  31. Jeff Hebert says:

    Mashlagoo (2): I do think that looks a lot more realistic. I think I led you astray a bit in terms of her left (our right) leg, I think now it might look better if it were straighter than I drew it.

    But this is a lot more dynamic and believable, she doesn’t look like her upper body is stuck behind glass any more. I love what you did with her right hand holding on to the frame, that really helps seal the deal.

    Nice job!

  32. Jeff Hebert says:

    Malfar (3): I’ll agree with some of the other commenters. The shape the cape makes — especially the “V” behind his head with the actual sky in it — is really confusing. I get what you were going for (“Cape full of the Cosmos”), but it doesn’t scan that way at first (or second) glance.

    I also agree that neither the pose nor the clothing options say “powerful cosmic guy” to me. The combination of the “scary GRRRRR face” hands and the shorts with the cutout shirt and miner’s head lamp don’t add up to “powerful”, at least for me. He kind of looks like he’s surrendering, to be honest.

    The shirt in particular kind of looks like a funky halter top like you’d see on a model.

    Sorry that’s so negative, I don’t mean to be, but … yeah, that’s how it hits me.

  33. Me, Myself & I says:

    Mashlagoo (2) What started as a really good picture has become a great image! The sense of movement is much better now. Can I suggest taking her left hand (the viewers right) and moving it a bit over to the viewers left? You can see the end of the forearm from behind and the hand therefore looks a little disembodied.

  34. Jeff Hebert says:

    alphaalpharomeo (4): I like the upper half a lot — great face, hair, colors, and item selections. Very “Robin Hood” with a modern sort of look.

    I think it’s weaker from the waist down, unfortunately. The pure leotard look just doesn’t fit with the upper half, and comes off as unfinished somehow. Give him some boots, and/or some kind of hand-to-hand weapon (even a dirk) or belt pouches or something … I mean, dude’s running around in the forest, stockings aren’t really going to cut it, you know?

    I also agree with another commenter that it seems odd for him not to have his bow. He’s got the quiver and the arrows, but he’ll be reduced to flinging them by hand without a bow of some sort. I know, he might have set it down somewhere else, but it is conspicuous in its absence.

    But, a really nice start, I hope you do continue to refine and add to it.

  35. SeanDavidRoss says:

    TheNate(7): It looks like you’re trying to produce a dynamic image. I would recommend that your character’s lines would be better if they tended more towards the diagonal, rather than straight up and down: i.e., get him leaning into the action, tilt his head, make him more lifelike. Here’s a quick sketch to that approximates what I’m suggesting:

  36. logosgal says:

    ams (27): That city in the clouds is pretty awesome! I think the brightness of the city’s colors sort of draws the eye away from the character, though. It might help to make her colors brighter, too. It might also help to make the sky color darker, especially since you already have those nice, twilight-red clouds anyway.

  37. McKnight57 says:

    Anybody remember this guy, McKnight?



    Jeff and Myro, you guys were most helpful last time. Keep in mind that while this guy is an acrobat, he is also the group leader. The shoulder guards are flexible enough to allow for full range of motion in the arms. The chest armor is leather so again, it allows for more range of motion while still protecting him. It’s worth it to mention that the guy has full immortality, meaning that a Highlander style beheading isn’t really a game over.

  38. TheNate says:

    SeanDavidRoss – I think I know what you mean,but that link isn’t loading up. Could you try it again?

  39. Jeff Hebert says:

    MMI (6): I like it! Both versions are actually very nice. I definitely like the second face a lot better than the first, which looks kind of preternaturally young.

    I’m a bit torn as to which color scheme I like better. I think I actually would have kept the gold trim on the armor, and made the cape silver/white instead. Or at least, I’d be curious how that would look. For me, I think the two troubling areas when it comes to the gold trim are actually the yellow circle background and the sun medallion. Those are what is cluttering up the look. You’ve solved that nicely by switching to silver trim, but I guess I kind of feel like that’s cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    I’d probably want to play around with either removing the background circle or changing it to some very different value that wouldn’t merge with the gold trim so much.

    But I dunno, like I said, I’m kind of on the fence with this. I just feel like if he’s a sun-worshipper type (indicated by the medallion) then he ought to have the gold or yellow in his armor, and changing that just for (or so it appears) a cleaner color composition seems like too much to sacrifice.

    Regardless, super nice design and image, you did great on both of them.

  40. Jeff Hebert says:

    TheNate (7): He’s bursting through a window, is that right? It took me a while to figure that out — I thought the floating triangles were neat, but didn’t know what they were for till I looked more closely. His legs really blend into the cloak, so they were hard to make out. At first I thought he was floating in a lotus position, to be honest with you.

    Oh, that’s what the pattern around him is, cracking glass, right?! Just got that. It might be just because I had “rocks” in mind when I drew that pattern, but I couldn’t get away from seeing them that way. Especially on the black part at the top — totally thought that was part of the building.

    Anyway, for me the major problem is that the entire figure, cape and all, are essentially the same two colors. I can’t separate out his body from everything else around it. I would recommend definitely changing the cape color, but also you need to work some tonal variations into the costume itself to help separate out arms from chest from boots from thighs from helmet. It’s awfully hard to separate out what goes where with the current color scheme. You can still keep it all in the blue family, but introducing even subtle tonal differences would really help this pop.

  41. SeanDavidRoss says:

    TheNate(42): The link should be working now. If not, try here:

  42. Jeff Hebert says:

    Watson Bradshaw (9): Hey, I was just looking at this on your UGO Forums archive a few days ago! I really like it. Very dynamic, lots of action, excellent pose in relation to the environmental elements, just a really nice job.

    I’d probably want to move the plane around a bit so the line of the fuselage doesn’t run right along and into the line of his pectoral muscle, and I’m not totally sold on his face (the eyes kind of look like they’re pointing in different directions), but other than those very minor things I think you have a great image here. Well done!

  43. TheNate says:

    Thanks, Sean and Jeff! I’ll rework it.

  44. Jeff Hebert says:

    Mashlagoo (15) & SeanDavidRoss (45): Great stuff, guys, thanks for going the extra mile to provide examples! Those are both excellent.

  45. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain Kicktar (18): A nice image. The colors are nice and she looks like she could be a real person.

    I’m not a huge fan of those shoes (I drew them too toe-outward), and I kept wondering if it might look better to just leave them off, assuming the feet are hidden under the dress.

    My only other thought is that she seems to have an awful lot of chin. It might be better to move her face down some, as it’s a bit swallowed up in the head at the moment. But hey, I like a strong chin, so maybe it’s fine as-is.

  46. Jeff Hebert says:

    Somebody (20): Neat! Great job on the drop shadow beneath her, that looks great.

    The only bit I’m not sold on is the yellow sun. I mean, yeah, the sun’s yellow (duh), but having that warm color kind of detracts from the cold feeling of the rest of the image. I think making it a paler, cooler yellow would help a lot.

    Neat idea and well done!

  47. headless general says:

    Thanks MMI, I was meaning to ask if anyone knew a way to get it to look like both hands were holding the staff. I think I get what you mean about masking a second staff to an insignia. I’m gonna give it a try and see if I can get it to work.

  48. Anarchangel says:

    A character I created a while back is Ariadne, one of the top operatives of the Department of Metahuman Enforcement and spider themed hero.

    The spider theme is what’s causing the problems for me. Mainly because I did what I always do with spider characters and gave her six arms. I’m not sure if it works though.

    I did a version with two arms and one with six. The six arms make it look a bit cluttered but I feel like there’s just something missing from the other one.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Two Arms

    Six Arms

  49. McKnight57 says:

    On second thought, I might just go with this guy. His nome de guerre is Jyn, whereas his given name is Jason Bloodfire.

    His powers are that he has a full lifespan of 1000 years, as any phoenix would in the wild. He is over 330 years old. Originally a gypsy born near what is now Prague, Czech Republic. He is the one true living Bohemian. He can heal from any wound, shoot him or cut him and the wound will heal automatically. If you manage to kill him, he will fall, burn up and then rise from his own ashes. He’s basically like the Phoenix from Marvel, but without all of the crazy.

  50. Captain Kicktar says:

    Having the shoes lower would imply that she was short for her species, and since they’re so proud she would be an outcast, and then she probably wouldn’t have such colorful clothing.

    The chin is an issue because if I move the face down, there’s too much forehead.

  51. Jadebrain says:

    Sorry for the crappy scan, but this is the best my parents’ scanner can do. Anyway…

    Here’s a regular citizen in the nation of Milandria, which I have mentioned previously as a nation in a game I am creating.

  52. Jeff Hebert says:

    Zarae (21): Another hand-drawn one, hooray! Great seeing folks picking up their pencils and drawing by hand, thanks so much for sharing it.

    Really nice pose, and I love the spot-color red on the eye contrasted against the black and white. That’s cool. They eyes, nose, and lips, along with the shape of the face, all look really good, nice job on those.

    The two problem areas for me are 1) the outline of the hair is too solid, making it look more like a helmet or somesuch, and 2) the furry collar (at least, that’s what I think it is). I think the latter problem would be helped a lot just by having the upper curve of her shoulder show over the bottom line of the collar, but it also probably needs to be reshaped too.

    Hair is just flat-out hard to draw. Striking the right balance between enough detail to make it look real without overloading it so it looks like scribbling is very tough. But one key is that the outline of it can’t be solid, you have to break it up a bit. Try to think about natural part lines, where the roots start and how they follow the head. Say what you want about Adam Hughes, but dude can flat out draw the crap out of hair — do a Google Image search for him and see how he does it.

    I uploaded a quick sketch here showing the ideas I gave, hopefully that’ll be clearer.

  53. Jeff Hebert says:

    headless general (24): I’m going to disagree with MMI (25) and say that I think getting a group pose out of HM3 is WAY easier and better looking than in HM2. Having every single person standing there with their hand cocked in the same way made them all look silly, in my opinion. I mean, take a look at the two absolutely incredible group images Laurence put together for the last contest — that stuff was astounding.

    What it DOES take, though, is planning and forethought, knowing how you want each person to be standing and posed relative to the others. Plus you’ve got the issue of having a lot of different colored costumes all running into each other, so you have to take that into consideration, too.

    Having said all that, I think your group shot is really good! They look solid all together, and each character stands out as her own entity. I’m not quite sold on the purple armored woman in the back — everyone else has such bold colors with big black swathes, and she’s like a hard-shelled Easter candy in comparison. I mean, I like her design, the colors just don’t seem like the rest of the team.

    Anyway, really nice job, I like it a lot!

  54. Jeff Hebert says:

    logosgal (26): Cool! Very unusual, dynamic image. I love the pose on her, the silhouetted figure in the background, the water-to-ground transition, the clothes, the rope, all of that is awesome. I’m not as sold on the fish — it looks a little, um … “mannish”, in a particularly sort of genderific way. And WAY too small to be yanking her into the water. I wonder if it wouldn’t be more dramatic to just have a larger tail going off-panel pulling her out, so you don’t see the whole aquatic creature, just it’s very end.

    Anyway, great job, very unusual and effective. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the left foot looks fine …

  55. Anarchangel says:

    Jeff, how do you not go insane trying to keep up with all of these?

    Props to you for doing it so well and so often my friend.

    We all appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  56. Jeff Hebert says:

    Oh, and I like the Spring drawing a lot better, too, very nice!

  57. Jeff Hebert says:

    ams (27): Love it! The city, the character, the pose, and the environment all look fantastic. The only color tweak I can suggest might be to do some kind of electric pale blue for the staff energy effects, as the red sort of blends into the red of the clouds, but it’s probably fine as-is.

    My only other wish would be for a higher-quality image! The JPG compression really fuzzed up on this one, I’d love it as a PNG or a higher-rez JPG so we can get all the great details.

    Excellent job as always, a really stellar image.

  58. Jeff Hebert says:

    Alex (28): Nice! Very cool image. There’s a lot going on, so I’m glad you didn’t include a background, which I suspect would have just muddled the whole thing. I love the face, and did you make those spurs yourself? Those are cool! I don’t quite understand WHY he has spurs on, but they LOOK great.

    Using the music pattern on the red part of the vest is an inspired idea, that looks fantastic.

    Great job!

  59. punkjay says:

    Malfar, I think the cloak is ok, but your hands should be at his side, and his facial expression looks more like he’s frightened than frightning. I also would change the background to more futuristic looking. I also agree with jeff on the costume, I would go with a robe or change the helmit to a hood.

  60. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (30): I liked this a lot when I first saw it. The colors and the general layout are all great, very evocative and engaging. The environment is great, and her pose is cool. Overall I thought it was a great update.

    The part that wasn’t as successful, at least for me, was the legs. The bottom part of her tunic looks like it’s hanging straight down, but it wouldn’t be able to do that if her legs were cocked like that. And while I appreciate the difficulty of getting legs that look decent in that pose, and applaud your innovative solution, it still doesn’t quite scan properly.

    The only other confusing bit for me was her gray breast band, which is the same color and in the same horizontal layer as the mountains, so for a few seconds I was scratching my head thinking she was partially invisible before figuring it out.

    Having said all that, I want to emphasize that I think it is a lovely image and a great upgrade.

  61. Jeff Hebert says:

    McKnight57 (41): MUCH MUCH better! Way more convincing in every way. The colors, the costume, the face, all of it is vastly improved. Big time thumbs up from me on this one!

  62. Jeff Hebert says:

    Anarchangel (52): I think both look fantastic. This is a great example of “less is more” — the simple background element is perfect, setting off the figure without being intrusive, while still reinforcing the whole concept. The costume is spare but very effective, giving us exactly what we need to tell the story and not a jot more. The pose is also really fun.

    As for six-versus-two … I could go either way, honestly. The six don’t look crowded, but on the other hand (ha!) I think the simplicity of the two armed version is very appealing. If I HAD to choose, I’d probably go for the two-arm version simply because it matches the minimalist elegance of the overall design. But they’re both top-notch.

  63. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain Kicktar (54): Hey man, I just point out the problems, it’s up to you to figure out how to fix ’em ๐Ÿ™‚

    If moving the entire face down leaves too much head at the top then I’d recommend either making the head smaller or the face bigger. Or you can move separate elements around, particularly the lips going lower would probably help.

  64. Vampyrist says:

    Here is a character, I thought tuned out well, but even still I want to hear your opinions on him.

    Meet Shackle, a villain with two mystical chains.

  65. McKnight57 says:

    Thanks Jeff, the earlier armor was just a bit stiff for my liking. You’d be amazed at just how very different it is from my very first attempt. KInd of the difference between the costumes of Beast from the 60’s era X-Men and the Jean-Paul Valley Batman during Part 3 of the Knightfall storyline.

  66. Jeff Hebert says:

    Jadebrain (55): Wow, you drew that?! That’s really good!

    I don’t actually have any critique to offer here, I think it’s excellent and I really, really hope you keep up drawing if that’s a sample of your quality of work. Bravo!

  67. Jeff Hebert says:

    Anarchangel (59): Thanks for the kind words! This is always a lot of fun, but exhausting. I don’t get any other work done on Open Critique Days, which is why I tend to do them on an every-other-week kind of basis. Very tiring, but certainly worth it both for getting to see the great work people can do, and also for seeing the wonderful suggestions people have. Good stuff!

  68. Jeff Hebert says:

    Vampyrist (68): Love it! Very simple, but effective. I love the pure black mask, the beard scruff, how his hair is colored and layered over the mask, the way the chains wrap around his arms, and the small step forward he’s taking. Excellent job all the way around!

  69. Mashlagoo says:

    MMI(6): Basically what Jeff said. I also like how you added lighting effects to the armor. Nice touch.

    Maybe a background like this would provide a nice change of color? Though it might be to much yellow still.

    MMI(37): I see what you mean. That hand had been bothering me as well but I just couldn’t see why. I think instead of moving it (and covering the arm up), I might try to move it over the other direction slightly and “attach” the hand and arm better.

  70. Me, Myself & I says:

    Myro (33) I actually thought of that as well. Jeff was right though when he observed that the character was a sun worshipper of some kind. He is actually a Cleric of Pelor so the yellow circle actually has some symbolic meaning as a circle.

    Jeff Hebert (43) I actually liked the ‘gold’ armor highlights better myself initially as well. I would have changed the cloak as you suggested except that in the character’s history it specifically notes that it was black with silver highlights. It seemed counter intuative to me initially but it worked for the image. That’s part of the reason I liked the yellow circle in the backgroun to emphasize the symbolism.

    In the end, the player is really happy with it which is what matters. I just had some misgivings that I wanted help reconciling. Thank you for the feedback guys.

  71. Me, Myself & I says:

    Mashlagoo (73) that is a really cool suggestion, thank you for that! The posibilities are opening up for me as I right this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Can’t talk now, gotta go try some modifications!

  72. Panner says:

    Evening everyone.

    Headless (51): Insignias can do pretty much everything, but sometimes there are easier ways. Ah, well, an image says more than a thousand words, right?

  73. Zarae says:

    thanks for that example. people are for me the hardest to draw. but i like to color the iris so they stand out very much.
    i think this was the first one i started doing this with

  74. Myro says:

    Jeff (64): Yup, those were the two areas I had the most problems with (legs and the chest wrap color). I dunno, I can play with the colors a bit more, but for all intents, she’s probably going to remain more or less the same.

  75. Me, Myself & I says:

    Panner (76) you make an excelent point. Really it doesn’t matter what you use to mask an item to so long as you can manipulate it to match the shape you need. I usually suggest insignia’s because all of the basic shapes are there but, “Whatever works” as the saying goes. Different hands, with obviously different shapes will require different objects.

    Here is another example for you headless general (24).

    Oh, and by the way, I recant my earlier statement regarding HM3 being harder to make group shots. Jeff is right that it is a better medium overall. It does require much more planning though which is really what I was trying to get at.

  76. SeanDavidRoss says:

    Since Jeff seems to appreciate seeing some hand drawn efforts, I thought I’d share one I made way back in 1997. This is an ink drawing of a young woman and her grandfather, taken from a photograph. I’m pretty happy with it. The only part I don’t much care for is the tree branch filling the upper right side of the image – I’m not sure anyone would know what it is without being told.

  77. McKnight57 says:

    SeanDavidRoss (80): Very nice! Great artwork. I like the background especially. Just good overall, though I see what you mean with the tree branch. If it were panned out a little bit, it might be more recognizable.

  78. B. Clouser says:

    I recently was hired to do a character design for the leading character in a comic book series that will soon be pitched to Boom comics. The hero is called ‘The Sparrow’ and he can run at super speeds.

    This story is about regular folk suddenly inheriting superpowers. So it’s not classic spandex. I was given directions from the creator on how he saw The Sparrow and from that I had to come up with a design.

    The character has made his own costume out of a classic flight jumpsuit. I avoided the bright colors of classic superheroes as I feel that this comic differs from that concept. Today’s hero is less flashy. Because the comic is titled Flight of the Sparrow and the main character doesn’t have a flight ability I gave him old school WW1 flight pants as part of his jumpsuit. Hopefully those flaps on the pants give him a kind of bird leg effect or a feather effect while he runs. I wanted him not too flashy. Simple, functional, yet fun looking. The client wanted his costume to emulate the colors and feathers of a sparrow, and so did I, but I wanted to achieve it without using lots of feather patterns.

    I kept the design simple all around, yet does it look like a character who could grace the cover of a comic book? The guy I made it for loved the final result, but because so many of you guys at heromachine are cool and up on your superhero lore I thought I’d post it for a critique.

    Does it work for you guys?

  79. Panner says:

    Zarae (77): I think it makes for great art. Really draws attention to the eyes and the iris color can set the tone for the entire picture.

    MMI (79): That is an outstanding guide.

    SDR (80): Excellent picture. You’re right about the branch though. Doesn’t matter that much, the people are the focus of the piece anyway.

  80. Rosco says:

    I’m usually first, but I’m used to you posting this earlier.
    Sixth in my Croquet Pin-Up Calendar, Miss June:

  81. Jeff Hebert says:

    SDR (80): Agreed with the rest, really nice drawing, and the branch is a bit problematic. When drawing from reference, definitely don’t be afraid to rearrange reality to suit the needs of the illustration. If the branch in the photo isn’t in the right place, move it or change it or replace it with a random Street Fighter screen shot, whatever it takes.

  82. Jeff Hebert says:

    ams (81): Dynamite!

  83. Jeff Hebert says:

    B.Clouser (83): Great job! I think you nailed all the points you were shooting for.

  84. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rosco (85): Yeah, sorry about that — got a bit of a late start this morning due to moving the horses around for the weather.

    Miss June is good! Not quite as arresting as a couple of the others, but definitely a solid entry. I do wonder if maybe doing the concentric circles of the ball would be better of they were offset, so it looked more like a ball and less like a bullseye target?

  85. Jeff Hebert says:

    Pesky (87): I only do one, so though the rest of the group here is more than welcome to chime in on both, I’ll just tackle the first one you posted.

    She’s awesome! I need to go back through your UGO archive again, this character is great. Love the dragon pants, the tatt, the hair, the subtle stance shift, the colors, everything. Fantastic image.

  86. Jeff Hebert says:

    Asder (90): Love the concept and the general layout. I do think the flames (specifically the glow coming off the flames) overpowers the figure to the point where he seems almost incidental. That might just need good cropping, or you might need to take the size of the flames down. I’d definitely lower the amperage on the glow, though, either way.

    I also feel like the feet are too big.

  87. headless general says:

    Thanks, Panner(76) and MMI(79) for the examples. That problem was really bugging me and now I know how to fix it.

  88. SeanDavidRoss says:

    Pesky(87): Impressive, as usual. For the first one, I’d lose the bottom-up shadow pattern on the cape: it would be great if it was applied to only the inside of the cape, but it’s applied to the outside as well, so the shadowing looks off. Other than, great stuff. For the second, I’d move the headresses down a couple of layers so that they looked like they were behind/inside of the wings: make the wings surround the figure. That circuit pattern on her belt is a really nice touch.

  89. Me, Myself & I says:

    Rosco (85) I really like your choice of colors. The mallet seems a little large on the end to me though.

  90. Panner says:

    Rosco (85): Hmm, I’d change that ball somehow. Probably using shading.

    Pesky (87): Wow, those are some great pics. I’d try switching out the nose on the first one, though, replacing it with a proper nose. That extra color goes a long way. For the second one, it looks a bit off with those un-patterned areas on the wings. Not sure what to do about it.

    Asder (90): You’re crazy. In the good way.

  91. Niall Mor says:

    Greetings, Jeff, and other HeroMachinists!

    Below is a link to a character I recently drew using HM3. I wanted to draw this guy in the classic mind reader pose with his hands up near his head and his fingers touching his temples. This figure was as close as I could get without the thing looking really weird. Is it possible to draw the character in that pose using HM3? If so, how? Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Here’s the link:

  92. Pesky says:

    Thanks Jeff. And thanks to SeanDavidRoss and Panner as well.

    For the cape I would like to darken the inside, but am not sure it is possible. The nose is part of the ‘female face’. Will try to assemble the face with the different elements and see what comes up.

    As for the un-patterned wing areas of the second picture I am also not sure what I can do about it. Will try to add other elements that fit and that allow for the pattern, but again, not sure it will solve the problem.

    Regardless, thanks for the advise.

    And Jeff, Heromachine is a very nice but addictive tool ๐Ÿ™‚

  93. Panner says:

    Pesky (99): It’s possible to position an insignia over the empty area like so…

    Then you can mask any relatively large item onto the insignia, pattern it, and then position it very carefully so that the patterns line up. You can see in the picture my positioning wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think anyone would notice it.

  94. ajw says:
    veneem recluss, a Harch,it is a legit star wars species
    realism isn’t my thing let me know what you think

  95. Asder says:

    @jeff (93). thanks jeff iยดll have it in mind and iยดll try tp improve it

    @Panner (97) Thanks iยดm glad you like it

  96. Jeff Hebert says:

    Niall (98): I think you nailed the look. The hands and arms are just right. I’m a little bothered by the extra baggy sleeves, they don’t quite seem to meld in with the outer part of the forearms. But I think maybe if you added one more to each side, lined up halfway down the upper arm so they touch the current baggy ones where the point goes down, it might help smooth out the transition.

    Or, you might try scaling the current ones down a bit. It’s just that sharp downward point that’s irksome, to me at least.

    But yeah, very nice image and pose, you did it!

  97. Jeff Hebert says:

    ajw (101): Man, my entire primary school education looked like that — homework surrounded by drawings. What a flashback!

    Nice work! You did a great job on the head and the pose. The flaring loin cloth with the designs on it is a great detail, too.

    It looks like maybe you got pushed by the bottom of the page to truncate the legs a bit, but I say, screw the page! If your guy ends up cut off at the shins, so be it. Better a proper anatomy that is where it needs to be rather than trying to conform to the physical constraints of your medium. Own your canvas!

    Good job man, keep it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  98. Jeff Hebert says:

    OK folks, I’m going to close this session down (at least for my participation, feel free to frolic amongst yourselves, though!).

    Thanks to everyone who participated, either for offering critiques or illustrations! And a special shout out to those who put together quick visual guides with suggestions, that’s awesome.

  99. ajw says:

    thanks jeff,
    means alot

  100. Blue Blazer says:

    I can’t figure out why this guy looks so badly proportioned.

  101. ams says:

    @ BlueBlazer (107) -Heads to big and his legs are to short.

  102. Tori says:

    This ones a bit random for me. I just had the idea of doing an elf and went from there. I was going to do a second character in the picture, but I was feeling lazy at the time. So for now it just the sword chick. hopefully I’ll have the completed version done soon. Just don’t really have any ideas for a second character right now.

  103. punkjay says:

    Tori(109), The back ground is good, colors are great, but the character gets lost with the girl in front with the sword. I think if you move her closer to the right corner you will notice the elf charactor as the focal point

  104. Oubliette: Needs something to make the picture pop…

    @ams: Titania is awesome!

    @Tori: Might want to subdue the elf’s colors (or brighten the rest of the picture). Her tones make her seem somewhat tacked on.

  105. ams says:

    @The Atomic Punk (111)- On Oubliette – USE THE PATTERN SHADING ITEMS!!!! There are so many pics out there that I see that I say to myself “I wish they had used the Pattern Shading Items to give their central subject depth!” I know it slows the program down when you use it to much, so save it for the end. You will be surprised on how it can make a already great pic more awesome. And thanks for the compliment on Titania. Cheers!

  106. Blue Blazer says:

    Oubliette has excellent detail on her clothing and such, but nearly none on her face. Spruce up that mug of hers.

  107. B. Clouser says:

    Thanks Jeff! You have a great eye for character design so your opinion means a lot!

  108. SeanDavidRoss says:

    B. Clouser (83): Not sure if you’re still checking here, but I liked your design enough to try to do a version of it using HM3. You can see the result here:

    Obviously, it’s not the same but I like it. Cheers!

  109. B. Clouser says:

    SeanDavidRoss (118): I’m both flattered and impressed. You version came out way better than I would expect. Totally saving this image. I’m really happy you liked the design I’ll show it to the creator of the character. He’ll love it.