Character Contest 61 Winners?

First, thanks to everyone who entered Character Contest 61. We had some fabulous images, and I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share your creativity with everyone.

Second, I had a very tough time deciding on the final winner this week. I'll go into the reasons at the end of the post, but suffice it to say that literally as I am typing this, I still haven't decided. Before I do, I thought I'd just post all of the Finalists, and then make my decision after seeing them all on the page at the same time.

I absolutely love what "D" did with this fantastic blueprint of the ARIES 11. It's a great idea that I haven't seen done before and gets very high marks for creativity. Because "I haven't seen that done before" doesn't happen very often these days with HM3!

dblade also had a schematic-like approach to this display from the iRAM database, featuring a readout about his Armageddeth character. I liked the LED-like look of the greens, the authentic and cool looking layout of the screen elements, and the cool way he used guns to frame it at left and right. A very well-thought-out and nifty looking piece.

Domhellsing's "Aries" isn't super dupe complicated, but it does a great job selling the concept of the character and nailing the details. I really like the colors on the main character, the cool belt and neck torc, and the way the spear head floats away from the shaft. You don't have to do all kinds of crazy special effects to get a good illustration.

Martian Blue's illustration-within-a-constellation approach works great here. I love the look of the old man shaman figure, with his scrawny legs, pot belly, and big horny feet. A whimsical and intriguing looking guy all the way around. I think the constellation adds a wonderful touch to the whole illustration as well.

MLS is back with his Zodiac Commandos entry, and I think the rock-climbing Aries is his best yet:

PapaKrok is at his creepy best with his first "Aries" entry. I love how scary the main figure looks.

PapaKrok's second Finalist is a testament to kinetic fury titled "Slayer".

Sean David Ross has been doing some fantastic experimental work putting together alternate poses using unexpected bits, and I think his "Aries" is a stellar example of what he's been able to accomplish. I love the main figure's dynamism, obviously, but the background elements are all fantastic as well. The colors and gradients in the ocean are outstanding, combining with that wonderful figure to make a very powerful composition.

SpiderCow2010's POV style battering ram illustration has a ton of visual interest and great touches to bring the whole thing home. A fun and cool image.

I said earlier that sometimes, simplicity is better, and Sutter Kaine absolutely proves that with his very powerful minimalist take he called "Aries: Mutate". I don't know the backstory here, but this is a wonderful example of how to do the basics right. When you go with a very clean concept like this, you have to nail every detail. And he does. The proportions of the lower body to the upper body are perfect for a big, huge, heavy bruiser. The belt with the Aries symbol in it has nothing extra, but every bit of it fits. The shoulder pad over the figure's left shoulder, while the right arm is behind the torso, helps add a very subtle twist to the torso, making for a much more dynamic feel than you'd expect. The colors are all in keeping with each other, but because of the arrangement of clothing, all of the relationships between body parts and outfit are clear and easy to understand without having to puzzle them out. The helmet is all about brutal efficiency. This is a killer, pure and simple. The fact that you can get that without having to spatter blood all over him or surround him with corpses is a real testament to the power of restraint.

Tarkabarka too a very different and creative approach, giving us a lead singer/guitarist from a heavy metal band.

UnknownBlackPaper's tribute to "Xena" and "Hercules" star Kevin Smith, who played Ares on those series, is very cool. I still can't imagine how you get comic book panels out of this app, but I'm glad you do.

Watson Bradshaw also gave us a unique and nifty approach with his Aries rocket:

Finally, Zyp turned in an illustration he titled "The Hammer", which features one of my all-time favorite faces and poses. Just look at that guy! He seems to have stepped right out of "Braveheart", I love it.

You can see why I am having such a tough time with this one!

So now I've gone through and reviewed them all a third or fourth time, and came up with the following Final Finalists: D, Zyp, Sean David Ross, Martian Blue, MLS, and Sutter Kaine. And in the finest tradition of cowardly judges everywhere, I'm going to punt the final call on to you:

You can only vote for one, and you can only vote once. This poll will close at midnight Mountain Time, so if you want to corral your friends you'd best act quickly!

Here's my personal rundown of those six; I look forward to hear your thoughts on who should win and why in the comments.

  • D: I love the concept and the execution. On the downside, the actual mech itself isn't anything terribly new or exciting.
  • Zyp: Love everything about it, but does it really say "Aries"?
  • Sean David Ross: A creative and unusual pose with excellent features that really have the WOW factor. However, some of the small bits bother me, like the bisection of the figure by the horizon line, the tangential touching of the hand and forearm, and how small the sword and its arm are.
  • Martian Blue: Whimsical and cool. My only hesitation is that the headdress looks more like a deer than a ram.
  • MLS: I can't lie, I really can't find anything to critique on this one. It's just that without knowing the backstory of the Zodiac Commandos and that this guy is their mountain-goat-like climber, you might not get why this has anything to do with Aries.
  • Sutter Kaine: A testament to the power of minimalism, but for some it might be TOO simple.

So there you have it! Now VOTE, and sound off in comments about why the one you picked should win.

22 Responses to Character Contest 61 Winners?

  1. Mark says:

    @Zyp – I am going to shamelessly steel that pose sometime soon.

  2. logosgal says:

    Once again, everyone did such a great job! Congrats to all the finalists!

    Personally, I think Watson Bradshaw’s was my favorite. But of the ones in the poll? I’ll have to think about it…

  3. X-stacy says:

    They’re all so good, but I had to give it to Sean David Ross for the “whoa” factor.

  4. Gero says:

    I’m going to have to go with D’s entry, because it looks like what my entry (which in no uncertain terms sucked) would have looked like if I could actually make anything good. Good luck to everyone, none the less…

  5. Trekkie says:

    I went with Sean David Ross’s entry because I thought the pose was just fantastic and dynamic.

    I’m not that surprised my entry wasn’t mentioned here, since a lot of the other entries are just amazing, and plenty out there were better than mine.

  6. Kos says:

    Too late for me… but I’ll show my work ๐Ÿ˜›

    Ares and Venus:

  7. MartianBlue says:

    Thanks for the nudge Jeff, I will say we defenitely need a goat head, the deer one only works so well for that purpose ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Some very great illustrations as usual. My favorite of all is probably Domhellsings hands down.

    Out of the 6 Finalist…
    PROS – The fact it is a blueprint is neat, it’s very well made and appears to be thought out the same.
    CONS – A bit plain, nothing new.

    PROS – Very cool. The characters have an almost animated movie look to them. The faces, shadows, poses, armor design all top notch.
    CONS – It may be me, but I don’t get the tie in to Aries?

    Sean David Ross
    PROS – The background fits around the character well, and the pose upon first glance is amazing.
    CONS – With further inspection of the pose, I do see some faults, but it’s still great, and far better than any pose I have, or could do.
    MIX – I have mixed feelings on the character design, knowing the complexity of the pose it’s great, but design wise in general I think the chest plat throws it somewhat… The rest is epic, especially his lower half.

    MartianBlue – I don’t have much to say on mine, it is what it is.

    PROS – Neat pose, and solid character design. Clever play on words with him being a climber/mountain goat as Jeff put it.
    CONS – The only thing that throws me is his tattoos remind me of water, as if he just got out of a lake, and they tend to visually blend(draw eyes to) with his pants.

    Sutter Kaine
    PROS – A very menacing character, and I have to agree with Jeff on the solid character design.
    CONS – Don’t relly have any

    Vote: Sutter Kaine
    Would have been Zyph, but I just don’t catch the reference.

  8. Tool says:

    sad mine didnt make it but its cool, so jeff, how goes the gun developing?

  9. dblade says:

    All of the finalists were excellent!

    I have to say PapaKrok’s first entry is my favorite. Very disturbing. I voted for Zyp’s piece because it had solid composition and a lot of personality.

  10. Myro says:

    Spectacular spidercow and I need to start doing entry planning, given that this is the second time we’ve come up with similar concepts for a contest. It’s more vexing that his ended up being more like what I had envisioned in my head, and less like the frustrating mess I actually did come up with. So, good job.

    However, since spidercow didn’t make the voting list, I think I went with SDR.

  11. Gargoyle323 says:

    I think that all the finalists are deserving of the win here! This is a tough call…but I am voting for SDR. Even though there are some flaws I really like the pose and overall composition. Congrats to all on some fantastic entries this contest!

  12. pyrodude760 says:

    i love zyps it screams war and its all about aries the god of war

  13. Zyp says:

    Mark(1): Go for it! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a suprisingly effective pose for one so easy to make!

    I use heromachine mainly ‘cos it’s so much fun to use. I do love entering these contests, but most of the time I make the pictures I do just for the fun of making them. ๐Ÿ˜€
    This was the case with “hammer” which was finished like 2hours before I first noticed the contest on the blog frontpage. I didn’t make it for the contest but I was really proud of it and thought it was fitting enough with the “ares – god of war”-concept to qualify as an entry… I’m blabbering, aren’t I ๐Ÿ˜€

    Anyways voted for Sean David Ross for an amazing pose and somehow almost oil-painting-like colouring of the image. Really great work! ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Sutter Kaine’s Aries: Mutate. Not too often does anyone use the cartoonish bulging Body, but it comes across very well. It has the style of “Batman: The Animated Series.” Minimalist with a striking pose.

    @unknownblackpaper: Love how the volcano goes “poof.” I didn’t know that Kevin Smith had died. He was great as Ares. Those were my favorite “Xena” and “Hercules” episodes. :<

  15. PapaKrok says:

    Some serious coolness here, that’s for sure.
    It’s moving well into artist territory with some intense attention to detail and technique. Stretchin HM boundaries fer sure. I dunno. Every one is so freaking groovy….

    Jeff, I feel for you man. It’s gotta feel good to see what your creation is capable of doing, though ๐Ÿ™‚

    One vote for everyone! Salute!

  16. Sutter_Kaine says:

    Holy crap, these are awesome. I’m glad just to get mentioned at all, much less be in the final group. Like Mark(1), I will be shamelessly stealing elements from many of these pictures. And as Jeff pointed out, I’m probably handicapped by my KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I won’t add something unless it looks absolutely essential, so I usually end up with some fairly sparse characters and no background. I had an idea for a battle scene, but after three hours and almost no progress, I had to admit defeat. Among the finalists, I would have to go with Zyp’s based solely on the hammer-guy’s face (unless of course there was a cash prize, in which case I’d have to go with that Sutter Kaine guy). Pretty dang impressive. One of the first ones to blow me away on this contest was Rinjoclans(50). Moody and awesome. In case anyone is interested, here’s a backstory for mine “…and one would arise who had no name but was called War-Bringer for where his shadow fell, hatred was stirred in the hearts of men. War-Bringer bore the sign of the ram which was the symbol of Aries, the Horned God and one of the Ancient Twelve, beneath whose hooves the world once trembled. And though he knew it not, War-Bringer was one of the Openers of the Way, noble and wicked heroes of prophecy whose coming would herald the breaking of the elder runes and the return of the Ancient Twelve. War-Bringer’s passage across the land was marked in flame and sorrow, a backward echo of the dark days to come. And though he despised the fellowship of men, War-Bringer was never alone for wherever he traveled the dead followed with him.”

  17. The Imp says:

    Sutter Kaine or Zyp? Zyp or Sutter Caine? Damn, that’s tough. Sutter’s is more ‘Aries’, but my Zyp-love continues unabated. He’s got my vote.

  18. logosgal says:

    As disturbing as I found it, knowing the story of Aries and having centered my own entry around the fact that the ram was sacrificed for his efforts, to see a humanoid in the role of the ram with the golden fleece, I voted for SeanDavidRoss. Great picture; exciting, dynamic pose; some flaws, yes, but overall extremely well done.

    Zip’s was a very close second, though. As in I’m still not sure I made the right choice…

  19. Watson Bradshaw says:

    Logosgal(2) Thanks for the comment, I was really proud of how it came out:)

    Wow, some amazing stuff this contest, I always feel like the bar gets raised every week.

    PapaKrokโ€™s โ€œSlayerโ€ looks awesome, as does Zyp’s โ€œThe Hammerโ€. Both have amazing characters that you just get from one image who they are and what they do.
    In the end I voted for SDR for a couple of reasons, there is such a strong sense of movement and urgency to pose and it tells a story in one illustration… Plus I couldn’t right myself in ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. SeanDavidRoss says:

    Congratulations, Zyp.

  21. Tarkabarka says:

    First of all congratulate all whose enter of the contest.
    And especially all the finalist, they make a lot of great pictures.

  22. Jeff Hebert says:

    The voting is now closed, and you all have selected Zyp as the winner. Congratulations, Zyp! Give me a shout and let me know what you’d like as your prize.