Character Contest 62: Fantasy Warrior

Normally we'd be having a caption contest this week, but I need to add the HeroMachine 2 list of "sample characters" into the HeroMachine 3 Templates, and I want you all to be the ones to design those instead of me. Here's how the list looks in HM2:

So this week, your challenge is to tackle the first of those categories, the Fantasy Warrior. Here's how the male version looked:

I'll be picking two winners from the submissions, one male and one female. The winners will need to send me the text string for their characters so I can include them in the HM3 Templates, whereupon they'll be available for everyone to load up "live", as it were. So if you're not comfortable having your creation permanently featured in that way, then you should avoid submitting anything this week.

Note that you still own the character concept and copyright, I just have the right to show it within the confines of the HeroMachine.

You don't have to (or even want to, necessarily) recreate this exact look. Your goal is to come up with the coolest, best-looking template that people can use as a starting point for making their own "Fantasy Warrior", something that a beginner could load up and learn from. To that end you're probably going to have to keep these a lot simpler than you're used to, because a new person trying to figure out why and how you've used a head to substitute for a leg isn't going to cut it.

I'll ask that you use only the first, "Standard" male or female body in the default pose. Try to avoid using the "multiples" setting if at all possible (clearly, with things like ears you're not going to be able to do so).

Good luck! You don't have to post your text strings yet, I'll only ask the winners for that.

The rest is the same as usual -- no limit on entries, link directly to your image, contest ends next Monday, etc. etc.

154 Responses to Character Contest 62: Fantasy Warrior

  1. Gero says:

    So it would be better to do this one in a “standard” arms to the sides type pose then, right?

  2. Dionne Jinn says:

    Left side seems rather orphaned in any category. Especially if you try to do a woman warrior.

  3. Mr.Chris says:

    Especially in tops (fantasy common and fantasy armor) and shoulders etc, I’m going to have to use multiples, hope thats ok.

  4. Hammerknight says:

    So post Character here, save the text for it and if it wins send you the text for it, Right?

  5. Tool says:

    i wanted to enter but when i went to HM2 it just gives me a white screen and wont load.

  6. Myro says:

    *yawn* I dunno. I’ve got a big week ahead of me, it seems simplistic, insomnia’s messing with my ability to get sleep. I may actually take this contest off to try to take care of me.

    $20 says I crack by tonight and start banging away at HeroMachine to come up with at least one entry.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    Yes, there are obviously some things you’re going to have to Multiply, just try to keep it as clean and simple as you can.

    And yes, arms-at-the-side poses.

  8. Jeff Hebert says:

    Hammerknight: That’s right.

    Tool: You don’t need to go to HM2 … you’re designing a Fantasy Warrior (male, female, or both) in HM3 …

  9. Gero says:

    Alright, here goes:

    And a headshot, though it’s probably not needed:

    I tried to make it similar to the HM2 version, but also showcase the upgrades/differences in HM3. It’s got a few masks, and a lot of resizing, but hopefully nothing that’s too complicated for a novice to see how it was done…

  10. Hammerknight says:

    First up. Male Fantasy Warrior 1. Simple all around including color scheme.

  11. zaheelee says:

    I decided to give her the fantastically original name of Fantasy Template Red Lady. Isn’t it awesome?

  12. zaheelee says:

    Oops, I frogot to write INSERT SARCASM

  13. zarae says:

    so we have to do in HM3 one of the above pictures, or make a picture that fits from a catogory above?

    if the latter:

    female modern person:

    male wizard:

  14. Jeff Hebert says:

    This is ONLY for the Fantasy Warrior, not the others, Zarae. The others will come later.

  15. Dionne Jinn says:

    My (first) entry is a mighty warrior and his mighty… ummm…. squirrel…

    And yes, it is a stupid facebook entry again, sorry about that. I know there are people who can’t see it.

  16. Iflyte says:

    Okay, I’ve tried showing off some of the most basic HM3 features here: masking, moving objects, size changes, etc…while still keeping it simple.

    Male Warrior

    Female Warrior

  17. Kaldath says:

    Jeff do you want these background free ?

  18. Mr.MikeK says:

    Well, here goes. My first ever entry. I figured that since it’s supposed to be fairly simple, I might actually fit with some of the greats that post here.

    He’s based on an old D&D character I used to play way back in the day, Erclon the Red Knight.

  19. UesugiWarrior says:

    My entry for this competition, a basic and simple warrior that anyone could make.

  20. UesugiWarrior says:

    Additional Note: No 22 is a male template. It doesn’t say in the link due to limited spacing on the title where I hosted.

  21. Asder says:

    i have a little doubt, we can go crazy or we have to keep it simple and easy Β΄cause is a template model?

  22. MartianBlue says:

    2 versions of the same guy
    v1 Helmet on Head
    v2 Helmet on Sword

    I tried to make it as simple as possible, without losing anything in the design, while representing…
    Item Movement, Sizing, and Masking

    Duplicate layers used
    Background(Wall/Grass) | Belt(Layer 1/2) | Foot Left & Right (Foot/Shin) | Head(Head/Scar) | Insignia(Pendant Back/Top-Skull Mask) | Item Right(Sword/Blade) | Legwear(Skirt/Over) | Shoulder Right(Cape Left/Right)
    Facial hair(Beard/Beard Stubble/Mustache Stubble)

    I think that’s everything

  23. Tuldabar says:

    First try at it, male: I went for a simpler type of character than I usually do, and here I designed him as your typical “Knight Paladin. Hope you like him.

  24. Hairwhip says:

    Here’s mine. Just a reboot of the original.

  25. logosgal says:

    For my first two entries, I decided to go with some extra constraints. I used every item slot I could (no Patterns for either and no FacialHair, HandLeft, or FootLeft for the female), and only one of each, unless it already had multiples in the template (which I used as a starting point). I also didn’t do anything in the Transform tab, except Masking items to the hands and changing the layering when necessary. I also moved things when necessary (Female’s gloves and the items she’s holding), but only by clicking and dragging.



  26. zarae says:

    haha….i see that now. man i need more sleep.

    ok, you can delete those then

  27. Tuldabar says:

    Here’s my female entry: I tried not to go the metal bikini route and made her look like she could actually fight. I inverted the color scheme to make gold dominant, and I finally found a working believable hairstyle (which for me is rare).

  28. Me, Myself & I says:

    Geez its difficult to restrict the duplicates, etc. Well certainly a lot simpler than most of my images.

  29. Blazing Tornado says:

    Went with an odd combination of roman, barbarian and medieval, but I’m happy with the result:

  30. Lime says:

    I did use two items apiece in the Background and Tops categories, but otherwise I used multiples only with things such as shoes, shoulder pads, eyebrows, etc.

    When it is prophesied that no man can defeat me, I will keep in mind the increasing number of non-traditional gender roles. –The Evil Overlord List

  31. SeanDavidRoss says:

    I’ve updated my entry (the older version was missing a companion and an insignia):

  32. D says:

    She is one of five quintuplets, each named after a precious stone – the other girls are Ruby, Jade, Pearl and Opal – (their father was a goldsmith!) and who wear clothes the colour of their namesake, so it’s easier to tell them apart. Beryl prefers to use bladed weapons, and is so proficient that she has earnt the highest rank in her chosen weapon class, the Sword Dancer.

  33. Myro says:

    I’m taking a wide view of what “fantasy warrior” could be, and covering as much of the spectrum as possible. Also, in order to keep the multiples down, I’m going backgroundless (’tis hard to construct a background with only one, and even with only 2 elements).

    Gladiator – Male

    Templar – Male

    Elven Lancer – Female

    So, yes, I’ve completely cracked, and there’s no telling how many more warrior classes I can come up with.

  34. Scorpidius says:

    I wish I wasn’t so busy at the moment, I miss playing around these parts!!!

    This is one thread I had to stop everything though and take part in!

    So I thought I would pop a few of my characters down.



  35. paul says:

    Here is mine from a Conan game I am playing in

  36. Pesky says:

    Female fantasy warrior

    Duplication of boots, eyes, eyebrows and ears (not visible). Some items have been modified in size. The dark inside of the hood may be the most difficult aspect to figure out for new users. In this case it is accomplished by using a symbol in the background layer. Except for putting the sword in the hand, no masking was used.

    Male fantasy warrior

    Duplication of eyes, eyebrows, ears and shoulder cape. Some items have been modified in size. Except for putting the axe in the hand, no masking was used. No inherent difficulties to de design.

  37. Tarkabarka says:

    My Entries.

    Yeah i know need a simply human warrior – BUT I HATE TANKS πŸ˜€
    I more prefer ELFs


    Male Elf Warrior – FULL

    Male Elf Warrior – HEAD


    Female Elf Warrior – FULL

    Female Elf Warrior – HEAD

  38. Pesky says:

    Second entry

    Dragon princess and her pet dragon

    Duplication of boots, eyes, eyebrows, hands and backplane. Some items have been modified in size. Except for putting the hammer in the hand, no masking was used.

    Barbarian warrior

    Duplication of eyes, eyebrows, hands and items. Some items have been modified in size. Except for putting the hammer in the hand, no masking was used.

  39. MartianBlue says:

    Even though I prefer my first entrant(Warlord) head over shoulders

    (Lion Tamer)

    I’m pretty sure the only duplicate layer on this one, except eyes, eyebrows, and ears is the extra sword handle.

    Masking: Sword > left hand || Handle > right hand || Top > background || Insignia > body

    The lion’s green eyes, is green hair

  40. michael says:

    all of my heromachine charectors are on my other computer and it has a virus. what do i do?

  41. Jeff Hebert says:

    Just output them as text and send them in emails to yourself via cut and paste (assuming you have some sort of online email storage like GMail or whatnot). Otherwise you can save them in a big plain text file, which presumably will get scanned along with your other files during a virus scan. That way if the .sol file that has your saves in it is damaged, then you can manually reload them from text.

  42. Dionne Jinn says:

    My second entry is a female archer.

    (And FB entry again, sorry. Can’t wait ’till ShoutWiki gets its problems sorted…)

  43. Kountkill says:

    Jeff, not trying to nitpick, but every contest is someone’s first contest and if you shorten the entry requirements to “etc, etc…: some of the newbs may get a little confused, but I’m sure you don’t want to be cutting and pasting the requirements every time. So, might I suggest posting the entry requirements somewhere on the website, and then just posting the link each new contest?
    Whatcha think?

  44. pyrodude760 says:

    hey #49 FelipeSCard i like your templar you should cheack mine out very similar #18

  45. SpellCheckingQuill says:

    Female fantasy warrior with background:

    Without background:

    The background is two layers and patterned, which might be a bit much for a sample, so I made a copy without it. Other than that, I limited the “special effects” to resizing, one or two rotations, and a few flipped duplicates since there is no left female hand or foot.

  46. Ian says:

    Female Warrior:

    I went with a Greek-Warrioress look. The only funky part of the design is the feet: the shin armor is both malestandard left while her feet and sandals are femalestandard right.

    Male Warrior:

    Standard Build and very simplistic.

  47. joel says:

    entry #2

    a mysterious warrior known only as the Saint; named for his unique weapon and the strange way he seems to kill without wounding.

  48. Pesky says:

    Third entry

    Duplication of boots, eyes, eyebrows, ears and hands. Some items have been modified in size. Except for putting the sword in the hand, no masking was used.

    Duplication of eyes, eyebrows and ears. Some items have been modified in size. Except for putting the hammer in the hand, no masking was used.

  49. dblade says:

    Here’s my entries. A male and female warrior with the same look. I tried to keep them really simple as templates and avoided too many advanced techniques.

    Male Fantasy Warrior

    Female Fantasy Warrior

    Both together for comparison

  50. Jester says:

    Here’s my entry.

    I tried to go very simple on this one; perhaps too simple? Didn’t really use any bells and whistles, though I tried to get in as many categories as possible. No masking (one pattern), no flipping, multiples only on the eyes, only resized the background, and minimal repositioning. He’s a fairly generic armor-wearing fantasy warrior – basic enough for a newcomer to edit and make their own. He might not be the most original entry, but I think he has a solid design.

  51. Arioch says:

    Jester: It may be simple, but I like it (because of that. I tend to love simple designs, along other things), good mating of items there.

  52. Jack Zelger says:

    Here’s my famale warrior. This should be simple enough. Aside from the multiples needed for some of the female items, I used two separate legwear layers (spandex and dresses) and fantasy armors (the armor and shirt underneath), and two backgrounds.

    I have to add that the newer Roman-style armor item is so great and detailed it looks good no matter how you use it!

  53. Coolness is for Cool kids says:

    Red Fist!

    Red Fist Archer

    Red Fist Swordsmen

    2 of my best fanatsy warriors and both only use multiples for eyes and ears and maybe tops.

  54. UesugiWarrior says:

    This next entry is a female warrior, and again the titled piece doesn’t say as such due to character restraints.

    and that’s my two submissions. Here’s hoping I do better than usual.

  55. pyrodude760 says:

    #49 FelipeSCard #42 myros #18 pyrodude760

    templars of the world unite lol

  56. Brons says:

    Here is my unoriginally named, “Fantasy Warrior – Female”. I hope I didn’t tread to heavily on the prohibition against multiples. I always try to keep my characters looking clean and simple, but I often achieve that with a bunch of detailing work. I tried to keep that to a minimum this time.

    I didn’t go for any particular era, just a generic “fantasy” using a red and bronze color scheme, and wielding a somewhat Celtic labrys, as it seemed an appropriate weapon. There’s a bit of stretching and rotating and the like, but it’s the sort of thing I’d have felt pretty good about as a newbie.

  57. The Imp says:

    Wow. It’s actually pretty difficult to stop myself from adding all kinds of other stuff instead of keeping it simple. Here’s mine:

  58. Dionne Jinn says:

    Umm… Jeff, you need to disqualify my first male warrior entry (#16) CCleaner destroyed my .sol files and I botched the text string saving, so the files for that can not be recovered. Maybe people should be warned that CCleaner DOES remove .sol files, so best to be careful with it.

  59. Myro says:

    3 more:

    Berzerker – Female:

    Pharaoh Guard – Male:

    Also, decided to strip down some of the flourishes from VII, my Roman poisoner/assassin from the Scorpio contest. Actually, this would make her 3rd appearance on HeroMachine

  60. Rozenstal says:

    Fantasy warrior…
    …and his fun friends! ^_^

  61. xXBladeXIIXx says:

    Trying to keep it as simple as possible here are two variations of a male warrior. Enjoy!

  62. unknownblackpaper says:

    For my “Fantasy Warrior” I went with a female archer. Also, she’s an Elf!@

    Elf Archer

  63. Jordan_Xord says:

    OK. Here is my character; The Golden Knight

    King Arthur Pendragon, legendary ruler of Camelot, received a gift form the powerful wizard Merlin; a Golden Armor, endowed with incredible powers. When the king died, the armor was magically transported to another dimension. In modern times, Arthur Kingsley, an historian and archaeologist, found an old scroll detailing the history of Arthur and the Golden Armor. After reading and transcribing the writing, the Golden Armor returned and claimed Kingsley as his new owner. Kingsley is now the Golden Knight.

  64. Me, Myself & I says:

    Primitive Warrior

    Primitive Warrior Close Up

    Three guesses to how I made his teeth. I left a clue elsewhere on a different thread.

  65. Whit says:

    Making a template certainly offers its challenges. You want to provide enough elements for a new person to play around with without having to hunt them down, yet you also don’t want to overwhelm them with too much (of course, “too much” is the death of any design). Symmetry can be a challenge. For example, we’re making “fantasy” warriors, but the only left shoulder pads are “tech”. So if you want symmetrical shoulder pads, you use “tech” pads to get a “fantasy” look. You want it to look fancy, but you can’t really pull out on your fancy tricks to do so. And still, you have to make it look cool enough for someone to want to play with in the first place.

    You know how you had that one class where the teacher basically told you that poetry is just whatever you feel like slapping on a page? Yeah, that’s the class where all the poetry sucks. Constraint brings out the best in us, pushes us.

    Okay, enough of that little commentary. πŸ™‚ Here’s my pic:

  66. SeanDavidRoss says:

    Another Male Fantasy Warrior, based on the Female version I posted earlier in the week:

  67. Zarae says:

    ((forgot to rename the above. but its just male warrior. not dwarf))

  68. Arioch says:

    MMI: Stonehenge!!! lol πŸ˜€

  69. Tool says:


  70. Tarkabarka says:

    My third entry.

    Dark Knight – Two type with helmet and without.

    With Helmet – Full

    With Helmet – Face

    Without Helmet and Stuffs – Full

    Without Helmet and Stuffs – Face

  71. Lord Sauron says:

    this is mine…and it’s actualy my first contest:

  72. Mashlagoo says:

    Dragon Brood – The offspring of a dragon in humanoid form and another human (typically), the Dragon Brood shows characterists of both lineages.

    Fallen Paladin – Not so evil as other paladins who have fallen from their god’s favor.

    Orc – The best I could do for a standard orc using as little multiples as possible.

    Holy Knight – The sacred avenger and defender of the church.

    Peasant Legend – What peasant mothers and fathers describe to their children to make the behave. Said to be a beautiful woman who accepted to have her beauty enhanced further through “new” magic experiments.

    All of these have as few multiples as possible. However, the women have more multiples as not all female parts are both left and right.

  73. Me, Myself & I says:

    Just a generic Greek Warrior.

    Greek Warrior

  74. The tricky part was trying not to be fancy. Looks like just about every warrior archtype has been presented.

    Female Barbarian:

    Goblin General:

    Mars Gravidus (finished too late for the Aries contest):

    Renart the Fox:

  75. pyrodude760 says:

    me myself and i

    i love your greek warrior

  76. Me, Myself & I says:

    Thank you pyrodude760 (119), much appreciated; I wasn’t to sure about it myself. Me & I kind of liked it though . . . πŸ™‚

    I like your rebel (117). In particular, the mongoloid hat works surprisingly well with the skull mask. I might have to borrow that. The clothes over top of the chain shirt are a really great combo.

  77. SeanDavidRoss says:

    An updated version of my previous entry:

    Moved the figure’s head up about 5 pixels. The previous version looked like he didn’t have a neck, despite his head actually being positioned atop the neck of the standard male body image.

  78. Me, Myself & I says:

    I was experimenting with different colors and thought these alternates would be a good way of demonstrating a drastic different feel simply by changing one color to another.

    Dragon Knight w/ Gold

    Dragon Knight w/ Silver

  79. Dionne Jinn says:

    Another male warrior entry from me:

    Note that he is actually left handed, which would give him an advantage in single combat, as most of his enemies would be right handed.

  80. Sutter_Kaine says:

    DARK ELF PRIESTESS OF THE PIT – The Priestess of the Pit is charged with overseeing the worship of the Blighted One, the demon-god responsible for the sundering of the elven race. Her title is a reference to the Abyssal prison where the Blighted One was chained by the Elder Gods.

    DARK ELF RAVER – Ravers enhance their already impressive combat skills with the use of a frenzy-inducing narcotic that makes them fearless and imumune to pain.

    HILL FOLK MARAUDER – The Hill Folk are among the older cultures driven from the homeland by the continuing expansion of the allied kingdoms of the Holy Alliance. Now they dwell in the bandlands on the fringes of civilization, occasionally crossing into Alliance territory to raid and pillage frontier settlements in the name of both survival and revenge.

    KHETHITE WARRIOR – The Khethite Empire is an Egyptian-style dynasty that dominates much of the equatorial continent of Kysis. It has been ruled for thousands of years by the undying pharaoh Ankheth, who is said to be the chosen of Atros, the god of undeath, and the oldest (and perhaps first) vampire in existence.

    KU SHANG PIRATE – A society of master horsemen who used their skills to raid and occasionally conquer neighboring cultures, the Ku Shang became a pirate nation after the lich-king Nazgoth destroyed their homeland in retaliation for the treachery of his supposed ally, the Ku Shang warlord Khulus Khan. Now they sail the seas in a massive flotilla, rarely setting foot on dry land.

    MASKED DUELIST – The Masked Duelist is a frequent and popular competitor on the underground dueling circuit. According to rumor, she is a pampered princess who created the secret identity of the Masked Duelist in search of excitement.

    ROBYN HOOD – Just a female version of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood.

    SCYLDING WARRIOR – The Scyldings are a Viking-style culture of warriors and sea-raiders. Legends claim they descended from a separate race of humans than those of the Holy Alliance and that their origins can be traced all the way back to the legendary, long-vanished Golden Empire.

    SCYLDING BERSERKER – Among the Scyldings, there is a select group of elite warriors that have the ability to cast aside their humanity in battle and become as wild beasts. Fearless and immune to pain, they disdain armor and shields, preferring to fight with a weapon in each hand.

    SHU QUON NINJA – The Shu Quon (Ghost Tiger) ninjas are a clan of assassins native to the island-nation of Aztir. In addition to their considerable skills, legends claim they possess various supernatural abilities.

    TIRANESE SAMURAI – The samurai are the elite warrior-class of the mysterious and exotic island-nation of Aztir. They are as much enforcers as they are protectors, defending the rule of the immortal shoguns of the twelve clans.

    TWILIGHT ELF – The oldest of the elven species, the Twilight Elves are a powerful but dying race. Opposing the forces of the Blighted One for millenia has taken its toll as the weight of ages pushes them ever closer toward decadence and self-destruction. Twilight Elves care nothing for good or evil, only the preservation of their race.

    TWILIGHT ELF DRAGON LORD – In ancient times, Twilight Elves were led into battle by their most venerable warriors mounted on enormous, fire-breathing dragons. Legends claim that when the War Foretold begins, the Dragon Lords will return to lead their people one final time in the battle that will decide the fate of the elven race.

  81. Galahad says:

    I just had to go with my namesake on this one. I couldn’t resist.

    Sir Galahad:

  82. Galahad says:

    Jeff, these 2 aren’t really entries for the contest, but with it being Easter I had to post them. These are a couple of pictures I made for my kids:

    Easter Bunnies

  83. Me, Myself & I says:

    Surprisingly I haven’t seen much for heraldry on shields for peoples submissions so I figured we should see some.

    Crown Prince

  84. The Imp says:

    A female warrior, sort of a conquistador-gone-native type thing:

  85. Kytana says:

    Female Warrior Elf:
    Male Warrior Elf(with beard):
    I have tried to reduced the items. Only Insignia and legs are more. Also i have use patterns for a little effect
    and Text and a Helm of the side that not hide the face/head of the character.

  86. Me, Myself & I says:

    Maiden of the Wood

    I thought we could use a few more female entries.

  87. Sutter_Kaine says:

    DARK ELF SLAYER – Unaffiliated with any guild, house, or cult, dark
    elf slayers are swords for hire.

  88. Yurasagi says:

    Greetings! Longtime Lurker, 1st time Poster! I’ve Been
    geeking out on the Amazingness that is HM3 for ages, but never
    thought I had anything worth saying. I’ve been tinkering with HM
    Since 2.5, but really Dove into the New Changes with Zeal. Many
    thanks to Master Jeff for the wondrous boon he has given the
    Community. I am So impressed by some of the Designs I have seen, If
    I tried to Name all of you Artists that have inspired, amazed, and
    informed me, This post would be Miles Long. I finally found a
    contest I thought I could actually participate in, so I thought I’d
    give it a try. Anyway, I have a Few Entries, I hope they are Not
    too late… 1st up is an elven Lady Warrior with a Sylvan Theme.
    Next I have a Wilderness Hunter Style Male Warrior, that Wolf Helm
    really is very Sweet.
    And Last for now is a 12th Century Spanish Knight, I Did My Best to
    Get the Heraldry as Close to Authentic & Accurate as
    Possible to the actual Rodriguez Family Coat of Arms. (Can You tell
    this was supposed to be a PC for an RPG?)
    Okay, Thanks, I hope Someone Enjoys at least one of these!

  89. Knitesoul says:

    Hello. Been a while since I did one of these.

    Well, I did very basic with this, but I tried to show some of the great things that the HM can produce.

    The Golden Knight:

  90. chilifish says:

    Female Elven Fighter Designed for DnD, but never got to
    play her. =(

  91. chilifish says:

    Female Elven Fighter Designed for DnD, but never got to
    play her. =(

  92. Me, Myself & I says:

    Yurasagi (142) Welcome aboard.

  93. Yurasagi says:

    MMI (148) Many Humble thanks! I am a big Fan of your Work on Here! Nice Pirate, I bet She’d Get along Famously with My assassin. πŸ˜‰

  94. skybandit says:

    Generic Elven Female


  95. skybandit says:

    Ignore previous post. Thought you wanted HM2 pix.

  96. Sutter_Kaine says:

    Last minute entry….

    BLIGHTED REAVER – Those who dwell too close to the unholy wasteland known as The Blight risk becoming twisted in body and mind.

  97. Jeff Hebert says:

    OK folks, entries are all now downloaded and I’ll start going through them.

    This contest is now closed, many thanks for everyone who entered.

    And welcome to our first-time posters!