Character Contest 63 Winners!

Many thanks to everyone who submitted an entry for the Taurus contest. I appreciate both your creativity and your willingness to share it.

I've selected a few illustrations that for various reasons caught my eye. I wanted to start with an update of Mark's GI-Joe ripoff team, the "Zodiac Commandos" with their newest member and the latest group shot since they're sort of the inspiration for the whole Zodiac Contest campaign:

AJW's "Taurabat" was so cute I couldn't resist including him. OK, maybe "cute" isn't exactly the right adjective, but you see what I mean. If you had to choose just one demon-eyed abomination to run you down, this is the one you'd pick, no question.

AMS always comes up with outstanding poses in astounding settings, and this week is no exception. I love the kinetic dynamism of the composition and the way you really get the sense this guy is running around. The space and smoke backgrounds work both as pure design elements and as scene-setters. Really nice job here, sir.

I think we've seen this pose and big-axe general look from Asder before, but it still works well. Very nice use of colors and subtle bull touches to convey the idea of a somewhat unconventional minotaur-esque character.

Atomic Punk's "El Toro" L.A. gang member is pure and simple, and works for exactly that reason. Each element is essential, and just enough are present to nail the concept without cluttering it up. The black bones used as a background design element both frame the illustration nicely and reinforce the concept of a bad-ass street guy. Love the hat, the tats, the gold sunglasses, the earrings, everything.

I wanted to highlight D's "Minotaur Paladin" for the really nice environment he's put together. The walls in particular, thanks to some smart coloring and patterning, work great. I love the way he's managed to put together a very convincing labyrinth.

dblade managed to find time to put together a clean yet impressive submission he titles "I Am the Bull God" despite his active pace putting together custom items for us all to enjoy. I love the use of colors and tones. The whole figure works, making for a scary looking minotaur indeed. The horns in particular look almost as if they were hand-drawn to fit. Hey, wait ...

Imp might have been uninspired, but it didn't show in his entry "Beauty and the Beast" in my opinion. It's a classic but very well-executed concept. I like the use of the Brickish torso for the bull and the overall color scheme a lot.

Kytana's wintery scene is really effective. I feel like this guy's just walking off the "Thor" set. All of the environmental elements work and you definitely get the sense of a story being told.

PapaKrok's simple sand-blurred background perfectly sets off the hirsute, grizzled warrior in this wonderful illustration.

Sean David Ross decided to go black and white for this contest, which I think was a brilliant choice. In fact, I'm considering that for a future contest theme -- whatever you want, but done in black and white. As you can see here, a good design can be extremely effective when rendered that way. This one features another great SDR-designed pose, which I think you can actually get in the UGO Forums, proving once again he's not only talented, but generous. Thanks SDR!

I love Sutter Kaine's cyborg Taurus. It's one of those clean-and-simple designs I've talked about already, where every element has its place in telling the story of the character, all of which come together to make a very convincing illustration. I love the one metallic pectoral melding into the robot arm, the nice masking of the lower leg to allow the hoofed extension, and the combination of sword and gun. I do wish he'd used the finger-out trigger hand instead of the closed one, but that's a pretty minor consideration. Really cool looking dude here, Sutter Kaine!

Speaking of telling a story, Zaheelee's "Captured by the Minotaur" definitely does. I love the expression on her face and the menacing shadow that gives you a real moment in time. The revisions you maded helped a lot, too, Zaheelee, version 2 was much stronger than version 1. I might've liked to have seen some actual chains on the manacles since it's not immediately clear that she's bolted to the wall, and also some eyebrows. But it's a great scene that's very well done, thank you!

Zyp done brought it again with his "El Matadore Toros". I love the coloring on this one, and it features one of the best custom poses I've yet seen. The background is great as well, with the contrasting yellow and pinkish-purple sky and skyline. Along with the head area, the cape is what really sells this one for me. It totally reflects the concept of an updated, super-hero matador. I love that it serves as both a traditional bullfighting cape and as a super-hero accessory. That's a brilliant idea and it's carried off exceptionally well here. Just a great design and illustration all the way around.

There you have them, folks, the best of the best for the Taurus contest. I had a hard time settling on one winner from the set, but ultimately I felt I had to go with the one that made me say "wow" when I first opened it. And that one is ... Zyp's "El Matadore Toros!" Zyp's been on fire since coming back, and I think this is one of his strongest yet. That cape element along with the great pose are just outstanding.

Congratulations, Zyp on the win, and to all our Finalists for putting together such wonderful illustrations!

44 Responses to Character Contest 63 Winners!

  1. Kytana says:

    Gratulation the winner. I think he makes a good effective picture.

  2. Zaheelee says:

    Good job Zyp!!!!! That is a really cool image, I love the pose and the cape too!

    Also, in response to the comment I got on my entry (I still can’t believe that I finally got a submission into the finals!): this is the first time I’ve used anything other than the stock faces in the heads category, so I completely forgot that people actually have eyebrows 🙂

    Once again, congrats to all finalists!

  3. logosgal says:

    Congrats, Zyp! That is indeed an amazing picture all around!

    Great job everyone else, too!

  4. Watson Bradshaw says:

    great job Zyp, some really strong and amazing pieces this week. I love seeing people really pushing the envelope of what the program can do in terms of shading, highlights, and the poses that you are able to pull off. Fantastic work to all the finalists.

  5. PapaKrok says:


    ¡Enhorabuena! Excelente trabajo!

  6. Trekkie says:

    Wow Zyp. That’s awesome. That shading and pose is fantastic! Congratulations!

  7. Cliff says:

    OK Zyp, pure sexiness!
    I LOVE the face and wonder how you did it! VERY handsome! And the pose is wonderful! And love the gold and black tights … although the vest and sleeves and bracers all add to it. The cape and skyline all really work. Oh! and I DID catch the can and bottle at his feet! 😀
    Kytana loved the entire pick, but especially want to know how you did the face 1/4 profile.
    Imp a really lovely Beauty and the Best-esqu entry. I love the entire feel of this.
    AMS really love the pose and background.
    It’s great to be back. I really hoped my labyrinth came across, and I had hoped Maverick would have made the Honorable Mentions, but there was a lot of Bullish goodness to go up against. Great job everyone

  8. SeanDavidRoss says:

    Congratulations, Zyp.

  9. Kytana says:

    @7 Cliff: I make it with a many many insignias. I can try to explain it in a tutorial when you wish. With bad english or a simply image tutorial.

  10. dblade says:

    Congrats, Zyp!

  11. ams says:

    Zyp-pidy do da, Zyp-pidy day, my oh my, he wins again! Congrats on your kick-ass pic and where do I sign up for your class on Heromachine 101 because we have been “schooled”. Awesome stuff. Thanks Jeff for the nod in the finalists!

  12. Me, Myself & I says:

    Excellent job Zyp; certainly one to be proud of!

    Unfortunately, what time I had for creative persuits went into the custom items I drew so I never made an entry here this week. I kind of missed it.

  13. Cliff says:

    @9 Kytana, a tutorial would be awesome, whatever you prefer just image or with words.

  14. Gargoyle323 says:

    Congrats Zyp! This is one of your best! Loved the coloring, pose and overall look. Fantastic job! Congrats to all other finalists,great work by all!

  15. Tool says:

    Im sorry but i feel kinda confused, based off the subject matter for this contest i thought i had it dead on. There are some pictures on here that dont screan taurus to me at all. If you said just make a cool picture then it would of been fine. Really like the picture PapaKrok

  16. Jeff Hebert says:

    Tool, I know it’s frustrating dealing with a subjective matter like this. Ultimately it’s just the opinion of one guy — me — deciding what is a “Winner” and what isn’t. But just because an entry doesn’t get picked, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. There may have just been a lot of great ones that week, or maybe it just didn’t appeal to me personally.

    Any time you’re entering a judged contest, I think it’s vital to keep in mind that the most important things are that 1) you make something you’re proud of no matter what anyone else thinks and 2) that you have fun doing it. That way you’re a winner no matter what the subjective judge thinks.

    I will say, one of the main things that I thought didn’t work in your submission (which was nice overall) was that you went way too light on the alpha value of the waves (at least, I’m assuming those were waves). They didn’t come across like water, but almost like transparent mountains. It made it very hard to sort of visually decipher what the intent of the illustration is.

    If you’re going to go with the “storytelling” sort of image, you have to tell that story unambiguously. Just like if you go with a pure character design, you have to nail the concept of the character.

    Just my perspective. Again, I think it’s a mistake to go into these thinking “I’m going to win”; it’s much healthier and more satisfying to go into it thinking “I did my best and I like it, let the chips fall where they may.”

  17. Sutter_Kaine says:

    Zyp – Amazing how a simple pose can tell a story. “El Matadore Toros” is great on every level. My only question would be about the boulder sitting on top of a building. Maybe this is set in Boulder, Colorado. Doesn’t matter. Congratulations, great picture.

    Jeff- Thanks for the compliment. I don’t know why I never think to use the “trigger-finger” hand.

  18. Vampyrist says:

    Great job Zyp, great character. Speaking of that trigger finger, the left hand trigger finger has a problem with masking. When masked, a transparent line appears on the item being masked and a colored line on the hand itself. I created a picture here.

    It’s a small thing I know, but it bugs me whenever I’m trying to use that hand.

  19. Zaheelee says:

    Kind of random, but I FIXED IT!!!! My character now has eyebrows!

  20. Me, Myself & I says:

    Zaheelee (19), the eye brows make a tremendous difference. I liked it before but I think it is so much better now. It is amazing how much difference such a small detail can make.

  21. Zyp says:

    Wow… I won! 😀 Thank you so much everyone!
    It kinda amazed myself how well that pose worked. 😀 I was going for something completely different and just thought “hey I bet this could look cool just as a simple leaning pose!”. And it was really quite simple to do!
    I was thinking about signing up to the heromachine forums and putting the pose to the custom item archive (which I’ve somehow managed to miss until today…) along with some faces I’ve done.
    I’ve never really made any tutorials, but I guess I could try to make a general face-making tutorial…

  22. Tool says:

    Jeff thanks for the critique. I was happy with the picture and of course want to win as much as the next guy but I understand I cant win them all you know. I do think that some of the other works here were pretty cool. I will continue to have fun creating and it would be cool to win a contest again but wont lose the wind in my sails if I dont. Besides it is still fun to compete against and view other great works from great artist such as these guys, until next time.

  23. Zyp says:

    Sutter_Kaine (17), I really couldn’t figure out anything he could be leaning to on a rooftop! I tried a cat and stuff but nothing seemed to work… Maybe he brought the rock with him just to pose on a rooftop?

  24. Cliff says:

    how does one get to the Hero Machine Forums?

  25. Jeff Hebert says:

    Cliff (24): There’s a link at the top of the right column, but directly it’s

    If you sign up for an account and then get stuck, let me know ( what email address and account name you used.

  26. Guest888 says:

    how do they do that glow effect like on the 3rd and 4th picture

  27. ajw says:

    thanks for the mention jeff and congrats zyp

  28. Zaheelee says:

    @MMI(20): Thanks! I thought so too 🙂 I also tried to put chains on the cuffs, but they got cut off when I exported it… Oh well.

  29. Joel says:

    great job everyone

  30. The Imp says:

    It’s about time Zyp won one of these things! Nice job dude, especially on the face; the subtle shading really makes it look great.

    Although I do wonder what a big-ass rock is doing on top of a building… 😀

  31. logosgal says:

    Sutter_Kaine (17): I was thinking the bolder was debris from his fight with El Toro or something.

    Jeff (25): Speaking of which, I signed up for the forums over a month ago and never got a confirmation email. I tried emailing the UGO troubleshooting people but I haven’t heard from them, either. Is there something that can be done about that? I used “logosgal” and my gmail account under the same username.

  32. Rhinoman says:

    Awesome Zyp!

  33. spidercow2010 says:

    To be read in your best Castilian accent: “Now. Does anyone else want to try to steal the Grape Ne-Hi of El Matadore Toros!?”

    Great work, everybody, and major grats to Zyp.

  34. Whit says:

    Zyp–Other folks are going on about the pose, but me, I’m in awe of that face! How the flip did you pull that shading off, esp with the nose?

  35. Jeff Hebert says:

    logosgal, I found your pending UGO Forums account and updated it to “Registered”. You should now be able to do everything everyone else does there. My apologies for the delay — probably the email confirmation automatically sent out got shunted into Spam by GMail.

  36. logosgal says:

    Sweet! Thanks, Jeff! 🙂

  37. Kytana says:

    Here i have a tutorial for a 1/4 face or profile.

    Hope you like it.

  38. Kytana says:

    And sorry for bad translate but i worked on it.

  39. @Zyp: Congratulations. Both El Matadore and El Toro are comic book quality. If I have time this week, I’m going to write a story around them. One that will explain how that rock ended up on a roof!

    @Cliff: Welcome back!

    @Kytana: Nice profile tutorial, danke. (Und tut mir leid. Ich dachte du warst Deutscher nicht Österreicher.)

    @All: Good stuff as always. Lots of variety in the interpretations.

    @Jeff: Irony is, I started by trying to create a Taurean gangster à la “Caprica.” Got frustrated because the tattoos weren’t working out, especially the face. So I stripped El Toro down to jeans and tennis shoes. Glad you like it!

  40. Zyp says:

    The Atomic Punk: That sounds great! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with if you have the time! Especially with that rock! 😀

  41. Myro says:

    Zyp, just had a thought cross my mind. Are you going to end up drawing your own prize again, or did you have something else in mind?

  42. D says:

    Congrats, Zyp.

    @ Jeff: I’ve had an idea for the next contest. How about an illustration of a scene from a favourite novel, short story, etc?

  43. VonMalcolm says:

    I’ll go with the Cyborg Taurus on this one.

  44. GtaMythMaster43 says:

    I myself am a Taurus, so you must understand that I feel stupid for not joining this contest, damn you new PS3, Move, and Gta IV!!!!