Open Critique Day #23

We've got a friend in from Texas today who's thinking of moving up this direction, so while Open Critique Day is still a "go", I'm going to be quite late posting my replies. As in, you might not hear from me until the afternoon. But, I promise I'll get to them before the day is over, so by all means, post away! Also, I am sure some of the "regulars" like Panner will be here making their usual insightful commentary on your creations to hold the fort as I play tour guide.

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.

101 Responses to Open Critique Day #23

  1. Panner says:

    Rozenstal (1): Wow, very nice colors you have going on here! Simple colors on the clothes and background, it makes the cybernetics really stand out. I like that you gave the character and the pet the same eye, that creates a neat connection. And I must say, that pet is great! Very nice use of weapons as body parts.

    Two things bug me a little. First, I think the background is too small. The character looks like a giant, and the pillar next to him doesn’t make things better, since it shows just how high that ceiling is. If you just make the background a little bigger this should be fine.

    Second, his cybernetic arm doesn’t work. It’s well made, but without color depth and with this perspective it just looks like a big lump of robot parts. I suggest you try and change the angle a bit, or add some shading to give depth.

  2. Tarkabarka says:

    I post this in forum, facebook and deviant art, but i especially love this picture.

  3. Panner says:

    Tarkabarka (3): Yeah, I can see why you like it, it’s a great picture! You’ve done a great job with all the gradients, all the little details… I especially like the gradients on the pentagram, that’s a great idea. Also, your use of the wings to frame the character works perfectly.

    It’s not easy to find something to critique about this picture, but I do wonder about one thing. I can’t help but think the picture might be even better without the yellow light under her. It doesn’t really match the lighting on the character and it looks a bit unnatural. If it was me, I’d place a distinct shadow there instead.

    All in all, a very thought-provoking piece, with a character that could likely support an entire story.


    Malfar (4): Very neat, very powerful portrayal. I like how you’ve chosen the hair and necklace together with a gradient to make his face extremely radiant. Nice choice of colors on the background, they support the character and don’t steal focus.

    I also very much applaud that you’ve masked an aura to his robe. I like to do this whenever the pose allows it, since there are some great opportunities there.

    One thing that jumped out at me was the orange pieces. The contrast is so sharp that those pieces really stand out, and they draw a lot of attention to themselves. My go-to technique for “dulling the edges” is to use non-black line color, in this case I’d go with a darker orange or brown. It’s an easy change, so try it out and see if the magic happens.

    And while you’re at it, would you mind rotating that spell effect just a tiny bit? Its lower end is pointing right at the edge of the wave, and that screws with perspective a bit. Make it overlap or just avoid it altogether, one or two degrees rotation to either side should suffice!

  4. Panner says:

    Tarkabarka (3): I just looked at your picture again, and I noticed the gradient of the middle candle is layered beneath her legs. Shouldn’t be hard to fix!

  5. Tarkabarka says:

    Panner (6) – Thank you. I think a lot of and i remember i want to do a spot light effect under her, but i shading and i make the pentagram. I think if i have time i make a shadow effect under here.

  6. Malfar says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  7. Rosco says:

    This is the final in my croquet pin-up calendar. It’s not as good as some of the others, so I’m eager for some input.

  8. Rosco says:

    I think the way the coat is hanging doesn’t work. Is it supposed to be windy? I appreciate what’s going on: you want to show off the area under the coat, and thosere the coat pieces available. What I’d recommend is have it hanging off something on his belt, rather than flapping the breeze. Any breeze’d certainly affect th’other side, which is falling totally flat.

    Nice! I like th’air-brushing on th’arms. I do agree that the yellow spot is a bit odd.

  9. Rozenstal says:

    Rosco (9):
    The coat can flutter from movement.

  10. Captain Kicktar says:
    Zilio, if you want to know something, ask him.

    Also, what are the rules about posting the critiqued version for critique today as well? Also again, a bit of self-promotion, but if anyone’s interested in the world I’m building, you can check out a FB page I’ve made for it:

  11. Pesky says:

    Open Critique Day has always provided better results, so I submit another character:

    What can be improved?

  12. Doornik1142 says:

    The Creeping Doom:

    I like what I came up with but any suggestions for improvement would be helpful.

  13. Rosco says:

    Doornik: I think you nailed it!
    Pesky: Great, altho I do have a soft spot for redheads. I know it’s not easy, but I do think the belts need to match the body parts they go around.

  14. Asder says:

    Panner this is personal between you and me :p. I tried really hard to make this one look better than the last two

  15. Doornik1142 says:

    Pesky (11)

    For starters, the right forearm is backwards. You need to flip it over so the elbow is pointing outward, not inward.

    The second thing I notice is the knife in her right hand. For one thing it feels too small. You could lengthen the handle a bit. For another it looks like it’s been stabbed right through her fingers instead of going between them. I think you’d be better off just having her hold the knife instead of trying to dangle it between her fingers.

    Something else that sticks out to me is the mask. Masks like that are generally reserved for superheroes but she strikes me more as a steampunk/fantasy warrior, which makes the mask look out of place on her. But that might just be because I don’t know her backstory.

    Lastly, the necklace bugs me. That particular necklace piece bugs me because it looks like it should have something attached to it, but it doesn’t (not your fault, it’s just the way the piece was drawn). I would go back and add a jewel or something to the necklace, or replace it with a plain old chain necklace.

  16. Panner says:

    Rosco (8): Welp, not much of a surprise that a Santa outfit would represent December. It’s a classic, and it has some nice colors, so you can’t really go wrong. The flip side, of course, is that there’s not really much room to experiment. Anyway, I think you pulled it off well, I especially like the little puffs for buttons, that’s super Christmas-y and a neat touch.

    I have a few suggestions here, of varying degrees of importance. First of all, I don’t like that yellow/gold color on her leggings. I’d expect a Christmas outfit to be white and red, and you’ve got that covered, and black goes with everything. The belt buckle gets a free pass since it’s small and hidden, but those leggings are really unexpected. I’d change to a light grey color, or maybe dark red if I was feeling adventurous.

    The first thing I thought when looking at the picture was ‘Why is she using that mallet as a guitar?’ Her right hand (my left) really, really says guitar, and while I guess that could be fun, it’s a bit bizarre.

    Last of all, the hat looks really flat. It doesn’t have any shading or details, making it look really out of place. I suggest using a different part, really anything that has a bit of shading.


    Pesky (11): So, Pesky… tell me, are you ever going to get tired of that background? I hope not, because you sure make it work. This one is very subtle, which is unusual, and I think it makes the character come off as more suave and cool-headed. I like it!

    You’ve used my favorite colors here – black and red – and I think you put them to fantastic use. I’m wondering a bit about that red ‘bullseye’ mark, though. It’s pretty unexpected and mysterious, and it draws the eye to the very bottom of the picture, while all the good stuff is going on up top. Does it have any special significance?

    Usually I like small touches of otherwise unused colors, but I don’t think the blue knife works here. It blends into the background very, very badly, making it look like she’s holding a can opener in her hand. I suggest a more aggressive line color to make it stand out.

    I’m also torn about the line color on her fishnet stockings. You use a fairly light brown line color on her skin, and the pitch black lines here don’t cooperate. I’d say to use a brighter line color, but I honestly don’t think it’ll turn out any better (feel free to try!), so I’m going to suggest another approach. Try making the stocking item completely black, but with low alpha. That might give the stockings some substance while keeping them discrete.

  17. Panner says:

    Doornik1142 (12): Whoa, that’s wicked! Wicked evil, I mean! Very nice use of those hands and other diabolic-looking things. Extremely unsubtle picture of a very unsubtle dude.

    First off, I really like the colors here, with one exception – the ribcage is the exact same color as the cape. That gets pretty confusing considering there’s plenty of layers around his torso, and it doesn’t fit the picture very well. My first idea is to make the part of the cape that’s hanging at his back the same color as the back of the hood. That should put it nicely in the background. Then change the color of the ribcage slightly, just enough to separate it from the front of the cape.

    What more is, I’d really like to see the shoulder pad moved up a couple of pixels. Right now it looks like it’s painted on the cape.

    The focus of the entire picture is definitely on his huge mouth. It’s bright and well framed, so that’s where the eyes will go every time. This is of course not a bad thing, just keep it in mind. And while I’m on the subject of face, please consider adding glowing eyes, I think it might look cool. Only if you want to, of course!


    Asder (14): You mean “Darkness 3 – ‘This time it’s personal'”? Never mind, I’m just joking around.

    Yeah, we’ve been back and forth on this one a lot, and I think you just keep making it better. This version is the best one yet, it’s clearer than the last one and has more neat details like the (very nice) shading in her face.

    However, while making the image clearer, a lot of darkness has been lost, and that’s sort of what the picture is about! So I got an idea, how about framing the entire picture with a huge black edge-gradient, layered on top of everything? That might give the impression that darkness is sinking in around her, covering everything except this very spot. Or if that doesn’t do the magic, maybe a black center-gradient in every corner? Might be worth a try!

    The character herself is still superb, but I can’t help but think that her left (my right) bracer looks a little big. In the last version it was covered by spell effects that obfuscated it, but it’s more obvious here. Smaller might not look better though, they need to be seen since they are part of the very well-rounded outfit.

    In any case, I love that you keep working on this picture. The first version blew me away, and it has just gotten better since then.

  18. Aaron says:

    here is a sci-fi character of mine

    holographic gadget on left arm is meant to be a tool similar to the omni tool in the Mass Effect series

  19. Asder says:

    @panner: Thanks man, you know how show business works, gotta give the audience what they want XD!!!. And if i fix the image can i post it now or should i wait for the next OPD.

  20. Panner says:

    Asder (18): Haha, yeah man, it’s all about the audience! And feel free to post the image now, unless you want to wait for the Wise Words of Jeff (TM pending).

  21. ams says:

    I’m posting my latest pic that I have completed. Let me know if the pose works. FIRE AWAY…..!

  22. Doornik1142 says:

    Asder (14)

    While I think you did a really great job, I can’t stop laughing because it looks like she’s in the middle of doing the Fusion Dance from Dragonball Z.

  23. Tarkabarka says:

    AMS (20) Great pose, you catch the moment. Great coloring. Really strong personality. In my opinion use a little bit brighter gradient, if you transparent the yellow only a little maybe 60 – 55% not that brighter.
    but personally i like this.

    ps. – Any chance for a hungarian style super hero ๐Ÿ˜€

  24. Tarkabarka says:

    Pesky (11) The face is sooo goood. ๐Ÿ˜€ – Could you enter that in the Faceoff contest?

  25. Panner says:

    ams (20): I think you’ve got a good thing going here. Nice job on his outfit in general and the gloves in particular, and the pose looks convincing and natural.

    Well, for the most part anyway. The more I look at those thighs, the harder it is to accept them. The muscles don’t look right at all, and it twists the image of the entire body. I think it would be worth it to reconstruct the leg to fit the perspective, rather than relying on a premade leg that wasn’t made for that task. I’m not sure how much work it would be, but you’re not one to shy away from effort, I know that much.

    In other news, adding that zipper was quite brave of you, since it fixates the center line of the torso and therefore the entire body. I think you’ve pulled it off very well, but I can’t get over the fact that it’s straight as a nail while it should follow the profile of the body. At least at his chest muscles there should be some curvature going on.

    Oh and one more thing, there’s some gradient spillover on his thumb!

  26. ams says:

    Thanks Tarkabarka! I’ll see what I can do for a hungarian hero. You might have to throw me a suggestion or two on the forums for ideas. I have a brazilian concept on the stove right now and someone wanted a mexican image also. I don’t really plan on what I’m doing next. When I see some kind of image or name on the net, that’s when I usually spit out an image. Maybe we can collaborate on it? Cheers!

  27. Tarkabarka says:

    ams (26) Ok! – I find you something. – It’s hard little bit, beacuse i haven’t got any idea. ๐Ÿ˜€

    alphaalpharomeo (24)

    When i see first time i really see the upper arms joins the tentacles, great idea. Not bad, little simple, but need to start something. Practice and enjoy hm3

  28. Panner says:

    alphaalpharomeo (24): Nice use of the tentacle parts. I’ve tried to make those work several times – I guess I really like tentacles – but I’ve never been quite happy with the result.

    As seen in your very picture, it’s hard to make the transition between tentacle and normal body look good. You’ve hidden the waist behind a belt, which works because wearing a belt is expected and natural. It’s worse for arms. I suppose you could hide the borders behind bracers, but I give no guarantee as to its effectiveness.

    Speaking of tentacles, the standard items don’t have any shading or highlighting, which makes them come across as a bit flat. You can fix that manually by adding a copious amount of gradients to indicate curvature, directions etc. Be warned that it will take a lot of gradients to give the complete picture, but maybe you can get the point across with only a few.

  29. ams says:

    Thanks for the critque, Panner. I see what you are saying about the muscles on the legs and didn’t see it when I posted the image. I should make it a rule of thumb that when a pic is finish, not to post it until the next day so I can get a fresh perspective on it. The zipper looked better without the highlighted torso, but when it came to the end I didn’t want to give it up and couldn’t find a alternative for it. So I left it. Cheers!

  30. Cliff says:

    YEA! I remembered today was Critique Day before I went to Game.

    Here is another Hobbit of mine. He is a Whistler, basically a song mage. He likes to wonder about, he is great with plants, weather, knows all the local gossip, likes to drink an ale and smoke a pipe and just roam around helping out.


  31. Doornik1142 says:

    alphaalpharomeo (24)

    It’s a neat idea, but it feels a bit plain. The tentacles you used only have two colors available so it makes them look flat compared to the torso. Not your fault, just the way those tentacle pieces were designed. I don’t think there’s any way to fix it, so you’ll just have to live with it.

    One thing I notice that you can change is the eyes. I’m not sure if the eyes are too high or the helmet is too low, but they’re bumping up against each other. Remember that the eye-line should be exactly in the middle of the head.

  32. Myro says:

    ams (20): I really like the Polestar picture, but in regards to the pose, it seems really stiff. I’m not saying that doesn’t work, I’ve seen that pose in regards to staff fighting before. However, by spreading the legs slightly, it would make him look more relaxed. Take my advice as you see fit.

  33. Myro says:

    Picture I drew of Fluke, my main superhero character.

    Not sure, but he looks way younger than he should. And I’ve probably screwed up some of the anatomical perspective. But overall, I’m happy with how it turned out.

  34. Doornik1142 says:

    Kytana (30)

    Very nice composition. I’m always envious of people who can create actual scenes with a real sense of dynamic movement because it’s something I’ve tried and failed at many times.

    The first “needs improvement” area I notice is the head of the pickpocket. It’s disproportionately large compared to his body. You need to shrink it down a bit.

    Another thing that sticks out is the apparent contrast between the two figures and the background. The b&w background looks very “noir” and reminds me of Sin City (which is very cool) but the figures in the foreground have bright vivid colors, and this seems to clash because the characters don’t look like they fit the background. It looks more like they’re in a modern art gallery and the thing in the background is a massive painting. (Which actually might be a pretty cool scene, but in that case you should add a frame to let us know that it’s a painting.) I’d hate to lose that Sin City-esque background so I’d suggest changing the colors of the characters so they’re much more muted, or just going all the way and putting them in grayscale.

    Something else I just noticed about the background is the upside-down figure near the top. I’m guessing that’s supposed to be a shadow of someone coming down the stairs, but it’s hard to tell. At first glance it just looks like some upside-down floating woman.

    Like I said, superb job on the dynamic posing. You just need to shrink the guy’s head down a little and fix the colors so the characters fit the background.

  35. Panner says:

    ams (29): Yeah, I love the zipper idea, it’s a great accessory for a torso. It’s just really demanding on the rest of the composition, the tricky little thing.


    Kytana (30): Let me first say that I absolutely love the background here. I just can’t get enough of these highly artistic backgrounds that convey an emotion or an attitude rather than an image. I also think you’ve done a great job with the characters, particularly the thief, with outfits and appearances that say a lot about the persons.

    It’s a really great picture, so it’s hard to come up with something to improve, but I’ve got a long shot here. I think there’s one layer of symbolism here that you haven’t fully tapped – the color schemes on the two people. Imagine if you were to draw the girl all in bright and lively colors, and the thief in dull and discrete colors, that might make the distinction between them greater and emphasize the fact that these two people live widely different lives.

    I’d start off with making the girl’s skin more pink, giving her blond hair, maybe with stripes, and make her handbag bright blue or maybe red. For the thief, I’d make his skin more grey, make the jacket a cold brown instead of warm and make the sweater another color, probably grey. That’s the ideas I’m getting right now off the top of my head.


    Zarae (33): Heh, I thought ‘Novel? I’ll never be able to know which one’, but that one I do know! So, about the drawing, I think it’s fantastic! You call that a doodle? Hardly a line is out of place! I especially like the details on the mail windmill, and the shading throughout the picture.

    One think I’m not too fond of is the rocks at the bottom of the main windmill. They’re nicely drawn and all, but if you’d drawn them in more of an arc they would’ve helped emphasize the cylindrical shape of the windmill. Yes, sure, the shading does that, but it never hurts to give the viewer two ways to tell the shape.

    Another thing I had to look twice at is Don’s face, and by face I mean mouth. I don’t think it’s crystal clear what’s going on there, probably since the beard obscures key parts of the area. If the mouth reached just a bit further into the cheek, it’d probably be obvious, but I won’t promise anything.

  36. Pesky says:

    Taking most of the comments of Rosco, Doornik1142 and Panner into account (for which many thanks) I made some adjustments. Don’t know which one of both is best (difference in the fishnet stockings).

    Ginny 2

    Ginny 3

  37. Panner says:

    Myro (34): I’m not sure I’d worry about the age if I were you. It’s pretty hard to tell with the mask and all. Plus, he’s wearing a tie, and nobody under 30 does that! I like the shading on the hat and face. It does a great job at getting the point across while being convincing and appealing. I’d like to see more of that on the arms.

    Anyway, if you want to make him look older, I suggest you go for expression lines in the face. Yeah, that’s apparently what you call those lines from the nose to the corner of the mouth. You could also make his upper lip bigger, and the eyebrows more bushy.

    It might just be me, but I think the double marking on the vest is too much. In my opinion, it would be more powerful with just the four-leaf clover, since less sometimes is more. I realize you’re probably commited to the double symbol, and that’s fine, it was just a thought that struck me, and I felt I should share it.

  38. Sean From Edwards says:

    Here a couple I have been meaning to post:
    In her cadet’s flight suit and flight jacket without all the life support gear, and a couple of spirit orbs:
    Marda in her civvies:
    Gokhead, a reverse hinge kneed alien with vertically hinged snout and two thumbs on each hand, decided not to model those here, the team’s geardo:
    Standard male flight suit, cadet colors:
    Standard female flight suit, cadet colors:
    Main character in his standard cadet’s uniform:
    In his civvies:
    Bichard, insectoid alien character:
    Arion, their team’s heavy weapons specialist in heavy weapons ACHES:
    Armored Combat Hostile Environment Suit (ACHES) cadet colors:
    Let me know what you all think, thanks.

  39. Sean From Edwards says:

    oops attached Marda’s uniform twice, here is her in her civvies:

  40. Jeff Hebert says:

    First, thanks to everyone who picked up my slack from the first part of the day. You rock!

    Second, Sean From Edwards, I only do critiques for one image per person, so if you would like to hear from me, please let me know which one image you want help with.

  41. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rozenstal (1): I like the evil grin and the overall look of the piece. The colors are good and the item selections solid. I’m struggling with the metallic arm. I can’t tell for sure where it goes or what it’s doing and where pieces are in relation to other pieces. Is there a forearm, hand, shoulder? What is the business with the piece going behind his back? Etc.

    Otherwise, nice job!

  42. Jeff Hebert says:

    Tarkabarka (3): I saw this one earlier and thought it was great! It has a real feeling of pathos about it, a sort of sad poignancy that is very touching. The colors are great, the composition is spot-on, and the items are all stellar. I love the sort of small, withered, droopy wings.

    A really great job on this one, I think it’s probably my favorite one you’ve done so far!

  43. Jeff Hebert says:

    Malfar (4): Very nice! I like the color scheme a lot, you can definitely see the figure pop, while still retaining a great figure-ground relationship. I like the patterning on the robe and the cool hair.

    The two things I thought could use some tweaking are the spell effect around his hand, which seems a bit rough and undirected, and the use of the rock in the foreground as water. The texture on that is just wrong to be a liquid. I’d remove it altogether in favor of some other, more appropriately textured item.

    Good job, though!

  44. Panner says:

    Sean From Edwards (44): Hey, I like what you’re doing with that bag! It’s a tricky thing to do, twisting the perspective like that, and I think the results here are good. It’s probably good that you covered the bag up a bit with the hand. I also smiled when I noticed the shield you use for a pendant, it actually works great.

    I’m not sure about all the insignias you’ve added on here. You say these are civilian, everyday clothes? That makes me expect a normal pair of blue jeans, without a large tree on the leg. Same thing goes for the DNA-string thingie on the jacket, it’s just unusual. I understand the desire to add more details, but these really look tacked-on, not natural and belonging.

    Also, let’s talk about arms for a moment. First off, her left hand (my right) needs to be pushed down a few layers, but that’s not a big problem, it’s fixed in a flash. No, what I’m unsure about is the lower sleeves. You have a chestpiece and upper sleeves with built-in shading, but lower sleeves with none. It just doesn’t match very well and looks incomplete. There’s a way to add the shading though, bear with me here.

    Let’s call the sleeve you’re using right now the Current Sleeve and the one you’ll be adding the New Sleeve. Take the Current Sleeve and make its color 1 fully transparent (alpha 0). Add any shaded sleeve (I suggest the one two steps below yours), this is the New Sleeve. Layer the New Sleeve just under the Current Sleeve, copy its colors from the coat, and mask it to the Current Sleeve. The result will look like this: (not this one Jeff)

    Let me know if that explanation made no sense, and I’ll send you a text file.

  45. Jeff Hebert says:

    Rosco (9): I dig the “naughty elf” kind of vibe you have here. I would disagree that this is one of the weaker ones, I actually think it came out pretty well. I do think it could be pushed a little more, in terms of themed items and such. And I’m not 100% sold on how she’s holding the hammer. It kind of looks like she’s playing it like a guitar, which is neat in a way, but is off somehow …

    Anyway, I think it’s pretty cool, myself. You might want to make the yellow tights showing between the skirt and the boots flesh colored as well, the yellow is somewhat incongruous.

  46. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain Kicktar (12): I like the basic construction of the outfit. The pieces work well together and create a cohesive look.

    The thing that jumps out at me immediately is his hands. They’re drawn as flesh, not gloves, and yet they’re not the same color as his face. It’s confusing. I also feel like maybe his face itself — the eyes, nose, mouth, and eyebrows — are a little too high on the head, leaving him short-skulled. I’d love to see them moved down some.

    Nice job, though, thanks for sharing it!

  47. Jeff Hebert says:

    Pesky (13): Love it! Great attitude, awesome composition, cool character, and all-around fun illustration. I really love the hair, that’s stellar.

    All the stuff I have to say in terms of tweaks are super minor because I think overall it’s just a fantastic piece. So take these as what they are, just tiny little things you can fiddle with around the edges.

    The necklace doesn’t seem finished somehow. That looks like the bit you’d hang a pendant off of, but there’s no pendant.

    It seems like there should be a belt or strap for the katana. Like one diagonally from behind the holster to where the hilt of the sword starts.

    The straps on her left (our right) arm don’t quite seem to fit. They have unfinished edges and just in general seem a bit askew.

    I don’t get the weapon in her hand, honestly. Why it’s there, what it is, why she’s showing us … I just didn’t get it.

    Minor stuff in a fantastic overall image. Well done!

  48. Jeff Hebert says:

    Doornik1142 (14): Nice character design, good overall color choices, and an effective, simple composition.

    I like the face particularly.

    I found the skulls on the belt to be too big, unless he’s unusually wee. I’d try coloring the back part of the cape a darker red, so it looks more like it’s behind him. And finally, the skull shoulder pad should either be moved or stretched so you don’t see the cloak poking out from around it.

    Other than those small things, nice job!

  49. Jeff Hebert says:

    Asder (16): I’ll leave this to Panner since it’s personal and all ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Jeff Hebert says:

    Aaron (20): I think this is a solid image. It all works together, and makes sense. I do think, though, that it could use some punching up, as it’s all a bit flat on the page. Maybe a splash of color on the torso or belt, maybe something a bit bolder in terms of items or pants or accessories.

    I’d also lose the hover piece below. I feel like it suggests there ought to be more going on in the background without actually delivering it, and as such distracts from the character rather than adding to him. I’d just delete it completely and have just the character portrait, I think it’ll be much stronger that way.

  51. Captain Kicktar says:

    Jeff (51): Yeah, if there were relaxed gloved hands I would do that. He actually has plenty of head above his eyes, it’s just the hood hides it. Moving the face down more than 1 starts revealing his eye tattoo, which I want semi-hidden under the shadow of his hood.

  52. Panner says:

    Captain Kicktar (12): While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this picture, I find that it’s a bit barren. I mean, there is a total of, what, 20 items here? I think you can cram in a few additional details. Yes, I know, less can be more, but hear me out here.

    When you’re presenting a character with a picture, that picture needs to convey everything you want to say about the character. I’m a huge fan of the ‘show, don’t tell’ approach, and I always try to show character traits through the portrait rather than description. You say this guy can get information? Well, show me that! It’s a tall request, sure, but that’s why we choose to draw characters rather than just writing text – not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And because it’s worth every drop of sweat.


    Aaron (20): I like how you’ve chosen to portray futuristic apparel in this picture – that he’s wearing pretty much current age clothes, with a couple of high tech devices added on. It reminds me of the research and predictions done for the movie Minority Report, where they concluded that while a lot of things will change in the future, basic stuff like clothes and housing will remain pretty much the same.

    Now then, I really want to see some kind of combat vest on this guy. The chestpiece he’s currently wearing looks thin and fragile, hardly something that goes with boots and a gun.

    Another thing I don’t quite like is the pouches. Their straps don’t fit very well when the character is wearing pants, and they sit right on top of some pockets already on the pants. If you want to keep pouches, and I like them, then I suggest grabbing a few from Belt-Standard and manually placing them somewhere on his legs. Either completely blocking those pockets or the opposite.


    Cliff (34): Man, that’s a big pipe.

    I like your choice of clothes here, they clearly show this is a man who works for a living, and who feels right at home doing it. It clashes a bit with the very youthful face and hair, but I think it works in your favor by giving him some non-human qualities.

    If you want to capitalize that this is a tough guy, I suggest adding the body hair. I really like that item, and it should fit at least on his torso and upper arms. If you want his lower arms as well, some masking will be needed.

    Also, may I suggest adding a belt with tobacco pouch? I mean, he must be using a lot of it…

  53. Danny Beaty says:

    This my second attempt to redo our wall-smashing friend Samson. In the Danniverse Samson loses his strength if you remove his belt, not if you cut his hair.

  54. Danny Beaty says:

    The above didn’t work. I’ll try it again.

  55. Panner says:

    Pesky (41): I really like the new knife, this one looks great. And did you change the necklace? This new one uses one less color, which is… probably a good thing. The gem looks nice.

    As for the stockings, I like both of them, not sure which one is best. How about the grey one, with the line color from the skin colored one?

  56. Vampyrist says:

    This is Romulus, my take of a modern day Romulus. He is a werewolf who leads an army who wish to rule the world. He is opposed only by his brother Remus, who is also a werewolf.

  57. Tuldabar says:

    Okay, I re-did my “agent’s” color scheme:, but I still can’t decide whether I prefer the original face or the 3/4ths enhanced: Any thoughts?

  58. Asder says:

    ok i gave it a bit of darkness and also try to do something with the arm without causing colateral damage

  59. Panner says:

    Vampyrist (61): Keeping the gradient count high, I see! Really solid work on the clothes here, you must have the patience of a saint to arrange all those gradients and balance all the shades. But I think the part I like the most about the character is his face. You have really subtle linework going on there, and it gives him a huge deal of personality. It’s the kind of picture where you wonder if it’s a drawing of a real person.

    One thing I found interesting was his boots – the red and yellow details. This is a werewolf hot shot aiming for world domination, I find it quite funny that he makes sure his shoes match his eyes. I suppose the same could be said for the pin on his beret, but I didn’t mind that.


    Danny Beaty (62): Belt of Giant Strength, hooooooooo!

    Pretty neat reimagining of Samson, complete with the pillars in the background thrown in for a cameo… or perhaps a taste of things to come!

    I think he’s looking pretty solid the way he is right now, except for the shoes. This guy is build like a bear-wrestler and walks around half naked, but those shoes look thin and fragile, the exact opposite of the impression the character gives. I suggest you try switching them to something big and heavy, or maybe even try bare footed. In case of the latter, make sure to scale the feet up a bit, that’ll give a neat impression.

    Also, I’m not seeing much of this super strength. Do you think it’s possible to have him bend an iron bar or something? After all, what’s the point of having super powers if you don’t show them off?

    Oh yeah, right, protecting humanity and stuff. I guess there’s that.

  60. Danny Beaty says:

    @Panner: Thank you for your critiques!

  61. Zarae says:

    thanks for the critic! i also noticed his foot looks weird.

  62. Panner says:

    Asder (63): Multi-layer background effects? I like it! I think that livened the picture up quite a bit, especially in the area around her feet. I also think the added darkness works well, it makes the character stand out more.

    I have to ask, how did you start on this picture? What was the inspiration?


    Danny Beaty (65): Hey no probs, I hope some of it makes sense!

  63. Captain Kicktar says:

    Panner (57): Wow, that’s a tall order, and I’m not sure how I’ll show that, but I’ll definitely try to figure out how.

    If anyone has any ideas as to how to show that, do tell.

  64. Panner says:

    Captain Kicktar (68): I just thought of this, and I think it might be pretty cool if it can be pulled off.

    Homing pigeons!

    Think about it, it’s a great way to show information exchange in a fantasy setting.

    Now, I don’t think there are any pigeons in HeroMachine (…yet), but I guess any bird could do. Hey, in Game of Thrones they use ravens, so there’s a possibility. Just add some kind of downscaled parchment to its leg and put the bird on his shoulder, and there you go. I dunno, it could be a start.

  65. Arioch says:

    A work in progress, although, the character being simple, it’s nearly finished. It’s for an Air mage:

    I see the color on the shoulder bits is wrong, so I’ll correct it. And I’m not satisfied by the shoes color :-/

    Btw, if someone has an easy idea on how to make a phrygian cap… :-/

  66. Asder says:

    @ Jeff(54). Iยดm always open to all suggestions, this one wa kinda personal ยดcuz with this image panner have been the one that shows up what i did wrong(just joking).

    @panner(67). I didnยดt re-do the image this time, it was on my savings, i just did the little modifications.

  67. Myro says:

    Panner (69): That’s a pretty good idea. Assassin’s Creed frequently used carrier pigeons for information exchange. And in Harry Potter, they used owls to the same effect.
    Just to help reinforce the idea.

  68. Jeff Hebert says:

    ams (23): Cool! I like that you’re using a more subtle pose here, it works great. I like the colors and the expression a lot. The mask works and the boots are pretty amazing.

    My suggestion really is just on the background flag. I’d make it look less 3-D, as if it’s an actual object, and more like a flat design element. Plain colors, no gradient, probably no borders either.

    Great job as always!

  69. Jeff Hebert says:

    alphaalpharomeo (27): I think this was a really neat concept and design. I liked the alternating orange and green color scheme and the “human” part of the character. Where I think it gets let down a bit is in the tentacles, which are a bit confused and flattened. I’m not sure how you’d do it, but it would be nice if the tentacles further in the back were a darker shade of green so we got some variation in the planes where they’re located. Right now it’s all kind of flat, and so it’s hard to make out one over the other.

    Again, given the limitations of the item that might not be possible, but just looking at it as a stand-alone image, that’s my impression.

  70. Jeff Hebert says:

    Kytana (33): Great scene! I definitely get what’s going on, you’ve posed the figures very well and framed them in the environment nicely. They look like they’re walking in opposite directions and you get a good sense of action.

    The male figure seems a bit out of proportion to me. Either his head is too big for the body, or the body’s too small for the head. But he comes off as being top-heavy somehow.

    This is really good though, I like it very much!

  71. Jeff Hebert says:

    Cliff (34): I like that he’s not your usual tubby Hobbit, but rather someone who’s clearly in shape and could be an effective fighting adventurer. The hair on the legs is a nice touch as well.

    My major issues with it are, first, the very large and slightly flattened pipe. It just doesn’t look natural. And second, the foreground with that large swathe of green ends up looking flat. I think either the figure needs to fill more of the image, or you’re going to need to add some business there to add some dimensionality to it.

    In fact, I think the background is distracting in this case, and I’d probably elect to just remove it altogether so we can focus on the character.

  72. Jeff Hebert says:

    Zarae (37): Very nice! Lots of personality and movement, with a whimsical flair I think fits the subject nicely.

    In terms of rendering, I had a suggestion on the windmill to change up how you’re showing the shaded side. I think if, instead of the solid shading you have currently (which makes it look very smooth), it might be more visually interesting to do shaded stone blocks instead. Like this.

    Good job, though, I like it!

  73. Captain Kicktar says:

    Panner (69) & Myro (72): A raven and a scroll go a long way, thanks.

  74. Jeff Hebert says:

    Myro (38): Agreed, very nice! Keep up the good work on the hand drawing, it’s very cool. I like his expression and the little Lucky 7 type of insignia. The only bit I’d encourage you to watch for next time is just the number of teeth you’d see in a grimace like that. It seems a bit on the overstuffed side.

    Good job, I’m impressed! Always love to see the pencil sketches.

  75. Jeff Hebert says:

    Captain Kicktar (56): You still are left with the problem that the hands are confusing because there are fingernails showing, meaning it’s flesh, but it’s gray. Waving it off with “That’s the only relaxed set of hands” doesn’t fix the problem. Either use a different set of actual gloves, or make them flesh, or place tiny emblems that cover up the bits that say “fingers” so it looks like a glove. Just shrugging it off doesn’t make the problem go away.

    Ditto on the head. “There’s plenty of head below the hood” is simply wrong. I drew the items, I know where they’re supposed to go, and I’m telling you the face flat out looks too high on the head — when I measure it in PhotoShop, you’ve got significantly more head from the top of the eyebrows to the top than from there to the bottom of the chin. The mouth is too small and too high — he looks like a Sylvester Stallone caricature with a giant chin.

    Again, you can shrug it off because you want the tattoo shadowed but the problem doesn’t go away. Problem solving is a fundamental part of the creative endeavor. The problem set is “The face needs to be in the right place and the tattoo needs to be shadowed.” Solve both parts of it, not just the one that’s easy.

    Or don’t. It’s your image, you have to decide what you like and what you don’t.

  76. Jeff Hebert says:

    Vampyrist (61): Very nice! He’s a rough-looking guy who I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. I like the basic stance as well, it’s a good action shot.

    My quibble would be with the shoulders. If he’s taking a step forward with his right foot, his right shoulder would be dipped down with the left shoulder dipped up. But you have it opposite. I know it’s hard with the coat being set, but it definitely makes him look hunched over instead of striding forward.

    Otherwise, great job!

  77. Jeff Hebert says:

    Danny Beaty (62): Much more bad-ass than the actual version! I like the heavier duty belt, headband, and armbands.

    I’m not so sold on the hair treatment. I dunno, I think of his hair as being so important to the concept that a more flowing, looser look might help emphasize it better. Pulling it back like that almost diminishes it too much, at least for me.

    But a very nice update!

  78. Jeff Hebert says:

    Tuldabar (63): I like the new face better.

  79. Jeff Hebert says:

    Arioch (71): I think this is a solid foundation, but I’d definitely want to see more done to it. The outfit is a bit plain and shapeless — something like a belt or buttons or a shoulder strap to give it some variation would help, I think. And more air effects around him, too, maybe that cloudy explosion kind of piece … something to sort of show where the blast comes from, or enhances the idea of his powers.

    In other words, it’s good but I want more!

  80. Jeff Hebert says:

    OK, I caught up and now, like a runner sliding into home, I declare myself SAFE! And this issue of OCD done.

    Thanks to everyone who offered a critique and/or their own work for comment.

    See you next time!

  81. TOOL says:

    Made an aztec/indian type character a while back. Trying to branch out to other types of characters.

  82. Danny Beaty says:

    @Jeff: Here is Samson with flowing hair.

  83. Myro says:

    Tool (87): Really like him, looks very cool. My only problem involves the placement of the shield, it pools like he’s carrying it under his arm, which seems both awkward and impractical. After all, shields need to be on the outside. Either move it to the front, or move it behind him, and position the arm and hand to be gripping the shield from the inside.

    Otherwise, awesome job.

    Danny (88): Yeah, that looks like someone I’d think of befitting the Samson name.

  84. Myro says:

    Stupid autocorrect. Pools=looks.

  85. TOOL says:

    Thanks Myro, I was having a little trouble trying to figure out the best way to do the shield and a few other items. I don’t have too much new stuff right now, havent felt very creative, so I didnt know what to add for this post. I figured I’d display that one.

  86. Danny Beaty says:

    Thanks Myro!

  87. Psyckosama says:

    Posted the original versions of these long ago. These are the updated version. More alien, which is what I was going for…

    Included are both the “base” bodies and examples with some costuming on that fits the society.

  88. McKnight57 says:

    I know it’s late, but Fridays kinda suck since I work all day and am never near wi-fi when i need it. Anyway, here is one of my characters. Daniel Ben-Zion, a former Israeli Mossad agent, current Hero Corps member. Proficient in every weapon known to man, though he prefers blades over firearms.

  89. @McKnight57(93): I hear ya. I’m busy at work. By the time I get home, OCD is winding down. That’s when the other kind of OCD kicks in. Especially when there’s a Character Contest.

    For Daniel Ben-Zion, you might want to consider adding a Pattern or a subdued insignia to his clothing. A little texture will make him stand out more.

    For example:

  90. XionUnborn01 says:

    This is goo, he’s not done but I’d like any input on what i have so far. Also, and suggestions on ways to make his feet blend better to give him the look of rising out of the puddle would be greatly appreciated.

  91. marquis samedi says:

    XionUnborn: Try using two of the tree root body parts under Body-Monster to serve as his feet, and then put a semi-transparent insignia over the bottom part to help blend it. Also, it’s weird that his hammer hand has purple and red details on it when it’s supposed to be part of his body. Maybe put purple armbands on his other arm to show where they came from?

  92. Arioch says:

    So, for those who are curious, finished design for Ra’am:

    – Ra’am without his phrygian cap:
    – Ra’am with it:

    The phrygian cap is not very good up close, but, from afar, it mostly make illusion, and should be okay. I had to assemble it by bits and, frankly, this is about the best I can do (I’m not one of those HM gods out there) :-/ I could maybe do better, but probably not by much, and not without spending a lot more time.

  93. TOOL says:

    Does anyone know hwo to make a paper bag, or is there on already in here that i haven’t seen? Was thinking of making a funny character with a bag on head.

  94. McKnight57 says:

    Here’s my updated version of Daniel (aka Nightblade.) Used a real beret style and my friend’s brigade in the IDF for the patch design.

    Complete character:


  95. Cliff says:

    Panner (57)
    Thanks for the comments.
    Yeah with Hobbits being so agricultural I wanted his clothes to refelct the farming aspect. He is supposed to look youthful, and I think of the hairy legs going with furry Hobbit feet even on the young males. But I don’t see him having a hairy torso and arms. And while he is muscular, and fit he isn’t a “tough” guy. I agree the hair pattern is great, and I use it a lot, particularly on my satyrs.
    Note I did give him a rope belt and pouch of “Old Toby”.

    I agree not all Hobbits have to be portly, although … most are.
    Regarding the pipe, I really liked it, I was trying for something like this …

    Hobbits tend to smoke long pipes, now admittedly I took an easy way out and didn’t try to make a curved one. Hanging head in shame.
    Insted of getting rid of the background altogether, I did add to the foreground.
    One thing I wasn’t sure was getting across was his height, and lack thereof.
    Hobbits are called Halflings for a reason, they are half the size of a human,
    so I added some elements to show he was a bit small … as races go.
    Also since Whistlers can “chitter” to other animals,(Complete Bards Handbook AD&D 2nd Ed) I added a few companions he could chitter to.

    btw I really love that one cape as vegetation. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I also added a dawn sky from the tutorial.