Sharing Day: Best Tip

I have a lot going on this week and unfortunately I just don't have the time for an Open Critique Day. Instead, I'd like to ask you all to help each other:

Give us your one "Best Tip" for creating characters with HeroMachine.

Maybe it's how you use "Zypping" to add highlights, or your recipe for simple but effective backgrounds, or the process you use to envision a character before ever committing it to paper. It could be something as simple as how to save a color or as complicated as a link to the awesome scene you created. Whatever it is, post it here and maybe it'll help someone else down the line who's stuck.


20 Responses to Sharing Day: Best Tip

  1. JR19759 says:

    I’m going to defer to the mighty AMS on this one, with a nice tip on shading he gave me.
    “Use the gradient circle colored black for shadows. Add shadows under arms , between legs, under chin and etc. This will make your pic “POP”! Also another tip to use is blend your highlights and shading by reducing and increasing the “alpha” on the top left of the color screen. Don’t be afarid to go to dark or to light. All comic book artists exagerate every detail that they can. I try not to play it safe and sometimes you stumble onto some great effects.”
    It definitely helped me, so hopefully it will help others.

  2. Delirious AL says:

    While a gallantly posing figure in a static orientation is often effective, try to make the characters more dynamic looking. Put them in a state of doing something. Make use of the rotate and re-size features in the program to create poses beyond the unexciting neutral position. Even if certain parts of a character’s costume might become hidden, nothing exhibits personality like a dynamic pose or unique position. It makes an image more exciting.

  3. KEric says:

    1) Remember when masking to turn whatever you want to be invisible last! Everything added after you turn something invisible will want to be invisible.

    2) If you rotate an Item (or it doesn’t show up to begin with) try using the long view to find it!

  4. DiCicatriz says:

    Choose colors wisely. A good color scheme can reaaally add to an image. Complimentary or contrasting colors work well together depending on the mood you want to create. Try to use opposite colors for background (either true opposites, or opposite tones, ie: warm vs cold) to make your character stand out.

    You Negative space and mystery are good too, a viewer’s imagination can be more powerful than what you can draw πŸ˜€

  5. Nick Hentschel says:

    I don’t know if it’s my “best” tip, since it’s a but subtle, but it’s the most original one that I have: how to color eyebrows.

    Here’s the deal: every head of hair in HM has 2 colors, even if on of them is just the LineColor. One is darker (we’ll call it “x”) and one is lighter (“y”)And you use those to color the Eyebrows.

    When coloring the ‘brows, set Primary color to match the darker, “x” color of the hair. Fade it out jsut slightly, maybe to 75% or so. Set Secondary color to 0. And then set the LINECOLOR of the eyebrows to match the lighter, “y” color, and fade out heavily, to maybe 33%.

    Let’s say, for example, you have a character with red hair and orange highlights. You set the Primary Color of the eyebrows to the same shade of red, fade it slightly, and then set the LineColor to Orange, and fade it out much more heavily. (You’ll get a feel for ho much to fade.)

    This may lead to some surprises, with the color being either lighter or darker than you expected, but it will look VERY vivid and real.

  6. dblade says:

    Here is a simple technique that I use every time I work on an image. When I need to get really precise on item placement I right click in the working area of the Hero Machine app and press “Zoom In” multiple times. This allows you to get extremely close up to the image and move things exactly where you want them to be. Very helpful when shading/highlighting. Just “Zoom Out” when done.

    Note: You can actually move the view of the whole HM working area in the Zoom mode when the indicator arrow turns into a little hand icon (at least on the Mac). So once you zoom in you can move around the onscreen image by “pulling/sliding” with the hand. Just be careful not to select an item accidentally. This works best when you don’t have the whole screen filled with a background since it needs a blank space to grab on to.

  7. dblade says:

    Side Note: Every time I zoom in I wish that HeroMachine had settings for larger output than what is given. I would love to make a poster size image of some of my pieces.

  8. Jeff Hebert says:

    Side Note: Every time I zoom in I wish that HeroMachine had settings for larger output than what is given. I would love to make a poster size image of some of my pieces.

    As long as it’s the same aspect ratio as one of the other formats, I can put in any size. What do you want?

  9. The Eric says:

    Transparency can make interesting looking items, colors and, over other items (which can also be transparent), color combinations.

    That’s all i got, i guess

  10. Myro says:

    I can’t claim ownership on this one, logosgal came up with it first. But I have been using it on widescreen pictures ever since I read it.
    Go to the “Transform” tab and under groups, click on “All Items.” Then, using the controls at the bottom right, you can reposition the entire work area to work on those pesky areas on the far left or right of your picture and still see what you’re doing all the time. When you’re done (or if you want to see how the work you’re doing looks in relation to the rest of the picture), you can go to wide screen view, and then when you return to normal view, all the work area will return to its default position on your picture.
    Just be sure to click back to “Current Item” in groups after the reposition and before you start rotating or resizing objects. It won’t permanently affect your work if you forget to, but it can be annoying.

  11. Jawsabi says:

    It’s all about colouring, shading and placement. I mean that’s what got me where I am today

  12. The Atomic Punk says:

    Steal other people’s ideas! Just kidding.

    I hide a lot of masking behind my backgrounds. I used to make the items transparent (changing the colors and line alpha to zero). Which actually makes it harder to work with them if you need to tweak.

  13. Suleman says:

    I’m not terribly good, but I guess my tip is this:

    Remember your purpose while creating a design. What are you going for? A great action pose? A cool costume design? A faithful representation of a character?
    Whatever you’re trying to do, achieve that first, before attempting other stuff.

    If you want to create a cool costume, first make a relatively static version so you see all the details.
    If you want to make a cool and/or realistic pose, first create it with very basic parts, then start adding extra stuff.
    If you want to create a cool and memorable look for your character, think and design the important characteristics first before you start adding distractions like poses, backgrounds or power effects.

    If you try to do everything at once, it will be very hard, but doing things in parts makes things easier and allows you to focus on what is important for the design.

  14. Renxin says:

    In my mind the most important thing is to love what you’re doing. Technical tricks are fun, wonderful, funderful, and many other things. But if you lack love for what you do, they come to nothing. Although it’s not something you can measure, you can definitely tell when someone just threw something together without any kind of joy for what they were doing.

  15. dblade says:

    Jeff Hebert: As long as it’s the same aspect ratio as one of the other formats, I can put in any size. What do you want?

    I would say double the largest size to start with (4096×3072 in widescreen). If it’s no trouble that is.


  16. Herr D says:

    No matter how many items are added, I always need another shape, another thing, so . . . turn on hm3, choose one item with the closest shape / look that you know of, make it all your favorite color. Select ‘single.’ call up each item, looking for a better choice. With all 3 colors the same, you can see just shape. So if you need to forget what you’re looking at for a moment, you can.

  17. Scatman says:

    I have a few in mind but the simplest thing I have is Dblade refered to about zooming in on specific parts of your character to get nice placements,I also zoom the page from 100% to 125% (right bottom of your computer screen)I notice working on a character this way will give you a more scopic look at what your doing.The end result is that when it is viewed by others in 100% page zoom it can look much more detailed giving your character a much tighter look.Simple but effective!

  18. Yurasagi says:

    Greetings, normally I am but a simple lurker; however, this topic offered me a chance to share with others a few methods that I find greatly assist me when using Hero Machine.

    First off, since I regularly work with images that are 400+ layers (though you would not know just from looking at them, and I would certainly love a way to simply type in the destination layer, rather than clicking 200+ times … but I digress… ) ; ORGANIZATION is paramount!
    This process is both mental and physical. What this means is doing sections of the image in related stages, grouping items, and using any convenient methods of “Tagging” them such as colour-coding or drawing from the same sub-menu of a selection queue. More on this later.

    I have found that using a series of preparatory steps before creating the image greatly increase convenience and efficacy. There is one thing that I always do before begining ANY single image. I go to “Background -Shapes” and then select the first rectangle. I then make the Primary colour something contrasting to my intended colour palette of the overall Image (which of course can be adjusted later as it evolves). I then apply this colour to the secondary and line colours, however I set their alpha to 0%. What this does for me is provides a “False Wall” to drop/hide items behind, and does not blind my eyes with thew overwhelming white of the default background. Furthermore, this is immensely useful when masking. As was mentioned above, simply making the object that a visible item is masked to transparent creates more trouble than it saves. This Back Wall provides something to hide them behind. You can even make it white later to look more “default” if you wish (Useful for setting gamma/transparent backgrounds when working in a third party image editor). The advantage of specifically making the secondary colour transparent is that when you hover over the background, it of course becomes translucent, allowing you to see what items you have thrown behind it, which can help inform future decisions without needing to re adjust layers or browse the item menus.

    The next method I have utilized that is very helpful is in organizing objects that visible items are going to be masked to. This utilizes colour coding the outline of shapes, and also consistent selection of neighbouring items. What I mean by this is that I prefer to use the objects and shapes in “Insignia -Tech” for masking items to; while I reserve those same shapes residing in “Insignia -Standard” for creating Visible items. Furthermore, I use Colour-coding of the outline of a shape (the other 2 colours being transparent) to determine what section of the body/image the masking is related to.

    Example: All masking objects done to create hair effects are outlined in Blue, anything to create the face is Green, and anything building the torso is Red. Etcetera.

    I find these methods to be universally useful in assisting the maintenance of a well organized and efficient workspace, which enables me to channel my creativity much more freely and effectively.

    I really hope this will be useful and that is was not too terribly difficult or droll to peruse.

  19. Harlequin says:

    My english is not enough good to make a long post, what needed a good picture, but i made a try what i think to important.

    1. Unique pose – I mostly use standard body parts, but the headshapes are also effective for body parts.

    2. Clothing – Standard clothes, effectives, but also very helpfull the backplane menu capes.

    3. Face – Use the headview button to zooming the head and find the perfect scale for the head parts.

    4. Coloring – Find the harmony between the colors. Yellow with black, black with white and red. I can’t wrote down but if you think the your basic color idea is not good no problem change it, a good coloring work is more effective.

    5. Zypping – Good and effective tool, but this is only a tool, not this sell the picture. I wrote down a lot, play the saturation of the color, that is more effective than a full bright or dark zypping.

    6. Background. Also a good tool to sell a picture. But if the background is very attractive, steal the eye of the character. I think need to the background harmony for the character. Need to give a strong feel of the picture, to the background is part of the picture.

    7. Stuff and items. Very important thing because a lot of stuff make a picture dizzy.

    I hope this helps a little.

    P.s. I forgot the insignias my very good friends.

  20. Weilyn says:

    Some great tips here!

    Something that I think works great for making a picture dynamic, is using the wind.

    Having your character’s clothes, jewelry, hair and whatnot flowing in the same direction can look very dramatic.