The Big Question ♯26

Oh dear, JR's been going through old blog posts again and has decided to do another one off Big Question.

So yeah, I was going through some of the old Big Questions and I stumbled across one of the earliest ones I did (think it was number 9 or something) where I asked what peoples first comic book experience was, and whilst reading through some of the replies I saw a comment by Niall Mor where, near the end of his comment, he started to talk about how he started out with Heromachine. So that's this weeks Question, because I'm genuinely interested and I know that everyone here has a story here, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. So, how did you discover this website? How did you become part of the Heromachine Community family? Tell us your Heromachine story.

Personally, I started out with Heromachine 2 in, I think it was around 2006. I was bored whilst staying down at my Grandparents house one day and I started messing about on their computer. I can't remember what exactly lead me to the site, but I probably searched "Create A Superhero" in google and this site was the first thing that came up. I dutifully set about creating my own comic book fantasy world, full of characters either myself or my friends (who all loved this new toy I'd discovered) had thought up with our twelve/ thirteen year old brains. I was quite happy just messing around with the basics for a while, until the 2.5 update. Around then I stumbled across a collection of other Heromachine art. I think it was still on the site, it must have been on the blog or the forums but it blew my mind. There was stuff there that I didn't know was possible to do, it was the first time I saw any of the alternate skins or monster bodies, I remember seeing one female character that had a transparent 1st skin colour with a purple 2nd colour and I basically went and memorised every aspect of that character and went into the program and rebuilt it. I can even visualise it today. That got me into actually experimenting with the program, although this kinda slowed when the other versions of the program where introduced (Modern Warrior Creator, then HM3). Then it was just translating my 2.5 characters into 3 with my very limited skills at the time. It took me a few years before I looked properly at the blog, I focused again solely on my own little world on the program its self. But then, for some reason I took a look and, as with the previous time I ventured away into the unknown depths of the site, I discovered wonders. I found the contests and through those the art of AMS, DiCicatriz, Anarchangel (I have to say guys, you have no idea how many of your characters I tried and failed to recreate the way I did with the transparent girl) Kaldath, Asder,  Zyp and SeanDavidRoss. I discovered that there was a whole community built around this program and there were people out there doing this amazing work with this thing that I was barely scratching the surface of. And you know what I did? I turned round and said "I'm gonna try and beat them." God, if you look back at my first contest entry, I was such an idiot. I didn't stand a chance and not only because I didn't name my entry correctly. It didn't take me long to realise that I could do better, so I ended up on deviantart, where, once again, I started look at how other people were using Heromachine, in specific; AMS. I started trying to copy his style and whilst I didn't fail spectacularly, it's safe to say, I was no AMS. Thankfully, he humoured me and gave me some advice on shading and how to improve my art. Shortly after that I got up the confidence to join the forums, which was actually because I wanted a bit of help on a picture and Jeff told me to go to the forums newly opened "How Do I?" section. A few days later I started up my thread and the rest, as they say, is history.

So yeah, that's how I got started on Heromachine and how I got into the community. So now it's over to you.

Oh and if anyone's interested, I still have that first Heromachine picture that I made round my Grandparents all those years ago. I know it's terrible, but I was thirteen (maybe twelve, I can't exactly remember the date). I think his name was The Eagle or something like that.

The Eagle

About JR19759

Email: Twitter: @jr19759 Deviantart: JR19759 Deviantart HM Group: Heromachine-Art

25 Responses to The Big Question ♯26

  1. Moognation says:

    I don’t even remember how/when I discovered Heromachine. I do know it was all the way back to the first version. The forums were hosted by UGO at the time, and Willy Pete was the moderator.

    One of my best HM memories was having a character I designed (Swamp Lord) chosen for the back of the CD case that Jeff shipped. Was that HM2? Wish I had that pic around, but I created it on a work computer that I don’t have anymore. Never posted that one on the current forums, but I still have the CD.

    I haven’t created anything new since the birth of my daughter and our move to western NC, but I still follow a lot of the guys on the forums. I like to check in on the up and comers from time to time, also.

    It’s a great community of good people! I love the camaraderie and willingness to help out folks. Later taters!

  2. Herr D says:

    While on break working for a federal contractor, I wound up chatting online with a guy who called himself Hairy instead of Harry. I was bemoaning my lack of ability to both earn a living and do art. He was bemoaning how he felt like he could help people if people would just take his advice.

    I challenged him: Find me a free art form that doesn’t take up much space that maybe I could do in my car on breaks. You do that, I typed, and you’ll be almost ready to blog. I’ve never been able to find non-merchant sites very efficiently. He found “in sixteen seconds, knowing it was what we needed” — we? “Yes. I want you to test out my schtick and make art to display on my coming blog.”

    I picked a meaningful soundalike screen name to his intended blogger name and tried to just do fiction at first–but he was right. I’m a lot faster at meaningful illustrations. Bright guy.

  3. CantDraw says:

    I don’t remember how I found HM, but it was back in the UGO days before 2.5. I didn’t do a whole lot with it until it upgraded to 3 which is when I started looking at the forums. That’s when I found Zyp and prswirve, who became my primary influences. I couldn’t believe the things they were doing and thought, “If they’re doing it, why not me.” So I joined primarily to challenge myself. I knew if I kept posting for others to see, I would want to get better and better. This site has sparked creativity I never knew I had. I love any chance I get to be here and create.

  4. Vectorman316 says:

    When I was a Senior in High School, I randomly Googled “create a superhero.” After being underwhelmed by some of the other sites on offer, I stumbled across HeroMachine 2.5. The first character I created was literally a redesign of Nightwolf from Mortal Kombat (Yeah, I know.) When everything made the transfer from UGO to here, I showed up a little bit after while the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust contest (2/20/12). I made a profile using a variation of my normal username and posted my entry, which was disqualified because I took Lust literally by entering a picture of just sex. I’ve been here ever since.

  5. Kaldath says:

    I was actually searching the web for Map Making programs for my AD&D game when I stumbled upon HeroMachine 2. For a while I was content to use the free online version of the program but was starting to hit the limits of what I could create with it fairly quickly so after searching the web once again to see what the premium versions had to offer I downloaded the paid version of HM 2. It was during that last romp through the interwebs that I found the UGO forums AND the HeroMachine Yahoo group.

    I Lurked around on both groups for a several months before I got the courage to create my own thread on the forums and share my creations. I would watch some of the things the others were doing with the program and go “Wow, how did he do that ?” and would set out to figure out how it was done and adapt or improve it for use with my own creations. So there I was making my own Heromachine art, sharing it and occasionally comment on someone else’s art and one day I commented on the creation of a HM Newbie, I Think it was The Imp but not a 100% certain, but regardless, this creator saw my comment and replied back that he was glad that I commented because it was my opinion he wanted the most as it was because of me that he joined the community! I was floored to think that the art I created would inspire someone like the art of people like Blue Blazer had inspired me!

    It was this incident combine with Jeff coming to me to be the first person to test HM3 for him ( HM3 was my personal play ground for about a month before it went public) that made me want to step up my game and take more of an active leadership role in the community. So when UGO turned HeroMachine back over to Jeff and he created the new forums here on the Website I volunteered my service as moderator. When HammerKnight and I began our Jobs as the sites moderators I would have never though that it would lead to me being the one in charge of all the Moderators as well as Running the Blog as well but I have to say it has been a fun if somewhat bumpy ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love this community and I want to see it Thrive!

  6. FRM says:

    i also discovered HM 2.5 after googling “superhero creator”, and my first superhero was a nasty-looking “aquademon”. i forgot about it for a while, then discovered HM3, and joined to forums on UGO, and have been here (mostly) since then.

  7. Kaldath says:

    Oh and if anyone is interested I do have an entire Gallery of my Heromachine 2, 2.5, and Shakti Warriors ( Heromachine Shakti Warriors ) creations here on the forums.

  8. Nug says:

    Yup me too… I also googled “create a super hero”. And like most others here it sent me to the old version on the ugo site. It was cool but lacked what i was really looking for. So after a few years of working and then going back to school; I was once again on the line and found pics that looked similiar to the images made with HM2 but better. That lead me here, and looking at the Hall of Fame made me think “WOW! I’m gonna make something that cool.”. and yeah being new to HM3 I had to sign up for the forums. The first page I remember looking at was Scatman’s gallery. He had a lot of pics involving what I later come to know as “zyping”. Then I found Ams, and studying his pics and his helpfull advice lead me to get better. The more I browsed the forums the more I was amazed at the creations our fellow machiners were putting out. “I can do this too!”, I thought to myself. And here I am.

  9. Lime says:

    So back in … (checks old defunct writing blog I’m amazed is even still there) 2004 someone on the Nanowrimo forums posted a link to a helpful site that could help writers who weren’t draw-ers visualize their characters. (How appropriate, I’m once again failing Nanowrimo at this very moment!)

    These guys were the characters I came up with way back then, for a story that never got past the planning stage about an interdimensional reality TV show:

  10. dblade says:

    I truly can’t remember how I heard about HeroMachine, but it was back in the version 2 days. I actually ordered the CD and mostly thought about creating characters rather than actually completing any artwork. Alas, it was my unfulfilled ambition to create awesome characters for my RPG games and impress my gaming group. 🙂

    For a few years I lost track of HeroMachine and had no idea that Jeff was concocting Version 3. I then stumbled upon Version 3 while surfing the net (once again my memory fails me on the when on how) and immediately knew that this was something special. I began checking out all of the threads on UGO and seeing what Machinists were creating. Then I read a mention of contests and the coveted item prize that Jeff would create if you won. This captured my imagination and I became obsessed with contributing to HeroMachine with my “awesome” suggestions. 🙂 Of course I would have to win a contest first. So I entered the Seductrix in my first contest (the theme was something like “the best of your work”) and actually won.

    I ended up requesting a cone head inspired by the Absorbing Man, but casually mentioned a secondary request for the Amazing Man’s head if Jeff had the time. Jeff fulfilled the secondary request instead, much to my amusement. I later created the cone head myself once Jeff gave me the go ahead to create items for HeroMachine.

    After that first contest I was hooked. It did take me a long while to win another contest, so my swelling ego was shrunk back down to a manageable size. Fortunately I learned to simply enjoy the process and not worry about winning or losing.

    After playing around with HeroMachine and exporting images to Illustrator for further manipulation it struck me that I could create items for the program. I asked Jeff if he was interested in receiving item contributions. He said as long as they fit the quality and style of the program he would be fine with adding new pieces that I made. My first piece was a cyclops eye and it was a happy day for me when it went live and Machinists began using it in their artwork. To this day I still notice when people use the pieces that I create which creates a happy feeling in my hypothetical soul. 😉

  11. Malfar says:

    I first saw a mention of this site when I didn’t even have a PC, it was mentioned in a videogame magazine. Heromachine was still on UGO site then. After I got my own PC I immediately visited the site and started using HeroMachine 2. With my imagination I didn’t have to sit and think “Oh I don’t know what to do”. But my original characters soon ended, so I started making HeroMachine version of DC and Marvel characters. It was quite interesting – but it lacked something.

    Aaaand then a friend of mine sent me a joke picture of a guy with a shield and ridiculous cloak. The picture was signed as “Captain America” Suddenly I realised I could redesign and reimagined copyrighted characters! Now the HeroMachine experience became much much MUCH more interesting. Badass Alfred as Batman? Easy. Viking Hulk? Peace of cake. Then I visited Deviantart where there are hundreds of amazing redesigns and now I am crazy about redesigning and reimagining characters. And of course, lots of original characters still come out. And heromachined celebrities like wrestlers or singers. So thanks everyone who works on the program. You guys provided me a means to cheer up if I’m down.

  12. JR19759 says:

    @Moognation- Good to have you around still, even if it is just in a lurking capacity. I’d imagine your life isn’t filled with an abundance of spare time at the moment, but I hope you do get a chance to do some ‘machining at some point soon, we’ve been missing seeing your awesome stuff. Oh, and congratulations on winning the “who’s been around the longest” prize out of everyone who’s answered so far.
    @Herr D- Indeed.
    @CantDraw- Is it weird that you saying prswirve was one of your main influences makes me feel old (and I’m only 21). I remember welcoming prs to the forums when he first joined and seeing his very early art and how he progressed. But I have to agree with your closing sentiment.
    @Vectorman316- Your first contest was the one after my first then. Dunno why, but I just find that really cool.
    @Kaldath- Know the feels dude. I still find it weird when people say that I inspired them. I’m just like “what?”. Also, as with CantDraw, I agree wholeheartedly with your closing statement. And plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that version of heromachine before (which is odd). Oh and you got to pre-release test HM3…. Jealous.
    @FRM- Now why does that sound so familiar? 😉
    @Nug- Ditto that. I feel bad now, because I didn’t mention Scatman in my little (who’m I kidding) story, because he was one of the people who really welcomed me, helped me and encouraged me when I first joined the forums. He was a great guy and I wish he’d show up again.
    @Lime- Nice, that’s a reality TV show I’d watch.
    @dblade- If I’m being honest, if people were using stuff I’d drawn in their creations I’d be incredibly annoying, just going around and saying “I drew that bit!” 😉
    @Malfar- Interesting. That’s one thing I never did, even before I joined the forums, was redesigning superheroes. Badly ripping them off, yes, but redesigning them, no. But if it cheers you up, then that’s great.

  13. Stulte says:

    It must have been back in 2006. I was looking for ways to make illustrations for an RPG adventure I was hosting for a very small local convention, and stumbled upon HeroMachine 2 through an old, now-defunct, Swedish gaming forum. I made my illustrations, was happy with them, and then promptly forgot the program even existed.

    Then, two years ago, I started working on an RPG of my own, and was once again led to the Machine, now in version 3. I tinkered with it for a year before I felt confident setting up a gallery of my own, which I have never rgretted for a second. This is seriously one of the best internet communities I’ve ever come across.

    I was delighted to find I still have the illustrations I made for the con. They must be on their fourth laptop by now.

    I might redo them some time, I don’t they look all that bad.

  14. Linea24 says:

    I first discovered HeroMachine in December 2012 while I was looking for worldbuilding resources. I first explored HM2.5 until I clicked on the link for HM3, and I got hooked. Then I discovered the forums and started seeing all these really cool I never thought that HM3 could do. I remember my very first piece was of Swift.
    I then wondered what other people’s creations looked like, so I started to lurk the forums. Some of the galleries I remember looking at the most were Djuby’s and Halekin’s.
    I don’t know what first inspired me to attempt making a cat with HeroMachine, but I guess that it was because I had so many cat characters.
    I’m pretty sure I have some of my first experiments with HM2.5, though all of my very first ventures with HM3 were lost because I didn’t know at the time that the pictures saved directly on the program were prone to random deletion.

  15. Stulte says:

    @ Linea
    That reminds me, I should really back up my .sol file. Haven’t done that since last December.

  16. JR19759 says:

    @Stulte- Only you can prevent lost save data. Also, it’s good to know you haven’t regretted a second with us. We obviously haven’t been trying hard enough 😉
    @Linea24- You’re seriously telling me that you only started on Heromachine in 2012? If you were to plot that improvement curve on a graph it would look like an reverse L without the bottom bit.

  17. Sabrina says:

    I just started using Heromachine about… *counts on fingers*… a month and a half ago? I feel like it’s been longer than that. Two months ago? Has it really been that long?

    Eh, I dunno. I’ve just barely started. Let’s put it that.

    I ended up here because I was scrolling through the forums on As a Game Master I was looking for a free program to create simple character illustrations. HeroMachine was suggested quite emphatically. Not only did I find what I was looking for here, but I found an awesome community that really takes artwork seriously and is kind to a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing. 😉

  18. Lordgrimm01 says:

    I found Hero Machine back in 2000, I think Hero Machine 2 was still in the alpha stage.

  19. Vampyrist says:

    I can’t remember when I first started Heromachine, but it was back in the UGO HM2/2.5 days. I want to say it was at least ’06, but I really can’t remember. I bought the online version of HM2, or more accurately made my parents buy me it and I spent many hours toying with it, helping to develop the many burgeoning ideas I had.

    These ideas popped up in doodles and in my imagination. I remember the first doodles of many of my characters. I still remember doodling my main character Alpha after I finished our weekly drawing in 5th grade art class. I believe I’ve lost most of the originals and the most current drawings are somewhere in a box in a closet. The doodles have improved somewhat, as has my heromachining and they are both still constantly evolving. My childhood was defined by superheroes and imaginary worlds and heromachine gave me an outlet for these ideas.

    I think I joined the forum a couple of months after purchase and I’ve been posting ever since, though I seem to post less frequently than I used to. I should change that, College has given me some extra free time.

  20. Skybandit says:

    I know I’ve been here long enough that I answered the original question when it was first posted. Don’t remember when I started, but I was using it in 2002.

  21. punkjay says:

    Found this sight from the old weekly bad costume sets. then before work i would check the blog and this is the only sight besides facebook i check regularlly

  22. Worf says:

    I stumbled upon HeroMachine way back in version 2.0 as a download from another site. I toyed with it a little and decided to find if there were updates and stuff which led me to the site and the Blog (which also led me to the realization I was using “pirated” software, for my eternal shame). I kinda left it at that, but a few months later I restarted playing RPGs (D&D 3.5) and as any other player, was always in deep envy of the few people that could do illustrations of their characters and always wanted one for my characters. THEN I remembered the HeroMachine.

    That was around Mid 2008 and Jeff had just released the facemaker app, the first step leading to HM3. So, I had, not only a general picture of my character, but a detailed face portrait. From that point I was hooked. I did the character designs for the rest of the party and some other stuff, I remember the site was hosted by UGO and Jeff was busy with some of the HM Minis. We didn`t even have regular character design contests, just caption contests, random pannels and some other stuff.

    And then, on January 2009, the announcement came. He was working on HM3! (se post here: ). That was it for me. I was hooked and have never stopped reading the blog since. It took me a couple more months to start commenting, Right when we got the first alpha version of HM3 but I`ve been here ever since. (found my first comment here: ) AND my first honorable mention right in the first CDC ( picture here:

    Dang I remember the call for items, everytime Jeff would annouce he was doing a new item set (like fantasy pants) and people would chime in with list of 50 links to different pictures. Or the whole “I hate Rob Liefeld’s art” section. The first CDC…. So many memories… So many people that have stopped commenting…. Oh well…. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane JR!

  23. Wolf Master says:

    Well i discovered by just searching superhero creator on the internet. Ive always like creating thing but sometimes i can’t be bothered to draw so i just searched for these kind of sites. I first found heromachine 2.0 and used it a couple times then didn’t come back for a while. Then later i remembered using it so searched for it again. I found heromachine 3 and was instantly hooked. I hung around for months but then eventually decided to make my my own account and gallery. Im still amazed by the amount of help and feed back on this website and i’m still constantly improving.

  24. TOOL says:

    Hello all,

    I am not sure exactly when Heromachine first came around. I believe it was back around the time frame pf 2005 give or take a year that I discovered Heromachine. The machine may have been in part 2 but could have possibly still been in version one. I was bored late one night and was awake because I couldn’t sleep. I use to have PTSD really bad after returning from overseas but the voices in my head tell me I am okay now. I happend to type in the search bar something along the lines of creating my own superhero or character when this site, different as it was back then, popped up on the first page of search results. I had created several space type villains and a guy that had a staff with some ripped up clothes. When I first got into the machine I was going by my first name. Many of you now know me as TOOL. For some reason, I would venture to say being busy with kids and a divorce, I got away from the machine. One night this site popped back into my head and by that time the machine had evolved into its 3rd stage of evolution. The change was much like a Super Sayian 1 – HM1 going to a SS3 – HM3. The changes were big and exciting in a way that offered artist a way to really push the machine to create things that even got Jeff scratching his head at times. I love it when I have to stare at a piece of work to try and figure out how the user made it. I was worried at one point in the machines history that the site may have to be shut down. There was something about funding or or leaving a party that was involved. Jeff you may know what I mean. Anyhow I am glad that the machine is still around and I hope that however we all came together that we try to keep creating and colaberating. I appreciate and enjoy all the work and topics of conversation that people share here.

  25. Torog says:

    Like many others have stated before I do not know when I first used HM. Likely it was 2.0 version. I vaguely recall it was during the Ugo days. That was a computer ago and unfortunately with it a purging of lost characters. There was some time time spent away from the machine for a while and when I had returned a lot of new features had been implemented. A lot of lurking occurred for quite a while before i decided to finally join the forums.

    Travelling down the proverbial internet rabbit hole from a rpg site is the most likely how I found the site.

    In closing let me say this site has brought me hours of entertainment and I’m constantly
    amazed by what people continue to contribute and create. Also I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to Jeff and everyone involved with Heromachine. I don’t do a lot of commenting on the forums (not great at communicating via the web admittedly) although rare that I do not see a post in the art gallery. I have great fondness for everybody here. Thank you.