Ok, first off, no. This is a one off, COTW isn't coming back full time. I honestly don't have the time, there's a reason lists only happen every other week. But I wanted to showcase this because it makes a good example of how small changes and improvements can make a character go from good to excellent.
So, as we can see, we have two pictures of the same character from different points of the year side-by-side. You can immediately tell it's the same character, the colour scheme is the same, the face is still recognisable and we have broadly the same pose with the characters powers on display. However, each of those things has also been tweeked to give the character that little bit more... well, character.
Pose wise, the characters arms and legs are now slightly further apart, giving a wider stance which suggests power, authority and readiness, this guy is here and in control of whatever situation he has found himself in. We also have an extension to the display of his energy powers as well, which add a nice little bit of life to a static (no-pun) picture.
Facially there have been some more obvious changes, most obvious being the transferral of hair from the scalp to the chin. Maybe this is just personal taste ut superheroes with moustaches never really worked for me, they always made it harder to take the character seriously. Villains, on the otherhand, suit moustaches down to the ground, but that might just be because they always have magnificent facial adornments. Anyway, bit off topic there, but yeah, switching from 'tache to goatee and losing the receeding hairline has really done wonders, as has the switch to thicker framed glasses, which look much more practical for action (well, as practical as glasses can be in a fight, but at least with sturdy rims you aren't going to have to worry about getting glass in your eye if you get punched in the face). Also, the previous glasses were positioned in such a way that they covered up the eyebrows too much, where as the new pair have been positioned to show the eyebrows more, adding a more agressive facial expression that was hidden behind moustache and glasses in the older version.
And then we have the costume. Whilst the colour scheme may have stayed the same, the usage certainly hasn't. A more liberal use of darker tones and the accentuating black, once again, gives a more agressive, action-like feel to the character and really sets off the lighter colours of the energy in front of the character, making it really pop and add extra depth without needing to do much, if any shading to the actual character. The new costume design is also more cohesive, the old version had that shirt and trousers look with the legs being a different colour to the top and, whilst that can work, it gives the character a slightly dated look. The new design, with all colours consistant on both top and bottom, flows so much better, following the sort of design philosophy you see in classic costumes from heros such as Green Lantern or Spider-Man, one main colour, one accent and an eye-catching logo of a third colour and that's all you need. Oh and big props for masking spandex to the logo so the highlight/lowlight shading of the tops are continuous, it's one of my favourite techniques and one a lot of people should look into doing more often, it makes the logo look like part of the costume rather than floating on top of it.
And lastly we must talk about the change in background, because it's obviously the biggest and most obvious change. Full colour scenery backgrounds are often very awkward in heromachine, unless done right and very subtly they can almost swamp the character, especially when using flat colours. This is why you'll see a lot of people only use white (myself included) and nerd0and0proud has gone for the simpler approach in this redesing, though, to his credit, he has done something in the background. He's only added a shading circle of lavender and reduced the opacity a little bit, but considering that the characters costume is dark and the energy effect is very light, what we have in the background is a perfect middle ground, it's not so dark that it merges with the costume and not so light that it swamps the energy. It just makes both stand out even more than they would if it was only them on a plain background. It's just a really simple and subtle thing that easily could have been left out, but wasn't and it completes the picture.
And what really amazes me is that these two pictures were done only 10 months appart. Personally, I find that very impressive. That's the sort of improvement I'd expect to see after a few years.
And with that