Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Advice and hints on how to create the perfect character illustration.


We used to do a series of tutorials 'round these parts, which you can access here or here.

Since this came up in the contest thread, I just want to point out that anyone at all is more than welcome to put together one of these. Write it up however you like and email it to me, and if it seems like something helpful I'll post it.

If you'd rather not be that formal, I'd definitely encourage you to post them on the "Tips & Tricks" forum. That's open to anyone who's registered and you can do it up however you like.

Sunset recipe by Nick Hentschel

Instead of the usual Power User Profile, we have a special treat today -- Nick Hentschel has graciously put together a nifty how-to recipe for your own sunset backgrounds! I know he put a ton of work into this, so please let him know in the comments that you appreciate the effort and the willingness to share.

Note that you can click on most of these screen captures to see them at maximum size. Without further ado, I give you Nick's recipe!

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The always awesome Zyp has graciously put together a brief guide on how you can create incredible looking faces in HeroMachine 3 just like he does! I've always been impressed with the dimensionality and personality he gets into his characters, and really appreciate his sharing his secrets with us. Thank you, Zyp!

Stuff You Didn’t Know Was Possible in HeroMachine

[Panner is not only a fantastic troubleshooter and critique-giver, but he's also an expert digital archaeologist, uncovering hidden gems of knowledge when using HeroMachine 3. He was nice enough to put together some of his findings here to share with the rest of the community, for which I'm very thankful. Enjoy! -- Jeff]

HeroMachine has changed a lot over these latest months. In a short time we have seen the debut of a beautiful interface, extremely useful features, dozens of items to work with, and a forum for sharing creations. I don't think anyone will contest that these changes have made the HeroMachine experience a lot more pleasant and a lot less exhausting.

Since HeroMachine is currently in alpha stage, there are a few oddities that can be exploited to reach results that are unavailable when using the program as intended. Here I present three such exploits that all produce results you might have thought were impossible. I hope this will be educational or at least entertaining!

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META: Save issues?

I've heard disturbing reports from AMS, Hammerknight, and a couple of other folks that after a Flash update, they lost all their saved files and now can no longer save characters between sessions. Has anything like that happened to you? If so, could you please post in comments with your browser version, operating system version, and Flash version (which you get by right-clicking on the HM3 app and choosing "About Flash Player" from the flyout)?

I'm really hoping Adobe didn't change something about the way they save Flash cookies in this latest release ...

This is a good time to remind you that, as with any piece of software, you should back up your characters on a regular basis to avoid catastrophic loss. There are now three ways to do so:

  1. Save the text string of your character to a file using the "Save as Text" option in HM3 and pasting the results into Notepad or Text Edit or Word or an email or whatever you like. This is the most secure.
  2. Find the hmcharacters.sol file on your hard drive and copy it into a directory you control. You can also make a backup copy of the .SOL files that Flash uses to save your guys. I’ll probably keep the old (current) alpha version “live” for a little while under another name (so heromacine3a.swf or something). If I do that, then you should be able to go in and change the directory name where these .SOL files are kept to that name and still be able to access your characters:

    The saved Flash shared object library files (.sol for you Windows users) are LIKE cookies, but they are NOT actual cookies. They are not stored in the shared internet data files and will not be deleted if you erase all your cookies. You can only remove them by right-clicking on the movie, and going to Flash Settings, removing them there.

    In Windows it's at %AppData%MacromediaFlash Player#SharedObjects\www.heromachine.comhm3 where %AppData% is a variable leading to your browser.

    On a Mac they are in HD / User / / Library / Preferences / Macromedia / Flash Player / #SharedObjects / / / hm3 / heromachine3.swf / hmcharacters.sol

  3. Export your images as JPGs or PNGs. This doesn't enable you to live-edit them any more, but at least you'll have the images.

I hate to think of people losing their hard work, and I'm trying to do a bit of digging to see if anything changed with the latest Flash Player update or what.

Edited To Add: Sure enough, Adobe has implemented much easier methods of deleting "Flash cookies", which is what the HeroMachine save file is. You can get the details here. AMS identified the specific setting you need to change if you don't want all of your saved characters to be wiped out the next time you close your browser after installing the update, at least in Internet Explorer:

How to make Portals in Hero Machine 3… by Mashlagoo

(Mashlagoo was kind enough to put together this nifty guide for how to make a portal effect in HeroMachine 3. It's great stuff, I hope you enjoy it! -- Jeff.)

The intended purpose of this guide is to show how multiple backgrounds can be combined to create the illusion of a portal.

I assume the reader has a certain level of familiarity with using HM3. So, I will not be covering much of the process I used to create the background to the left. I will instead only be covering how the effect of the portal was made and what I used to create the border of the portal.

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Framed Background recipe

Inspired by Lime's contest-winning entry, I wanted to figure out how to create an illustration where the figure and its items would break the bounds of a frame surrounding the background elements. I am sure you all can think of twenty easier ways to do it than this one, but it's what I came up with. If nothing else, maybe it will spur you to create your own method and share it with the rest of us! Here's what the final result looks like:

First, create your character and background however you like. When you're done, here's how to make the frame effect.

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Recipe: Captain Morgan

Many thanks to Imp for putting together this most excellent guide to posing a character in HM3 with the classic "one leg propped up" pose. Be sure to let him know in the comments if you find this helpful!

Hammerknight’s Elven Recipes

My apologies for how long it took me to post these, but some time ago Hammerknight put out two recipe cards for making good elves in HM3, and I thought it was long past time to share them. Thanks HK!

Scary HM3 Halloween Cemetery

With profound thanks to Me Myself and I (meaning the frequent contest entrant and commenter, not literally me, Jeff Hebert) for putting this together, I am happy to present what may be the most ambitious Recipe to date -- MMI's Super Creepy Halloween Cemetery. I thought it would be the perfect fit for the Halloween week.

Next week we'll have another installment of Hammerknight's great "character archetypes" series, but this one was too perfectly timed to wait.

Thanks again MMI!

Note that if anyone else has recipes or how-to visual guides they'd like posted here, by all means send 'em on.

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