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Sulemania

Rage against the Heromachine
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4 min read
Back when I made superhero stuff in Heromachine, I dreamed up four different characters named Whisper, the joke being that the name was such an obviously cool superhero name that four different individuals in the Congo, Ireland, USA and Finland all independently came up with the same name. They ended up meeting up and forming the Council Of Whispers, helping each other out when necessary.

I'm not gonna upload them in my main gallery because they're old and crude, but I'll show them to you just for fun. Let's take a time machine trip back to 2010!

So, roll call: "Ireland" can turn into a ghost form with appropriate powers and carries a hellfire flame, both of which he received when he crawled back from hell. He comes from a long line of the most notorious villains of Irish history, but he himself had a shred of decency that he used to rally his entire family to allow him to escape hell and redeem the family name. He might also have accidentally let his most notorious ancestor become a lord of hell in the process? Oops. He mostly deals with the supernatural.
Whisper Ireland 5 by Sulemania

"USA" is a soft-hearted farmboy gadgeteer who moved into the big city only to discover it overrun with crime. He developed cybernetic implants that allow him to emit various sonic frequencies. He's a wannabe Batman with a country boy accent and an embarassingly helpful attitude.
Whisper America 2 by Sulemania

"Congo" is a survivor of the civil war who has become a protector of innocent life amids the local conflicts. In addition to his crisis management and wilderness survival skills, he constantly emits a field that negates all sound around him, making him effectively deaf-mute. At its smallest, the field only surrounds him, but he can expand it to cover entire buildings. He tries not to get too involved in the actual fighting, but he will mess you up if he has to.
Whisper Congo 4 by Sulemania

"Finland" deals with white collar crime, using espionage skills to uncover wrongdoings that other heroes and even law enforcement might overlook. He exposes tax evasion, exploitation, bribes, corruption and all that noise.
Finnish Whisper by Sulemania

I like to believe I've improved since then. These days, I don't really touch superhero designs, I just can't find the inspiration for them.
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1 min read
Just a quick example of how a character can be made to use binoculars in Heromachine. Let's break it down.

The end product.

Binoculars by Sulemania

Here's the same image without the binoculars. Each hand has two thumbs, but the binoculars cover that up, don't worry about it.
Binoculars2 by Sulemania

Finally, here's how it's actually done. The thumb from the open hand is masked onto a small circle and put on a layer above the "saluting" hand. Tweak the proportions until you feel the hand looks correct.
Binoculars3 by Sulemania

That's that. I might post more of these quick guides in the future.
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3 min read
Once again, I go over the progress of a design. This time, we're looking at the Mountain Climber.

Started out with an idea of a character climbing some tall object with the help of a rope.
Climber Sketch by Sulemania

Worked in a background, shifted from a forest to the mountains, tried to keep the clothing as basic as possible to avoid headaches if I had to change the pose or something. Color-coded everything so that I can see which items are part of which larger piece.

Mountain Climber 2 by Sulemania
Came to the conclusion that the rope didn't look quite right, it needed to be more taut.
Mountain Climber 3 by Sulemania
Decided to change from the old rope-around-the-waist to a more modern climbing harness. Took a look at some online references and made a simple approximation of a climbing harness. Added fingerless gloves and a stubble, because this guy is just fundamentally obnoxious. Started assigning the base colors.
Mountain Climber 5 by Sulemania


Added all kinds of minor details: the clouds, birds, houses, sweater logo, hammer, drinking bottle, shoe spikes, glasses...
Mountain Climber 6 by Sulemania


Changed the line colors of each item from black to some lighter color to give the whole image a brighter look like it was being blasted with mountain sunshine. Started with the shading process from the background.
Mountain Climber 7 by Sulemania


Once the background was shaded, moved onto the sweater, since it's the next-largest item in the image. Continued like that with the rest of the pieces.
Mountain Climber 8 by Sulemania
Finalized the image by shading the face. Made some minor tweaks and additions throughout the process.
Mountain Climber by Sulemania


There you go! I hope this was either useful or entertaining to you.
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7 min read
This is just a an assortment of my thoughts about posing a character in Heromachine. If you're into more of superhero style or making cheesecake images, these might not be terribly useful for you.

1) Is the pose physically possible and the body correctly proportioned?
There's only so many ways a person's joints can be arranged, after all. Try not to break your character's bones. Experiment a little with your own body and a mirror. This leads directly into part 2.

2) Is the pose a) static or b) dynamic?

2a) Static
If the character is in a static pose, they should be able to maintain that pose for at least as long as they would pose for a photograph. I often try the pose myself to see if it can be done. Granted, many characters are much more flexible than I am, but it still gives me a good basic idea. Also consider that even if the pose is technically possible to achieve, it can still be awkward or uncomfortable in practice. This is especially true if you're using superhero material, fashion photography or anime as reference. I prefer a more grounded style, so I try to think of a pose that I personally could both maintain and move from.

2b) Dynamic
If the character is supposed to be in the middle of movement, creating a believable pose is much harder. Use references! Remember that moving one part of the body, such as the fist during a punch, can result in changes in the rest of the pose as well. The movement of the punch also moves the shoulders, the hips, even the feet.
The character is in motion, so where will they be in a few seconds? Would they still be in motion or would they have fallen flat on their face? Are they in a position where they could comfortably begin some other action, or are they stuck?
Use clothing and background elements further enchance the motion. Capes, hair, air currents, superpower effects and such can really enhance the motion. If the character's hair lies flat on their head while they're running, that looks fake. If the character's fiery fist doesn't leave a fiery trail when they're punching, that's a wasted opportunity. Etc, etc.
Heromachine's basic options are very limited. Understand that you will have to use a lot of trickery to make a believable dynamic pose.

Basically the only image I have of a really dynamic pose:
Anchor for Smitty309 by Sulemania
If you want some really good examples, check out TheAnarchangel.


3) Perspective and foreshortening
If a character's pose has one part of their body closer to the viewer, that body part needs to appear larger than the rest. Duh. However, the size shifting will likely need to be gradual. A character reaching their hand forward will have a slightly larger-appearing upper arm, an even larger forearm and finally, a very large hand.
Remember foreshortening! If you don't shorten that reaching arm, it will just look like they have a giant arm that is reaching upwards.
If one leg is further away than the other, it will need to be smaller and thinner.
Shading can be helpful for creating a sense of depth! Basic rule: If we assume a forward-facing light source, items that are in shadow look like they're further away from the viewer.
Perspective takes practice and lots of fiddling. Try your best, then try again.

Here are some pictures where I tried to use some perspective.
Shin by Sulemania
Damokros by Sulemania

Ghal Eng by Sulemania




4) Does the pose fit this particular character?
Simple question, really. Would this particular character take this pose? If they're a cool superhero, would they pose like a pinup model? If they're a fabulous, over-the-top character, would they pose like a boring normie? Just go in front of a mirror and think how you would pose if you were this character. If you can't think of a pose, do you really know the character yet? Even something as simple as a friendly salute or a hand on the hip can tell more about your character than three paragraphs of biography.

If the pose requires some other element to work, like a wall for them to lean on, or a rope to hang onto, it's a good idea to include that element.


5) Can I make the pose work with all the elements I want to include?

If your character has high heels, they won't be running terribly well. If the character has a cape or long hair, that might also pose issues.
Heromachine's options are also limited: You might not find the right foot items for a pose, or you might have to hide an awkward-looking shoulder behind a cape instead. Sometimes you want the character to wear gloves, but the only available hand items obviously have fingernails.

Many things can go wrong. Fix what you can, hide what you can't. If it is still impossible, return to the drawing board. You will have to make compromises! Either change the pose or change the character. These are hard decisions, but necessary ones.

Examples of my compromises:

Dente Di Zhengiaro by Sulemania
A true dente di zhengiaro stance would have the sword more off-center, but the angled blades didn't work with that. I had to compromise and change the pose!

King for Smitty309 by Sulemania

Smitty's original design had a chestplate and no loincloth. However, the chestplate didn't work with the angled torso, and the crotch looked really weird due to the pose of the legs, forcing me to hide it behind the loincloth. Also, the hands and feet were supposed to be more bestial, but the available options didn't fit the pose. I had to compromise and change the character design!
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2 min read

Once again, for my own amusement, here’s a little picture series about my Heromachine ogre design was made.

Started with the body. It’s important to get the ogre’s body type right! Only a coward would make an ogre who is not big and fat and strong.

Arranged the ogre into a sitting pose. Like herding cats. Also gave him some fabulous hair.

Gave this guy some body hair (you gotta give ogres some body hair, regardless of gender, else why are you even making an ogre?), some fantastic accessories and even some clothes for taste. Also started color-coding the pieces for later.

Gave this boy an axe and pinkish hue. Ogres are fantasy creatures, make them look fantastical.

Removed the masking lines and made a campfire, some other adjustments. One major thing I did was changing the line colors for all items slightly, away from black and into slightly brighter territory. This gives the whole design a slightly softer feel.

Removed the pointless ankle guards and changed his hand position to emphasize his philosophical side. This dude is just a regular everyday normal ogre who likes talking and looking fabulous, not a warchief or anything. Sure, he’s got an axe, but it’s more of an accessory. If he wanted you dead, he’d just just eat your head.

Gave him a chest guard like the other ogre had. It’s neat and practical and you can hang pouches from it. Also, it makes him look a little less naked.

Made a background. It’s just you and him, talking in his cave. Super romantic.

Started working on the shading. The outside world needs to look really murky since it’s nighttime and it’s far out of focus.

The fire shines really brightly on his body, so the shading’s got to reflect that, pun intended.

Here’s the final piece again. Added some big gradients to make the rest of the cave darker and the area around the fire a lot brighter.

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Featured

Council Of Whispers by Sulemania, journal

Heromachine 3 quickie: Binoculars by Sulemania, journal

Heromachine: Making a mountain climber by Sulemania, journal

Heromachine: Some thoughts on posing by Sulemania, journal

Heromachine: Making an ogre, part twogre by Sulemania, journal