March 8, 2012

Meet Balen 3.0

I'm not sure why, but I decided to check out Hero Machine again and was surprised by the fact that have a version 3.0 Alpha.

Now I remember why....the picture I used for my Wednesday night PC, Linian, was borrowed from the web.  I couldn't find the original source for the picture and I wasn't 100% happy blogging on my seldom-used game blog using that graphic.

In playing around with the program I decided to make a new miniature for my Sunday night PC Balen.

The first graphical representation I had for Balen was an altered miniature that was made for use with virtual table-tops like MapTools.  I found a mini that had a warhammer, swapped out the head for one that had grey hair, and altered the warhammers to make them bigger.  It was a quick & dirty job in Photoshop.

That worked well enough for a while, but MapTools also lets you bring in a picture to represent your PC.  That graphic shows up in the corner occasionally and most folks use the same graphic as their miniature token.  I prefer top-down minis since the map is top-down, but most people I've run into use flat 2D minis.  They are easier for some to see, but I figure if you are going through the trouble to use a cool top-down map program you should get appropriate minis.

I won't show the graphic I originally use for Balen's "mug shot" because  a) I didn't like it, b) it was borrowed, and c) it was too cartoonish.

I played around with Hero Machine 2.5 and got this picture, which I then played around with in Photoshop to add some textures and then make a small paper mini.

It was a good first attempt, but still too cartoonish for my taste and I was a bit limited by the program.  Although Hero Machine 3.0 is still in Alpha, it is so much better than 2.5 is.  When they get a few more items loaded up it'll be even better.

With the new version of Hero Machine, you can choose to add multiples of an item on a layer and then choose to re-position or re-size those items.  This really lets you play around with the program a lot.  My first attempt was to recreate Linian, which I might show later, but since I wanted to take 3.0 for a spin I redid Balen.  With the re-sizing I was able to take a beefier body type and "squish" it down some.  I played with the head and hand sizes until I got what I liked.  While there were plenty of hand options I ended up just taking using multiple copies of the same hand, just flipping and moving the second hand.  Neither hand really meshed well with the wrist of the body type I had chosen, so I had to play around with it.  There are several textures that you can apply to the parts of your hero, which was a welcome addition, even if I'm going to do some more later.  When it came time to color the body Hero Machine 3.0 let me apply my chosen color scheme to all the skin at once.  That was a savings of time and frustration.

The new version lets you save your finished hero online and there are quite a few export options.  This made it possible to play with it in Photoshop much easier.  I think the end results speak for themselves.

All in all, it will take more time to make your hero with the new version of Hero Machine.  My new Balen isn't a Human figure simply reduced in size to Dwarf proportions when I was finished with him.  He was built from the ground up to be shorter and stockier.

When making paper miniatures out of these pictures, if you are using a base where you have to push-in the figure, you might want to put some empty space at the bottom of you finished miniature so the base doesn't "eat" the mini's feet.  Of course it won't be to scale as far as height goes, but the mini can be to proper scale in proportions and still be 100% visible.

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