The Short Answer
Want a detailed character portrait with a comic book vibe, but your artistic limits are challenged by stick figures? Look no further! HeroMachine 2.5 will crank out some highly specific full-body characters, if you’ve got the patience to play for a bit.
What Does It Do?
HeroMachine is a paper doll flash app, much like the detailed video game character makers from Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or City of Heroes. You pick a body type, features, clothes, accessories, and two colors for everything (and I mean everything).
The depth is uncanny. There are thousands of parts to play with across the whole figure. Each item gets two colors, often a primary and highlight color. Colors can be set individually or copied from other items, one of several time-savers tucked into the controls.
You can breeze through a character pretty quickly if you want (10-15 minutes), or you can dig in deep with up to three layers per body part. I’ve spent upwards of an hour comparing options and rearranging layers for very complex characters.
Lastly, you can save, load or export your characters as JPGs to print out or post online.
Who’s It For?
Gamers who think visually and like a comic book aesthetic. It was originally built for super heroes, but translates handily to most any genre. You’ll want time to play with it, too. The app takes some time to load all the thousands to images, so a modicum of patience is required.
The Bottom Line
This is a highly addictive toy disguised as a useful tool. You’ll run into pieces or sets that make you want to try more characters. There’s a level of generic to the appearance (especially if you’ve seen a few hundred posted in message boards). It may bother some, but honestly if you’re not up to doing your own drawings, HeroMachine offers welcome versatility.