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Create your own character! (The Cheater's way) (Lineart/coloring)


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Have you ever wanted to create your very own lineart of a character and color it in, but lack the ability to wield a tablet with any degree of efficiency? (P.S., please add tablet touch sensitivity support back to PDN, kthxbai) Well, now you can do just that, all without having to attend an art school or spend years teaching yourself how to draw like a pro! Allow me to demonstrate.

wildwoman3small.png KaylocknoglowSmall.png whatinsamhill2small.png

Whatever you do... don't ask about this one.

I did not draw any of those fine linearts you see before you—But I did create them. How is that possible, you ask? All in due time, my friend... All in due time.
Now, to start this tutorial. I warn you, it's going to be quite different from other tutorials you've followed. I'm going to bounce all over the place and might not make sense at all times. You've been warned.

But first, let's turn it into a game! That's right, a game. We'll mix it up. I'd like you to click on the following link.
This is the following link.
'What's this,' you ask? This is a random character description generator I like to use. It will randomly jumble a bunch of different features together into one (usually) cohesive physical description of your character. You see that one first description it came up with already? Don't click the generate button again— You're stuck with whatever you got. You now have to use that description. This is what makes it a game, what makes it fun. You must base your character upon it. And don't lose it, either. Refreshing or closing the page etetera will reset it, so copy and paste it into notepad or something.
Here's mine:

This girl makes you think of a mysterious raven. She has large eyes the color of smoke. Her fine, wavy, black hair is short and is worn in a bizarre style. She has an athletic build. Her skin is deeply-tanned. She has thin lips. Her wardrobe is bizarre.

I think I got DA:O's Morrigan's cousin or something.
Now, it's time to actually create this character you have. For that, I have another link:
Another link.
Thiiiiisss little doohickey is called the 'Hero Machine.' This v2.5, and there is a three... But it's more complex and lets you do lighting and stuff like that in itself, which would defeat the purpose of doing this for Paint.NET, no?
Alright, it's pretty self-explanatory. It's a flash applet that works with layers, and you build your character by plopping on stuff, basically. Here's a little quick run-through of the more important functions. Spoiler tags because I'm sick of resizing things.


1. The Load/Save functions. Useful if you plan on editing the design later. And trust me, even if you don't plan on it, you probably will find something you don't like and want to go back and modify. It's a good idea to keep this right next to your generated description in notepad.
2. This dropdown menu is your friend, if you couldn't figure that one out on your own. You can't see it in the screenshot, but the second one is also your friend, perhaps the more quiet one that has lots of skills and talents that you didn't even know of. Use it, a lot.
3. These are your layer controls. Fairly simple, but I tend to forget I have them from time to time, and things get weird.
4. A useful feature, match pairs will put anything that you do on the right onto the left. Mostly only works with shoes/gloves/weapons etc. Also, I have no idea what 'Lock Current' does, as it appears to do nothing!
5. We'll get to that in a bit.
Alright, now, I'll leave you to it. I won't really tell you how to make your own character in this, because... Well, I can't. It's all self-explanatory, like I said.


So I didn't actually make the eyes smokey, but, well, it just didn't look quite as cool... I put smoke behind her, instead, to make up for it. And I usually abhor humanoid creatures with bird wings as well as ordinary arms, but for some reason, this worked out pretty well in my mind. She looks like a BAMF. Wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley.
You can, obviously, do whatever you want. I think it was most important in this case that I got the 'bizarre' and 'mysterious raven' parts down. Also, as a note, you can't always really do anything about the sizes the generator gives you, unless you want to go with a dwarf body pose or the muscular-fat bodybuilder poses. I usually don't, personally.
Also, one more minor note: You may wish to only use one color for the skin, as the default 'shading' can make custom shading later on down the road look weird. I actually went back and changed it myself after taking these screenshots.
Right, so now that you have your character designed, you may be wondering how to get it into Paint.NET. Oddly enough, there's no built-in save-as-an-image system—They suggest print screen and pasting. But that makes it quite small, not nearly as large as its full resolution is. So I suggest a different route.
Remember the #5 I said we'd get back to later? Yes, the print button. Click that.
Now, I don't know if all computers have the Microsoft .xps document writer built-in by default. If you do not have this:
...Then find out how to get it. There's an official microsoft download of it, I'm sure.
There are various properties you can mess with, but I don't know if they'll matter any. Just go ahead and 'print' with the .xps document writer, it will ask you where to save the .xps file. Anywhere you can remember will do.
Now that you have your .xps file of your character, you need to open it in Paint.NET. Unfortunately, Paint.NET cannot open .xps files. So you must convert it over to a compatible format in whatever way you think is best. Personally, I suggest the following link.
The following link.
Be sure to change the Quality settings from 'Pretty good' to 'Best quality.' It's a very simple-to-use converter, but if you have a better alternative, do share it with the class.
Now, it is a .png file! Yay, Paint.NET likes .png files. Open it up, and you can get to work. Since every peice will be individually unique, I can't really create a full tutorial on how to color lineart, unfortunately. However, what I can give you are these few tips that I've figured out in my experimentificating.
1: Lighting/Shading. Lighting is, in my opinion, the most important part of the details, and believe it or not, it's not as hard as you might first think. Blurred white on a layer set to overlay makes for great strong light. Stick it around the edges that you feel the light is coming most from. If the light is on the left, well, put more light on the left.
Black on a multiply layer with a lowered opacity works great for shadows and shading. Try to make it the exact opposite of the lighting, since it's, well, shading. Also, I would reccommend covering the entire thing in a very, very low-opacity layer of black before anything, so that the lighting can seem like it's got more of its own effect to it.
2: Textures, textures, textures. Textures add a lot of realism to your character as well, especially if you have anything wooden, like a bow. Cloth-like materials can be added to clothing with low-opacities as well. I usually use Overlay on texture layers, set to varying levels of opacity. I might also mess with the color (usually just go with black and white so as not to mess up the natural colors) and change the brightness/contrast so it's higher or darker depending on what I want. The choices are yours.
3: Perhaps this should have been the first one, but here's a pretty easy way to remove the white background if it's too complex to use the magic wand tool (I just do it this way anyways, regardless):
—3.1: Use Grim Color Reaper or a similar plugin to remove the white background.
—3.2: Select around your character and invert the selection with Ctrl+I
—3.3: On a new layer underneath the character, fill behind the character with white.
—3.4: Merge the character onto the white background layer.
—3.5: Apply your favorite anti-aliasing plugin as needed.
4: Touchups. You will find that the Hero Machine may leave odd little white aliased lines in the most random of places, but generally around edges. These may need some precise drawing-over with the paintbrush tool. Using the same color you want to fix with a 'darken' layer has helped me quite a bit.
5: Layers, layers, layers. I always apply a plethora of layers to my images, with all of the above methods being seperated into many, many layers. The right shoulder's lighting will probably not be on the same as the right shoe's lighting, for example. I don't do it all at once. By the time my character's done, my computer will be lagging like a brazillian playing on an eastern-european server, with anywhere from 50-70 layers. Ouch. But trust me, it's worth it in the end (so long as your computer can handle it. Or attempt to, anyways) Also, on that note: Label your layers. I never do, and I always wind up checking and unchecking and checking and unchecking each individual layer five times each just to try to figure out what it is.
Wellp, here's my final product:

Spooky, eh? I decided to go with really dark shading.

So anyways, don't worry if yours doesn't look very good on the first try, because overall, the two most important parts of this is practice and patience. My first ones were simple, as anything you start out with, and gradually became better. So go on, practice! Make lots and lots. I have it on good authority that if you all, the community, recieve this well, this might be made into a contest type. And of course, if anything at all was confusing, I missed something or if you have a question, post it! I'll try to respond as best I can.


Happy PDNing.

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"Sir, we're surrounded!" "Excellent, we can attack from any direction."

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I'm loving Hero Machine! Loads of fun! My inner child is chuckling....

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Thanks for the mention of HeroMachine! I just wanted to point out that HeroMachine 3 (http://www.heromachine.com/heromachine-3-lab/) allows you to export as a PNG directly, even at very large sizes. Or you can export it as a transparent PNG at I think 400x600.


Just don't fill in any of the colors and you'll have a nice crisp black and white image to use for practice.


Good luck, and have fun! As a side note, I drew all of the artwork in HeroMachine with a Wacom tablet directly into Flash. I use the same basic technique for doing all of my color work, either exported to Photoshop or natively in Flash.

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