Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: ePic Character Generator

I like to think I have some solid talents. I am at an age where I know what I can do well and what I still need to learn how to do better.  And what I am terrible at.

I am a terrible artist.  I don't even try anymore.  That's fine really. I know plenty of great artists and the things I am good at have allowed me a lifestyle where I can buy the art I want.  But I still love to create.   And that is where character generation software comes in.
I was a HUGE fan of the Brazilian Factory of Heroes (Fábrica de Herois), the City of Heroes character builder, the Skyrim one, and the character builder with the added benefit of 3D-Printed minis, Hero Forge.

A few weeks ago I was in the market for a new character builder, potentially one for a project I have coming up.  Well in one of those rare instances of serendipity while I was doing my Google searches I was approached by András Bondor of Overhead Games.
András offered to send me a copy of the ePic Character Generator to try out. I figured it would be fun.  Well it is. I'll get into the details in a bit.

The character builder is free. You can download it and start right away.  There are even ways to gain free "packs" of design elements.  Their model, and I think it is a good one, is to charge for various design packs.  You see something you want, say the "Sorcerer" pack or the "Drow Spellcaster" pack then you can purchase them and add them to your suite.  You get four packs for free to start, "Female", "Male", "Large Male" (think demons and centaurs), and "Season #1" which combines a lot of smaller releases.
Prices range from $5 to $150.  So there is a pack for every budget.  There is a special perk I am going to talk about later, but it helps offset those costs for me.



For this review, I built a bunch of characters over the last month or so, but for today I'll walk through the building of my new favorite character, Maryah, a Ranger for Old-School Essentials.

Your opening screen has the four basic packs I mentioned above.  If you are going with just the free version for now then the Female pack has the most options.  Click on your pack and hit "Start".
Now at this point you might want to click on the tutorial first.  But I'll leave that to you.


Clicking start gives you the Female demo pack.  In my screens, you see the other packs I have installed.  Hey, you know me, if I can't make a witch first thing then I lose interest pretty fast. ;)


You can choose a pack and start with that. OR you can choose Load Fantasy, Load Modern, or Load All.   Typically I like to load all.   The advantage is you can mix and match all your elements in one design.  The disadvantage is you have lots of screens you might have to click through.


Once you do that you are given a workspace and your new character.  You can try clicking on "Random" to see what you get or click through the various options.
"Skin" also includes species options. So if you want a drow, an elf, a catgirl, or even a zombie this where you start.



There are options for scars, tattoos, and even dirt.  These options are a little limited.  For example, you can't design your own tattoo nor move the presets around.



Some options also exist as "Presets."  So in the "Hair Preset" it is a style and a color.  But what if you want a style, but a different color.  Or a different color anything for that matter?  There is a color palate wheel at the middle bottom of your screen that will allow you to change the color of your current selection.   You move your cursor to the desired color and get a standard RGB notation for it as well as a palette of recently used colors.  The ability to type on the RGB numbers is a great plus.  I might not be able to move my mouse where I want it exactly, but I can type in the numbers.


The ability to do this helps when matching clothes later on.  After the body mods you can then choose how your character appears.  Different packs give you different options.  since I am working on a ranger here, I am going to choose light armor/clothing and favor greens.


You can choose all sorts of items like weapons, back items. and even magic effects.
You can also add tails, horns wings and other elements depending on your packs.



Lastly there are backgrounds and other effects. In this section there are a lot of backgrounds, or you can choose to make the background clear.  You can add companions as well.  I rather like the choices of the animal companions, but the people companions look a touch "off" to me.  No fault of the software or the design team, I think it is a bit of an "uncanny valley" situation.



You can also move any element to the foreground or background.
In this section there are also auras, magical effects, and other items.

Let's move Threnody to the front.

The BEST part of this section is the ability to take your character and make Tokens or Cards. I have not tried to save these and import them into software like Roll20, but I can't see that it would be difficult.




If you have the paid version you can also remove (or turn back on) the Logo.



NOW here is my least favorite part of this software.
Saving and Loading is not at all intuitive.
You click "Settings" then are given the option to "Save" or "Load".

Thankfully if you attempt to exit or go back without saving you will be warned about losing your characters. You can also export your files as a PNG (with optional transparent background) or as Photoshop PSD (if you purchase that option).  Every element in the software is saved as a layer in the PSD file.  Very convenient really.

Not sure why her hair lost it color, but that is not a big deal.
Other Packs give you the option of making character portraits or monsters.

Honestly even with just a couple of packs, including the free ones, you can have a nearly endless supply of choices.  Of course, the packs are very, very tempting and I have been very pleased with the ones I have grabbed.  Overhead Games is always making more.

I did try the software out on my Chromebook as well, installed via GooglePlay and it worked well enough.  Not enough to make me want to switch over from my Windows 10 machine, but it is an option.

Chrome vs. Windows 10
The big thing that caught my eye was their full Commercial License.  Yup, if I want to create some art here and add to one of my books I can do that!  It won't (nor is it intended to) replace an artist, but it will give me some spot art or filler art for characters.  Especially the portrait options.


Overhead Games has strong customer service and support.  In the short while I have been using it I received a customer questionnaire asking about features and prices.  They also have customer forums where others share tips, tricks, and creations.   All my interactions with the company have been great and they are eager to answer any questions.

Another perk are the updates.  The software is updated often.  In fact sometimes I went in to my software and was told: "because you purchased XXXX we are including YYYY now for free." Or something to that effect.

If you are already competent with any 3D art software like Daz3D then you won't need this.
BUT if you are like me and can't even draw a stick figure OR you just want something designed to do RPG-style art then this is a good buy.  It is at least worth the download.

I have played around with it for a while now and I have been able to create most characters I wanted.  I did try to create a passable "Batman" but it did not turn out the way I wanted, but that is much harder to do really, and I am sure Overhead Games wants to avoid people being able to create such a recognizable character.

I was able to get a couple great looking versions of Larina.


It was worth getting the Sorcerer pack for the broom and witches hat.  I know what my priorities are.

Plus some classic D&D characters I'll talk about more next week.  Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf!



I even made a card, exported and edited in Photoshop. Pretty much set up for an RPG as is.



So yes the ePic Character Generator is a ton of fun.  I also see a use for it in the future for some books, but I'll have to judge that according to the book since I most often prefer older looking art.

The pricing model is also great. 

My only complaint is the saving and loading features, but otherwise it is a fantastic bit of software. I can't to make some more characters and see what else this can do.

Get it here: https://overheadgames.com/epic-character-generator/

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Featured Artist: Pamela Colman Smith

Looking to do something a little different this time for my Featured Artist post.

Pamela Colman Smith, aka "Pixie", might the most recognized artist you have never heard of.  Recognized in the sense that you know her work, even if you don't know it belongs to her and she certainly was not recognized in her time for it.

Born February 16, 1878, and died September 18, 1951, at the age of 73 Pixie spent her time among all sorts of artists, Bohemians, Suffragettes, and occultists including members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which she would later join.

She produced art for William Butler Yeats and Bram Stoker.

It was while she was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn she would meet Arthur Edward Waite.  He commissioned her to produce art for a Tarot deck.   Not just the Major Arcana, but all the Lesser Arcana cards as well.

This deck became known as the Rider-Waite Tarot deck after the publisher and the A.E. White.

Pixie's name was never associated with it, until very recently, and she was only paid a flat fee for her work.


In fact, these days many Tarot aficionados who like Pixie's art will opt for the Smith-Waite Tarot deck instead.

Much of her art reflects the esoteric lifestyle she lived. All of it feels like an Art Noveau fever dream from an Authrurian age, or Pagan age, mixed with what Middle Earth must have looked like in Tolkien's minds eye.






She would often do her art while listening to music, allowing her to create without other outside distractions.






And she did covers for Bram Stoker.



Links
The Divine Mystery of Pamela Colman Smith
Reviving a Forgotten Artist of the Occult

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Featured Artist: Silveztra

Today's Featured Artist is another one I found at the D&D Fantasy Art Facebook page AND on Twitter.
Silveztra is a great artist and has such a cool style I knew right away I needed some art from her.

Here she is in her own words.
Hello! I am Silveztra a 24-year-old self-taught freelance artist who is inspired by fantasy characters. I am an avid video gamer, anime watcher, and D&D player! I love drawing both cute characters, the threatening and powerful, monstrosities and also delve a lot in drawing pinups! I mainly draw females. I actually have a four-year degree in applied communications, which may seem useless, but I attribute it to a lot of my success in building my customer basis! In the future, I hope to get more commissions and be part of projects bigger than myself in the gaming, art, and rpg communities.
And here is some of her art!

Of course first up is her Pumpkin Spice Witch version of my OC Larina.  This is going to be the cover of my new Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition book.









She has a lot more, some NSFW, but all really good.

Check out all her links including her commission rates.  Twitter is her main site, but she has all the usual ones.
Be sure to check her out!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New Pumpkin Spice Witch cover

I am having a weird day.

So let's do something fun.  Here is the new cover for my upcoming Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition book.




The "Pumpkin Spice Witch" is by the super talented Silveztra.  I'll be featuring more of her art later this week, but here is a sneak peek.




I can't wait for Halloween!!


Monday, July 22, 2019

Happy Anniversary!

No regular post today, it's my 24th Wedding Anniversary!
24 years ago I stood on a beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and I said "I Do" to my best friend.
It's been a wonderful ride so far.  Two houses, two kids, 8 different jobs, and 21 season of gardens (missing one due to a move and no gardens when we lived in an apartment).  I wouldn't change a thing.

To keep this RPG related I got a commission from one of my Featured Artist, Ben Honeycutt, to do a portrait of my wife's and mine D&D 5 characters.  Or, more closely, us cosplaying as our characters. ;)



These are our characters Johan IV (Paladin) and Lana (Fighter)



These were based on our minis and our engagement photo from 1995.




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