Jan 03 2008

9 Easy-to-Fix Problems with Superhero Design

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

This article will help you design your superhero’s appearance for a comic book or novel cover-art. No matter what your style is, you can avoid these 9 mistakes that cause a superhero’s appearance to sink the story.

Common Flaws of Superhero Appearances

  1. The character’s appearance lacks a distinct theme.
  2. The character looks lifeless.
  3. He looks unrelatable.
  4. His appearance is inconsistent with his personality.
  5. His appearance is inconsistent with the story’s mood.
  6. His costume is too campy or demeaning.
  7. His appearance makes his secret identity implausible.
  8. The details of his appearance are inconsistent.
  9. He has too many accessories.


Superman’s costume does a great job advancing themes and establishing what kind of character he is. It’s bold and it’s open. That does a solid job of characterizing Superman.

  1. Bold. It makes great use of striking, primary colors. If soldiers wore blue, red and yellow it would be like screaming “shoot me!” But Superman doesn’t care. He’s larger than life.
  2. Open. Superman is virtually the only hero not to wear a mask and still maintain a secret identity. There’s nothing between him and us. That reinforces that he’s relatively unconflicted and has nothing to hide. (Additionally, we can see facial expressions, which can really help portray what a character is thinking).

Visuals that fail to advance a theme are less effective. When we look at your character, it should be clear what impression we should get and what we should feel about the character. (Conflicting characteristics can work, too, but it should still be clear which characteristics are conflicting. For example, Peter Parker is usually drawn as a likeable dork.

This picture from the Geek Coefficient shows two characters, Green Lantern and a woman (?) in a hood.  The hooded woman is far more effectively portrayed.  We can see that she’s mysterious, out of reach, maybe enigmatic and cryptic.  In contrast, Green Lantern doesn’t have any strong visual themes.


Generally, faces are crucial to how an audience will react to a character.  If someone’s face is completely masked, that might make him look lifeless. This is often a problem when a character wears a full-body suit, particularly a metallic one.

These tricks can make your superhero look more alive.

  1. Alter his mask to expose his mouth and lower face. (If you’re up for something radical, take away the mask entirely). I don’t recommend Green Lantern masks (figure 8s). They tend to draw attention away from the eyes to the mask, particularly if the mask is a glaring color.
  2. Try keeping the mask a sober color. The less it distracts us from his human features, the better.
  3. If your character wears a full-body suit and you don’t want to take away his headware, try taking away the gloves. (Or at least try cloth gloves that are flesh-toned). After the face and eyes, hands are the most expressive part of the body. The more his hands look human, the more human his gestures will look.
  4. If your character wears a powersuit, try using rounder edges. The suit should probably look more like an exoskeleton than a robot.
  5. If your character wears a full-body suit, try something nonmetallic. Firefighters and SWAT officers look more a relatable than Iron-Man. It may also help to make the suit slightly loose, like a surgeon’s garb.
  6. If you want a metal suit and mask, I’d recommend putting in a visor or sunglasses to cover the eyes. Eyes look pretty strange surrounded by metal.

Is your hero nonhuman?  I have a few additional suggestions for nonhuman characters…

  1. Make his eyes look human. That will help readers relate to the character.
  2. Human-looking hands will make his gestures easier to understand.
  3. Symbolic accessories can help us relate to a weird-looking character.  Agent Orange has a badge and trenchcoat, for example, because I want viewers to think of him as a government employee first and a non-human second.
  4. A human’s costume usually looks stranger than the human does.  For a nonhuman character, I recommend plain attire because exotic clothes on an exotic body will probably overwhelm the reader.  For example, Lizard’s labcoat works quite nicely.


Hopefully this is pretty obvious, but the uniform should mesh with the character. A Punisher-esque character should have a much different uniform than, say, Dr. Strange.

The most important elements here are brightness/color, the type of clothing (like a trenchcoat instead of a labcoat or ninja-suit) and the level of plainness/accessories.


Are you writing a gritty story?  Gritty stories should probably shy away from bright costumes and superfluous accessories like capes.  They also tend to overload on leather (I blame the Matrix). If your gritty story uses masks, I recommend basing them on government-issue masks (probably SWAT team or urban commando) or ski-masks.  Those are utilitarian and serious.  If you’d like a sci-fi vibe, I’d recommend looking at the US Air Force, Star Wars or Fallout 2.

In contrast, if your story is mostly pleasant and optimistic, you’d probably want a brighter and more whimsical costume.  Spiderman and Static Shock are great examples.  However, I recommend against capes.  The main customer base for superhero stories is 16-25 year old guys. Unless you’re writing for a distinctly younger audience, I’d leave the capes to DC Comics.

WHY WOULD HE WEAR THAT!?! (His costume’s too goofy/demeaning)

If your readers will wonder why your character would choose to wear something so stupid-looking, you have a problem.  The best examples of this are Robin and most superheroines. It will probably help to keep these guidelines in mind.

  • I highly recommend pants or shorts rather than a bikini-bottom (cough cough Robin).   Shirts are also helpful (Namor).
  • I’d recommend against using more than three colors in a costume.  You have more leeway if the hero and/or the audience are young.  For example, Static Shock used yellow, purple and white with black accents.
  • A gratuitously revealing costume might distract from the story. This is mainly a problem with superheroines. Drive out to a mall sometime and see what women are wearing.  As a rule of thumb, if you’d be embarrassed to show your art to a female friend, it’s probably too edgy.
  • Ridiculously attractive superheroes and superheroines are harder to relate to.


Assuming your character has a secret identity, his appearance might raise plausibility concerns.

  1. It gives away so much that you’d have to be stupid to miss it. This is the main weakness of the maskless costume.
  2. The costume is too complicated to don quickly.  Unless your character transforms magically, like Wonder Woman or Thor, he has to put on his costume whenever he’s needed. Usually the story tries to explain this by saying he hides most of his costume under his regular clothes, like Ironman.  OK, but where would your hero keep his cape?


For example, Courtney’s eyes are brown. My first chapter mentions that and it has been in the header art. In another chapter, I once described his eyes as green. Even though the discrepancy is very minor, several readers noticed it.

This is generally more of a problem for novelists because it’s much easier for a novelist to forget how he has already portrayed a character.

If you’re writing a novel, I’d recommend that you keep a list of character appearances (tall vs. short, green eyes vs. blue, blonde vs. brunette, etc). If you ever use one of the descriptions, make a note of it (“Chapter 4 says that Courtney has brown eyes”). That way, if I ever decide that Courtney’s eyes are green, I’ll know where I have to edit. Otherwise, I might have to sift through tens of thousands of words for a tiny detail.


Generally, you want one or two focal points that draw the viewer’s attention and reinforce the character’s main traits.  For example, Agent Orange’s sunglasses and badge hopefully help viewers think of him as a sci-fi police officer.

I think that’s the right amount of visual action. It’s easy to go overboard. For example, Superman has his center logo, his cape, his signature tuft, and a costume that’s brightly colored everywhere.

If this article helped you, submit it to Stumble!

158 responses so far

158 Responses to “9 Easy-to-Fix Problems with Superhero Design”

  1. raptoron 10 Sep 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Great article! Thanks.

  2. Bretton 27 Sep 2008 at 5:25 pm

    That’s not a woman. Those two are actually the same person. In front, it’s Hal Jordan as Green Lantern and in back, it’s Hal Jordan as The Spectre.

  3. B. Macon 27 Sep 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Wait, that’s a man? If I had been overseeing that comic, I’d demand that the artist redo those pouty lips and the dimpled chin.

  4. Anonymouson 01 Oct 2008 at 6:20 am

    My character doesn’t wear the Batman/Spider-Man type of outfit, because I think that’s been totally overdone. (Don’t get me started on the outfits female heroes wear!) So I have him in your basic black jacket, with a hood to hide his face.

    I have a few reasons for this, but I don’t want it to be boring. The hood enables him to see clearly while hiding the upper half of his face, and so can leave the lower half free to express his feelings. Is there any extra insurance to hide his identity, though? Something which would be easy to put on in public without looking suspicious, and that wouldn’t be picked out if he was asked to turn out his pockets? I think sunglasses would work for the daytime, but they would just make him bump into things at night. And could you recommend any gloves that would be suitable for a teenager, without looking too whimsical or gritty?

    Here are my reasons for not having a spandex/armour style costume:

    Reason 1: In reality, if a superhero popped up and started doing heroic things, they’d be bound to build a fanbase. I have no doubt that somewhere in Gotham city there would be a few Batman enthusiasts. But true fans do cosplay. You don’t see people in the background of Spider-Man movies wearing Spidey costumes, do you? They would be inconvenient, and would also make you look pretty darn stupid. So, I think it would be an advantage to have a costume which regular, everyday people could wear too. It’s easy to get ahold of a black hoodie, and so he could walk around the city without anyone pointing. They’d think he was another fan. Then it would be a simple matter to pull up the ol’ hood and run to the nearest evildoings.

    Reason 2: In a similar vein to reason 1, when escaping the press or a supervillian, all he has to do is walk into a crowded area and wander around. They would never be able to tell him apart from all the fans who were simply copying him. So if you think about it, every teenager in the city is part of his disguise!

    Reason 3: His parents would see nothing suspicious if they found a hoodie in his room. In the Spidey comics, when Aunt May found Peter’s Spider-Man costume, she knew what he was up to. (I’ve never read them, but I have an encyclopedia of superheroes and it said it in there. With all the parallel universe and alternate timeline things going on, I can’t keep track. I’ve never read a DC or Marvel comic in my life.)

    Reason 4: When Spidey’s costume gets shredded by angry villains and their bombs/winged tracking-thingies/mechanical arms etc, he would have to repair his suit or make a new one. Now just how is he meant to fight crime if he’s sat at a sewing machine? If he had something easy to get, he could stick the old, damaged one into a bag under his bed or the nearest incinerator. It would be a simple matter of strolling into a shop, posing as one of his own fans and buying another jacket.

    Reason 5: Spidey hears an important announcement on his police radio, and it’s imperative that he be there to throw the giant alien space-whale back into its spaceship and tell it to get lost. But, oh no! He’s in his jammies! Now he has to get into his suit and swing over there! The whale will have crushed half of New York by the time he gets there. If he had a simple jacket he could slip it on and get there in time to save Lady Liberty from being destroyed by a giant fin.

    Reason 6: This point was raised under the “Implausible Secret Identity” section, but this is more to do with the civilian clothes.

    While wearing the costume beneath regular clothes or in a ring works in movies and comics, I’ve always wondered where Peter Parker and Wally West stash thier civilian clothing. I mean, if you saw Spidey throwing a shirt up a tree, you’re going to want to steal it. It DOES belong to Spider-Man, after all. So something that can be worn over civilian clothes is more handy because there’s no need to throw his pants behind a ventilation shaft. Another thing, when there’s trouble a’brewin’ and Spidey runs through the crowd towards said brewin’ trouble, he’s taking off his shirt to reveal the well-recognised spider symbol. Am I the only one who thinks that someone would actually notice him doing that? Or is every civilian in every comic book just a LITTLE blind?

    Heheh, I guess this has been more of a rant than a question… But I think I raise a few good points. I believe it’s a better idea to look more normal and less fantastical in the superhero world. Also, I apologise if any parades were rained upon. But if I may offer an umbrella, if all superheroes looked totally normal, comics would be more boring than a six hour mathletics tournament. Also no offense to mathletes.

    Now, to the question I was supposed to ask before I began my little rant.

    The thing about just having a black jacket is that it’s plain, and I don’t see much that I could do with it. Also, the jacket is really the only essential piece for him. There isn’t really any point in having specific “hero” pants in his wardrobe next to the “school” and “going-out” pants, because who wants to take off his pants in public to put on some others? And changing his pants wouldn’t help keep his identity secret in any way, because who’s looking at the hero’s legs? Most teenage boys tend to wear pants rather than shorts, anyway.

    What kind of thing could I do with it to spice his outfit up, yet still make it easy to reproduce so that everyday people could get a hold of one?

    Thanks, and sorry for any soaked parades. But I’m sure the marching band will be able to shelter under their drums. (Joking! Yeah, a bad joke.)

  5. Anonymouson 01 Oct 2008 at 6:30 am

    Oh, and I may possibly bring in a female hero later. She’s only a teen, so she doesn’t want to show large amounts of chest or leg. I want a similar costume with the jacket to my other character, but more feminine than his. Though her pants and shirt etc will be different each time, how practical would this sample be? A bolero-style hoodie, with a vest beneath, a skort and a pair of mid calf boots. I mean, what female hero wants the criminals to catch a glimpse of her underwear every time she kicks them? Would there be any practicality problems with this outfit?

    Thanks! Again, sorry for my rant! I get carried away sometimes, especially when I’m on a roll. Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  6. B. Macon 01 Oct 2008 at 9:56 am

    So he wears a basic black jacket with a hood. I really like hooded jackets. They are remarkably effective at hiding an identity but so innocuous that they wouldn’t draw attention to his alternate identity. For added protection, he could use a black TMNT-style ribbon around his eyes. It’d be much easier to hide that on his person than a mask, and he could easily smuggle it inside a glasses case or wallet in case anyone checked his pockets. Alternately, you could try a ski-mask with a cut-off mask, but that would be harder to hide. You could try a baseball cap and a tight hood. Those will help him keep his hood on in battle.

    As for gloves, please see this collection of gloves. I think #2, #4 and #8 will probably fit into your story best. Alternately, you can use #1, but those look really cheap. For the colors, I think that a neutral or bright green or yellow would be the most visually effective with a black hood, but those gloves might be incriminating if his parents found them. (Or his parents might just conclude that “dammit, it seems like every kid in the city is in on this fad”).

    I love the use of copycats as a way to protect your identity. One of our book’s scenes makes fun of the tendency of modern comic-book characters to wear leather by having a villain escape the hero by running into a Matrix convention. So I think it’s an excellent way to have your hero have his costume ready without attracting too much attention. However, I’m not sure how much copycats would help your hero escape from a real villain, because the villain would probably just start killing them indiscriminately. It would almost be like the hero was using human shields.

    Generally, I think your costume idea is very strong (although perhaps slightly overdependent on having lots of teens in the city wearing hoods to emulate their hero).

    The black hooded-jacket would be very plain, but you could make up for that by making the gloves marigold, golden, or Kawasaki lime. Also, you might have his powers change his appearance in some way. For example, he might have an energy aura when he’s “on,” particularly if this is a manga-inspired comic book. (I think Dragonball Z and Yuyu Hakusho typically use energy auras).

    Yeah, I don’t know what to do about pants. Readers don’t seem to notice the pants and leg shots are pretty rare anyway. I’d recommend just giving him blue jeans or whatever. In fact, his costume’s pants might change from day to day, depending on whatever he was wearing when the police sirens went off. If anyone notices that his blue jeans look a lot like the ones that the hero was wearing, well, pretty much all blue jeans look alike.

    So, to recap, I recommend a plain black hoodie… visually gripping gloves, ideally with a strong and bold color, and a black TMNT eye-mask. A baseball cap may help explain how he keeps his hood on.

  7. B. Macon 01 Oct 2008 at 11:51 am

    I like the bolero-style hoodie for the female hero. I think it will look attractive and won’t scare away female readers. I’m not too familiar with skorts. My brief Google Images search showed some skorts that I think would be pretty effective, but others that are probably too short to be functional. I like this one— it looks long and loose enough that it won’t limit her mobility or decency. On the other hand, if it’s too loose, then your artist might be limited when it comes to drawing her kicking.

  8. Anonymouson 01 Oct 2008 at 8:46 pm

    The TMNT ribbon and baseball cap thing could really work. As for the gloves, I like # 8, it seems to fit with what I’ve already written about him.

    Haha, running into a Matrix convention! That’s gold!

    I don’t get what’s so great about leather, wouldn’t it be a bit constricting? I mean, it’s the same with PVC. I don’t understand how Nina Williams in Tekken can just kick someone in the face when she’s so restricted by her clothing.

    I was planning on one scene where he’s escaping from the evil guy, because he’s already exhausted from overusing his powers, and the villain starts attacking anyone wearing the same outfit. So he has to fight back to save everyone, at the cost of almost passing out. Or passing out and being kidnapped. I haven’t decided.

    I did a basic doodle of him with a haze around his hands when he makes the energy pulses. In my writing I say that the pulses themselves look like energy created by a Tesla coil, or heat rising off a road in summer. I think it would be easy to do with PhotoShop. I also want something around his head, because it’s a psychic power. Maybe something to do with his eyes. Any suggestions?

  9. Anonymouson 01 Oct 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I was inspired for the bolero type hoodie by Aerith’s outfit from Final Fantasy VII. I think it makes her look sophisticated, like she actually has some self-respect while not making her look like a complete prude. That’s what I’m aiming for. Is there a way I could dress up my character’s jacket without making it too cluttered or hard to get ahold of? The same applies for her when it comes to having fans.

    I chose a singlet because it gives her arms more freedom and shows that she isn’t afraid to show off her arms, while maintaining that she’s not in the same vein as Black Canary and Huntress. The skort was picked because it gives her a feminine aspect, while not causing her to accidentally flash the criminals. Then the boots because they’re sturdy and could probably help her deliver a solid kick.

    I’ve noticed that even in comics written for girls, the female characters seem to be well-endowed and wear clothes that show it off. It just makes me cringe, it’s like no one knows how to draw a shirt and pants anymore! Seriously, sometimes I feel like slapping the artists. I have never seen anyone wear anything as degrading as what some female comic characters do.

    I like that skort you picked out, I think it would suit her.

  10. B. Macon 01 Oct 2008 at 11:05 pm

    “I did a basic doodle of him with a haze around his hands when he makes the energy pulses. In my writing I say that the pulses themselves look like energy created by a Tesla coil, or heat rising off a road in summer. I think it would be easy to do with PhotoShop. I also want something around his head, because it’s a psychic power. Maybe something to do with his eyes. Any suggestions?”

    Generally, I think that doing something with his head would probably be easiest with his eyes.
    1) You might consider whiting out his eyes. That’s what Heroes does when it shows a character painting the future. The effect is generally creepy. You can see a similar effect here.

    2) You could use a glow effect. I particularly like this one, which mixed in steam to give off the impression that the eyes are burning hot (which sounds a lot like the steamy summer road you mentioned before). You can see a particularly intense version of eye-glow here, but I think it’s too distracting. For a more subtle effect, I’d suggest looking at Starcraft’s Archons and High Templars. For example, you can see them here and here and here.

    3) You could replace the eyes with a straight color, probably a light blue or yellow or purple, without using a glow effect. This would entail relatively little effort. You can see two Pokemon samples here with Abra and Mewtwo here. Check out 1:33-1:35 of this Warcraft video as well.

  11. Anonymouson 02 Oct 2008 at 12:03 am

    Thanks for your help!

  12. Ragged Boyon 12 Oct 2008 at 4:14 pm

    My character’s superhero name is Sketch, wears a black full-body suit with blue accents, over the suit he wears white cargo shorts and and white scarf. His boots are black with blue trim and white straps. He wears the cargo shorts and scarf for fashionable and artistic flair.

    Excessive? Needs more?

  13. Ragged Boyon 12 Oct 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I should probably tell you some personal stuff about Aadrello/Sketch so you know what type of alien he is:
    Positive Traits:
    Emotional (can be negative)
    Happy (can be negative)

    Negative Traits:
    Blind to reality
    Not-so-smart (about techinal things)

    Physical Traits:
    Eyes are shiny black

  14. Jacobon 12 Oct 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Black suit, blue accents, white shorts and white scarf… OK, it seems like the two dominant colors are black and white, in that order, with blue accents. A mostly B&W theme is difficult because it will look drab. That’s unhelpful, particularly if you’d like the hero to look vibrant and creative. I would recommend replacing the white with a rich gold and make the blue either a bright cerulean or a radioactive neon. Those may offset the black better. I picked out a few samples here.

    Unless this character has really distinctly nonhuman traits, I’d recommend just making him a human. I mean, he does graffiti. He lives in a city. When you market this comic to readers, you’ll probably focus on the character’s relatability… but it will be very difficult to do that unless he’s human. Are you really attached to him being an alien?

    You could probably convey youthful/fun/naive through your character’s eyes. I’d recommend making them large and bright, much like anime characters (Yu-Gi-Oh comes to mind). There seems to be a bit of discrepancy between the dark and gritty world and a young character, but I think readers can handle that. Also, make sure that the color scheme is bright.

    To convey thin/lanky/weak, you could make his limbs slender and long. I’d recommend making the character short.

  15. Ragged Boyon 12 Oct 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Well, there is no Earth in my story so I saw it fit to not add humans. The story is set on a multitude of planets. I thought it would be good to have my main character a basic human-like alien as a universal symbol, in contrast to those that are hulking, amorphous, and have tentacles. I love your ideas for the color scheme, blue and yellow go awesome together, I forgot they were complimenting colors. I’m going to re-draw him to fit the new scheme I’ll get back at you with the results soon

  16. Ragged Boyon 12 Oct 2008 at 6:53 pm

    The character is supposed to be, metaphorically, a bright star in a dark, bleak universe. He comes in looking and acting all weird and crazy, he kicks some ass or gets his ass kicked, but whatever he does he leaves his mark, graffiti or otherwise.
    That’s the reason for a grittier world and a bright character.

  17. B. Macon 12 Oct 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Hmm. That contrast between the grittiness and his brightness seems very logical. I like it. And, I hope, audiences won’t get disorientated by the incongruity. After all, Spiderman manages to sell Carnage/Venom, even though they are far grittier than the rest of his villains.

  18. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I thought of an addition to his costume that may set his costume over the edge. For one, I’m going to keep the cargo shorts but change the color– white blares too much for the darker atmosphere. I’m not sure about the color yet.

    To better match the neon city/brightness in space theme, I want to add neon strips to the costume. Now I want the strips to be rounded and protruding, not too far from the body, but enough that you could see them in a forward silhouette. They will be neon blue and yellow I’m not sure of the placement but I definitely want them. They can “cut off” so it won’t be inconvenient for him, maybe until he gets use to his suit and since they are not fabric they could serve as slight protection. Also, I may lose the scarf.

    What do you think? I love the neon strips but I could, tearfully, part from them.

  19. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 5:13 pm

    No, it’s cool. It could totally work provided you don’t portray it in a way that looks goofy. As I see it, this is an all or nothing, hit or miss. Either people are gonna love it or hate it. I am tentatively siding with the “love it” camp. As long as they don’t flash, in which case you’ll probably get rejected. Seriously, as tempting as it may be to make your hero a neon billboard, don’t. Glowing is cool, flashing not so much. Also, I think the glowing would look more in-place with plate armor or something similar. That being said, I’m not sure I get the cargo-shorts-over-suit thing. I would get rid of the cargos and add some armor plates over the suit. Not much, just enough to look cool. The scarf should stay, I think it’s a nice cape replacement. Way to be not cliche! (No, seriously, I’m not being sarcastic.)

  20. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I appreciate your contribution (honestly) but I’m not big on armor. Also, one of my other main characters wears armor, Emerald, he’s a rebellious prince. I will however consider changing it to something else, maybe just leaving the legs of the suit and adding the neon strips. And don’t worry i’m not going to turn him into a sex club, no flashing haha

  21. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Cool. btw, does Sketch carry any accessories (besides his pad) and does he have any weapons? Also, can he “poof” his creations out of existence or are they permanent?

  22. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 6:05 pm

    You’re right about literally “poofing” his creations. They vanish if not focused on enough, dismissed, unemotionally charged, or beaten. He doesn’t really carry his sketchbook while in battle it goes into his mind when he “poofs” on his suit. As for accessories, I couldn’t think of anything, as for weapons he’s not a blade or sharp weapons type of person so I was thinking a neon staff, but he can summon other things depending on the situation, seeing as he’s not that physically strong. He is good at gymnastics, however.

    What about your character, Alex I’ve never really heard a description of him, is he an actual superhero or just a half-elf with powers? What does he wear?

  23. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Alex actually originated quite differently from his current incarnation. He is actually a composite of earlier, less well written characters I created in middle school. For the sake of preserving my dignity, I won’t go into them here. (My writing was so bad back then I thought a partially hatched egg with minions was a good villain. Ouch!) Alex is partially based on me only so far as he’s smart, slightly sarcastic, and somewhat socially awkward. Beyond that, similarities end. Alex is way more obnoxious than I will ever be. Fortunately, that changes during the course of the story and he does have a soft spot.

    He actually originated as a textbook superhero, complete with origin story. I changed up the character to suit my new fantasy approach. He has the power of complete control over fire. (*spoilers* His powers can be upgraded by bonding with a phoenix or dragon *spoilers end*)

    As for what he wears, I originally envisioned a mostly red and gold flame-patterened armor suit, complete with gauntlets, cape, and visored helmet. Picture a flaming Darth Vader (that came out wrong) with some power ranger thrown in (PR is the first impression many people get from that picture I drew). Lately, I’ve take a more realistic approach to his garb. The armor may make an appearance, but his street clothes are quite different. (They do change by the way). I haven’t thought about it much but as it stands now, his typical outfit is black jeans and shoes, a red shirt featuring a gold flame emblem, and a black jacket (or trenchcoat perhaps) that he almost never takes off. I’d welcome suggestions here!

    As for the superhero question, technically he is, but he’s more of a fantasy hero than a superhero despite having non-magical powers, a weakness, and a rogues gallery. I do however make a heavy homage to Batman and Iron Man in one segment. They appear as Blacknight and Commander Titanium, bitter superhero rivals who must work together to stop their archenemies, Madcap (Joker) and The Mandolin (obvious). By the way, all of this happens in a tv show Alex is watching before he turns it off and goes to class. Gotcha! (Don’t worry, this is short, painless, and gets to the gotcha moment very quickly. It’s intended to be humorous, not annoying. Batman and Iron Man are my 2 favorite heroes.)

  24. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Hmm, your character is coolio but I’m not big on fire power. I personally feel it to be overused and it’s destructive( let me help you with my burning hands hahah). But I think your story is really good.

    I’m probably the only kid in my school that draws good. I hate when people say it looks like anime. I hate anime.

  25. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Haha! Neither do I. At its core, however, fire is not just destructive, it’s energy. I may explore the concept of Analytia (blue phoenix of healing and protection) showing Alex how to use his powers to heal. I’d welcome suggestions on creative power usage as well as wardrobe.

  26. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Ok. I’d welcome suggestions on creative power use as well as wardrobe. (Alex may be taught how to use his powers to heal.)

  27. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Well, when I thought of a fire and water character, I made the fire user use extreme heat more often than it’s nearly invisible and still effective. Also, I made a way they can teleport, by quickly becoming heat itself the user will move some where quickly and reform himself. Also, you could play with different colors of fire like

    Blue never really misses but is weaker than red
    Green can have healing properties
    Purple can be evil fire
    White is extremely powerful

    Just throwing it out there, hope it helps

  28. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I like that idea, and it fits well into my mythology, but I’m going to change the colors a little:

    Red- powerful, but aggressive. without proper discipline, you will lose control.

    Blue- has great defensive and healing power

    Green- never misses, but not as damaging as red. more for speed and accuracy.

    White- Divine Fire

    Dark Fire- evil, obviously.

  29. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Fire lends itself to tricks that are probably too obvious and/or inhumane, like burningsomeone’s armor so that they cook inside. However, I can think of a few uses that will be new to your readers. For example, you can simmer a stick to create a crude lie-detector. (No joke— someone under stress produces less saliva. If you put the stick in his mouth and it’s still simmering when you pull it out, he’s probably stressed out, which was taken by some ancient societies as proof of guilt).

    If you wanted to propel a flying machine, a jet of fire might be used as a crude retrobooster. (Or to lift/drop a hot air balloon). If you can lift a hot-air balloon, a zeppelin probably isn’t that much of a stretch. (Balloon + Engine = Zeppelin). Alternatively, you could use fire to craft and recraft metal. What do you think?

    On the issue of color-based breakdowns for his powers, I think that would probably work better in a visual medium like a comic book than a novel. I’m not sure that readers will be able to remember what his colors of fire can do, or whether you could profitably draw on the difference between his red and green fireballs in a fight.

  30. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 3:15 am

    I like your ideas. Thank you.

  31. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 20 Oct 2008 at 2:59 am

    I have a few characters who I’m considering using later on, but I have no idea what their costumes should look like. Can you offer any suggestions for:

    A girl who gained her powers due to a botched surgery. When removing a clot in her brain, surgeons accidentally stimulated her sight so that she can see clearly at night, and she can also “idea-plant”, making people consider doing something which they may or may not, depending on their willpower. She is known as Owlie. She is fifteen.

    A psychic who claims to have lived many past lives. His nickname is Rebirth. He can see and communicate with the dead, but only for short periods of time, no more than four minutes. He sometimes has brief moments of mental insight when there are strong emotions flying around, and gets distressed when a spirit he spoke to died violently or tragically. This sometimes causes brief periods of depression, during which a teammate cares for him. He is twelve.

    A guy who is known as Mist, for his ability to form one from water he has drank. If he overdoes it, he becomes dehydrated. He projects it from the tips of his fingers and it can be used to confuse enemies as well as put out small fires. He is seventeen.

    An animal empath, who can feel the emotional and (sometimes) physical pain of an animal nearby. She becomes enraged when someone is threatening any animal, and is a vegetarian. Animals also feel connected to her, and would attack if she asked them to. She is sixteen, and known as the Trainer.

    A boy with immunity to a lot of poisons and illnesses due to his blood recognizing the enemy cells rapidly, and is able to destroy them before they make him sick. He is good in a fight, but has few other extraordinary abilities. He acts as the group’s (amateur) doctor. He is fifteen.


  32. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 20 Oct 2008 at 3:01 am

    Oh, and the animal empath has a border collie named Spellbind who follows her around the base.

  33. Ragged Boyon 01 Nov 2008 at 7:31 am

    OK here is the finished second draft of Aadrello as Sketch, I added as much of the feet as I could, and I added a hood. I think this is a pretty good cross between superhero and neon inner-city teenager. Tell me your opinions.


    (I know I posted this around a bit, sorry)

  34. B. Macon 01 Nov 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Hmm. I think the black parts of the suit turned out pretty well. The yellow provided a surprisingly effective complement. I was less sure about the blue, and I don’t think the red turned out well. Here, I made some sloppy revisions in Photoshop.

    Also, I’m absolutely awful at art, so I’m not sure how you would do this with pencils exactly, but I’d recommend shading to create the impression of depth.

  35. Ragged Boyon 01 Nov 2008 at 5:14 pm

    The revision is kind of plain and takes away from the character’s theme, but it’s understandable. I actually messed up on the shoe tongue, that’s why it’s so big and I could loosen the sleeves and take out the red. I’m not that good at shading yet, but depth where.

    Here is Mz. Corpse. I really think she turned out well her costume matches her theme well and I think the coloration is good, except the face is kind of discombobulated. There is a big space next to her for Emerald. Add the scanner had junk on it, so there are specs.


  36. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Nov 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Ragged Boy, I wish I could draw like you. The picture of Mz. Corpse is awesome!

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Nov 2008 at 4:53 am

    I’m working on a picture of Requiem at the moment, and I decided that he needed a signature piece. I chose to include a reliquary.

    If you’ve ever seen the 1997 cartoon movie “Anastasia”, it’s somewhat like Rasputin’s green one. But I’m having a little trouble. I want some sort of design to personify death, as after all, communicating with the departed is Requiem’s main power. I was thinking two bat wings stretching out from it, or wrapped around it. What else would be good?

    Another thing about it is that if he is in a room or area where someone died, his reliquary glows with a certain intensity and colour. The brighter it is, the more recently they died. The colour depends on the method of death. Red for murder, orange for suicide, yellow for an accident and green for natural causes. Purple shows up if there were multiple deaths of different causes. It picks up the trace emotions caught in time at the moment of death, and relays it back to him by changing. Requiem can use it to calculate how many victims there were, when they died and what each one died of. If the liquid inside turns white, glows and bubbles, as he enters a room, then someone is dying or about to die nearby.


  38. Ragged Boyon 08 Nov 2008 at 8:11 am

    Oh, sorry about the name thing. B.Mac.

  39. B. Macon 08 Nov 2008 at 10:19 am

    Not a problem.

  40. B. Macon 08 Nov 2008 at 10:42 am

    Two bat wings would be effective. Alternately, you could try bones or withered angel wings or leafless branches.

    I think that the reliquary will provide a nice visual that associates the character with death. However, it may be hard for a reader to remember all the things that the colors represent.

    I suspect that the element that will prove most dramatically effective is when it says that someone is about to die nearby. That could make a scene more urgent (“We had a plan to save the hostage slowly and carefully. Well, screw that. We have to move now!”)

  41. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Nov 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks! Yeah, I want something like that. I plotted out a scene in my mind where there is a clothing shop being held up with five hostages and three staff trapped inside. Then Requiem’s reliquary starts going white and they have to get in before someone dies. Maybe a twist where it isn’t a hostage who dies, but the robber. Maybe one of the hostages gets his gun off him and it fires.

    Another thing about Requiem is that he has lived many past lives, and remembers all of them. The reliquary always gets to his new incarnation somehow, like it is spiritually connected. Some of his lives were normal, like when he was living in London in the nineteenth century, the daughter of a middle class man who was a carpenter. Some of them were present at historical events (but never had major parts), such as when he was killed in 1945 when the Nagasaki atomic bomb went off. Each incarnation of him is born at the exact moment when his previous one dies.

  42. Ragged Boyon 08 Nov 2008 at 7:06 pm

    This is some art of Adrian the Ringtail. It’s not really concept art becuase you can’t really understand his outfit, but it’s a pretty cool picture, any suggestions and opinions will be honored (couldn’t think of another word).


  43. B. Macon 09 Nov 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I’d recommend shortening his neck and rounding some of the edges (like the top of his head, for example).

  44. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Oh, wow that is a long neck, hahaha. And a pointy head. I’m still working on his costume that’s why it looks so funky now.

  45. B. Macon 09 Nov 2008 at 4:14 pm

    The scarf looks a bit strange, but I think that you could wrap it around his neck once for an aviator-scarf kind of look.

  46. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Oh yeah. That works and it looks fashionable. I want to update the mage look.

  47. Ragged Boyon 19 Jan 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Ok, luckily, Adrian and Jimelly’s alien race are simple in appearance. they’re blue and look like water in the shape of people. Like Akwary, from that post several weeks ago. Their armor is simple and white, usually a solid abstract shape over certain parts of there body. Torso, forearms, calves, and head pieces. As soon as I can get my scanner up I can show you what it looks like. Jimelly wears a body suit, his trainees wear similar suit unless they make it far enough to be alienized, then they are presumably naked with the white armor.

    This probably doesn’t give you a good idea of their appearance, but what do you think? Blue with white armors, I’ll ty to experiment with color, but I’ll be cautious.

  48. B. Macon 19 Jan 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hmm. What kind of shades were you thinking about on the blue and white? For a kind of cartoony feel, I really like this shot of Goku in blue with white accents. For a more mature feel, this shot of Diana Drake is OK. The metallic blue looks stylish but serious. The white on the pants looks a bit awkward, though.

    As for the water in the shape of people. That might look really cool (like this?), but I suspect that this is an unusual design that might stump otherwise competent artists. Going in, I’d budget $100-$150 for a preliminary design contest. (That will help you pick an artist that has a good eye for an unusual character).

    Also, particularly on Adrian/Showtime, a watery body may raise relatability issues. If so, it’s a good thing to have this transformation happen in issue #3… at that point, your readers have already gotten to know the hero a bit, so maybe it won’t matter quite as much.

    What do you think?

  49. B. Macon 19 Jan 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hmm, this has a more animeish feel but I think the head turned out passably.

  50. Ragged Boyon 19 Jan 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Something like the animeish one. When I say water in the shape of people, I don’t mean as complex as the link you showed me, just a human with a slod blue, watery color. They have a membrane so they do get hurt if they are cut or hit, and accelerated regeneration is an elite skill. Think Elixir from new X-Men, but blue. I don’t want a particularly dark blue. the color gradients from the center, light to dark.

  51. B. Macon 19 Jan 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Hmm… I suspect a sketch would help me a lot. (Another way artistic savvy helps comic book writers!). Please let me know when your scanner’s up.

  52. Lunajamniaon 02 Feb 2009 at 10:38 am

    Here’s an idea of how I picture Abby


    I know her eyes are a little big, but that’s intentional, the huge head isn’t it didn’t look so big when I drew it but every time I take a picture of my artwork the heads look funny in the pictures. :/

  53. Lunajamniaon 02 Feb 2009 at 10:40 am

    She does look a lil’ older than I wanted her too though …

  54. Lunajamniaon 02 Feb 2009 at 10:42 am

    Oh and the darker skin on her neck and nose are like thicker/tougher skin so that if she gets in fights and everything her nose doesn’t break easily and such. I think. But if it’s not a good idea then I’ll change that and she’ll just have green skin. I still think she’s going to have tougher/darker skin on her knuckles so when she punches it hurts like fudge, though. 🙂

  55. B. Macon 02 Feb 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I like her hair. I think the shading and color variations worked out really nicely. I think rotating the angle a bit to add more depth to the face might help, though.

    If this character has a green-and-brown motif because she’s nature-related in some way, you could place bark or maybe thorns on her knuckles. Just a thought.

    I think the darker/harder skin on the neck and nose are fine for a picture but probably not worth explaining in a novel. (I suppose you could say that the nose/neck are armored if that’s an important plot-point, but I don’t think that it’ll matter).

  56. Lunajamniaon 02 Feb 2009 at 2:40 pm

    To be honest I’m not sure why she’s green skinned and brown haired. I just liked the combination, I guess. As someone (was it RB?) said, she’s kind of like a young catwoman except much more … flexible, and stronger.

    The thorn idea is kinda cool though … but then I’d want to make them retract back into her skin so she could punch ‘normally’ and not only does that not make much sense, it’s way too much like Wolverine.

    Part of the reason I decided that some of her skin (like her knees, nose, neck, knuckles) would be ‘harder’ is not just because it would give her more umph when kicking or hitting someone as well as for defense; but also because it would make her more realistic, I thought. Because if she just had green skin it seemed kind of like people could take it as just painted on if it ever went so far as to become a movie, or just cover art. I thought it would be more realistic if she had more texture to her than just ‘oh, I have green skin’. If Mystique just had blue skin and no ridges or whatever they’re called, when I saw the movies I would’ve laughed my head off.

  57. Dforceon 17 Feb 2009 at 9:58 pm

    ugh… I’ve no idea where else to post this so I’ll put my question here,

    Where would be a good site to display concept art (more specifically to friends than anyone else)? One preferably free… I thought I could just use Facebook… but then they pulled a fast one and changed the Terms of Service (anything you post is also theirs; there go three characters compromised!). Deviantart was an option, but don’t you have to pay there (I have extremely low funds)?

  58. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:04 pm

    No, you don’t have to pay at DeviantArt. You CAN pay to get a subscription, which gives you more features (like blocking advertisements) but you can post and interact with other people for free. It’s as simple as setting up an account and you’re ready to go.

  59. Dforceon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Oh. Thank you ReTARDISed Whovian. But, do you specifically get to keep the sole copyrights of your own work?

    Hmm… to be honest, I was looking for something a little less known and newcomer friendly. DA looks like serious business, and it scares me a little. Especially their legal jargon (just skimmed through their TOS).

  60. B. Macon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Like Whovian said, DA offers most of its features for free. If you’re really desperate to avoid DeviantArt, you can try Flickr. It’s not as smooth as DA for showing off portfolios of artwork, but it’s ok. And a hell of a lot more professional than SheezyArt.

    As for legal issues, I wouldn’t worry about DA or other hosting sites jacking your work. I’ve never heard of DA or any other site claiming copyright over submitted works. If they tried it, I think artists would leave in droves. Even if DA were able to seize your copyright, what would they do with it? They’re not a publishing company, and they don’t have novelists or comic book writers on staff.

    There is some danger that people will claim your artwork as their own, but very rarely will they actually profit from it. It’s very easy for you to prove ownership.

  61. Dforceon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:16 pm

    lol, thank you Whovian, B. Mac. On another note, apart from your boots and gloves example pages, you think you could post a collection of different drawn hairstyles. Not anime specifically, more Bruce Timm and other western animation style.

  62. B. Macon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Hmm. For hair-styles, you could probably check out the HeroMachine.

  63. B. Macon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Or this list of men’s haircuts. I’m having trouble finding an equivalent source for women, but you could try this one.

  64. Dforceon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Lol! I’ve tried using hairfinder before (I even printed a few)… they had a good variety, but alas, they were real. They all seemed to similar to one another, and made it hard for me to stylistically differentiate one style from another. Maybe I need to give it a second look and see what happens.

    Thank you, B. Mac.

  65. B. Macon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:35 pm

    For a larger view, please go here.

    Hair Index by ~Mailotusflower on deviantART

  66. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 1:40 am

    whoa… sweet… thanks again, B. Mac…

  67. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Ragged Boy! Perhaps this reply is a little late, but I gotta say… you’ve got some serious drawing talent!

    Ah… another visual issue that worries me,

    I’m an avid manga lover. The reason comics don’t really appeal to me is loosely because of all the muscle-bound men and the well-endowed women (although they can be found in manga, I don’t think they’re as prevalent; could be wrong). I digress… when I envisioned the comic I’m working on right now, I saw something more similar to the animated DC universe (JLU, Teen Titans), with all the cartoony streamlined-goodness.

    I’ve been looking at the big and little two (DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse) to see if they had anything similar to what I’m trying to draw, but was dissapointed (they have some stuff but its all for kids, i.e. no adult themes or gore). I fear that editors may look at my art and ignore it just because it doesn’t fit their criteria, or what they expect… and would not even give me a shot.

    I know of one other company that, although still follows the old norm, may give me a shot. (Although, I fear they are now defunct, or not even on the map… not a lot of news from them, you see).

    In the end I could try to sync my work to the mainstream, just to get opportunities, but I don’t think that’ll turn out too well. My third option is to add a little more manga style pizzazz to make the characters look more-so human than what they do right now… but I really don’t want to stray from their current look.

    Anybody have any thoughts or others places I could look?… other than self-publishing…

  68. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Yeah, I’d definitely stay away from self-publishing… it really does not make sense for first-time authors.

    Hmm. Ok, I haven’t seen your art, so take this with a grain of salt. From what it sounds like, your art style looks like it’s for young readers, but you don’t want to sell to young readers. I think there’s a disconnect there.

    You could solve that by making your style more teen/adult-friendly or by working on a series for kids. There’s not a huge market for kids’ comics anymore, but they’re out there.

    Manga and western comic books are different in a lot of ways, but have you thought about applying to a manga publisher? (Tokyopop, for example).

    Are you interested in being a writer/illustrator or just an illustrator? (It might be hard to be both if your style in one part of the job appeals to a different audience than the other).

  69. Holliequon 18 Feb 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I don’t know much about the comics industry (or . . . anything, really), but wouldn’t it be possible to send a script and some sample art to an editor and ask if they would consider publishing something in that style that was aimed at an older market?

    You could send to Darkhorse and Tokyopop. At best you get a ‘I’m intrigued, tell me more’. At worst, a ‘No, I don’t think that’ll work’. At least you’ll know, then, right?

  70. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Well, I’m not trying to use overtly adult themes. Holding hands and sly comments would be the jist (the actual kiss would be the most porminent aspect)… but there are other things to consider…

    I’ve tried to “age” my style by giving a little bit more detail and by making the clothes anime-style (not entirely flat like cartoons, but not as intricate as manga). The biggest allusion that my style is “child-oriented” would be the eyes (they’re circles with large circle irises). More detailed eyes would help, I suppose, but then I think I’d loose the original intent of making a superhero comic. (I am aware that there are manga versions of DC heroes and such, but to me, they’re still too… manga-esque).

    An another tangent, I was not aware that Tokyopop was actually a stand-alone American publisher (I thought they only subbed Japanese manga into English). Hmm… I may need to research them… And now that I have realize that they have a branch in LA! Unfortunately, they just laid off about 40% of their US workforce and will only publish 20-22 volumes a month (I’d need to really sell my product to get in I’d imagine)… *groans out of crushed hopes

    Are there other Original English-Language manga publishers out there?

    My ultimate goal is to become a full-fledged manga-ka (japanese artist) and write/illustrate my stories. Of course, I wouldn’t mind working on other projects with other friendly people… so long’s the stories intrigued or amused me.

  71. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 5:50 pm


    Hmm…… perhaps I could do that… But if you’re gonna send something, you should be sure that it’s strong and has a solid base to stand on. I guess I could try that, but I’d be terrified to get a, “Stupid kid, that’ll never work. You fail.” (I summarize greatly, but that would be the jist; and from a professional!).

    Eh… it all seems daunting… but, if you’re going to make it, you’d have to push your way through. (Or so I hear).

  72. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Getting published is a marathon. It takes stamina.

  73. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Is your art posted online somewhere?

  74. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Holliequ said…

    Wouldn’t it be possible to send a script and some sample art to an editor and ask if they would consider publishing something in that style that was aimed at an older market?

    You could, but you’d still have to put together a script, a synopsis, and ~5 pages of art. It’s not a minor amount of work.

    If you wanted to go down that path, I’d recommend pitching it as a pilot issue with the possibility for a sequel later. Because of your art style, I think this series will be experimental, so I think the publisher would like to see how the first issue turns out (and whether there’s an audience) before committing to more issues.

  75. Holliequon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Oh . . . I guess it isn’t possible just to test the waters then.

  76. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I suspect that testing out unusual ideas is easier once you’ve been published. Then you could probably just ask the editor directly.

  77. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Yeah, I could understand the publisher’s move on the matter. Although, since it would be experimental, I don’t think it would do very well… unless I got some publicity… but that would most likely mean travel… and again, funds are low… so very low right now…

    Eh… some art was on facebook, but since their questionable moves I took my stuff off. (After the facebook community raised flags to the media about facebook’s shady dealings, they changed the policy so that you could delete your stuff, presumably without them keeping copies).

  78. Ragged Boyon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Geez, I’ve been missing out on a conversation about art, how foolish of me.

    Thanks for the compliment D-force, drawing is a daunting task, there’s always some kid that’s better than you and progress isn’t very rapid, but if you stick with it you’ll get better.

    I’m not a big fan of most comic art (no skinny superheroes) and manga art in general, but I read that children-oriented art sells. So good luck with that.

    Unfortunately, we can’t find the scanner cords at all, so all the sketches of Adrian and Showtime I did are just going to sit in my portfolio and waste away. I still can’t draw attractive noses, though.

  79. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:41 pm

    So… come up with a brilliant story to get published, only to later use clout to actually publish the story you intended? It’s seems like such a roundabout way to do things… but probably the easiest.

  80. Ragged Boyon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I’ve added a headpiece and some yellow accents to Showtimes armor, they complement very nicely with the blue of his skin. Jimelly, originally, wore a black skin suit, but not he wears a futuristic lab-coat. Lae’Trell wears a metallic jumper, being an engineer.

    I wish I could show you guys the pictures.

  81. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Ragged Boy!

    I honestly don’t know why, but I missed you… (strange, I know, just ignore that).

    And noses aren’t everything. Have them wear… nose-masks? Nevermind…

  82. Dforceon 18 Feb 2009 at 7:48 pm

    B. Mac!

    A drawing forum must be created! Well… it would be nice… But is it really feasible?

  83. Ragged Boyon 18 Feb 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Well, everyone likes to be though about, so, thanks.

    A drawing forum? I think were okay with just posting here. But it’s up to B. Mizzle.

  84. B. Macon 19 Feb 2009 at 12:15 am

    This sort of website isn’t really as equipped to handle the uploading of art as a site like DeviantArt, Flickr, Photobucket, etc. However, a few of our artistically-minded guests have embedded links to their pictures elsewhere. For example…

    Lash, Superhero by ~superheronation on deviantART

  85. Dforceon 19 Feb 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Ah, very nice.

  86. B. Macon 19 Feb 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Ooh, I have some good news on the art-hosting side of things. According to the Associated Press, Facebook announced that it would be reverting to the original terms of use policies rather than the ones that had been construed by Consumerist.com to mean that Facebook controlled the content. According to Facebook, “Facebook doesn’t claim rights to any of your photos or other content. We need a license in order to help you share information with your friends, but we don’t claim to own your information.”

    That was the first I had heard of this beyond what you had told me.

  87. Dforceon 21 Feb 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Yeah… their TOS are very convoluted. AND it took several, several complaints from users to get them to change the terms back. What bothered me was that they did it under the radar (Copyright, that’s not a big deal, right?). If a friend hadn’t posted a news link I wouldn’t have known. They also said that they will be chaning the terms… again… to make them more… readable. I don’t buy it, but then again, I am paranoid about that kind of thing. I don’t see it beyond any million-member site to sell copies of your work to make advertisement. They already do it with your personal information (so they can better connect you with their sponsors and things you’d be interested in buying…).

    During this change back to the original terms, a few people (me included) decided to just take some stuff off. (With the old terms, their rights to own legal copies of your work expired when you took down your content… or at least, that’s how I interpreted it… very convoluted TOS).

  88. Ragged Boyon 11 Mar 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Ok, here is the appearance breakdown on Facade, see List of Superpowers for bio. Seeing as he’s a spokesmodel/superhero or “spokeshero” (that’s common in this world) , it was important that he be fashionable even as a superhero.

    I was thinking something very fanciful because the main piece of his costume is his three-feathered masquerade mask and he’s a bit of a snob.

    Costume: His mask, a masquerade ball mask what he’s named after, on one side it has three feathers of red, gold, and orange.

    A deep purple blazer, lined with kevlar stitching made for impact resistance. Gold buttons and an image on a mask on the back

    A v-neck sweater, need suggestions for color, also lace with kevlar and spandex for protection and mobility.

    A large stylish utility belt worn slanted, holding distraction marbles, smokebombs, etc.

    Super-skinny jeans, color open to suggestion. The jeans are made of denim, spandex, and kevlar for appearance, mobility despite fit, and protection.

    I’m really blanking on the shoes, I was thinking mid-calf semi-combat boots.

    What do you think? I will ask you guys to be polite, I doubt you guys are very enthusiastic about a “fashionable superhero” haha. Also, this outfit may be annoying to draw repeatedly, although, I think it’s essentially simple, an artist may not.

  89. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Hmm… if he’s supposed to be superstylish, I’d recommend redesigning the mask. When I think of a three-feathered mask, Marti Gras comes to mind more easily than a superb sense of style. Removing the feathers might help. However, like you suggested, I have a notoriously staid sense of style. So maybe our other readers will be more typical of your readers and prospective readers.

    I like the name Masquerade. It fits the character concept well.

  90. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Mar 2009 at 4:07 am

    He’s definitely stylin’, that’s for sure! Haha.

    I like it, but I do think it would be annoying to draw over and over again. I have a million and one ideas stashed away in my head but for all of them I keep ideas for outfits/costumes simple eg, a black hoodie and jeans for Isaac. Simplifying it a little will make it easier to draw several times. (Maybe remove the image of the mask from his blazer, keep the items on the utility belt to a minimum or put them on the inside of the blazer so they don’t have to be drawn every time). Other than those couple things, I don’t see any problems. 🙂

  91. Ragged Boyon 12 Mar 2009 at 4:13 am

    I like Masquerade too. I just wasn’t sure if the name was available.

  92. B. Macon 12 Mar 2009 at 5:41 am

    The closest thing I found on Google was “Miss Masque.” Masquerade is probably untaken.

  93. Loysquaredon 24 Aug 2010 at 3:12 am

    For years, I had a concept for a character design about a dark-skinned chick with white-silvery hair. However, it has been used for so many well-known characters, like: Storm (X-Men), Elena (Street Fighter), Fran (Final Fantasy), and Mirage (The Incredibles), that I’m afraid it has been worn out and might be seen as a rip off.
    Does it really matter? Or should I dispose of a cherished character design I have envisioned for so long?

  94. B. Macon 24 Aug 2010 at 4:21 am

    If the script is otherwise publishable, a publisher will not reject you over something as easily adjusted as hair color. I think the same goes for coloring issues (eyes, clothes) but maybe not skin-tone (if the character’s race is plot-relevant).

    Using Photoshop’s Replace Color feature, an artist can quickly recolor a character’s hair.

  95. Rushon 08 May 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Umm I writing a story and I need some help with costume design
    My character has super speed and the ability to control electricity. He’s tall, in shape but not buff, kinda on the skinny side and not sure if this helps but he is sorta tan has Shaggy blonde hair and purple eyes

  96. ekimmakon 21 May 2011 at 5:21 am

    Common Flaw #7:

    Does changing someone’s skin and hair colour properly protect someone’s identity? I’m trying to figure out whether Raven turning her hair white (via her powers), and going several shades paler to inhuman levels would protect her identity. Considering that no one outside of the team actually knows her, it’s more of an issue of someone walking past her and then double-taking “Hey, isn’t that Nightshade?”. Could be trouble if she’s with the others, while out of costume.

  97. B. Macon 21 May 2011 at 8:12 am

    “Does changing someone’s skin and hair colour properly protect someone’s identity?” Maybe? In real life, I don’t think it’d be realistic, but I think readers will cut you some slack so that you have more alternatives to the standard masks and disguises.

  98. A. Nonon 18 Feb 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I’m leaning towards a Spider-man esque costume with the full body suit and the mask mainly because it’s so easily recognizable. If you have a gritty hero, it makes sense that they would wear body armour, jackets and hoods, but a hero like Spider-man thrives on his whimsical expressions. Granted, there are some serious downfalls to the costume: wear-and-tear, lack of plausible protection, stashing civilian clothing etc, but it would give an amazing freedom of movement and be instantly recognizable. Something akin to the Symbiote suit (i.e. being “retractable”) or spider-man’s suit from the Spider-man Unlimited animated series would be quite good

  99. Bad-Peopleon 09 Mar 2012 at 10:07 pm

    For quick character concepts I usually use this. http://www.heromachine.com/heromachine-3-lab/

  100. YellowJujuon 20 May 2012 at 8:37 am

    Is it possible to post a picture of my design for my still unnamed superhero?

  101. B. Macon 20 May 2012 at 10:25 am

    Yeah–just post a link to it (unless it’d be pushing an R rating, but that’s rarely an issue).

  102. YellowJujuon 20 May 2012 at 10:41 am

    It’s not on a site or anything to link to so I’ll just describe it.

    His main colors are white and black. He wears a pork pie hat with a yellow question mark on it. He also wears an overcoat with a yellow question mark on the left side. He wears a white mask, kinda like the picture of the mask above, that blacks out his eyes.

  103. YellowJujuon 20 May 2012 at 10:42 am

    Mine doesn’t have feathers lol

  104. […] McKenzie, B. “9 Easy-to-fix Problems with Superhero Design.” […]

  105. Michaelon 03 Sep 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I’ve got a teen hero character, and I’d like some feedback on his costume. He wears a simple white t-shirt with black sleeves and a black star in the middle, a pear of blue jeans, black Chuck Taylors, and a simple black mask that covers the area around his eyes. I may also give him black fingerless gloves and/or a black jacket.
    In case his visual appearance is important, his figure is about average for an athletic teenager, he has windswept blonde hair (I hate the word “windswept,” but it’s really the only way to describe it), and his eyes are green. He’s also slightly tanned.
    His powers are super strength, flight, laser vision, super senses, and a rarely used but devastating sonic scream. Not very creative powers, I know, but the focus of his storyline is less on the fact that he’s a superhero and more on the fact that he’s a teenage superhero. What do you think?

  106. YoungAuthoron 03 Sep 2012 at 8:21 pm

    What is his personality like? What makes him unique? For example, My character is arrogant, vain, but loyal and intelligent. that’ll help with feedback 🙂

  107. Emily M.on 04 Sep 2012 at 8:48 am

    Chickadee. by ~EhmmehTheArtMehjor on deviantART

    The final costume design for my character, Chickadee.
    The overall style of this story is based on the Golden Age comic books. But the fashion ranges from the 1920s through the 1960s. Chickadee’s costume is a combination of the 1920s and 1940s (e.g. the flapper headband & highwaisted shorts).
    Instead of falling into the trap of making her look hoochy/stripperific, Chickadee has more of a gymnast’s build. She’s petite, and birdlike, & her costume is more tomboyish/practical. The color scheme is bold and in-your-face. It reinforces her blaring, sassy, sarcastic attitude.

  108. Dragondevilon 16 Oct 2012 at 10:51 am

    I want my character to use A hooded arm less jacket which will reveal his arms covered with ancient language or spells.
    I am thinking of adding sunglasses too.
    And some facial tattoo as well.

    The Jacket that the hero uses will have his Insignia.

    The markings/ancient symbols appear magically but the jacket does not.

    Does it hide his secret identity enough?
    How can I work with the sun-glasses?(my character usually fights with villains of capable of shattering buildings)

  109. B. McKenzieon 16 Oct 2012 at 11:16 am

    “Does it hide his secret identity enough?” I think it would help to go further. Right now, it sounds like he’s betting his life on sunglasses hiding his identity. It might help explain how he protects his secret identity and help develop his character if you showed a greater visual distinction between his regular persona and his superhero persona (right now, he doesn’t even do a change of clothes). Perhaps his magical transformation modifies his clothing and/or involves some cosmetic changes (like perhaps a change in hair color and/or style?)

  110. Nayanon 16 Oct 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Though I am writing a superhero novel where costume design does not matter that much, I am considering to put a drawing of the superhero on the cover so that the reades can imagine the character. Colour theme is combination of blue and white. Costume consists of —

    1. White half T-shirt.

    2. White tights.

    3. Blue sleeveless jacket which he will wear unzipped so that the insignia (blue flame of fire) on the chest of the T-shirt is visible.

    4. Blue belt.

    5. Blue long shoe.

    6. Blue gloves.

    7. White mask.

    Does it sound okay?

  111. B. McKenzieon 17 Oct 2012 at 2:04 am

    “Does it sound okay?” Some thoughts and suggestions:

    –The costume itself sounds serviceable. However, unlike the helmet and gloves shown on the cover of Soon I Will Be Invincible, it doesn’t sound like the costume has all that much personality/uniqueness to it, so hopefully you’d have the character doing something interesting on the cover which fills in that gap. Also, I suspect you could incorporate the character’s logo and/or blue fire in a more interesting way than on his shirt. For example, think of how Batman covers have used Batman’s logo. Batman #684 comes to mind.

    –Unless necessary for the pose/action, I would not recommend showing the character’s shoes but rather focusing on whatever is necessary to make the desired impression. I think that depends on what you’re trying to show about the character(s). For example, with the draft cover for The Taxman Must Die, our main goal was establishing a contrast and uneasy relationship between two unlikely cops. The cover only shows a small piece of each character, which I think is more mentally engaging than full body-shots and gives viewers/readers room to wonder/imagine. Also, focusing on a relatively small portion of a character helps readers figure out what is important and draw the appropriate conclusions.

    –Although this is much more of an issue for comic writers and graphic novelists than for (prose) novelists, I would generally recommend deferring more to the artist on concept design (unless the details are relevant to the plot and/or characterization).

  112. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 3:51 am

    Actually the jacket that he wears gives him a symbolic look.
    The hero finds this costume in a shop when noticing a crime and uses it for the emergency.It will have a symbolic look to it~(Due to which the media gives him his name)

    The hero later makes some changes in it to make it look unique.
    Maybe due to magic there are some major changes in the dress.

    *(I dont want to make any cosmetic changes ,I fear it will look unrealistic)

    What do you think?

  113. B. McKenzieon 17 Oct 2012 at 5:13 am

    “What do you think?” I wouldn’t recommend worrying about a novel’s cover until the book is ready. Besides, I think most of this would be hard to resolve until you have an artist ready to go (e.g. how are the clothes executed?), and I would definitely recommend against having an artist get to work before the book is ready (because the work will surely evolve before it is completed).

    [UPDATE: I erroneously thought that you were writing a prose novel rather than a graphic novel.]

  114. Nayanon 17 Oct 2012 at 5:36 am

    I think Dragondevil is worrying about the costume design because he is doing a comic book not novel. I think I read somewhere on this site about him doing comic book. So, costume design is important for him from the word go. Since I am doing a novel, I can worry about it later.

  115. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 6:00 am

    Did not I say I was working on a “Graphic Novel”?

  116. B. McKenzieon 17 Oct 2012 at 6:09 am

    Oh, my apologies. I sometimes mix up stories. This is why I should stay off of SN from 0400-0700 Chicago time. 😛

  117. Nayanon 17 Oct 2012 at 6:19 am

    @B. Mac.
    I think you got confused because Dragondevil and I were asking about same thing.

  118. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 7:58 am

    Its ok B.Mac…It happens~ ^_^

  119. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 8:03 am

    What do you think about the costume?

  120. Nayanon 17 Oct 2012 at 8:20 am


    Hooded jacket will do great if your hero is dark and mysterious. Arm covered with tattoo of ancient language is an unique idea. I dont think I have seen such thing like before.

  121. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 8:22 am

    Thanx…Your characters name is Maanav…
    Whats his Superhero name?

  122. Nayanon 17 Oct 2012 at 8:32 am

    Have not decided yet. At this moment I am calling him as ‘Mr. X’. I am not finding any proper name.

  123. Nayanon 17 Oct 2012 at 8:34 am

    One name I am thinking is ‘Avatar’. Not sure it will work or not.

  124. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 9:01 am

    Avatar…I thought the same thing for my hero….but then there is that 3D movie,and the Last airbender~

    Does your story take place in India?

  125. Spitfireon 28 Nov 2012 at 12:19 pm

    For me, i want a superhero that is different from any other superhero, has a unique superpower, and a unique way of getting that superpower. I’ve been thinking for so long of how my character could get his superpowers, but i do know what his superpowers are going to be.

    somehow he is going to get these powers that enables him to gain skill advancement such as strength, speed, stamina, learning capabilities(which will allow him to adapt and survive in any environment faster than any human, even environments that are impossible to survive for most humans) and the gradual decrease in damage and pain taken. Unlike most, if not all superheroes, he will have to work for his strength, speed, stamina etc., unlike other superheroes that just spontaneously gain all of their skills immediately, or get them the next morning they wake up.

    Having him just running across rooftops just seems too plain, i want him to have another traveling feature kinda like Spider-man swinging on a web, just something different that would match his powers and features.

    Anyway, do you have any suggestions on how he could get his powers or some travelling features related to Spider-man swinging on a web?

  126. B. McKenzieon 29 Nov 2012 at 7:21 am

    “Having him just running across rooftops just seems too plain. I want him to have another traveling feature kinda like Spider-man swinging on a web, just something different that would match his powers and features.” Perhaps he’s athletic enough to jump from one building to the next (like the Hulk or the agents in The Matrix) and/or he uses some sort of tool to help him get across (e.g. a melee weapon that can double as a pole-vault or grappling hooks* or whatever).

    I think this is a difficult assignment. His superpowers are essentially limited to being athletic and you’re looking for something besides him just being athletic. Perhaps he has a secondary power which could be used as a very crude approximation of flight (e.g. the ability to generate enough telekinetic force that he could launch himself and perhaps change directions mid-air). To help separate the power from actual flight, I think cruder would be better. (One reason I think Spiderman’s movement is more interesting than Superman’s is because Spiderman’s web-slinging is much more limited than Superman’s–there’s no challenge for Superman, which limits the dramatic potential of his flight scenes).

    *Well, I’d recommend leaving that to Batman because this character’s powers already resemble Batman’s, but in general I think it’s okay.

  127. Spitfireon 30 Nov 2012 at 1:07 pm

    As for the design, i was thinking maybe he could be based on an animal or insect like Spider-man, Batman, and Wolverine, but really, i cant think of any animal or insect that would be too close to copy or resemble other superheroes.

    The character in my head is almost alive metaphorically speaking, i know what he is like, i know what he would do in curtain situations, and i know what kind of person he is. But before i had that character in my head, i was trying to think of a name, i thought of Spitfire, i think that would be a really cool name for a superhero, but i’m afraid ill have to change the name because with the character i have in my head, i don’t think its gonna fit. I suppose maybe after i make the character in my head, ill have to make a different superhero that fits with the name Spitfire.

    Also, i forgot to mention, when he gains his skills, they go to a higher point then humanly possible, meaning he has super strength, speed, agility, learning capabilities, and decreased damage and pain taken.

    I’m designing the hero myself, and I’ve spent hours drawing, trying to get a perfect look to fit my character. But maybe i cant think of a design because i don’t even know how he got his powers, or a travelling capability, ill just slow down and get the whole story planned out first!

  128. Dr. Vo Spaderon 24 Feb 2013 at 1:43 pm

    If a character’s costume was being described, do you think many readers would understand the term “comedy mask”?


    On a different note, every costume from the upcoming DC game (Injustice: Gods Among Us) looks fantastic. I’m really impressed with how much effort they’re putting into it.

  129. B. McKenzieon 24 Feb 2013 at 2:18 pm

    “If a character’s costume was being described, do you think many readers would understand the term “comedy mask”?” I think it depends on your target audience, but personally I think less than 10% of my readers would get the reference. It’s a Greek theatrical term and I don’t think most superhero fans are into either theater or Greek history. However, if you explained it in similar terms, I think you could create a visual most people would understand (e.g. perhaps “a laughing mask”).

  130. Blackscaron 24 Feb 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Hello again!

    I have yet another inquiry to make. In my novel I have a character whose name is Gabriel. He’s a death reaper (basically a grim reaper with some minor complications), but, as he’s only 16 and attends high school, he can’t run around slaughtering people left and right without suspicion being raised.
    During his reapings he wears a black zip-up hoodie with a white skeletal pattern on it, black gloves, and regular jeans.
    To hide his identity, I’ve considered making him paint his face white with black around his eyes and mouth. After all, some people do look considerably different with or without makeup.

    Opinions? Should I add anything or take anything out?

  131. B. McKenzieon 25 Feb 2013 at 6:08 am

    “he’s a grim reaper… he’s only 16 and attends high school… to hide his identity…” Some thoughts and suggestions:
    –Given your premise/plot, I’m not sure protecting his identity is the most effective side-obstacle. Also, if he’s a grim reaper, it might help to give him some sort of supernatural transformation rather than just a hoodie and makeup.

    –I’m not sure if you’ve encountered Bleach before, but the editors who would be interested in this sort of (manga-ish) plot probably have and I think it’d be really important to differentiate your story/characters in some substantial ways. In particular, what’s something your main character would do that 95% of teen protagonists wouldn’t do in the same situation?

  132. Blackscaron 25 Feb 2013 at 1:44 pm

    @ B. McKenzie

    -Gabriel himself is not the main character, just a major protagonist. He’s the best friend of my main protagonist. The extent of his powers are basically radiating a disquieting aura that feels like death itself, and absorbing souls. As in, he’d have to actually track down and murder someone with a weapon of some form and then his powers would activate on their own. He couldn’t exactly parade around slaughtering people left and right and walk away unscathed, if you get my drift, and in the world I’m creating only the death god himself can transform. Gabriel is still human.

    -Yes, I’m familiar with Bleach. 🙂
    The death reaper thing isn’t exactly a main plot point, just an added detail about the character. As to what Gabriel would do that 95% percent of teen protagonists wouldn’t do, I’ve given him an easygoing demeanor that masks an extremely dangerous temper (which, despite being difficult to set off, is not exactly something pleasant to witness), so therefore he frequently gets stoned in order to keep himself from stressing himself out and potentially snapping. I don’t believe that I’ve ever read a novel where the teen protagonist is an avid drug user, though I am concerned that it may make my novel more difficult to publish…

  133. B. McKenzieon 25 Feb 2013 at 5:30 pm

    “I don’t believe that I’ve ever read a novel where the teen protagonist is an avid drug user, though I am concerned that it may make my novel more difficult to publish…” I don’t know the young adult fiction scene very well. I suspect drug use wouldn’t help with your sales prospects*, but if the book is excellent, I don’t think a publisher would turn you away because of the drug use. It would definitely not be the first book about teen drug-use out there (e.g. Barnes & Noble lists 121 in its Teen Fiction – Substance Abuse subcategory and that’s only counting some of the ones where it’s a significant plot element).

    *I suspect drug use would make it harder to promote your book with librarians, teachers, and parents, but a book of this sort probably didn’t have all that much potential with them anyway.

  134. YoungAuthoron 25 Feb 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I’ve seen many a book with drug use but less so with protagonists. it could work though.

  135. Blackscaron 25 Feb 2013 at 8:47 pm

    It’s still in the works, though. I may change it before all is said and done.

    You’ve got a valid point, though. I’d be incredibly surprised if it sold to that demographic. Honestly, it’s a book about demons and superheroes, and the only one of my protagonists who HASN’T done something unheroic is the demon.
    Not to mention subtle yet depressing undertones.

  136. B. McKenzieon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:03 am

    “You’ve got a valid point, though. I’d be incredibly surprised if it sold to that demographic.” Ah… well, it’s generally very challenging to convince young adults to buy their own books. Cases in point: take your four best friends. Between the five of you, how many books have you ever purchased outside of school? Most teens (especially guys) tend not to buy their own books. (For example, my four best friends and I totaled maybe 25 video game purchases from 13-18, but definitely fewer than 5 book purchases).

    If you see Stet on SN, he may have some encouraging insights there. He’s published at least one book for young adults, so presumably he’d have a rosier take.

  137. Peter Ron 13 Jul 2013 at 7:55 am

    The only way drugs would work for the protagonist is if its an extremely dark novel, or if the drugs help him/her maintain/use/control their powers. Or its fake for something under cover.
    Also an elderly superhero probably could get away with taking a couple Tylenols in the heat of battle. (Attack of the seventy year old man)…I’m not writing that if anyone wants it.

  138. B. McKenzieon 13 Jul 2013 at 10:34 am

    “The only way drugs would work for the protagonist is if it’s an extremely dark novel, or if the drugs help him/her maintain/use/control their powers.” An otherwise likable character gave his daughter drugs in the Kick-Ass comics (but not in the movie). Very dark.

  139. Blackscaron 02 Aug 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Hi there!
    I’ve drawn Charlotte, from my novel, and I’d like to know what everyone thinks of her design and costume! Is it practical, stupid, or none of the above?

    ((I apologize for the horrible quality of the picture; my scanner butchered the drawing. Rather, it butchered it even worse than I did while drawing it.))


    Thanks in advance!


  140. Blackscaron 02 Aug 2013 at 4:35 pm


    Also, I’m aware that the head is a little too large in proportion with the rest of the body. Sorry about that.

  141. Missvisibleninjaon 05 Sep 2013 at 4:07 pm

    My character, Nobody, lives somewhere in Illinois and I’m assuming winters can get pretty cold there considering that I live in St. Louis and it snowed 2 inches on the first day of spring last year. Would it be practical for her to change her outfit during winter or would that be confusing to readers? (I’m doing a comic book by the way.)
    What I have her wearing now is a black turtle-neck tee shirt (think season 4 Kim Possible mission outfit if you’ve seen that), black pants that are like yoga pants but without that extra flap of fabric on the top, a black mini skirt that doubles as a utility belt, a ninja mask that covers her whole face but her eyes and her ponytail sticks out of that, finger less gloves, and combat boots that come up to about three inches below the knee. And since she has no powers and instead uses duct tape to fight she has a belt that has little hooks to hold tape (maybe 5 or 6 rolls) as well as two rolls on each upper arm (I tried it, it works!). Every thing she wears is black except the tape obviously so it will absorb heat.
    What I was thinking was having her wear an Under Armor type long sleeve shirt in the winter. One of those ones that come down to the hand and have the little hole to put your thumb in. Also she wouldn’t be wearing the gloves.
    Okay now that I think about it would I also have to change her costume in August when its really hot out? I really want this to seem realistic.
    Also some of the people who I’ve talked to have told me that I should raise the heel of the boots since shes a girl but I’m not really sure if I want to do that.
    Any ideas or suggestions?

  142. Smoke n Mirrorson 20 Nov 2013 at 9:24 pm

    About the Inconsistent with Personality problem, does that also apply to actions? Because my story has a new hero joining a small superhero team and one of the guys from the team is the nicest of the team, but utterly ruthless. I mean, in a fight he won’t yell or curse at the baddies (he doesn’t curse on principle) or be especially angry or violent, but if he had the opportunity to he’d slit the enemy’s throat before the guy can finish surrendering. Is it ok or would the dissonance be too jarring?

  143. B. McKenzieon 20 Nov 2013 at 11:45 pm

    “Because my story has a new hero joining a small superhero team and one of the guys from the team is the nicest of the team, but utterly ruthless.” Nice-and-ruthless definitely sounds workable (and realistic). For example, if he’s really concerned for the well-being/safety of innocents/teammates, it wouldn’t be a surprise he’s unusually tough on adversaries.

    However, I’m seeing a discrepancy between his actions in battle (he’s not very violent there) and him being willing to slit a surrendering enemy’s throat. What would motivate someone to fight normally in battle but become a psycho killer once the battle is over? One possibility is that he’s paranoid (or at least somewhat paranoid) and he may assume that the surrender is some sort of trick. If this guy is supposed to be at all likable, though, I’d recommend being careful about how far he goes, though — executing a surrendering prisoner is probably going to kick his likability in the **** unless there are some really strong extenuating circumstances.*

    *E.g. if the surrendering character was highly untrustworthy and/or particularly depraved, or if taking the person prisoner would have put protagonists or innocents in serious danger, if the intent to surrender was unclear, etc. If Thor chooses to execute a surrendering Loki, I’d actually have more respect for Thor than if he had given Loki ANOTHER chance to break out of prison and kill tens of thousands of people.

  144. Smoke n Mirrorson 21 Nov 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I should’ve explained better, but what I meant is that during battle, on top of not insulting or screaming obscenities at the enemy, Nice Guy (not in-universe name) would actually plead with them to stop and not to be a villain anymore, and if an enemy surrenders then he will just hand them over to the cops. But if a villain only “surrenders” when he’s been parked on his ass after a long protracted fight then Nice Guy will help him up….onto his knife.

  145. Amber Don 28 Dec 2013 at 11:46 am

    That is still pretty dark though considering most heroes would never kill a captive villain even if the villain never surendered and was captured by force. However if the other heroes would kill a villain strait off in addition to insulting them or would kill a villain even if they surrendered if it were not for him then I could see how he would be considered the nice one but the group as a whole would be looked at as dark.

  146. B. McKenzieon 28 Dec 2013 at 12:38 pm

    “I should’ve explained better, but what I meant is that during battle, on top of not insulting or screaming obscenities at the enemy, he pleads with them to stop and not to be a villain anymore, and if an enemy surrenders then he will just hand them over to the cops. But if a villain only “surrenders” when he’s been parked on his ass after a long protracted fight then Nice Guy will help him up….onto his knife.”

    I’d recommend having him be open about his intentions (e.g. mentioning to the villain that, if he chooses to fight, it will be fatal). In the interests of keeping the protagonist likable, I’d also suggest having the villain die mainly of lethal wounds inflicted during the battle rather than something more like an execution.

  147. SourCreamTacoon 28 Dec 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Smoke n Mirrors

    Sorry for butting into the conversation, but…that idea kinda scared me.

    “Nice Guy”, sounds more like an anti-hero.

    Again, sorry for buttin’ in, I’ll be leaving this convers. now. Bye bye!

  148. B. McKenzieon 28 Dec 2013 at 11:01 pm

    ‘“Nice Guy”, sounds more like an anti-hero.’ Hmm… outside of superhero stories, I think it’s pretty standard for action protagonists to kill their villains. I don’t think killing a villain is necessarily a sign of a dark story (particularly if the target audience is, say, older than 16). It’s just a matter of how the author executes the details. For example, Captain America and Iron Man have shot many enemy combatants (Nazis and terrorists) in their movies and I don’t think it’s created any likability problems for them.

  149. SourCreamTacoon 28 Dec 2013 at 11:44 pm


  150. Smoke n Mirrorson 29 Dec 2013 at 12:00 am

    B. McKenzie, your right. I was thinking about Nice Guy’s execution of villains who had surrendered only out of necessity more, and it didn’t really fit with what I want for the character. Which is more of an outwardly blameless kind of hero that even some villains respect but are weirded out by his constant attempts to change them and his dogged niceness but is barely keeping it together and nearly psychotic on the inside. So I’m going to take your advice and not have him execute villains and only have the villains die from the cumulative effects of their injuries. Although it won’t really change Nice Guy’s body count only the way the bad guy dies.

  151. Amber Don 29 Dec 2013 at 3:16 am

    I didn’t really mean killing villains in general was dark just doing it after they’ve already been captured.The rest of this doesn’t really have much to do with the previous topic well maybe a little but I was kinda planing on addressing this charter on this page anyway. One of the heroes I’m working on is a bit more willing to kill a villain in battle than other heroes in the story which causes other heroes causing arguments between her and the hero she works with. Most of the time she doesn’t but if she fills like handling it another way would be to risky she will use methods that will likely kill or at least badly injure a villain without much hesitation. I am having a little trouble determining where she should draw the line.I don’t want her having a large body count but enough to cause conflict between her and other heroes. Her powers are increased strength (I say increased strength instead of super strength because it is not like she can punch threw walls but she is about 3 times stronger than someone her size/ frame would normally be) increased speed, super reflexes, super coridnation, super reaction time and super aim. She also has lots of fight training and is really good at taking weapons off people.

    Her theme colors are black and silver she wears silver eye contacts and a black wig and maybe a bandana on the lower part of her face and black gloves. I’m a little worried the color eye contacts might be a bit unconventional to put in every time but it is sort of her trademark. Ill probably describe more of her costume later but I’m having a little trouble picturing it fully myself. I want her to have a somewhat different style (somewhat more conventional clothing) than most female heroes but still look good. Although I’m still going to take some liberties with it. Any suggestions?

    Her name for right now I am considering silveye or silvereye (pronounced all as one word making the last part more like rye sorry if this is confusing) do these sound cheesy and wich sounds better?

  152. C.R.on 29 Dec 2013 at 10:26 am

    Here’s a page with some costume suggestions-

    I got it by googling “superheroine costumes”.

  153. niotpodaon 07 Mar 2014 at 11:36 am

    So, i was brainstorming costume ideas, when i had a bunch of ideas all at once. So, which one to you think is the best?

    For reference: My superhero has voice-related powers. When she talks, it is difficult to ignore, interrupt, or disbelieve her, and she can use her voice to emotionally manipulate people to a certain degree. Before she became a superhero, she was a hostage negotiator for a police station in a big city (not sure where yet). When she was recruited by a superhero league, she just switched to doing hostage negotiations on a larger scale. She also works PR for the group- whenever they are forced to have an actual battle within city limits, she is the one who talks to all the reporters/politicians/police/etc. who want to know what’s going on. It is a novel, and for most of the story she’s not in costume.

    I’m thinking white with gold or pale pink accents for the color scheme.

    Idea #1: A suit with dress shoes. Pros- people generally associate suits with people who know what they are doing, and her face would be left uncovered. Cons- the less traditional colors may take away from that.

    Idea #2: A cloak that partially covered the face (maybe with a mask) and relatively simple tight fitting shirt and pants. Pros- adds an air of mystery to her. Looks really cool. Cons- she might seem too distant.

    Idea #3: A ‘uniform’ with the league’s logo. Pros- Very official, and people are naturally inclined to trust anything remotely uniform-like. Cons- people won’t know she’s a superhero. They’ll think she just some government employee. (could be a plus in some situations)

  154. William Keatingon 11 Aug 2014 at 7:01 am

    This is nit-picking but I think it’s just in the image of Green Lantern the person in the hood is The Spectre, a supernatural based DC character that for a while Hal Jordon was the host of.

  155. DancingCaton 30 Jan 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Can you guys help me with my costume? My well of costume ideas has kind of run dry. I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask, but ah well. Ok, here goes…

    Adrian is a 14-year-old who can alter his appearance slightly, turn invisible, phase through solid objects, fly/hover later on, and discovers he has a sonic wail later on. He can do all of this by controlling metamaterials embedded in his skin with his mind (more tech-y stuff there, too. And all he can do appearance-wise is basically change his face slightly and costume- his costume’s programmed into the metamaterials.)

    I also need a name, but I don’t know if this is the place to ask. (I am kind of a tech research nerd, sorry.)

    And again, terribly horribly sorry if this is the wrong place to ask and if I’m butting in on a conversation (I have awful conversation skills and apologize too much, my friends say).

  156. DancingCaton 30 Jan 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I’m also considering letting him fire concussive energy blasts, but that may be straying from slightly realistic (which I try to stick to if I can). What do you guys thinK?

  157. ExplodingNoodleson 29 Oct 2019 at 4:20 pm

    So, my character wears white body armor. How can I design it so that he still looks Batman-ish intimidating?

  158. Cat-Vacuumer Supremeon 04 Nov 2019 at 11:53 am

    You could follow Batman’s example and have a cloak. I think a kind of ragged cloak, or one with multiple parts, would look cool. Maybe hard (angular) or jagged edges, iridescence or glowing bits (for power armor or weapons). You could also have visible holsters/sheaths and weapons.

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