Aug 26 2009

How to Design Outstanding Superhero Costumes

Published by at 4:40 pm under Art,Character Design,Comic Book Art

Many first-time comic book writers mistakenly think that it’s okay to give their character bland costumes and let other factors make up for it. While other aspects contribute to the overall success of a superhero, the costume is critical because it’s the first thing a reader sees. Don’t blow your only chance at a first impression by making your hero look like a bum. Here are some tips to design effective and stylish costumes.

1. Keep it functional. When a costume doesn’t feel practical, it will probably make the character seem less realistic and/or competent. For example, if your hero wears a large cape, it’d be hard to believe that he never gets caught on anything. And if it doesn’t, the character may come off as a Mary Sue.

2. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity flow when designing a costume. If you have a idea for something that could be interesting try to work it into the costume without compromising functionality. Personally, I prefer to start with an outrageous costume then take away until I find balance. Play with colors, patterns, styles, layers, and accessories until you find the perfect costume exhibiting style and functionality, but…

3. Keep in mind that an artist has to repeatedly draw the costume. It’s fun to go all out, but don’t overwork your artist. If the costume is too hard to repeat, the artist might try to make up for that extra time by putting less work into the rest of the page. Additionally, if he’s a freelancer, he will probably expect more money. Fortunately, there’s usually a middle ground where you can have what you want without overworking the artist. It usually helps if you keep the accessories to a minimum—focus on the ones that matter. Finally, make sure that you consult with your artist.

4. Make sure your colors and shades contribute to the feel of the costume. Each color has its own feel and different shades can accentuate that feel. Light colors make the hero feel more heroic and bold like Superman or Spiderman. Conversely, darker colors create a darker and edgier feel like Batman or The Punisher. Alternatively, rich colors like deep purples suggest sophistication or regality, while bright colors like fluorescent yellow or orange suggest youth and energy.

5. Make your accessories and extra clothing iconic. If you include accessories in an outfit, make them memorable. Even if you prefer minimalist costumes, the right accessory can take it from bland to stylish. For example, when Batman is portrayed in comics (particularly on covers), artists tend to focus on his cape. It flows and whips, which adds to the dark and creepy feel of the character and his stories. My character, Showtime, sports a vest and white gloves over a futuristic body suit to accent his individualism and showmanship.

Common accessories include capes, shades/goggles, belts/utility belts, gauntlets, sashes, etc. Some experimental accessories include scarves/bandanas, designer shades, jewelry, sections of armor, bracelets/armbands, headphones, things that are popular in fashion, etc. You can also use aspects of layering and asymmetry to set your costume off.

6. Designing superheroine costumes can be tricky. It’s hard to find a balance between puritanically boring and scandalously outrageous. It’s usually good to work realistically when thinking up the costume. Every girl is different and while some don’t like to show much skin, others are more comfortable showing their bodies. When designing female costumes I use influences from modern fashion. I see what’s hot and how it can be modified to look heroic.

7. A superhero’s costume should tell something important about the hero. When designing your costume, please remember that it’s the first statement about who the hero is. When readers look at it, they should feel something. If they don’t, the costume has probably failed. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to evoke a feeling with a costume– small elements can create an overall tone. For example, adding rips and tears can make a character feel savage and wild. Adding jewelry can make them feel haughty or vain. Make sure you give the costume an edge.

Good luck!

85 responses so far

85 Responses to “How to Design Outstanding Superhero Costumes”

  1. Wingson 26 Aug 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Since there are no costumes in HTSTW, I’ll focus on Darkstar Rising:

    Color(s):

    Darkstar: Black (Duh)
    Hikari: White/Silver
    Masochist: Muted red (more crimson than scarlet)
    Instinct: Tan/Brown
    Synth: Hunter green
    Hummingbird: (unknown, perhaps violet or bright green)
    Shift: Gold
    Alcatraz: Charcoal
    Scapegoat: Gray
    Pathos: Navy blue

    Signature Acecssory?

    Darkstar: Cape, torn in places
    Hikari: Mask, shaped like crescent moon
    Masochist: Bandages, on arms
    Instinct: Combat boots, extremely scuffed and battered
    Synth: Wooden cuff bracelets, carved roughly
    Hummingbird: Helmet, with visor which hides his face

    I never was big on costumes since I discovered the brain-scarring Robin one (Short..shorts…why God why..), so most of mine are fairly simplistic. Most of the time they’re adapted civilian clothes.

    - Wings

  2. Ragged Boyon 26 Aug 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I like how their accessories match their persona. Little characterization pieces like that help contribute to the distinct feel of each character.

    Do you like the article?

  3. B. Macon 26 Aug 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I liked it. In particular, #3 seems useful to me. I wonder why that hadn’t occurred to me before? I think that #1, #5 and #7 will help a lot of other people as well.

    I agree with what you have on superheroine costumes, but I think the topic is broad enough to warrant its own article at some point. (In fact, given how much disagreement there is regarding superheroine costumes, I might have several people each write up ~200 words of advice rather than write 600 myself).

  4. Marissaon 26 Aug 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This is less important in a text-based media, like a novel, where the costumes aren’t the first thing the reader sees. However, if you’re going to include costumes in a novel, try to be able to summarize it in one sentence, two at most. Any more starts to give it the Mary-Sue feel.

    Overall, I like the article. Great job. :D

  5. Wingson 26 Aug 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Good article, especially as I was just now thinking of costumes. A superheroine costume article would also be good…Down with Stripperific! Down, I say!

    - Wings

  6. Marissaon 26 Aug 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Wasn’t her name ‘Stripperella‘?

  7. B. Macon 27 Aug 2009 at 6:30 am

    Yes, but the TV Trope article is titled Stripperific. ;-)

  8. Red Ragged Boyon 27 Aug 2009 at 11:58 am

    And here I am thinking all these responses are raving praise. Haha. Where is everyone?

  9. NewAgeZombion 11 Oct 2009 at 2:51 pm

    All the costumes I’m designing still need some accessories. The superheroes in the team all wear a tight t-shirt on top, the women wear knee-length skorts, and the man wears basketball shorts. I need ideas for accessories. Their colors are as follows:

    Women:
    Terrastrike – yellowish brown, dark brown and a color that I can only describe as “off-gray”
    Tumbler – black, dull baby blue and dull, pale purple

    Man:
    Naga – medium green, off-white and burnt orange

    Not sure what should be what color. Please help!

  10. B. Macon 11 Oct 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t know about Tumbler and Naga– Pale purple and dull baby blue would probably clash pretty badly with green-and-orange. On the other hand, I think Justice League looked fine even though its main seven members have some color-clashes as well. Maybe it’s not a problem.

  11. Ragged Boyon 11 Oct 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I’m not worried as much about the colors as I am the outfits. They sound starkly plain and unappealing. They seem like stay-at-home clothes. I have a few questions as for your team’s style:

    What’s the reason behind the simplicity of their clothes?

    What type of feel does the team have?

    Are they in a bloody setting (as in, a lot of blood will splash on their clothes)?

  12. Lighting Manon 11 Oct 2009 at 4:05 pm

    This is one of my three lead male superheroes, each with a completely different origin story and continuity, and not the one I am focusing on developing right now, but if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d like to get some feedback on the general design and how it meshes with the character.

    Rapulis is a genetically modified organism, reptilian in nature but unlike anything currently on Earth and not directly derived from a single species, his primary ability is that his bodily fluids are all highly corrosive acids, but he has no protection against human viruses or bacteria so he constantly has to wear the mask, in addition, at this point in his development, he was intubated via the mask while it collected his saliva to be fired as a projectile, hence the head brace.

    http://graystreet.deviantart.com/art/Rapulis-Character-Design-2-106417945

    It is from about a year ago, and his costume has changed significantly since I drew this image, his mask doesn’t impede the movement of his neck, the armor has been done away with so it is one piece and purely skin tight, the yellow on the chest has been replaced with the same green as the mask and expanded to encompass the majority of his chest, the yellow has been eliminated entirely, and he is no longer intubated.

  13. NewAgeZombion 11 Oct 2009 at 4:36 pm

    The colors are definitely negotiable for Tumbler, as long as it can be kept “sober.”

    “What’s the reason behind the simplicity of their clothes?”
    Part of it is that I’m writing a novel, and I need something easy to write. The other thing is that in the universe the story takes place in, society is in a pretty bad state. (Suffering from what almost turned into an apocalypse.) The T-shirts could be turned into something else, though, and the basketball shorts could probably be changed to those cotton leggings like you get at somewhere like Walmart. I want to keep the skorts, though.

    “What type of feel does the team have?”
    Well, Naga and Tumbler are an item and sort of act parentally towards Terrastrike, even though her parents are still alive and well. Terrastrike and Tumbler are in the hero business because they lost someone (a best friend and a brother*, respectively). Naga is in it for Tumbler.

    “Are they in a setting where a lot of blood will splash on their clothes?”
    Definitely!

    * Major, complicated plot point.

  14. B. Macon 11 Oct 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I think that the colors for a novel’s team of superheroes don’t actually have to be coordinated. We’ll only actually see the colors on the cover, if at all. Also, I think that you can get away with clothes that might otherwise be boring or unappealing. (There is a good in-story reason that your characters would wear bland clothes– in this society, they don’t have many options).

    So I’d like to encourage you to finish your manuscript without worrying much about visual design issues.

  15. Ragged Boyon 11 Oct 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Yeah NewAgeZombi, I’m going to agree with B. Mac. As your work is a novel, the visual details of your character’s costumes aren’t all that important. I’d definitely focus on things like characterization, development, etc (Especially if you’ve just recently started writing this).

  16. Ragged Boyon 11 Oct 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Hola Lighting Man! The newer concept you explained feel a lot like a reptilian Nightwing, which isn’t necessarily bad. Nightwing’s costume is simple, yet memorable, which is always a good way to go. I’d recommend adding at least some armor type accessories just so the suit doesn’t seem plain. Right now it seems like a lot of black. Maybe light gauntlets and shinguards or something of the sort. Alternatively, you could have some simple reptile-like patterns on the suit.

    I’m not really sure what “intubated” means. Could you elaborate?

  17. Lighting Manon 13 Oct 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Sorry for the slow response, I hadn’t really thought about the resemblance to Nightwing’s costume, so good point. I think adding more details is a great idea, thanks. He is one of those characters I really like the concept of and enjoy drawing but his nature makes crafting the warm personal kind of stories I like difficult, but he is always hanging out in my head, developing more and more.

    I meant intubated as in the medical term for to tracheal intubation or having a wacky tube shoved down your throat to help you breathe, it was an earlier part of the character concept that I got rid of after it occurred to me how implausible it would be for someone in that condition to be taking blows and moving around that much without simply destroying his throat and dying.

  18. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I actually think a rougher character would b great for a warm story. It may be harder to do in a superhero story, though. I think it would work if the character is shown as rough (yet likable) in the beginning and as the story progresses his tough exterior chips away revealing a much kinder/warmer/developed person.

  19. Ragged Boyon 30 Mar 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Yo, B. Mac and fellow SNer’s. I’ve got some art that I’d like your opinions on.

    This is Showtime (my superhero) doing a pose I swiped from The Sandman.

    Although, this is only a shot from the back and does not give you a full view of the suit, from what you can tell please answer these questions (or just give your honest opinion in general):

    Do you like the suit?

    Do you think that an artist would have moderate ease repeatedly drawing him repeatedly?

    Do you think the look is marketable?

    Okay, Here’s the actual drawing:

    http://raggedboy.deviantart.com/art/Showtime-158983981

  20. Ragged Boyon 30 Mar 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Also, feel free to check out my other artwork and leave comments.

  21. B. Macon 30 Mar 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Let’s see. I’m in the middle of a poker tournament right now, so I can’t talk long, but I think it looks okay. I like the concept. The pose looks very uncomfortable. My main questions are 1) what are the bubbles towards his feet? and 2) How flexible would you be if the artist wanted to do the scarf differently?

  22. B. Macon 30 Mar 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Oh, also, I feel like your pencil work is looking a lot better. The edges are clean and I think it bodes well that you’re trying difficult poses. (Do you remember which issue of Sandman it came from?)

  23. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2010 at 3:53 am

    I’m glad you like it. The bubbles by his feet are just that, bubbles of water (I’m not that great at illustrating water yet). If the artist wanted to redo the scarf, I’d be fine with that. I plan to ask the artist for their artistic input anyway. The pose probably looks so uncomfortable because it’s not in any context. It just looks like he’s stretching awkwardly. Haha.

    The pose is from The Sandman #1: Preludes and Nocturnes on page 42. I messed up a little on the closer hand, but it’s all good.

  24. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Anyone else care to comment on my drawing. I’d really like as mush feedback as I can get, seeing as this could be a concept I may want to go with.

  25. esnippleeon 27 Jun 2010 at 8:49 pm

    to you think an off-white (yellow side) and blue colour scheme with blonde outrageous hair sounds okay? also with metal hoop bracelets and belts. no mask. not changing it but want input.

  26. B. Macon 27 Jun 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I don’t know. Outrageous blond hair and metal hoop bracelets makes me think of a 70s or 80s girl band. The blue/off-white/yellow color scheme doesn’t seem like a major problem to me, although it might look garish if the yellow is too bright.


    That depends on your mood and target audience, though. I think kids are a lot more drawn to loud, gaudy colors than older viewers are.

  27. Ragged Boyon 28 Jun 2010 at 10:21 am

    I can’t really wrap my head around the off-white color you’re going for. Does it have a name? Is it close to Eggshell? Or creme? This color?

    I do think 80′s when I hear metal hoops, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m all for the idea of going over the top and then toning things to something that works. If you have any talent in drawing I’d recommend roughing out some sketches and playing with different motifs and ideas until you have an iconic costume.

  28. Loysquaredon 20 Jul 2010 at 6:40 pm

    This may not fit here, but is it wise to explore various anatomical structures when creating main characters? Or is it just better/safer to go with an anthropomorphic physiques?
    I am an artist, and more often than not, my mind goes into a state of creative madness when it comes to character design. Sadly, I know it’s not so practical, and it would be harder for the artist to repeatedly draw the characters, or for the readers to imagine/retain unconventional figures. But, at the same time, it’s illogical to presume every being should have a humanlike shape, specially with alien races, robots, fairies, spirits, mutants, etc.

  29. Ragged Boyon 20 Jul 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Having various anatomical structures for your characters could possibly compromise their relatability. I think, unless your story is something completely original and it’s necessary, that your main protagainst should have at least a basic human shape. I think you could play around with features, but I’d say keep it human. Now if it’s not the main protaganist, I think you have a little more leeway with builds.

    But I share your sentiment about being an artist with an impractical style. I tend to make my characters very long and thin.

  30. B. Macon 20 Jul 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Would you consider Beast or Venom or Lizard to look humanlike? They have the same basic bipedal structure as a human but don’t actually resemble a human in any way. I think that helps the characters maintain some degree of human interest. Also, I notice that all three of these characters started out as human.

    I think that existing comic book characters (whether transformed human, extraterrestrial, animal, spirit or robot) are usually shaped like a human. (Head, torso, two arms, two legs and possibly some nonhuman limbs). It may or may not be scientifically plausible, but I think it can be justified because 100% of the readers are human*.

    *Or at least vaguely humanlike.

    Also, there are some fantasy-based monsters (like hydras) and Force of Nature antagonists like Godzilla and insect-based monsters, but they tend to be rather minor in superhero stories. I don’t think they have the same cachet or dramatic potential of an antagonist that is modeled somewhat after a human.

    That said, I think you might be able to get away with such a character, especially if…

    –You’re in fantasy or space opera. Readers in these genres are probably a bit more receptive to feats of imagination. Also, these genres tend to present fewer logistical hurdles to a distinctly nonhuman character. It’d be harder to put a character as large as a dragon and/or a quadraped in New York City compared to a fantasy countryside.

    –The character is a villain. Distinctly nonhuman protagonists are really, really rare. Besides a few pets, I’m only coming up with a few dragons, but I notice that they’re almost never the main character or POV. (For example, Patricia Wrede’s books with Kazul, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, Chris Paolini’s books with that Pokemon wannabe, etc).

    –The character is minor (ideally, not a point of view unless you’ve got dynamite execution and a stellar grasp of characterization). Relatability doesn’t matter as much for minor characters.

    –(Possibly) The character has some difficult way of overcoming logistical problems but one he can’t/won’t resort to regularly? (For example, if your dragon needs to do a jaunt in a New York subway car for whatever reason, maybe he has a human form but one that he finds disgusting and/or totally defenseless). Since this sort of defeats the point of having a nonhuman character to begin with, I would recommend being rather sparing with it, particularly on central plot items. (For example, maybe the character is wholly unhuman 90% of the time and has to overcome resulting plot obstacles, but for whatever reason you’re not up for dealing with the logistics of moving him through a city).

  31. Loysquaredon 20 Jul 2010 at 10:00 pm

    To Ragged Boy:
    Now you shouldn’t feel so “alone”, lol. By the way, I saw your deviantART account (from a link on another article), and I liked your style! It has an edgy urban feel to it, I don’t know if it was suppose to, but I really enjoyed it. Keep it up!

    To B.Mac:
    That’s my point! It’s either a villain or some minor character that wickedly brakes the mold. Not that I want to go against the grain here, but somehow it’s expected. It all popped into my head when I tryed to recreate the fairies’ theme. They are always depicted with dragonfly/butterfly wings, so I wanted to take a more “bugsy” approach, but didn’t know where to draw the line between artistry and writing. One can imagine a lot of stuff that might work on a picture, but not exactly on a book, people might not get the same reaction.

  32. B. Macon 20 Jul 2010 at 10:15 pm

    “That’s my point! It’s either a villain or some minor character that wickedly breaks the mold. Not that I want to go against the grain here, but somehow it’s expected.”

    I wonder how an author could write a distinctly nonhuman protagonist that the audience roots for. Vaguely relatedly, I wonder why the audience did root for the Spartans in 300. (“Badassery as a way of life,” I guess).


    They are always depicted with dragonfly/butterfly wings, so I wanted to take a more “bugsy” approach, but didn’t know where to draw the line between artistry and writing.

    I think it’s easier to justify details that are really important to the story, particularly if they’re far from our frame of reference and handled quickly. I doubt that describing insectoid fairies would induce “Did you REALLY just spend 3 sentences describing the protagonist’s hair color?” facepalms.

  33. Hopefulon 21 Jul 2010 at 7:59 am

    What kind of costume would a psychic character have?

  34. Ragged Boyon 21 Jul 2010 at 10:18 am

    Loysquared: I’m glad you like my style. I’m still getting there and it takes forever. I think I’m at the part where I’m supposed to be learning by trying to draw other people’s art until I get the concepts down. I plan to upload more new art soon, so maybe give it a look. Where’s your work?

    Hopeful: Realistically, a character can wear whatever you they want and be a superhero. Showtime wears flashy clothes with alien armor on top. However, You’re probably going for a psychic feel with their costume. In that case, I’d recommend deep colors: blues, indigo, purples, and pink or black could work as an accent color. Conversely, white strikes me as something a psychic would wear. Of course, the mixing and matching is all up to you.

    As for the look, that can go many ways as well:

    Cloaks and robes: (especially one’s with dramatic tails and sleeves) These remind me of Final Fantasy, but could work very well depending on the setting.

    Suits: I think psychics are at their coolest when they look sharp and this goes with a more modern setting. Gloves, shades, and hats could add a touch of mystery. A long coat will make them the gangster of psychics. Also, If you’re working in a visual medium like comics, suits can vary more in appearance if you like your character to stay fresh. A three piece can turn into a vest and shirt, roll up the sleeves and he looks like a brawler, loose the vest and he’s ready for a swim, etc.

    Bodysuit: These have more of that superhero feel, but can still be super appealing. I tend to put pieces of armor on my bodysuits, but you could do this with psychic accessories. Visors, scarves, bracelets/bracers, belts, earrings, etc. You could easily justify things that look flashy by saying something like “The earrings (or other jewelry) are made of an organic metal that boosts telekinetic waves” or “The bracelets, belt, choker, and boot cuffs work as a unit creating a protective psychic barrier around the wearer”.

    Regular/Thrift Clothes: If your character has a budget (like mine) they could hit up the local thrift store and put “super” outfits together. They could use an old hockey mask and paint it black or something. Or wear a shades and hood combo. This one is very believable and fun to play around with.

    Do you have an ideas?

  35. B. Macon 21 Jul 2010 at 11:16 am

    “What kind of costume would a psychic character have?” I think it depends more on the story’s setting and mood and the character’s personality than on the powers. Also, the target audience. The origin story might also play a role, too.

    Setting: something appropriate with the character’s region and time and any unusual background circumstances. (For example, in a world where everybody is very impoverished, clothes that were gaudy rather than utilitarian would probably warrant an explanation).

    Mood: what emotional impression are you going for? The hero of a grim and gritty story would probably dress differently than the child hero of a PG series.

    Target audience: I think adults respond better to relatively sober colors and more utilitarian clothing. Bright capes and spandex are fun, but they’re harder to take seriously.

    Origin story: something that fits with the character’s background and his resources. For example, somebody who got psychic powers through a gypsy curse would probably wear a different uniform (or perhaps even no regular uniform) than somebody who was selected for top-secret government experimentation and became a psychic commando. Depending on professions, these characters may have symbolic clothing/accessories such as labcoats or military-style camo or whatever.

    Character’s personality: There are a lot of ways this could go. What’s the character’s personality like?

    The needs of the character: for example, stealthy characters would probably want to wear something that is less likely to get caught on stuff while they sneak around and would probably want colors that stick out less. If keeping the character’s identity secret is important, I’d recommend a mask of some sort (either physical or one that’s mentally generated). Depending on the logistical needs of the story, you might have psychics dress themselves psychically because it’ll be faster than having them sneak into a bathroom (or whatever) whenever they’re needed. If the character moves around in space or water a lot, I’d recommend something airtight like Ironman. (Alternatively, Batman does both with minor adjustments to his default suit).

    If the hero usually wears his costume under civilian clothes, I’d recommend something relatively tight and trim. (IE, not capes).

  36. ShardReaperon 21 Jul 2010 at 11:56 am

    Costumes like these for a futuristic setting, perhaps?

    http://u6.popcornfor2.com/show/PLr65e63.jpg

    http://www.onedigitallife.com/images/loonytoons-loonatics.jpg

  37. Hopefulon 21 Jul 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I was thinking of an trench coat/hat combo with a black mask extending down to his nose

  38. B. Macon 21 Jul 2010 at 3:09 pm

    SR, I like your top reference a lot. I liked the subtle medieval touches. One minor quibble: the ornamentation on the helmet is bugging me a bit and I’d probably cut out the three pieces that hang out at the very top of the helmet. Across the board, the ornamentation might create manpower issues for your artistic team if each issue had 75+ panels with this suit of armor. But I suspect that it’d be easy to work out something similar.

    If you’re into postapocalyptic sci-fi, I’d also recommend looking into Fallout 3. It was a below-average game but it had a strong visual style. Also, the cover of Fallout 2. The game is very old, but the cover had an interestingly sinister flavor.

    The Loonatics are not working for me. For one thing, the series looks to me like anime that wasn’t very well-executed. Personally, I think the frail-looking limb proportions and other stylization elements undermine what I imagine* is supposed to be a mostly serious, gritty feel. It’d be vaguely like dipping Pokemon in black paint. There’s more to noir art than just dark colors. Also, in the picture above, it was REALLY hard for me to tell Daffy apart from Road Runner.

    I’m not very familiar with sci-fi anime and manga, but I think Evangelion and Godzilla convey a foreboding mood more effectively. As for darker Japanese series outside of sci-fi, I think Death Note and Battle Royale are worth checking out.

    *I’ve never seen the show. My only knowledge of it is a New York Times article about how hard it is to try a new style without alienating or angering the old fans.

  39. B. Macon 21 Jul 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Hopeful said: “I was thinking of an trench coat/hat combo with a black mask extending down to his nose.” If it fits your story, great.

  40. Ragged Boyon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:16 pm

    “If you’re into postapocalyptic sci-fi, I’d also recommend looking into Fallout 3. It was a below-average game but it had a strong visual style.”

    Opinion strikes. I love Fallout 3, I’m patiently waiting on the drop date for New Vegas.

  41. B. Macon 21 Jul 2010 at 8:40 pm

    The final boss died in one shot. What.

    Also, in no particular order:

  42. The game was fiercely depressing and there were no plants or clean water even in the ending. (I hear there was a forest preserve somewhere, but I never found it). In contrast, Fallout 2 was pretty light-hearted for a game about a nuclear war. And hilarious.
  43. Everything in the game looks bombed-out and ugly (after a nuclear war, go figure, right?). In contrast, the biggest cities in Fallout 2 (San Francisco, New California Republic and even Reno) looked much more pleasant than Megaton or the aircraft carrier. The refurbished hotel looked neat, but it only had two quests and a few shops.
  44. The plotting and scene selection were pretty forgettable. The Matrix-meets-Pleasantville Vault was a lot of fun, but besides that and the initial glimpse of the Washington skyline, I can’t think of anything else in the game that really felt awesome.
  45. It would probably have helped if there were more variety in the monsters/antagonists. I’d guess 75% of the creatures I fought in the game were mutants or supermutant brutes.
  46. I thought Washington, DC was the star of the show. (Abraham Lincoln’s rifle for the win!) I would have liked if the Vaults had played a bigger role.
  47. Many parts of it felt slapped together: most of the vaults, the closed-off White House, the ending (especially), the end battle, forgetting that Fawkes is immune to radiation and could have gone in the death chamber instead of you (they later rewrote the ending to fix this), etc.
  48. The music was extraordinarily bad, particularly for a game meant for massive replay.
  49. I had a few problems with quests breaking. Particularly the superhero one.

    So, yeah. I don’t think it was a bad game, just a below-average one.

  50. ShardReaperon 22 Jul 2010 at 2:49 pm

    @B Mac, I’m still trying to think of effective ways to merge the two together. I think I might replace the helmet with something like a balaclava. Or I just might have them go with their own costumes, much like other superheroes do.

  51. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I recall P being rather obsessed with this “Fallout” game. If I remember correctly, just mentioning the words “New Vegas” in front of him caused him to start banging his head against a wall in excitement.

    …It’s times like that when I believe myself to be the only sane being left.

    - Wings

  52. Ragged Boyon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:48 pm

    New Vegas!! *Bangs head on a wall in excitement*

    @B. Mac: You never found Oasis? It was right at the top of the map in the very center. You didn’t meet Harold whose roots were set in Fallout 2, you’d get the roots joke if you’d seen him. He’s a tree-man.

    You should look into the DLC’s The Pitt, Mothership Zeta (MPLX Novasurge Plasma Pistol!), Operation Anchorage, and Point Lookout (my personal favorite). They are definitely a different change of pace.

  53. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 3:52 pm

    …I will never understand fanboys, I will never understand fanboys, I will never understand fanboys.

    And you say that the fangirls are weird. ;-)

    - Wings

  54. ShardReaperon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:53 pm

    @RB Operation Anchorage and The Pitt were the best out of the 5, especially The Pitt’s cage fighting.

  55. Ragged Boyon 22 Jul 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I liked The Pitt, they had a cool gritty feel and their armors were great, but I wasn’t that big on Anchorage (I got the Gauss Rifle out of it, though). It was okay in my book. I loved Desmond Lockhart and The Backwater Rifle in Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta was my kinda creepy alien goodness.

  56. B. Macon 21 May 2011 at 1:19 am

    I really liked New Vegas. The game engine is pretty much the same as in vanilla Fallout 3, but I thought it was a lot smoother.

    –There’s more variety of enemies.

    –I thought that getting rid of the Big Guns skill (merging the weapons into other skills) was a nice touch. I would have liked the weapons skills to be a bit better balanced. In particular, I thought that Firearms was too much better than Energy Weapons–the game got SO easy when I acquired an anti-tank rifle and a sniper rifle.
    I tried playing through the first time with Energy Weapons and it was unbelievably difficult to get through the first few towns with the **** energy weapons I managed to find.

    –Fewer of the skills felt completely worthless. There were a surprising amount of speech checks that hinged on Barter and even some Medicine ones.

    –The graphics were a lot easier on the eyes. Las Vegas and the surrounding terrain were much less bombed-out and relentlessly ugly than the aptly-named Capitol Wasteland in vanilla Fallout 3.

    –One of the vaults (the one with the nefarious elections) was very interesting. It almost made up for the two that infuriated me (the one overrun with plants and the one that was badly irradiated).

    –The game did a better job keeping the character getting incredibly powerful weapons and armor until too late in the game.

    –The game designers obviously put a lot more thought into the ending cinematic based on the decisions the character made throughout the game. I still don’t think it was as well-polished as Arcanum’s ending cinematic, but it was a vast improvement over vanilla Fallout 3. Likewise, the ending bosses were much more satisfying than the end boss of Fallout 3, who was a joke. I would guess that more than 75% of players defeated him in less than 5 seconds. In my case, it was literally over in one chest-shot.

    –I don’t really feel like the character’s decisions actually affected the gameplay enough. For example, your main quest at the start of the game is to get revenge on Benny for shooting you and stealing your package. There are two main paths through the quest I found and they work out exactly the same.
    1: You can scare Benny off and track him down to Caesar’s camp, where he’s been taken prisoner. Caesar GIVES you the package.
    2: You can kill Benny (difficult but not impossible, especially if you have enough skill with Sneak to smuggle large weapons past the guards) and retake the package. Then you still have to go to Caesar’s camp to use it.

    After a lot of effort, I managed to kill Benny before he could flee, but the plot STILL railroaded me to go to Caesar’s ugly-ass fort of shacks on the ****ing edge of nowhere.

    –The game has two main factions, the New California Republic and the Roman Legion. NCR (the more or less good guys) is practically EVERYWHERE. There are at least 50 (maybe hundreds) of named NCR characters and related quests. In contrast, the Roman Legion (misogynistic slavers) have pretty much only two tenements, including the aforementioned ugly-ass shack fort on the ****ing edge of nowhere. They have extremely few quests compared to NCR and, given that they also hate technology in addition to liberty and women, have pretty much no useful ranged weapons and are thoroughly unlikable to boot. Also, I think I made first contact with the Legion around ten hours into the game, compared to maybe one hour for the NCR. So… if the game is set up so that one of your major choices is whether you side with the NCR, the Legion or none of the above, I feel it would help to balance out the choices a bit better. PS: Navigating through the aforementioned ugly-ass shack fort on the ****ing edge of nowhere is frustrating and generally an assault on the senses. The NCR settlements are generally much easier to navigate.

    –For most of the game, deathclaws will kill you nearly instantly! I loved this, actually. It worked an element of fear into the wilderness that I thought was missing from vanilla Fallout 3.

    –I liked the challenges system. (For example, killing several hundred enemies makes you Lord Death, which gives you +1% damage against everything, and killing several hundred MORE makes you Lord Death of Murder Mountain, which gives you “+2% damage against everything, because you like killing everything.”

  57. Janon 12 Jul 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I read somewhere that there is the ‘clothes don’t make/make the hero’ rule. Depending on their powers and power level a hero could wear a bunny suit and still completely show up the villain, whereas some heroes *cough, Iron Man, cough* could be useless or close to useless without the right costume.

  58. B. McKenzieon 12 Jul 2012 at 6:08 pm

    “some heroes *cough, Iron Man, cough* could be useless or close to useless without the right costume.” Even without the suit, he’s still brave, intelligent and charismatic. He does occasionally get caught in situations where he has to deal with criminals without being able to use the suit. (For example, if assassins try to kill Tony Stark but Tony Stark has a secret identity to maintain). Likewise, Bruce Wayne can participate in combat as Bruce Wayne, but he is limited by his need to protect his secret identity and his lack of usual equipment. They’re not as useful in a superpowered brawl, but might be able to compensate in other ways (e.g. relying on trickery and strategy rather than a more direct approach).



    “Depending on their powers and power level a hero could wear a bunny suit and still completely show up the villain…” Fair, but in the interests of selling as many copies as possible, I would recommend not having your superhero wear a bunny suit. :)

  59. Janon 12 Jul 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Good tip.

  60. Caliberon 12 Jul 2012 at 9:21 pm

    B. McKenzie, I agree with the usefulness and unuesfullness of heroes depending on gear and powers but Ironman no longer has a secret identity to maintain. Doesn’t everyone know he is Ironman? Even if he didn’t have the right armed for that occasion he could still whip it out right then and there without problems concerning his alter ego.

  61. Leegirlon 12 Jul 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Caliber, you’re right in some ways. In the movie, everybody knows that he’s ironman– cuz he appeared on that massive stage as him in Ironman 2. However, there’s a t.v series called Ironman Armored Adventures, in which no one knows Tony’s Ironman, except Rhodey and Pepper. Fantastic show by the way. Too bad Netflix signed a contract that forbid the other seasons from instant streaming.

  62. B. McKenzieon 12 Jul 2012 at 9:37 pm

    “Doesn’t everyone know he is Ironman?” In the movies, yes. In other media, I think it depends. For example, Tony Stark has a secret identity in Armored Adventures.



    Even if Tony Stark didn’t have a secret identity to maintain in a particular story, he might not have immediate access to the suit when he needs it. For example, I think this came up in Iron Man 2 when he was attacked at the racetrack.

  63. Caliberon 12 Jul 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Very true

  64. Caliberon 12 Jul 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Hey B. McKenzie,
    Say I am a super who lives an average teenage life(besides having powers) were would I find the stuff to make a suit and what stuff should I use?

  65. Leegirlon 12 Jul 2012 at 10:06 pm

    B. McKenzie,
    Yea, Tony does have a serect identity in Armored Adventures, and you’re right, he does have immediate access to the suit in SOME cases. In the show though, he designs a whole lot more gadgets than he does in the movies, and the gadgets usually make it easier for him to power up into Ironman.

  66. Leegirlon 12 Jul 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Dudes, I so agree with Caliber where do heroes, escpecially teens, get their supplies for suits, and how the crap do they automatically just know how to design them?

  67. Janon 13 Jul 2012 at 5:01 am

    @ Caliber–Some heroes, like Green Lantern, have their costume come with their powers. (In the movie, at least) Spiderman sews his own costume in a few versions of the story, some heroes/villains need their costumes/armor/helmets as their powers.
    I’m not sure about teen heroes. I suppose that’s why Tony Stark’s character is wealthy.

  68. Caliberon 13 Jul 2012 at 8:27 am

    @Jan- oh yah I forgot about people such as Green Lantern, the Asgardians, the Silver surfer, the Marvels, Robin and Superman who had suits prepared for them. But I guess guys such as Kick Ass, stitch regular cloth together only to conceal his identity because he has no powers or gadgets. And other guys like Luke Cage just don’t bother with one.

  69. artminon 10 Aug 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Creating a character with a theme always works for me, I tend to focus
    on the idea then build a design, name and colour scheme around it, if you
    can make the look of your characters match its name then your on to a
    winner, take a look at the Silver Surfer, what else would anyone call him ?
    don’t worry about capes, the over all look and image is more important than
    practicalities, too much reality will kill a potentially icon design, which is why
    some of you are missing the point, this is about design the aesthetics of designs
    not the ergonomics of functionally, the costume is their to enrich the readers
    visual needs, fail to do this and their long term interest will be limited to the
    writer and artist on that book.

    Take it or leave it, but if you start to put artificial limitations on your creativity
    then you will never stand out from the other thousands of other designers
    and that what publishers are looking for.

  70. M. Happenstanceon 10 Aug 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Respectfully, I disagree with the idea that too much reality can ruin an iconic design. I think that a good dose of realism helps a lot in most cases. Take Captain America’s costumes – not the one used in the Avengers movie, but those used in his own movie. While the original costume – the one he wears when acting as a figurehead for the army – was no doubt iconic, it also looked pretty ridiculous. However, his later uniform in the film had several elements adapted from an actual soldier’s uniform and was much more practical given the circumstances, but it still retained the iconicness of the original.

    I have to admit, I still personally prefer the second uniform from Captain America to the one used in Avengers. I just felt it had more character.

  71. [...] Ragged Boy. “How to Design Outstanding Superhero Costumes” [...]

  72. Vvonon 08 Nov 2012 at 9:53 pm

    My characters costume looks kind of like a mixure of green lanturn and nightwings…but the color i was choosing is going to be black and blue…would this be ripping off nightwing..

  73. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2012 at 10:20 pm

    “My characters costume looks kind of like a mixure of green lanturn and nightwings…but the color i was choosing is going to be black and blue…would this be ripping off nightwing..” It’s hard to say without actually looking at it.

  74. artminon 25 May 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I get what you’re saying Happenstance, but using a design crafted for film based on an iconic comic book design kind of proves my point, and I can help but feel that if they
    applied the same quality of material with the final look to the stage show look it would have looked cooler, I think the chose is simple, if your designing new characters for comics then do so and don’t let keeping it real stop you from keep your designs real cool.

  75. artminon 25 May 2013 at 4:31 pm

    An example of what I’m trying to say though my designs

  76. B. McKenzieon 25 May 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Artmin, I’m not opposed to iconic comic book design, but I feel like there may be some perspective & proportion issues here (e.g. the lady’s feet are so small it raises uncanny valley issues for me).

  77. Genesison 25 May 2013 at 8:06 pm

    When designing female costumes, keep in mind you want something that your readers will actually buy that a strong capable woman would actually wear to go fight bad guys. Said bad guys will attempt to shoot, stab, punch (female fencers buy what is basically light plastic armor to lessen the pain from getting poked in the chest with the “sword”) blast with lasers/energy blasts/other super powers or knock across rough cement floors, broken glass, rocky terrain etc. Clothing should protect against some of that stuff. Basically, pants are must, heels need to be low (check out Malaak’s costume, it’s a Lebanese superhero webcomic http://www.malaakonline.com/), some cleavage is ok but unless the character is supposed to be a slut or femme fatale she shouldn’t look like she’s falling out of it. Female readers will judge the character and you for your too typical chauvinistic fantasy. Remember that Wonder Woman show that didn’t make it? The studio was forced to redesign her costume due to public outcry that it was too slutty. And that version had PANTS, something both the comic version and the versions in various children’s cartoons she’s appeared in have lacked.

  78. Elecon 26 May 2013 at 12:45 am

    Yeah, in my story, I stick more for the ultra-functional, full-body Kevlar-esque design. Sort of like military armour crossed with Batman-plating, but no capes :).

  79. NatashaTheSovieton 26 May 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I liked Sportacaus’s costume from Lazy Town. It was cool and obviously functional (the actor did all the flips and stuff for real wearing it).

    As a dancer though and wearer of lots of ‘I don’t think that will work for a split’ I can say that a lot of things can be good to move in that don’t seem like it at first glance.

  80. artminon 26 May 2013 at 4:03 pm

    B.McKenzie, my example Illustrates what anyone can do with the right design mind set
    These cut and paste images are about the topic in question not body prepositions, I’ve done over 1000 designs nearly half are basic sketches were I have focused on how intresting I can make a character look with some basic design guides.
    Again and I feel very strongly about this, that putting unnecessary limitations on designing means artists will not design to their very best, but I am open to hearing from anyone who will show me and not just tell me how wrong I am.

  81. B. McKenzieon 26 May 2013 at 4:48 pm

    “I am open to hearing from anyone who will show me and not just tell me how wrong I am.” Uhh, I suggested that there may be perspective/proportion issues to look into. This should not be construed as an indictment of your abilities. Just something worth looking into (especially given that I am not an art editor).

    My thinking here is that the lady’s feet are about 10 pixels wide at their widest point, and she’s about 360 pixels tall. I’d recommend having an average-proportioned (or close-to-average) lady friend measure the width of her feet vs. her height. Based on 10 minutes of research, I’m guessing that the average lady has feet perhaps 3.25 – 3.75 inches wide and is perhaps 5 feet, 4 inches tall. In contrast, if the lady above were 5’4”, her feet would be 1.78 inches wide, which I believe would be proportionally about 50% thinner than the average woman.

    In general, with this sort of realistic style, I’d generally recommend against varying a human character’s proportions more than 20% or perhaps 30% from the average human build unless the artist has a great reason to (e.g. trying to make the character look nonhuman and/or distinctly unordinary in some way). My thinking here is that a human character that is further away from a typical human build may induce “uncanny valley” discomfort in viewers. Personally, I feel the above lady is in the uncanny valley.

  82. artminon 26 May 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I hear what your saying, it was un-inked character sketch, I just need to quickly get the design and colour specks down, I try to work fast so as not to think to much and just go with it, I’ve had some good results despite some of my doggy posturing, I try to keep the body proportions natural as my work feels more comfortable that way but I wouldn’t call my art realistic, but i guess that just my point of view, if you want to check out some of my other work for my planned publication go to deviantart, I go by artmin44, there’s not much there, I’m working on scripts with a writer for myself and another artist to complete, were calling ourselves TYTUM COMICS.

  83. Wordweaveron 21 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pm

    4 years ago, near the top of the comments on this page, a article on superheroine costumes was discussed. Was one ever written?

  84. B. McKenzieon 21 Oct 2013 at 5:21 pm

    “4 years ago, near the top of the comments on this page, an article on superheroine costumes was discussed. Was one ever written?” Not yet, but if you’d like to have a go at it, I’d be glad to host an article.

  85. Wordweaveron 22 Oct 2013 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for the offer! I’ll consider it. I’m not an expert on superhero costumes, but I’ll see if I can write something up.

    What’s your usual word count per post? Or don’t you have one?

  86. B. McKenzieon 22 Oct 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Anywhere north of 300 words is fine. I would estimate most of our guest articles fall in the 300-600 word range. (If you’d like to go longer, that’d be perfectly okay).

  87. Wordweaveron 24 Oct 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Okay, thanks for the information then. I’ll shoot for around 4-500 words.

  88. Weisson 10 Feb 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Hello!

    I have a quick question regarding practicality of a certain uniform belonging to a certain combat academy – named Carroll Academy – in my novel. The uniform in question is the field uniform worn only for witch hunting missions, and I was wondering if it would pose any issues.

    The unisex uniform – which is custom fitted for each student to reduce the chance of any intruders from stealing a spare uniform and breaking in – consists of a white button-down dress shirt, a pair of black slacks and belt, and a long black coat emblazoned with the Carroll Academy logo, which is yet to be designed. The uniform shoes are a pair of combat boots, though the students are free to customize these however they wish; the headmaster doesn’t really care, as he feels if they sever a tendon or break a leg because they were wearing nine inch heels or sandals, then it’s their own fault. Males are generally required to wear a tie – for professionalism – and women some sort of shorter neck scarf. (It’s late and I can’t quite recall if there’s a specific name for the sort I’m looking for.) Magically enhanced gloves are also a necessity, since the hunters could potentially be dealing with corrosive substances.

    How does this sound? I feel like it’s a bit overdone, and I’m not quite sure how to remedy this. Any suggestions, anyone? :)

    -Weiss

  89. B. McKenzieon 10 Feb 2014 at 9:25 pm

    “The uniform shoes are a pair of combat boots, though the students are free to customize these however they wish; the headmaster… feels if they sever a tendon or break a leg because they were wearing nine inch heels or sandals, then it’s their own fault.” If that’s his attitude, maybe it’d be more fitting that they didn’t have a uniform? (It strikes me as a distinctively individualistic organization — most military-like organizations would not even consider allowing sandals because a soldier that breaks a leg or is unable to keep pace creates problems for his unit).

    “Males are generally required to wear a tie — for professionalism…” Is there any reason or amusing anecdote about why they’re committed to ties but are open to sandals? It seems like a really unusual set of priorities on their part, which could be interesting.

  90. Weisson 11 Feb 2014 at 4:41 am

    @B. McKenzie

    …Actually, if I eliminate the uniform and just make it so Warren has an unusual fashion sense, that might be a better way to establish character instead of forcing a uniform onto an organization run by a man who simply could not care less about the people inside it – he regards them all as ‘fondly exasperating’ at best.

    Although I do have a sort of grimly unfortunate anecdote explaining how Warren loathes ties, hehe. :)

  91. B. McKenzieon 11 Feb 2014 at 7:28 am

    “Actually, if I eliminate the uniform and just make it so Warren has an unusual fashion sense, that might be a better way to establish character instead of forcing a uniform onto an organization run by a man who simply could not care less about the people inside it.” That makes sense to me. You might also be able to work in the anecdote about Warren and the ties later.

  92. Weisson 11 Feb 2014 at 5:11 pm

    @B. McKenzie

    All right, I’ve decided Warren has a peculiar fashion sense – I figure it ties into his self-imposed ‘coolkid’ status, which I promise isn’t as shallow as it sounds. Well, actually, I hope he doesn’t come off as obnoxious and unlikable because of it.

    I’ve already written out an overview of the anecdote, which involves ties, doorknobs, and Carroll Academy’s headmaster’s unfortunate tendency to burst from wardrobes. I’ll figure out where to insert it somewhere along the line. :)

    -Weiss

  93. Hurricaneon 02 Jun 2014 at 7:38 pm

    My OC’s name is Hurricane and she controls water but I’m wondering what pattern on her costume – a nearly skin tight dark/light blue catsuit and headband – would work best?

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply