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Author Topic: Hero Forge  (Read 160 times)

Spike

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Hero Forge
« on: November 23, 2020, 04:50:35 pm »
This is a bit of a deviation for me, in that instead of reviewing a book I'm going to review a custom miniature site.   Because I can.

I started playing around with Hero Forge in early October and have even ordered, and had delivered, a fully printed, full color, miniature of one of the models I designed. I've also used a few other sites including ANVL.  It should be noted that Hero Forge appears to be updating their site swiftly... if I had written this two weeks ago I would have complained about the way arms are handled, making it impossible, for example, to make a decent cyborg... but not only did they actually implement independent arm customization, they added cybernetic limb options and the ability to have up to six arms on a model... so things are improving.

To start, a TL;DR summary:  Hero Forge is roughly middle of the pack in options to customize models, but by far has the best interface. However, their shit is pricey as hell to buy.  However, my much delayed model (I have to place the blame on the local post office, who took an extra week according to package tracing, to move it from the local distribution center to my house. Seriously), is gorgeous.

Now for the long version.

As noted in the intro summary, Hero Forge has an excellent, easy to follow user interface. The model you are designing is blow up, which can be a bit deceptive, but it makes it very easy to see what you are doing, and if you are like me it actually can serve as a proxy to make up for your lack of artistic skill. It is very easy to colorize your model to further enhance the visual experience, unlike the other sites I tried.  However, the expanded view of the model (five to ten times the actual size) might be a bit misleading, particularly with the garments and outfits, which look ridiculously thick, but are probably exaggerated so they will be apparent on a 30mm (or smaller...) model.

In terms of options is is much easier to design fantasy miniatures than anything else, though some sci-fi and modern options exist. You can make nagas and centaurs, you can mount figures on wolfs, horses, motorcycles and so forth.  There are a lot of options, but at the same time things feel restrictive or lacking, though as I noted they are expanding things.  I did make an experimental werewolf model, but honestly I wasn't too impressed with the final result over just buying one premade from a regular model company, though I should note I merely modeled it.

I will note that you can and probably should sign up for the site so you can save model designs for later, and there is a screen shot option so you can make images of your various designs.

Aside from the outfit and equipment you can choose, what really needs mentioning is the posing option.  I was very... even very very... impressed with the posing options, not merely the range of default poses, but the more advanced posing available.... with two caveats: the facial posing is limited to sliders of very broad expressions (smile, confused, angry, smirk and arrgggh, which controls how open the mouth is), which is both not terribly flexible, and not terribly intuitive where it IS flexible... and the second is that you can do no posing below the waist. Legs and feet are absolutely fixed by the pose you choose, which can be frustrating or even slightly silly (one example I made had a figure in bathrobe and fuzzy slippers in a t-pose on the balls of their feet... the slippers should have remained flat on teh base, but instead were fixed to the feet, unnaturally (THe Dark Side of the force is a pathway to many powers some would say are unnatural..... er, wait, what???)

The ability to color the model is also pretty damn flexible and impressive. With the new arms available I made a decent proxy of Kali and was able to colorize the palms of the hands seperately from the rest of the model, though lacking necklaces of skulls and skirts of hands, or the ability to protrude her tounge it was always doomed to be a half assed model....  though working through the palate isn't quite as obvious at first glance, being icon based, there are other interfaces for different methods of colorizing.

When you are done, its time to buy, or not buy. I haven't found a limit on teh number of saved models... I've got about twenty or thirty designs (versions of the same model in different poses and gear, plus models sent to me by my players), and it hasn't told me I'm reaching capacity.  As noted you can screen shot, or if you pay for the annual membership you can print images as tokens and other things (I have no idea what, I'm still debating if I want to go this route... who am I kidding, I'm playing with the budget and quibbling over when to pay for this option).

Otherwise you can download the print file if you have your own printer, though this is about three times as expensive as other sites I checked at 9 dollars, you can go with a cheap print (15~ if I recall...), a fine cast print (30), a full color print (50), you can print in various metals (steel and copper for certain), you can chose your base, including options like a model you cna mount to a GM screen (er... waste of money in my book...) or a fully based base. Size of the model affects price, but only going up. A halfling costs as much as a half orc, but a centaur will add twenty bucks to a print. Luckily the digital files don't change price.

As for the quality of the print, the full color models are equivalent to the fine cast (.5 micron layers or whatever...), and I got a color model. I don't see any layer lines at all in the print, though it does have a slightly rough texture like it was sintered, but the level of detail even in the coloring is outstanding.  My model has a pretty dynamic pose with a cloak, and is stiff rather than flexible, though his sword is a (wee) bit curved from shipping, so its not rigid.  My eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, so I can't see if his eye color came through... I'd say the printed model is somewhere north of 80% of the image on screen in terms of detail capture, maybe north of 90%, but honestly its good enough that if you are complaining, you might be better off buying the hand-painted option from them, or perhaps finding something meaningful to do with your life...

Honestly, I am impressed, far more than I expected.. not just at the final product, but at the way the whole website works (ok, it does load a bit slowly...). It was PAINFUL experimenting with the other sites after Hero Forge, with their small images, poor interfaces and lack of any color other than basic grey, often on a dark background. I like that I can use the design feature to make up for my lack of artistic skill, that I can dink with proportions, etc.

However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't point out the very real flaws, other than price and inability to pose legs and feet at all.

In terms of 'dressing' your model with equipment you really only have very limited options. You can have two 'side' items, which are almost always going to be a variation on some sort of pouch, and annoyingly if you don't have some sort of bulky leg garment (armor) on, they'll probably stick out from the model's waist on obvious 'pegs', as they don't seem to mold to the body very well. While you do have massive amounts of hand items, and a decent range of options for one (or both) or two handed poses, and a shocking degree of posability after that, it really comes down to supporting your options.  Sheaths, for example, hardly exist, as with slung weapons and the like. You can put items on your back, and other than a few cloaks and backpacks what you cna pick for your back items is pretty much the same menu as your hand items.  There can also be an issue with finding things in the apparently redundant but not really menues. At one point I used a randomized creation and wound up with a surgical mask, but it took searching through several different menus to find where the surgical mask came from to remove it, and I'm not entirely sure if I could find it again if I WANTED a surgically masked character, because its not in the 'mask' or 'face items' menus.

I will also note that while (aside from legs) the posing is very impressive, it is also hard as balls because you have to (non-intuitively) adjust every joint individually... you can't just move an arm, you have to rotate, tilt and/or bend the shoulder AND the Clavical seperately, to move an arm from front to back on a model might require moving three seperate joints, each with multiple sliders, and if you aren't careful you can wind up with a pose that is physically possible but looks impossible because things didn't quite move right (particularly at the shoulder), or looks more strained than it should be.  Clipping is a bit of an issue, I found posing the hair necessary to move it out of the way was a common issue, so 'advanced' posing isn't exactly user freindly, though I was able to do some rather impressive things in only a couple of hours of experimenting... so I wouldn't necessarily say its mind bogglingly hard either.

And there you have it, Hero Forge in a nutshell.
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

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Re: Hero Forge
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2020, 10:02:00 pm »
Glad you are pleased with the printed product.  I did up a Nomad figure from Ghost Recon Wildlands and have a print of it coming (not the color version, just plain old grey).  I did up the rest of the team as well, if the first one turns out well I might pick up the others as STL files and try printing them myself.  They're having a $5 off sale on printed minis and STL files are $4 through the end of the month.

Snowman0147

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Re: Hero Forge
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2020, 10:16:14 pm »
I am waiting on body tattoos and body paints.  Then I can make some savage world minis as references.

Darrin Kelley

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Re: Hero Forge
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2020, 12:19:43 am »
I own three Bronze miniatures I had done through them.

But I got them before they made the current improvements to their character creator. But I love my three figures. And I would gladly pay to do more in the future.

Heroforge has been very good to me. So I couldn't recommend them more highly.
 

Runeblogger

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Re: Hero Forge
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2020, 03:28:38 pm »
I love tinkering with Hero Forge, if only to see some PCs and NPCs come to life as virtual miniatures.  ;D

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Spike

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Re: Hero Forge
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2020, 04:21:50 pm »
Great.  Now you've done it. I'm going to have to get all technical and shit and figure out how to post a comparison shot of my printed model vs the screen cap...

...

Why you gotta do me like that, man?
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

For the curious: Apparently, in person, I sound exactly like the Youtube Character The Nostalgia Critic.   I have no words.

Mah Book