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It looks like you painted the whole thing with soft and opaque brushes, and on top of that, the colours look washed out. I suggest you do some digital painting exercises where you practice the process of 1) thumbnailing, sketching, drawing; 2) blocking in the colours with a hard, round, opaque brush; 3) refining with smaller brushes, possibly but not necessarily, soft, transparent, texture brushes.
Grinnikend door het leven...
Warm up crit of the day
WOW! You've done such a beautiful face - wow - it's so delicate and I love the idea of juxtaposing that with the armour it's exactly the kind of thing I like to do myself! I don't know if you want some realistic information about armour or are happy to do fantasy style armour but I'm a bit of a traditionalist and seeing as the portrait looks like it's headed the realistic direction (i.e. no random cleavage being shown, no spikes etc...) I will give you a little bit of advice based on what I know (because yes... I'm a geek)
Anyhow about armour...
2 things to think about - material and form.
MYTH No 1: Contrary to popular belief, working metal armour was NOT shiny.
When you look at paintings of western armour over history and you actually LOOK at what you're seeing in the painting, you'll begin to notice that armor painted in a scene usually appears very dark. This isn't because the artists of the time couldn't tell the difference tonally between painting silvery metal and dark painted metal. The reason is that working armor WAS painted. With a substance known as bock which was basically the dark purple-ish gunge scraped out of the bottom of beer barrels. This was a kind of primitive lacquering process designed to rust proof the armour otherwise on campaign, you'd end up with worthless stuff after a few days riding in the rain!
Okay so from left to right - the far left shows a full on medieval battle scene - note how the armour is all black - it wasn't a fashion statement! The helmet is interesting because it shows where the black bock had been scraped off to reveal the metal underneath.
And then you have the portrait on the top right where the armour DOES appear pretty shiny. By the time you get to the cromwellian era - spanish conquistadors etc... 17th century, armour had lost much of its importance on the battle field. Firearms were the biggest factor in this evolution - as well as improved crossbow design (the English liked to think it's because of their long bows but frankly there weren't enough good long bow archers to warrant that). Crossbows and firearms which could be used by relatively untrained troops to bring down highly trained knights spelled the end of armour, but I digress.
This doesn't mean armour production stopped but that the wearing of armour and it's portrayal evolved - as the top right portrait attests to - armour became ceremonial and ornamental. The guy wearing the armour is clearly someone important - with means and wealth. Perhaps an aristocrat or an officer of the state. He doesn't have to wear that into battle so he's not worried about it being rust proofed!
Here is a very interesting painting of Oliver Cromwell - the parliamentarian - the man who basically removed king James from the throne of England during a bitter civil war . Notice that although the painting is from roughly the same time as the other painting from the top right, Cromwell's armour has really very little ornamentation and is definitely bocked up. This is a deliberate effort on the part of Cromwell/the artist, to show Cromwell as a serious man - a man for the people and not the aristocracy. A man not to be messed with! And so he's wearing a working suit of armour as opposed to a ceremonial one and in doing so, is making a statement about who he is.
So this is your first choice - material, and like the above two artists, your choice of material really defines how you want the painting to be perceived. Although the historical idea of armour being rust proofed has been all but lost, you have the choice to render your armour in either light and be totally authentic depending on what you're trying to put across. You can render silvery shiny armour - in which case it begins to feel fantastic/romantic and begins to hark of later era paintings - in particular during the romantic period of the 18th century, were very keen on showing shiny armour. And this is because any armour that was kept from the past was often polished up for display and had all the bock ground out of it)
When it comes to drawing people in armour - there's two broad choices to make - realistic or unrealistic. Unrealistic is very much the new warcraft/RPG style where more often than not, the armour appears to be huge plates of cast iron the thickness of roofing tiles stuck together anyway you like.
Again, as your painting is realistic in feel - I'll talk about realistic armour forms and construction.
Myth no 2 - Forging. GOOD ARMOUR WAS NOT FORGED! There's some confusion over this but basically it relates to different time periods. For most of western armour's history, when you're talking about medieval suits of armour and not things like chain mail and plate mail etc... armour was not forged but rather shaped out of whole sheets of metal in a process known as 'white smithing' in fact during Queen Elizabeth I's time there was a royal decree outlawing blacksmiths from making armour or selling armour made from blacksmiths. This is because armour that has been shaped when heated - or worse, moulded with heat, was significantly less strong than armour rolled and shaped out from single sheets. As metal technology improved and the need for whole suits or armour became less important forged armour again became popular - it was quicker to make and therefore much cheaper and required MUCH less skill.
Planishing and shaping armour. So. How does this relate to you painting realistic armour? Well the first thing to note is that plate armour was very thin. Although in popular belief, medieval full plate was so heavy you couldn't stand in it yada yada - the fact is that a modern combat soldier carries far more in weight that a medieval knight would have, and they RUN around! So heavy armour is nonsense. If you look at the pictures of real armour you can see that it conforms very closely to the wearer's proportions and anatomy. The whitesmiths were bloody skillful. 99% of the strength of medieval plate armour came from it's shaping NOT it's thickness. The idea was to deflect so that blows from sharp implements glanced and the shock of blows from blunt instruments were directed AROUND the body rather than into the body.
The planishing process - or the process of hammering a sheet into shape results in a really interesting kind of look which is great to paint - as you can see from the photo it looks almost faceted - perfect for brush strokes! This planishing with multiple little imperfections actually makes the armour stronger than if it were dead smooth...
So when rendering your armour think about it having texture. When considering the form - look at the beautiful armour being worn by this fella:
This is definitely a working piece of armour. Notice the nice planished texture - the un-even quality of the finish - it's not shiny and smooth like the aristocrat from earlier. Those flutes and lines weren't ornamentation - they provided strength. Notice how it fits very closely around his joints. Basically when you're drawing armour - don't think about the armour - think about the person underneath the armour. Make sure that's correct first. Then build the armour on top. Your girl has quite large shoulders because you're thinking armour armour armour - but forget that to begin with... yes the armour IS bigger around the shoulders but not really that much - do a pencil over the top and make sure you're happy with her naked - then the armour goes on top but really only like a finger's width off her body and maybe 2-3 fingers at the shoulders. Imagine drawing the naked guy into the painting above. Think about how far his shoulder is from the actual armour... The common mistake is to draw your shoulder plate large - and then START your shoulder joint far out - this is what's happened with your girl. Her shoulders are really a bit too broad.
Okay I should start working now but I hope this has given you some ideas and some historical context so you can make your armour painting really kick ass! And yeah... I'm a really geek when it comes to this kind of stuff - I'm married, I can be weird!
Last edited by lovingit; January 23rd, 2014 at 06:22 AM.
Here's a quick paintover to illustrate my point about the form.
(bearing in mind that I'm no expert on anatomy and am still studying this myself) - even if I give her quite buff crossfit esque proportions - rather than the quite small delicate proportions that her face would indicate) - you can still see that concentrating on the armour has really messed up your proportions
When you draw the armour on top - you can see right away that it results in a far more realistic looking silhouette.
Noticed her neck was way too long (still learning
Last edited by lovingit; January 23rd, 2014 at 07:11 AM.
So it was really bugging me that my anatomy didn't seem right so I worked on it a bit more - if anyone can see something I can't I'd be grateful... but anyhow - this time I tried to make her look more realistically connected to her head. As a result your original armour seems even more blown out! In the process I noticed that her ear is too far right and too broad - and I think the left side of her face isn't fitting right perspectively... so I corrected those and it seemed better to me...
love her face though can you draw my faces for me
Last edited by lovingit; January 23rd, 2014 at 07:37 AM.
Eezacque thank you for the suggestion! I've been having the issue where my paintings end up looking blurry and glossy/licked. You're right, I definitely need to work with harder brushes, especially in the earlier stages of paintings.
Lovingit, thank you so much for taking the time to share all that with me, it was a very helpful and interesting read! I am trying to take a realistic approach with this one for sure. Regardless though, I think that learning about how things actually work while doing fantasy is still really helpful, since it generally makes everything more believable.
Thank you also for the paintovers, it helps to illustrate what you were talking about with the armour being build around the body. I was trying to account for there being a gambeson/underarmour padding under there, but I can see that I allotted far too much space for it, especially width wise. I'll work on fixing that now!
I think for what I was going for, having the armour coated in bock would have worked best. This painting is pretty far along in the shiny department though, so I'll probably apply my new knowledge about bock coating and authentic armour to my next painting.
Thanks again, this has been really really helpful!
Excellent post Lovingit - you're a modern day Renaissance man with all this knowledge, as well as being an MMA fighter and artist! Thanks so much for the lessons on armor (you can keep the extra U, along with that pesky I you Brits throw into your Aluminum!)
I always suspected real armor would be dark rather than shiny, seeing as stainless steel is a recent invention. But I assumed it would probably be chemically treated by blacking, browning or bluing, the way I believe swords were (which is what I love about the swords in Xena - they were definitely handmade and blacked, not shiny!)
Zara - you could always do an overlay layer? But anyhow, shiny or dark is all good.
Darkstrider hahaha - colour you mean? Ahhh! Like Gray - Grey! Aluminium!!! hahaha what the hell is Aluminum??? Makes me laugh.
Yeah they developed lots of different processes - I mean rusty armour was a big issue man... They figured out how to get temperatures hot enough and the steel pure enough around the late 17th century to heat treat it using alternate hot and cold where the armour comes out a bit blue-ish tinged - strong and rust resistant. But it's a bit like pattern welding. White smithing was an art that just died out. I mean I know some people who still do it today as an artisanal skill... In the same way that people are still pattern welding. I'm just itching for someone to ask about proper viking swords so I can get all geeky again!
Do you know what makes the best sword these days? OLD CAR LEAF SPRING! Oh yeah - find some old scrap yard and buy one. Nothing can beat modern industrial steel. Bend it straight by hammering it all day long on a railway sleeper - grind it up et voila - 'this you can trust!' forget all those expensive samurai swords you can buy online from master smiths yada yada. You could cut a wall down with a leaf spring sword - virtually indestructible. (when the apocalypse comes)
Anyhow, this is an art forum!
I was thinking of doing some thread in the tutorial section all about 'realistic' everything for anyone interested... realistic jousting, horse archery, weapons, armour etc... it's my passion. I'm not much of a fan of the whole asian influenced armour and weapons are fashion accessories thing (even though I'm asian myself and really enjoyed Tera online ! Give me a straight up club with a nail sticking out of it any day!
Ooo, the Viking sword! Just watched that on Nova...
Thanks for the original post, I agree with previous posters, your faces are quite angelic. Please keep us in the loop on progress for this project. Thanks also to our resident historian, lovingit, that was very valuable information and I hope you make a sticky on that topic as I'm sure many others could benefit from it.
Nice "warm up crit", lovingit. Oh how you make me chuckle.
Thanks Zara, I think only admins can make something sticky though? I'll think about it once I got my portfolio out the door.
I'm such a geek when it comes to historical weapons and armour... the wife doesn't exactly share the interest - she views it with a kind of disapproving tolerance I think! Not very yogic and peaceful! But I have loads of stuff about the mongols, romans, barbarians, medieval knights blah blah blah and of course I love to shoot bows and arrows.
I CAN appreciate the artistry in the new warcraft/asian RPG movement with its:
1. over sized weapons that are impossible to swing
2. semi nude not really armour but more shiny bikinis - for women
3. massive plates of cast iron/concrete for men
4. garnished with generous amounts of random spikes and ornamentation
BUT I just like things to look realistic. More assassins creed I guess, style AND believable function without too much cliche. Like everything these days - I think it's all gone a bit OTT sexualised. Men have to be muscular beasts and women are just sex objects... even news readers these days are like super models!
I'd also go for an "all you can need realistic" thread. I'm also this kind of geek .
Last edited by Quike Garcia; January 27th, 2014 at 06:42 AM.
気計 - Quike
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.."
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I wonder if you could talk to one beforehand about it, or if they just sticky threads they think are really useful once they have already been made.
I agree with you about liking a more realistic style of things. Fantasy is great, I just like it to be more believable fantasy. So for me metal bikinis are a big no, I like my female warriors not to look like they could be easily shanked. :-)
I've always been into the idea of 'strong women' characters. Possible because I have 4 sisters and no brothers!
People like Yukita Kishiro (battle angel alita) and Hiyao Miyazaki have always had strong female characters/heroines in their work and have been influences on my way of thinking. I'm sure you've heard of hiyao Miyazaki but if you don't know battle angel alita - it's a great comic series to pick up.
More recently I watched some interviews with Joss Whedon - the guy who started Buffy the vampire slayer - and did the Avengers. He cites a strong influence from his mother so he also likes to show women in a non sexualised way. I'm a bit worried about Zack Synder's up coming portrayal of Wonder Woman. I think his choice of Gal Gadot betrays a leaning towards a very one dimensional reading of the character and I thought Lois was just terrible in Man of Steel. Not that I think she's a bad actress who couldn't do a good job, but she just ended up being this wimpy ooooh superman save me. Whilst Faora was just this psychopathic face mask off sexy warrior.
Personally I think it's a bit dull the whole overtly sexual portrayal of men AND women in today's society, and it's not healthy either.
I like the character and the composition. I think you have a talent for the use of shapes but you're not developing it because you're working on too much anime stuff. Ignore what's been said about realistic figure drawing, the only thing that matters is the expressiveness of the piece.
"Beliefs are rules for action"
"Knowledge is proven in action."
"It's use is it's meaning."
If you're looking to make that metal look like real metal, I'd make the shadows darker and those highlights pop sharper and hotter than what you've got. Matte surfaces scatter the light in a more soft pattern across themselves... hard, reflective surfaces (like metal) will reflect it in smaller, brighter spots.
lovingit has given you a great wealth of information. I didn't know half that stuff myself, what a goldmine!
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