Saturday, 8 March 2014

Boudica Development

I thought it might be useful (if people are interested) to show a little bit of the development work that went behind Boudica.  Boudica was a personal piece, so I skipped one or two steps that I normally do for professional work, but I thought it might be a handy little insight to anyone who's new to digital painting.

Just a small disclaimer first though; this is just to show you how I went through MY process of painting Boudica.  Please don't assume my way of painting is the 'correct' way (as you'll see below, I actually wound up with a couple of problems with this image from stupid decisions early on).  Every artist works differently.  My methods may not suit your methods and you may not even like my work flow at all.  It's just useful to show new artists (and non-artists...if that's a word?) some of the work that goes behind an image.  This shit doesn't just 'happen'.  So, yeah, just please keep an open mind with this. 

Anyway, let's get to it...

So, the first step I take, with any image, is to do the research.  My idea is to bring Boudica forward and place her in an 'adult fantasy' genre like Game of Thrones, of which I think is an ideal setting,  So I started doing some research and gathering reference materials (see below).  I want to her have a tribal feel but, since she started an uprising, I thought it would make sense she picks up pieces of armour/equipment here and there from slain enemies.  Therefore making here better equipped and a stronger warrior.  So there would be a mish-mash of armour...

One thing that's been bugging me for a while now is how female warriors are depicted in games and concept art.  Not ALL of it, but a good proportion.  You can see in some of the references I have above, that a lot of these females don't wear very much clothing............why?
According to my research, Boudica was part of a Celtic tribe in who died roughly in 60-61 AD.  A Celtic Tribe in Britain.  It would have been bloody freezing!!  Also, what good is a warrior/fighter if over half of their body is exposed flesh with zero armour??

No no no.  My version of Boudica is going to practical.  She's going to be warm and protected.  This is something I feel I HAVE to have in my design.

So, I began my process with doing some fast grey-scale sketches.  I had a good idea of what I was wanting to achieve, so this went very quickly.  When working professionally, this stage generally lasts a lot longer and there are a lot more iterations of the design (with more details) to give the client choice.  However, this is a personal piece and I'm the client who already know what he wants.  So let's move one :)

After selecting my design, I moved quickly into a painting pass.  I like to keep up a sense of pace and momentum with the early stages of an image.  Plus lots of coffee helps...

As I was wanting to keep this quite a 'real' image, I used a heavy use of photo reference and textures early in the painting process.  In hindsight, it was too much and became a huge mistake.  It was bogging down my design and making adjustments difficult, plus it didn't feel like the character was my design any more.

So, fueled by another gallon of coffee, I broke away from this bad habit...

 ...and with the use of textured brushes, began creating a character that I felt belonged to ME rather than relying on the photo reference.  At this point, the lethal dose of caffeine began to wear off, which was good as I needed to calm down and focus on the smaller intricate details that make the image look more believable.

So, kind of a crash-course in painting development, but this was the creation of Boudica.

I hope somebody finds this useful :)


  1. Hi,

    I just want to say, that your post is very very helpful to me. I really want to learn how to do great costume concepts like your Boudicca place over here. It really captures her warrior spirit. It make me really excited to see your process work, especially in your research and sketch stage. I also really appreciate your material/texture page, it's very informative. Hope to see more posts like this! If you can sort of demonstrate how you worked textures into your painting that would be so awesome!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for checking it out and leaving a comment. I'm really happy to hear you found this useful :) yep, my plan is to start using this blog to show more of the development stuff behind my work. So keep an eye out for future posts :)

      Thanks again

  2. I was browsing LayerPaint's Spotlight Galleries when I say this piece. I must say your work is very impressive and inspirational. As someone who has just started with digital paiting (picked up a pencil for drawing for the first time in September/13) I find this is the kind of artwork I want to be able to produce eventually.

    And you're absolutely right about the lack of protective armor on female warriors. This is something that always bugged me. If most of these women were like archers maybe it would make more sense to keep their gear weight to a minimal in order to be mobile, but if they're charging head on with sword and shield they might as well bulk up in the armor department.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your inputs.

  3. I linked to this off of Draw Crowd. LOVE this piece and it's realism. I struggle so much with making the small objects within a costume recognizable while not over rendering them and maintaing a painterly feel so it's nice to see so well done here!