Take a look inside the popular Photoshop eBook, Painting Armor, with this
free chapter sample...
The first thing I usually do when I get a project is to collect all of the reference material that I am going to need. Most of the time you can find everything you need by just ‘Googling' it. Fig01 shows images taken from different museum websites. It is a good idea to start building up a large reference folder on your computer so that the next time you need some armour reference you will already have it. Now that we have our reference material, we can start the illustration.
This painting is going to be done primarily in Photoshop CS2, with a little bit of Painter IX at the end. I have included the Photoshop CS2 brushes that I have used so that you can try them out too. To load them, just click on the brush tool and then right-click on the canvas. Your brush menu should now open. In the top right corner is a small triangle button - click on it and go to "Load Brushes”, then select the file that is included in this tutorial. As for what size of a file you should work in, I always paint at 300dpi and usually around 3000 pixels wide. This artwork is 2404x2905.
The Block In
Start by blocking in the main shapes of the figure (Fig02). At this point you are just trying to get the basic shapes of the figure, so don't worry about the details just yet. Next, lay in the basic colour and shapes for the face (Fig03). I felt the need for some more colours in the background, so I added some yellows to the ground and brought them up behind the character, and also onto his legs (Fig04).
Adding the Detail
Usually I block in more of the armour shapes before I work more on the head, but this time I am going to finish up the head first so that I can focus more on the armour (Fig05a). I wanted this guy to be a rough and tough knight, not just another big brute, but one that is proud and charismatic. Another way to make someone look more heroic is to elongate their proportions. Usually I make them around 8-9 heads tall. Now that I have the head down, I can start blocking in the armour. I wasn't really sure what the armour was going to look like, so I just started throwing down paint (Fig05b). The shape I put down for the pauldron didn't really make any sense, so I start cutting away pieces and trying to give it some more form and function (Fig05c). One thing you always need to be aware of when designing a character is whether or not they could actually function. It's nice to make them look cool, but a lot of the time, especially in the gaming industry, the character will need to be able to animate. This is where your references come in handy. Study how real armour is put together and try to figure out why it was designed a certain way and how it works. I felt like the character was leaning too much, so I rotated him a little counter-clockwise, and gave him hair and a beard (Fig05d).
There are many ways to paint in the highlights, one of which is to use the colour dodge tool (Fig06a & b).