Can you help me paint a noble-looking character?
Kurt McCready, Canada
Painting a noble character depends on the context. Your chosen setting may feature a lot of cultural differences, but also a lot of similarities that have their roots in history. In essence, richer people can afford to buy more high-quality clothing and accessories – which are obvious status symbols – and you could choose to reflect this in your art. There was a time when patterned fabrics were created by hand, and certain clothing dyes were expensive to produce, so only noble figures were able to afford such clothing.
In this character sketch I’m depicting a medieval duke who travels to the Middle East to trade. I’m not going to paint a fully detailed illustration, but rather simply capture the key elements of the character. After quickly blocking in the silhouette of the character, I move straight into colours using highly saturated red, purple and yellow/orange for the golden parts. I want to build on the feel of stability that I create with the triangle shape of his cape, so I divide my main values into an even midrange (the cape) and a darker range (upper body and legs) to create even more balance.
After finishing the rough painting stage I add some photo textures to bring a bit more realistic detail to the character. It’s during this final stage that I add historically accurate patterns to most of the surfaces and clothing materials.
Historically, saturated colours were always associated with higher social status. The posture of a character can tell a lot about their social status. Using a triangle as the main shape suggests stability, while a head that’s pointing upward suggests an air of superiority.