Bad Ass Woman Warrior

I have this friend, Lauren, who is in incredible shape. She's a personal trainer, and has been getting pretty serious about building some serious muscle. After seeing some of her progress pics online I thought "This is a woman who is building the kind of body that a TRULY strong fantasy character would have." I've seen enough fantasy art to know that there isn't as much variation in women's bodies portrayed in fantasy art as there should be. There's lots of lithe and petite bodies, but not nearly enough truly strong and muscular women being portrayed. So I contacted Lauren about modeling for me, and explained what I wanted to do, which was do a piece that really portrayed that strength. A character that was strong and not interested in trying to be "sexy" in the traditional sense. Lucky for me, she was all in and loved the idea.

I thought a lot about what I wanted to portray. On the one hand I wanted to avoid the "barely clad warrior woman" trope. On the other, I wanted to be sure to be able to portray the muscle and strength that was the intention of the piece. I decided that maybe "barely clad" would be forgivable if it wasn't done in an overtly titillating way. I settled on an idea that was influenced by woad body paint (but red rather than blue), leather, and some loosely Celtic and Viking influences. I had an image in mind of a woman warrior staring intensely over the edge of her shield, sword in hand.

While the end result is in many ways a really simple piece, I'm still pleased with what it represents, at least to me.
As an additional note, this piece was a departure for me in some ways as I tackled the background differently than how I normally approach things. I decided to see how little rendering I could get away with and still have a believable and good looking background. I decided to let form and light tell the story (along with a couple of texture brushes), rather than hand rendering a bunch of ultimately meaningless details. I like the results here, and plan to continue to explore along these lines.