When I was young I wasn’t much of a reader. Then at the end of 8th grade a friend insisted I read Alanna by Tamora Pierce. She lent me her copy, and I was immediately hooked. It’s a story about a girl who wants to be a knight, so she switches places with her twin brother so she could pose as a boy and train. I devoured the book, the whole series, and then proceeded to read every single book written by her. I spent that entire summer, day in and day out reading. This was the beginning of long and beautiful friendship with reading that has continued until this day.
It was only a matter of time until I had to bring this book to life. It was a daunting task to try to paint my favorite book character, but I felt it was time
I went through several rounds of thumbnails and studies for this cover. I decided to focus later in the book series, when she was a full knight with her golden armor and horse Moonlight. I started with rough pen and ink thumbnails in my sketchbook. I wanted to show her off as the strong character she is.
After that, I took my favorite thumbnails and refined them as digital value thumbnails. I had two thumbnails in particular that I was really excited about. Instead of picking just one, I decided to do both and make one as a painting and the other as an interior black and white pencil drawing.
Sketch and Color Study
After finalizing my composition, I gathered my references and did a full value digital sketch of both pieces. I like to refine all of the details at this stage. Paintings need to work in value before I even begin to think about color.
I went through two rounds of color studies for this piece. There were a lot of particular colors that I needed that match with her violet colored magic, gold armor, and tan colored horse. I first did a quick digital color overlay on my black and white sketch. Then I wanted to make sure that I would be able to match these vibrant colors in oils so I did a small 7” painted color study in oils.
Once I felt comfortable with my color study I was ready to transfer my sketch onto my board and begin the final piece. I was working on my black and white interior pencil drawing white the oils were drying. I recently discovered the infamous Blackwing pencils and I’ve been having a blast experimenting with them. Here are the finished pieces!
This was the beginning of my Female Warrior series. I loved working on these pieces so much, and I wanted to keep painting strong empowering women. And I haven’t looked back since!