Gladiators of the Roman Coliseum were brutal warriors who often fought to the death for the entertainment of thousands of spectators. Most gladiators were prisoners, slaves and criminals who fought with little or no armour. Most gladiatorial battles were fought one against one. Those who were captured soldiers from other lands often used their native weapons and clothing, thus establishing the diverse appearances of the gladiator. You can learn to draw gladiators by practicing several essential elements.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Artist's quality pencil set
- Kneaded eraser
- Quality drawing paper
Sketch the pose. Using scaffolding lines for the spine, arms, legs, head and weapon, establish the posture of each gladiator in pencil. You can sketch several large curved lines first to develop ideas for the pose. If he is in battle, use mostly diagonal, angular lines to show his stance. Draw his stance low to the ground to suggest solidity and a low centre of gravity. Use basic curved shapes like ovals to add volume to the scaffolding framework. Use ovals for his chest, belly, head, upper and lower legs and arms. Erase and adjust shapes consistently to develop fluidity in the posture.
Sketch the largest pieces of his wardrobe and armour over the body. Gladiators often wore short cloth skirts around the pelvic area. Sketch the essential shapes without adding details yet. Draw a helmet. Gladiatorial helmets came in endless variety; you can draw chin straps, mohawks, or full facial plating. Continue using only simple shapes to establish the structures. Some wore dynamic chest and arm plates, which often only covered one side. Sketch the plates of shin guards on the lower legs using basic pointed rectangular and triangular shapes. Draw the basic shape of the shield using an oval or a closed "U" shape. Use juxtapositions of broad curves and straight edges to shape sections of armour.
Refine and connect the shapes. Because you have all of the main shapes in place, you can now commit to detail and refinement. Work from largest to smallest, adding increasingly detailed parts. Draw smaller structures such as the parts of the hands and face that are visible. Draw muscles on the body such as pectoral muscles on the chest and triceps on the arms. Add smaller parts of the weapon and armour, such as the handle of a sword or ornate carvings in the chin strap. Connect the body parts together by refining and adjusting contour lines to indicate parts like elbows and knees. Erase unnecessary structural lines from the previous steps. Draw pieces of cloth hanging from the weapon and armour using sketchy vertical lines. Use your artistic freedom to design engravings on the shield and armour and add scars on the body.
Draw textures, details and shadows. Differentiate the metal, cloth and skin textures by shading them differently. Draw shadows on metallic parts using curved shapes with hard edges that contour along the curves of the metal surface. For example, on the shield, draw dark "C" shapes that round along the shield's circumference. For cloth sections, use gradual gradations of greys to indicate folds and curves in the cloth. Use darker shades to indicate the shadows in crevices such as between folds and under arm pits. You can also add more texture using grid lines to create a plaid-like weave for rough fabric. For the skin, also use gradations. Add darker shades to areas in shadow such as around the perimeters of armour and clothing. Lightly draw a few areas of hair using short, quick marks and points. Move continually between different sections until the picture feels complete.
Tips and warnings
- Explore pictures and stories of gladiators to develop your sense of how they move and look.
- Move your eyes and pencil all around the drawing, especially in the earlier steps. This helps to balance the drawing process and avoid fixation on insignificant details.
- Practice figure drawing and look at pictures to develop your ability to draw dynamic gladiatorial poses.
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