In this 10 step by step tutorial, I will teach you how to draw a medieval knight. My goal here is to teach you, not only the process I follow when drawing knights, but also the different parts and pieces of a medieval armor. Most beginners try to draw armors without truly understanding how they are built. The more you know the different armor parts, the more accurate and believable will be your drawings.
So, How to draw a Knight?
If you want to draw a knight, you should follow this simple step by step process:
- Step 1: Gather references you can use as model and inspiration.
- Step 2: Start drawing your dummy. You gotta draw first the torso.
- Step 3: Draw the arms.
- Step 4: Draw the legs.
- Step 5: Draw the head
- Step 6: On top of your dummy draw the armor chest plate and the shoulder pads.
- Step 7: Draw the arm protections.
- Step 8: Draw the leg protections.
- Step 9: Draw the helmet, the face and the neck protection.
- Step 10: Draw the sword.
- Step 11: Add detail and shading to your drawing.
Let´s Start The Tutorial
Now it´s time to elaborate on the steps I showed you before.
Step 1: Reference Gathering
This early stage is usually overlooked by beginners. If you are trying to draw an original drawing, is always useful to find all sorts of images we can use for inspiring ourselves.
I like to use photo-realistic references. The reason why is to avoid as much as I can other artist’s drawings as references to not contaminate my own style trying to imitate other artists styles. To depend completely on drawings of other artists can limit your own creativity.
I think it can be useful to inspire yourself or to copy certain details. However, if we depend solely on the works of other artists, we can easily pass from creators to imitators or copyists without realizing it. We will also be constantly comparing our work with that of the artist we are taking as a reference.
I recommend you to open a Pinterest account where you can create some mud boards and pin the images you consider useful. Pinterest is a great repository of images and I’m sure you will find their tons of images. If you type Gothic armor on Pinterest you will find lots of images you can use as references for your drawing.
Our knight will be wearing a Gothic plate armor from the early 15th century. I choose this type of armor because the knight´s armors only became fully plated during the earlier part of the 15th century. Before, armors were partially plated, and warriors used to wear a combination between armor plates and chain mail. For this tutorial, I wanted to depict a knight in full plated armor, this is why I chose this type of armor. The Gothic armor was very common during the XV century and it´s quite easy to find photo references on the web.
Let´s draw a knight
Once we will have our references gathered, it will be time to start our drawing. In this tutorial, I will like to draw our character almost frontally and in motion. Not in a posse as dynamic as the one I drew in my tutorial ” How to draw Batman”. This time I will draw my character coming forward, not charging, more like walking, but ready for the action.
During the tutorial’s first steps, I will draw a dummy. In later steps, I will be drawing my character´s Gothic armor, on top of it.
Step 2: Drawing The Torso and the Hips
The size of the torso will be over 3 heads or 3 heads and a half in height. The upper part of the torso will be the rib cage area, depicted in the image above, and the bottom part will be the lower ribs. as you can see we need also to divide the cage with a vertical line, where the pectoral muscles are divided into two.
Drawing the hips will be the next step in our journey. I usually start drawing the hips and the crotch like if our character was wearing a short swimsuit or male underwear. It simplifies the process creation and makes things easier to understand. Remember to keep the torso and the waist separated from each other. The space in between them will be the abdominal area.
Step 3: Drawing The Arms
Next step will be to draw the arms. We will start with the shoulders. I’ve seen many people drawing the shoulder like a couple of egg-shaped spheres. In my case, I do the same, but I also like to draw the top part of this inverted egg flatter. The reason is this allows the descending line of the traps to continue on the on the deltoids. The result is a more natural and fluid body line. The left side shoulder, which is almost totally hidden from the viewers perspective will be drawn as a short curve line coming out from behind the upper part of the torso.
I´ve defined clearly the different parts of the arms, separating the shoulders, from the biceps with the triceps and the forearms, so you can read better the different parts of the arms.
The Biceps and Triceps
For the biceps and triceps area, I will draw a tube for each arm. This tube will become narrower on the bottom. Here will be connected to the elbow.
The left arm’s biceps will come out from behind the rib cage area. Take notice of the difference between the left arm shoulder, which is represented as a curve line and the biceps which is drawn as a straight line that ends on the elbow area.
In both arms, the triceps is represented like a shorter curve near the insertion with the shoulder.
The elbows will be situated on the same height of the floating ribs, on the sides of the torso.
For the forearms, we will draw also a tube for each arm. Like before, they will become narrower on the bottom part. In this case, the bottom part will be the wrist. More or less, both wrists will be aligned with the crotch on the hips area.
Both hands will be drawn as a fist, this will help to give the impression the knight is ready for the action. The left hand will be grabbing a sword and the right hand will be just a clenching fist. I will draw them quite schematically because the hands will be wearing gauntlets. For the fist on the left, we will draw a big irregular square for the palm. The fingers will be drawn as little rectangles.
For the hand placed sideways, the main body of the hand will be a rectangle and the fingers again will be drawn as single squares.
Later on, you can define better the different parts of the gauntlets when we will be drawing the armor volumes.
Step 4: Drawing The Legs
Our character will be drawn walking. Nothing to exaggerated or spectacular, just a casual walk.
The thighs will be drawn as massive tubes, similar to the ones we drew for the biceps and triceps area, on the arms, but 2 or 3 times bigger.
It will present a curve line on top and another one under. The curve line on top will be longer than the one on the exterior side, but still shorter if we compare it with the curve line bellow that follows.
Will be drawn as a concave curve. It will starts on the knee and will end on the feet.
The knees will be drawn as ellipses.
Both feet will be drawn frontally. The one on the left will be placed fully frontally and the one on the right in a slight 3/4 angle, showing the heel a little bit.
Step 5: Drawing The Head
The head will be drawn as an ellipse with a square shape on the bottom. The head will be placed on a slight 3/4 angle, so the squared bottom will be shorter on the right side and longer on the left. I will divide the head with a vertical curve. This curve will leave two half, one considerably bigger than the other, again due to the 3/4 angle. Next, we will draw a horizontal curve line. This curve will be crossing the head a little bit above of the center of the ellipse and will help us to define where the eyes will be placed.
If you wanna learn more about drawing the human head, feel free to check my step by step tutorial ” How to draw a face”. I think you will find it very useful.
The dummy on the images I showed you on the earlier steps was highlighted in red so you could see clearly and very schematically how the different parts of the dummy are built. When sketching, your drawing will look more like the image above.
I hope all this process doesn’t sound confusing to you. But, if you feel you are not getting the result you are looking for, don´t worry JUST KEEP PRACTICING 🙂 . Use the process I’m showing you in this tutorial and work in your drawings step by step. One resource I found very useful was a simple but effective video course I took years ago which helped me to understand better the fundamentals of drawing, not only people and anatomy, also perspective and composition. The lectures were easy to follow and I could see how my drawing skills were improving after each lesson.
Step 6: Drawing The Chest Plate and The Shoulder Pads
At this stage I will take our dummy and I will draw on top of it, but before I will start drawing I will need to make my dummy less visible so it will not distract me and interferer with the final drawing. If you are drawing using paper and pencil you can use a kneaded eraser to reduce the visibility of the dummy sketch without removing completely the drawing. If you are looking for a good drawing set, the Cretacolor Monolith Set is my weapon of choice.
In case you are drawing on a digital medium, you just need to reduce the layer opacity to 20% so you can leave just a thin trace of the original dummy´s sketch lines.
Regarding the drawing of the chest plate and the shoulder pads, it´s very important to know which and how many are the different parts of the upper body part of the armor. The image below shows you the names of the different parts. Below the image, you will find the description and function of each part.
Cuirass: Plate that covers the breast, not the back, however, the name is sometimes used to describe the breast- and backplates together.
Plackart: Plate that covers the belly. Usually comes attached to the Gorget by a short bucket belt.
Gorget: Steel collar to protect the neck and cover the neck opening in a complete Cuirass.
Besagew: A circular plate that covers the armpit.
Pauldron: Cover the shoulder (with a dome-shaped piece called a shoulder cop), armpit and sometimes the back and chest.
Rerebrace: Plate that covers the section of the upper arm from elbow to area covered by shoulder armor.
Step 7: The Arm Protections
I will continue drawing the arms. Follow the shapes of the dummy´s arms and place the different parts in the right position and perspective.
Here are the different protections for the arms:
Chainmail: Mail shirt, called Hauberks, reaching the mid-thigh with sleeves. Early mail shirts generally were quite long. During the 14th-15th century, hauberks became shorter, coming down to the thigh.
Couter: Plate that guards the elbow, eventually became articulated.
Vambrace: Steel bracelet protecting the forearm.
Gaunlet: A metallic glove that covers fully the hand and the wrist.
Step 8: The Leg Protections
Like you did for the arms, draw the different armor pieces following the position of each leg. The left leg pieces will be drawn fully frontally, meanwhile, the right leg protections will be drawn in a 3/4 view.
Here are the names and specifications of each leg protection:
Faulds: Bands to protect the front waist and hips, attached to Cuirass.
Tasset: Band plates hanging from Faulds
Cuisses: Plate that cover the thighs.
Poleyn: Articulated plate that covers the knee. Connects with the Cuisses and Greave.
Greaves: Plates that covers the lower leg, front, and back.
Sabaton: Metal plate that covers the foot.
Step 9: The Helmet, The Face and the Neck Protection
Regarding the head, I will draw our character with the Helmet´s visor lifted up so we can see the face. The face features like the eyes, the nose, and the mouth will be placed along the horizontal and vertical lines crossing the dummy´s face. Because this is not a tutorial about how to draw faces, I encourage you to check my tutorial on “How to draw Faces” where you can learn on how to draw the human face from the front and 3/4 view angle.
Regarding the different parts of the helmet and the neck protections, here is the list and the specs:
Sallet: Steel Helmet used with the Gothic armor.
Bevor: Neck protection of different sizes. Some of them covered half of the face, others only until the jawline.
Mail Coif: Chainmail hood the knight used to wear under the helmet and the Bevor. The Mail Coif usually was worn with the Hauberk.
Step 10: The Sword
After we had the full armor drawn I will remove completely the dummy´s underline. Once this will be done, I will draw the sword. The most important thing is to draw the sword align with the perspective of the hand it´s holding it.
In our drawing, we can see the hand is in a 3/4 angle, so when drawing the cross of the sword we will show also the short face that usually represents the thickness of the piece. If you want more in-depth information on how to draw a sword you can check my step by step tutorial.
Step 11: Detailing and Shading
This is the final step. Here I will focus on detailing certain parts of the armor like both Besagew or the face. But, more importantly, I will add some shadows to the character so it will become less flat and more three dimensional. I will add this shadows by using shading techniques like hatching and cross-hatching. If you are not familiar with this techniques, you can check my tutorial on “How to shade with a pencil” where I explain in detail the most known shading techniques you can use when drawing with pencil.
The main goal when shading is to use the white of the paper as the lighter areas. The areas where you will apply the shading will be the ones in shadow. This also allows you to create a hierarchy of relevance inside the character. Let’s take the legs as an example. As you can see the left leg is fully shaded, meanwhile the left leg has some shading but is minor compared to the left leg. This leaves the left leg in shadows and the right leg under the light, so it will help to convey the sensation that the character is coming forward with the right leg, leaving the left leg behind.
Another cool resource is to create cast shadows with the shading. A good example is the shadow cast by the helmet’s visor over the knight’s face. This cast shadow allows me to create a sensation of depth in the character.
If you want to keep learning more about drawing and painting cool characters, let me recommend you a course I found quite useful and also very affordable :
Now is your turn to draw your own knight. Try to follow the steps as close as you can, at least the first time you try. If you already finished your knight’s drawing try to draw another one, this time with a different posse or a different armor design. You can find lots of historical references on the internet regarding other types of medieval armors.
I hope this tutorial was useful to you. If you have any doubt or question please leave it on the comment section, this will encourage me to keep working in new tutorials and articles.
Toni Justamante Jacobs.