Fantasy & Gothic Blog

Fantasy Art: Warrior Heroine by Leslie J. Lee

Posted by Matt Knight

warrior heroine, leslie j lee, fantasy art,

Leslie J. Lee is an American concept artist currently working for Section Studios, a prestigious company based in Los Angeles who have designed and worked with franchises as big as Toyota. The quality of her art is reflected through her achievements, as she has designed for Netflix an online movie website known for its phenomenal success. She has also designed for the ever popular Game of Thrones television series, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. The complexity of her drawings is breathtaking as the detail she provides is highly admirable. As seen below she presents us with strong and independent characters, each with their own elements of individuality. We are privileged enough to have her explain in depth and step-by-step just how much effort goes into each and every one of her masterpieces.      

warior heroine part 1, fantasy illustration, Step 1:

I normally start in black and white for a character to get some value read, and in this case I started with a quick, loose line drawing of the a basic pose to capture a nice gesture. Then, on a new layer, the character is fleshed out with some basic lighting and detail indication – enough to get a good sense of the heroine. 

Step 2:heroine variation 1, battle pose,

I like using rough-textured chalk brushes to fill the background colour; playing with the blues easily made me realize that I wanted the character lit from above, with a cool light, to create a dramatic feel. Thus after bringing in my black and white rough, and putting a simple blue photo filter over it, I began to indicate the new light source on the figure. 

warrior woman, how to art, Step 3:

The heroine’s figure felt a little stiff, so at this stage I tried to tweak the pose, focusing on the angles of the limbs, shoulders and hips to get a little more fluidity into the pose. I also focused on bringing life into the face, really playing with the dark shadows and highlights. Lightening the hair with dark tips also seemed to give her more edge, along with a reddish tint in her eyes. 

  • Character variations: One never knows if the first variation – or third or fifth – will be the best one, so I created four rough heroines in black and white, trying to make them all different in appearance. This is really one of the more fun parts of painting, when one can experiment with, in this case, different armour and poses before committing to final character.  warriorswide1.jpg

Step 4:warrior stance, fantasy art guide,

Since the skin tone of the Warrior Heroine was established, layering colours in the soft light mode helped dictate the colour of the different parts of her attire. Bits of photo textures help define small details, such as her bodice armour and chain mail underneath, which are then painted over. 

warrior battle stance, female warrior, Step 5:

At this stage of the painting, the creative process is taken over by the technical process. The focus was really on rendering the heroine out, and making sure that all the final elements of the painting are present. Arm braces were added, as well as her swords. One also has to make sure that all the materials are indicated properly, while double-checking the light source and pose. 

Finishing Touches:

Even at the final stage, I still found elements that needed correcting. The heroine’s upper leg seemed too long, the feet were too obscure in darkness, her bodice was a little too box-like, and the shoulder pads looked like they could use better structure. Although making last-minute corrections is sometimes a pain, in the end it is worth it. Overall, I am pleased with how Warrior Heroine turned out; despite her femininity, she still has a tough attitude and exterior, ready to undertake her journey. 


This post is based on an extract from our book Fantasy Art Warriors and Heroes by Russ Thorne (ISBN: 9780857758095) - which includes (aside from Leslie) many other stunning products of fantasy art. 


  • If you're interested in our book Fantasy Art Warriors and Heros then why not take a look at our other books on fantasy art, such as this one on Dragons.

  • Can't get enough of fantasy art? Check out an array of fantastic images on our Pinterest account. Or for more, these images are also incredible.

  • Why not enhance your love for fantasy art by purchasing some posters here.


Warrior Heroine by Leslie Lee © Leslie J. Lee • Digital media: Photoshop • Leslie is a concept artist and illustrator based in Los Angeles •

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