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March Viking - Monthly Project

For March I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to reflect some of my family heritage. I have been really missing family lately and I have been doing genealogy work, so let's just say my interest has been piqued. I also really like vikings. The way they fought, lived, and organised themselves is really interesting, and the way they have captured our imaginations and evolved within pop culture is fascinating.

Although the history of face paint, markings, and female warriors are generally believed to be a modern interpretation of a viking, encouraged by pop culture and media, I thought it would be fun to add to the piece. My art, my fantasy, my rules!

Viking Warrior “I have traveled so much, I have tried much, and I have often tested the mighty. How will there still be a sun when the wolf has eaten the one that now flies in heaven?”

― Jackson Crawford, The Poetic Edda

Vikings were the seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia. Famous for their raiding and settlements, this warrior nation made quite the impact on the Middle Ages.

In my opinion, one of their most impressive feats was their ability to navigate the seas and travel great distances in their iconic longships. These ships were described as graceful, long, narrow and light, with a shallow-draft hull designed for speed. Longships were also double-ended, which meant their symmetry allowed them to reverse direction quickly without a turnaround. This trait was particularly helpful not just in battle, but in navigation as well. When navigating northern areas, this allowed them to dodge and maneuver their way through icefields and around icebergs. These great boats and their expert navigators allowed them to travel throughout most of the world, even allowing them to arrive in North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. In fact, around the year 1000 A.D., the Viking explorer Leif Erikson, son of Erik the Red, sailed to a place he called "Vinland," on what is now the Canadian island of Newfoundland. Another reason I love vikings, they were known not only for their fighting prowess, but for their stories, poetry, art, and music. They liked board games, and drinking, and overall just having a good time. There are so few warrior races that seem to prioritize the arts the same way that the vikings did and I find that truly unique. If you ever have the chance to go to a viking reenactment or viking village/camp I highly recommend it. Fun entertainment for the whole family and you will learn a lot while also getting to watch battle reenactments. If you are in the Edmonton/Alberta area I recommend Sons of Fenrir or The Ravens. My Viking Warrior took me roughly 3.5 hours to create, although not all my editing is in the video (I removed the stuff that did not make it into the final photo.) I used Lightroom to colour adjust the image from RAW, and then Photoshop for the rest of the editing. It has 32 layers and 11 Groups, and is a cozy 402.3MB in size. Stock images were provided by,, and armour from I was expecting this image to be more of a trial. I knew I wanted warrior paint, but thought it was going to be way harder to make it look like it was really on my face than it actually was. I was able to use a basic brush with the touch sensitivity of my Wacom tablet to create the basic lines. I believe I set the layer to dissolve. Then I used a rough peeling paint texture brush I had to create flaws in the smooth paint. It’s obviously not hyper realistic, but I am happy with the results and think it matches the photo nicely. Adding the blood to the face was also interesting. I found a free blood smear on PNG Tree. It didn’t look quite right so I used Transform>Warp to distort the smear to match the face shape. I then duplicated the layer, multiplied it, and placed it under the original blood smear and reduced the opacity with a slight blur to create a little shadow, giving the effect that it is raised off of the skin. I believe I also changed the original blood smear mode to multiply as well, to allow some of the skin texture to show through and darken the blood a bit. Another thing I tried for the first time was applying duo-tone filtering to the background. I had used this technique on the skin of both my viking and my cyberpunk, but had never used this technique to better help a background blend better with a subject. I usually just use multiple Photo Filter layers and masks to create the mood and tones I am going for. I am happy to say duo-toning will probably be the way I do this from now on. It is way faster and yields much better results. This is exactly why I decided to do my self portrait photo-manipulation series. Challenging myself to create new things allows me to learn new techniques that I can use in my professional work. I knew that some of my pre-built lightroom filters used duo-toning, but because I was not familiar with that area of Lightroom, I didn’t really understand how to adjust the filters if I didn’t like how they looked on a photo, which would usually just end with me not using that filter. Now, not only can I adjust pre-built filters, I can build my own filters to match my preferences, and that is something I am really excited about. In summary: never be afraid to try new things, and keep learning.

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