How to Create a Fantasy Warrior: Five Steps to Building a Virtual Hero

Last updated: 12/31/2023
5 minutes read

To create the perfect fantasy warrior, you have to know what one is. To build a character that not only has an imposing onscreen presence but upholds the virtues of the world in which it exists, you need to know the basics. Regardless, the notion of a fantasy warrior boils down to one main skilling: fighting.

Although true warriors are so much more than fighters, there’s no escaping the fact this is their core skill.

Indeed, you only have to look at fantasy warrior games such as Dungeons & Dragons to know this. In some games, warriors are referred to as fighters. In others, this character class consists of knights or bruisers.

Therefore, when you’re looking to create a fantasy warrior or a fantasy warrior game, this fundamental quality must be kept in mind at all times. If the character is not a fighter at heart, then, despite any other qualities they might have, they’re not a warrior.

The Attributes of a Fantasy Warrior

This leads to the question of what general skills should a warrior have? What makes them a fighter? These are open-ended questions with many possible answers. However, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to give them the following attributes:

Strength – A weak warrior is not going to be effective. This doesn’t mean the character has to be so physically imposing that it’s absurd. However, they need to have a robust frame that’s built for battle.

Inner Strength – Physicality is just one part of the strength equation. Warriors must have a strong spirit. A strong self-belief and an ability to step into situations that others wouldn’t.

Health – The ideal fantasy warrior has more health than the average character. In other words, they’re able to take more knocks and survive harsher conditions.

Weapons – Every fighter needs an arsenal of weapons. The type of weapons they have will depend on the fantasy warrior game in question. For example, they wouldn’t have a gun in a medieval setting.

Skills – The best fantasy warriors aren’t lumbering brutes that swing swords aimlessly. A successful fighter is one that thinks tactically and has proficiency over the weapons they carry. Therefore, when you’re creating a fantasy warrior game, the fighters must have the ability to acquire and refine their skills.

Fantasy Warrior Art Design: Getting the Right Look

Once you’ve gifted a character with skills that align with the warrior code, you need to manifest them in reality. Specifically, you need to make your character look the part. The video below shows how concept artist Valentin Demchenko builds a fantasy warrior. From an initial outline, he adds layers of detail until he gets a finished character.

What you can see from the video above is that all the above qualities are immediately apparent. The character is big and bold. They’re wearing a helmet which signals they have an arsenal of weapons. They have an imposing frame that suggests they’re robust and can survive a battle.

You’ll also notice that the chest is puffed out, signaling certain inner confidence. Even from an outside perspective, you can tell that this is a warrior. Even if you didn’t know what qualities the average gaming warrior has, you’d know that this character was a fighter.

It’s also important to consider the finer details of this character. As much as you want to create a strong look, you also need to ensure the character is believable. “Believable” in this sense means that they look part of the game and not necessarily lifelike.  

Creating a Believable Character

Going back to Demchenko’s character, you can see how each layer homes in on smaller and smaller details. By the eight-minute mark, he’s adding chainmail, fur lining, and buttons to the jacket. Without these intricate touches, the character won’t feel authentic, and, from a general perspective, which would spoil the game.

As much as you want a fantasy warrior to be imposing, you want this to happen in a believable way.

Don’t Discount Fantasy Warrior Women

The final consideration that many people often overlook is the role of females in warrior-based games. Although there are many instances where the characters are either animal hybrids or some kind of genderless humanlike monster, there is a misconception that warriors are always men.

That’s simply not true. Although fantasy warrior females may not look as physically imposing as their male counterparts, that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective.

In technical terms, a fantasy warrior woman is known as a virago. This word comes from the Latin virago and means vigorous or man-like. In this regard, this is a certain connection to men but, crucially, this is a historical hangover.

Women Can Be Viragos

For example, famous viragos such as Joan of Arc were almost forced to dress and act in a masculine way in order to fit with the times. However, the world has changed since the 15th century.

Today, women can stand front and center in the own right and not play to male stereotypes. Therefore, when it comes to fantasy warrior art design and philosophy, this needs to be taken into consideration.

Firstly, women can be warriors. Secondly, they don’t have to look like men. They may wear similar garments and use the same weapons. However, there’s nothing in the rulebook that says they need to have male characteristics. From this, it’s possible to say that the warrior code is genderless. It’s a set of qualities that we associate with strength, valor, and honor.

The fantasy warrior ideal doesn’t need a gender, it simply needs to exemplify the image of a fighter. The image of someone who sits outside of the norm and will be the first one into battle. That’s how you create a fantasy warrior!