It's really refreshing to see a warrior woman drawn like an actual warrior. In so many "how to draw" books that focus on fantasy or superhero characters, they tell you to never draw veins on a woman or over define her musculature because she'll look to masculine and no longer be sexy (not that every female hero needs to be sexy, but that's a whole other can of worms). You have definitely proved them wrong. She looks incredibly strong but still looks very feminine. Her shoulder with, hip and torso ratios, and face and hairstyle all make her look definitely female, and the highly rendered muscles and veins don't detract from that at all. So well done!
I also really like the scar and tattoo details. Those are another thing often left off of female fantasy heroes. Scars make men sexy, but they just ruin the 'pretty' on women. Once again, you've shown how bullshit that is. You even put a scar right across her face. You gave her all the details of what a female warrior would actually look like, and she still looks alluring and attractive.
The lighting is very well done. I love how you backlit her legs creating shadow on the lower part of the picture. The whole thing is really balanced in terms of darkness and light. THe texture of the background is fantastic also. It almost looks like there's smoke or something she's standing in front of. Very cool.
My one critique is the pasties covering her nipples. Mostly because there's no way they'd be staying in place (assuming a fantasy/historic setting as the title implies). They didn't exactly have the kind of adhesives we do today. And even with some string or something, they'd fall out of place like that as she moved around. Everything else in this drawing is so realistic that the pasties just distract me. If you weren't going to go for a cloth top that covers the full breast area (so it'd stay on if she moved) I wish you'd had her completely topless rather than weird gravity-defying pasties.
I will try to write a fair and honest critique. I myself am not as advanced the level of technique that you display, but I will do my best to give constructive criticism and positive feedback. The final decision is of course your own^^.
I will first start by saying the things that you have done well and then I will move on to the areas that could either use improvement or for consideration of aesthetic changes. Since this is a commission, I can not know the full wants or needs of the individual so I will try to take that into consideration as well.
The lighting that you have created is this pieces most dynamic attribute. It is my belief that any changes should incorporate this lighting in order to take advantage of the pieces potential. The general and reflective light are enough to see the contours of the musculature without being too intense in a single area. For example, if you added a halo or a mandola to the figure, its bright aurora would be a focal point to the eye for the viewer to work his/her way down from on the piece.
In terms of areas of improvement, there are several. In my personal opinion, I share the belief of the previous critique in that the pasties have a tendency to distract the veiwer. I of course can not know if this a design request by your commission but it in my opinion that an alternative covering, such as leather or metal or cloth, would be more acceptable in the case that full frontal nudity was not an available option. If you are not opposed to it, I believe that nudity would be better. In terms of musculature, I believe that the sternocleidomastoid muscle needs to be more defined. The naval scar also needs to be raised slightly, to be within the cross section of the lower abdominals. I think that the beaded deformations on the waist are acceptable, but perhaps it would benefit the piece if a corresponding set of this deformation laced itself in an intricate pattern through the war paint/tattoos on the deltoid muscles, mirrored of course. Finally, I feel that the gaze of the individual could be more imposing. A slight addition of color, an overly bright highlight, or an aura would definately draw the viewer to the face as a center point.
Never stop improving and good luck with your future work!^^
I agree with the critique by dreaminpng -- it's hard to come across depictions of female warriors with realistic body types. At the same time, the ultra-realism that so quickly drew me in was marred by the pasties. They caught my eye very quickly -- I first noticed the wonderfully detailed musculature, veins, and those wicked knives she's holding, but right away I saw the pasties and the effect was marred slightly, though I did not know why until I read the critique.
I still love this piece, though. Added to favorites!