Saoirse from Empires and Puzzles
Referred by @jesuswasbatman

This one is particularly interesting, because Saoirse does have many traits that we don’t often get to see in heroines.

  • Advanced age
  • Powerful stance
  • Evidence of experience (scars and muscles)

However, when juxtaposed with, Anzogh, the first male barbarian I could find, looking in the 5 star heroes, she also serves as a great example of how media tends to present female barbarians differently.

The key consideration on this work is why is the armor and why the specific placement and design of the armor? Why this design? Particularly if its a more complicated design than regular armor.

Anzogh has a ridiculous cow skull on his belt, and a strap across his chest, bone bracelets to emphasise how little he has – it conveys that his is powerful and needs none of the convenience of civilization (like armor). Sometimes these characters have massive pauldrons to give them a more menacing silhouette

Saoirse has armor on her arms, and bits of her legs, the gaps in her armor are not to show power or independence, but to showcase her body from tits to hips. It’s to assure you that despite these weapons, her age and being on the battlefield… she’s got it going on. Generally when characters like this get shoulder, hip or thigh armor it’s to accentuate their hips and frame their torso pleasingly.

This is, of course, completely redundant. She’s got it going on, she’s an experienced woman with immense power – that is a guaranteed recipe for unmitigated horniness from large portions of the audience. Her appeal comes not despite these things, but because of them. There is absolutely no need to give her a battle bikini with a flimsy loincloth.

In conclusion, she’s better than the average bikini armor babe, but still such a missed opportunity for a genuinely great design due to general trends of female armor design that lead to the prevalence of the bikini armor babes (and the shortage of truly empowered men).

A powerful topless barbarian woman she ain’t.

– wincenworks

Actual Barbarian Women (NSFW)

Seeing as how many “barbarian” ladies grace our blog, we thought we had a great opportunity to see the kinds of barbarian women we actually wanted to see; by drawing them ourselves! Here are our takes on 2 barbarian characters that appeared on BABD before: Belladonna and Arhian. It’s a shame we couldn’t redesign their names, honestly.


So the first thing that had to change was Bella’s boring, impassive face. I wanted her to be formidable, and I decided to play up the dramatic lighting that the cover artist tried to do, in a half-assed way. I removed her makeup and tried to make her look intimidating and experienced, overall, with the obligatory battle scars. I decided to play with the scars a bit, and so ended up giving her a slightly-disfiguring lip scar. Also, messy hair!


As for the rest of her, first thing was to get rid of her awful top. Her clothes in general seemed too manufactured-looking, so I ended up making her kilt into a more ripped and imperfect-looking garment.

I then gave her more muscle and an overall larger frame, and changed the way she was holding the axe, because her original hold on it looks like a nail polish ad pose. The thing doesn’t even look like it’s heavy in the original! Now it has blood on it, too, which was to add to the intimidation factor.


Her face in the background was like a 2-min afterthought I did at the very end cause it looked so goddamn boring. Overall, I’m very happy with the changes I did to her face and attire, though my rendering wasn’t as good as I wish it were now. I should have given her some body scars, too, but at least she has more stage presence on her own cover than none at all.



I decided to leave most of her skimpy costume as is, just getting rid of the physically impossible bra – Barbarians either go topless or wear something comfortable, not… this thing!

Her platinum, almost white hair inspired me to turn Arhian into a significantly older character. And in the Barbarian warrior’s life, with age come scars. Lots and lots of scars. Most prominent one is the big burn scar tissue on her left breast, which I referenced from real life. Perhaps a “gift” from a dragon?


Then there’s the giant stitch scar above her breasts and some cuts here and there, especially her face. Speaking of which, I made it my priority to give her unique facial features instead of the generic conventionally beautiful supermodel mug. 


It’s by far my most satisfying face redo. I drastically changed the shape to be more squat and angular, with strong jawline. He original nose was a disproportionately small vestigial organ, so I have her a schnooze she can breathe through, and also made it broken, to match the scarred aesthetic. Then completed the look by getting rid of her makeup, undoing the obviously tweezed eyebrows, adding wrinkles and scars. I also changed her expression from vacant, vaguely “sultry” stare into a scowl of a veteran warrior. 

As for her body, I just made it visibly more muscular, with prominent abs and thigh muscles. Her breasts are bigger in my version, as I wanted to present what time and gravity (and some scorching burns) actually do to the breast tissue. Nipples not only do exist, but they tend to point downwards the bigger the breast is! Also, boob stretch marks are a thing! Who knew? 

All in all, I’m quite proud of that redesign. Hope you guys like it too!


So, I have been having this discussion in my fandom, and people defend the bikini armour as being “historical accurate” since some cultures “went naked into battle”. How true is this, actually?


It is certainly true some people went naked or near naked into battle, but not alongside warriors in proper armor and not in battle bikinis. There are some other important factors involved in their choice to do so.  Firstly it usually only in cases where they didn’t have access to armor and/or the battles were largely ceremonial or otherwise non-lethal. 

Armor is developed in response to weapons and usually the first forms of defense were shields.  So if you had no nudity taboo and hadn’t developed armor due to lack of resources or lack of regular conflict, you didn’t really have much choice in the matter.  Particularly since your weapons are usually tools that are made for hunting or other work.

In areas where this happened, usually the battles were no war in the sense of systematic killing of the enemy but more demonstrations of strength to intimidate others – usually over a piece of farm land or livestock.  It was used to resolve grievances and sometimes even as a regular sport.

Usually this happened where people needed everyone to work together in order to provide essential, which means you also don’t need any more land than you already control and work every day.  When you have an argument with your neighbours, you settle it to both sides satisfaction so you can resume living next to one another.

The ability to make sophisticated items like bikini armor (which is surprisingly complicated) comes from civilizations where they have sufficient surplus of resources and people they can have specialists who can trade goods and ideas. By the time you reach this level you also a real incentive to try to obtain more and more land.

At that point civilizations can start developing dedicated weapons, training dedicated soldiers (to expand your nation or defend against invaders) and their battles start to involve countless fatalities. Then it becomes worthwhile to begin the cycle of making armor to protect against the enemies weapons, and weapons to beat your enemies armor.

TL;DR: If you’re in a society that has warriors and the know-how and resources to make bikini armor, you’re in a society where your warriors wear actual armor.  There were civilizations that fought nude or near nude, but they didn’t have bikini armor, fancy swords, professional warriors or sophisticated combat techniques.

– wincenworks

Time to bring this back, as the subject of nudity and near-nudity in battle came up in a disappointing video about Barbarians and their lack of armor that was recommended to us. 

So, just to reiterate: going near naked into battle =/= going into battle in a metal/leather/fur equivalent to lingerie, therefore the fact that some real life warriors, in specific circumstances, fought naked is not a historical precedent for bikini armor. Same rules apply also to gladiators

Our advice for designers who want to convey a primitive warrior culture that either just doesn’t believe in armor or uses it just partially is, predictably, amazingly: avoid double standards.

  • Do not assume that a shirtless dude is equally sexualized as a lady in bikini top, because male muscles are sexy, but female nipples are a no-no
  • Question how and why a “primitive”, yet pragmatic culture would develop such a sophisticated and impractical, melee-inappropriate garment as a battle bikini in the first place. Should they even have a nudity/nipple taboo and if so, why wouldn’t they just throw a simple shirt or sarashi-style wrap on women’s boobs?
  • If you actually believe in heroic nudity and aren’t limited by “family-friendly” commercial standards, ask yourself: which of those ladies convey the idea of a berserking, unstoppable badass who needs no armor and which ones of a fancy lingerie model:

Amazing topless barbarian lady artwork by @partsal​ [x], @yondamoegi​ [x] and @yanavaseva​ [x]


Just as fully clothed women can be depicted sexily, so can scantily-clad women be depicted as powerful and not sexual. It’s not just about how much skin is showing.