Dark Lord of the Sith

This is a digital painting of Ian McDiarmid playing Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars. Although he’s a villain, he’s still one of my favourite characters, thanks to Ian’s superb acting work. Below are some stills from Star Wars “The Phantom Menace” (Image credit LucasFilm Ltd.)

My main reference for this painting was the top left photo (above).

I began with a drawing.

This was not made to be a proper drawing so much as a map for the painting which is why it looks a little bit funky.

Then I began to paint! At first I just scrubbed in some basic colours and tones to get the feeling for the main structure of his face and clothes.

Removing the map leaves us with this very rough sketch.

Then I began to refine the painting a bit at a time. I really enjoy this process as the details begin to appear. First I cleaned up the beautiful costume he’s wearing and then pulled together my very rough and ready rendering of Ian’s face.

Once I had things basically in the right place I worked on the details of his hair and facial features.

Finally I added a background and gave it some texture and tonal variation. This is the way I’m starting to move away from my autistic need to see each painting subject alone and seperate in a blank field.

My only job then was to pull the image into Photoshop and adjust my values. Here is my final painting.

He’s such a great character!

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the Prequal Trilogy as Chancellor Palpatine is confronted by the Jedi Masters lead by Mace Windu…

Mace Windu: In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor.
Chancellor Palpatine: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?
Mace Windu: The Senate will decide your fate.
Chancellor Palpatine: I am the Senate!

(Clip courtersy of qpsizzle’s You Tube Channel / Film Credit Lucasfilm Ltd.)

12 thoughts on “Dark Lord of the Sith

  1. My friend Hannah is going to be SO happy you recommended this! She’s been telling me for years to read ‘Darth Plagueis.’ I did pick the book up but I’ve yet to actually read it. It always seems life intervenes or I forget about it when I go to start a new book. However, your recommendation may be a sign that I need to make a conscious effort to check it out again. And I AM on spring break right now so it’s kinda the perfect time to start a new book…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks! It’s true, Palpatine really underestimated the mettle of Padme as Queen. He thought he could control her easily.

    Have you ever read “Darth Plagueis” by James Luceno? It is SO good – really gripping but also very very interesting in terms of looking at the psychology of entitled people who care only about themselves and their plans. It’s about Palpatine’s former master but from about 1/4 of the way in, it’s also about Palpatine in his younger days. It brings so much depth to the character – you really see some of those “endless layers”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree! Palpatine is one of the most fascinating characters in all of Star Wars. One of my favorite moments in all the films is when Padme decides to go back to Naboo in TPM. I love it because it surprises Palpatine and NOTHING ever shakes or surprises him! I think this character has endless layers to explore and deconstruct. And I think you’ve captured him brilliantly!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many thanks! I really appreicate your feedback. I know what you mean – I love the feeling of working with real materials, the smell of the paint anf the feel of real brushes. Digital painting feels sterile compared. I tend to go digital when real art isn’t possible due to my health constaints.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just so you know, I could never do something like this. I need real paint. And I admire your proficiency in the digital world! The lighting and the colors are fabulous in this “painting”!

    Liked by 1 person

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