Digital Depictions Of Remarkable Women

A Modern Makeover For Women Of The Past

With International Women’s Day behind us, we felt this was the opportune moment to keep shining the spotlight on women who have done, and are doing, amazing things. Maria Tiurina, an illustrator and digital artist, is not only an inspiring woman herself but recently completed a character design project, ‘Remarkable Women’ featuring 16 women who have helped shape the world.

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From suffragette, Emily Davison, to Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, the first woman in space, the illustrated series breathes character and colour into women past and present. The project, commissioned by, is full of humour: Maria manages to reverently portray the larger-than-life women while simultaneously giving them a human dimension. The characters are not imposing or un-relatable, they are light and visually pleasing, and the designs thoughtful – each coalescing light and shadow to give a 3D appearance.

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Maria uses props and expressions to help tell the story behind the famous faces, hinting at their contribution to society- teasing us into our own research – an important role in ensuring these pioneering women and their stories do not fade into oblivion. This series is both empowering and engaging: prompting us all to reflect on women past and artistic possibilities present.

We spoke to the digital artist herself to get her thoughts on the project.

The Plus: What do you feel you learnt while doing the project?
Maria Tiurina:
I haven’t done artwork with a focus on strong female figures before so it was great to learn about some of these characters – I had only heard about a few before starting.
In that sense the project has been very inspiring.

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TP: Who was your favourite female character to draw and why?
I enjoyed creating all of the characters, although my favourites were probably Amelia Earhart and Sheryl Sandberg. Somehow I enjoyed creating those little compositions that included objects and not just characters.

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TP: Did you help choose the women who were going to be featured? If not, who would you have included?
I was given a list to illustrate, and the selection was very decent. Although I had a feeling that Frida Kahlo would fit the list perfectly!

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TP: What was the creative process for you?
The process started with doing the research and looking at a lot of photographic references as the goal was to create cartoony characters that would still resemble the real women they’re based on. Then I would submit pencil sketches to the client and after those were approved I moved onto digital painting. Each illustration would take a day or two to create.

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TP: How did this project differ from your other work?
I have been doing quite a lot of heavily-detailed compositions and backgrounds recently, so working on a project that needed some fun and light character design was pure joy. It reminded me that creating characters is one of my favourite parts of the job.

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