Just as the tile describes, this drawing was made from a lot of correspondences that i have received since end of January, regarding the portrayal of Women Warriors both in Fantasy and History. In this drawing, I want to compare the Heavy Plate Armor that was used in the historical setting (left), and a rather Dreaded armor (right) that shares the characteristics of those worn by dread/evil characters.
Now, before I start with the discussion, i would like to point that the aim of this drawing is to increase the awareness of why each of the Armors are represented as such according to my opinion (I'm no expert!). As for the actual representation in my drawing, they are all full of artistic license and stylized art, so the historical accuracy may not be the most well represented
As you may notice, It's rather hard to differentiate weather these are women or men in armor. I made it less obvious, because, in theory, Heavy Plate Armor are designed in such away that it avoids body curve, like "boob-plates", which is another discussion in itself. Besides, unless the setting of the story demands that there are specific armors for each specific gender/race, there's practically no difference in what men or women wear for protection, it's just simply a matter of their availability and whether or not one can afford to buy it (at least in a historical sense). Also, wearing helmet is VERY IMPORTANT, as it protects the most vulnerable part of the body, the head. Anyone running around in the middle of a battle without a helmet, no matter how graceful they may look, is clearly asking for suicide, .
Let us start with the character on the left, the evil lady wearing the dreaded armor. How can one portray an evil character through the armor they wear? Well, it's pretty simple. All you need to do is add more spikes, make some really decorative evil design, and if possible, includes protruding skulls/demons/animal decoration on the armor, whether it's on the pauldron, breast-plate or gauntlet. Also, make sure the helmet has horns, or limited eye-slit to give that eerie feeling. Don't forget to include big sword/blade with menacing teeth.
Sounds good? Yeap, she doesn't wear boob-plates, she is fully protected, heavily armored from head-to-toe, and it would seemed that no weapon could harm her. If this was a fantasy setting fill of magic and powerful characters cutting mountains like slicing butter on breakfast, then such an armor could be considered to offer "the most protection" with additional perks, depending on the use.
What about in real life? It would probably one of the least practical in real life. If you notice, the armor is full of protruding decorations and also spikes, along with this rib-like feature on the breastplate. First of all, spikes are pretty dangerous to the user and his/her allies as much as to the enemies. Close quarter combat, especially in the the middle of battle involving numerous men slaughtering each other, you are more likely to bump on your allies than your enemies, which would harm them, if not kill them outright. On the other hand, the decorations serves little to no practical purpose, other than to impose the dreaded figure, which may give a terror effect to the opponent. But we all know, a highly decorated armor would cost an enormous fortune, wearing them into battle would be a waste given that maintaining them and repairing them are both equally expensive and hard.
If you think that's bad, think again. The presence of those spikes and decorations can prevent any incoming attack from deflecting. The best thing about plate armor is that, it can deflect any incoming thrust or slash, which minimizes the damage produced the force (which can be further minimize with proper padding). The spikes and the decoration can easily capture the incoming strike (preventing the the blade/arrow from sliding), which, of course, will do little to the plate armor, but can cause blunt damage to the user. Try filling a tin can with water and hit the side with something to make the water ripples. the harder you hit, the stronger the ripple. Now, imagine that water to be the insides of your body and that tin can is your plate armor.....That should give a good reason why you want to deflect any incoming attack.
So, what about the first armor that looks plain in comparison the dread armor? well, it's a design inspired by the Gothic Plate Armor that was produced somewhere in the 15th century. It offered the best protection in its time and was in fact, considered to be one of the state-of-the-art protection. (except against gunpowder weapon and arrow/crossbow shot at close range). It's highly articulated to offer maximum flexibility and the design is made in such away that the weight is equally distributed. But, then again, it's pretty plain compared to the dreaded armor next to it. There's other plate armors that could match the decoration (without the spike) like the Maximilian armour during the renaissance (third quarter armor?), or the 16th-17th century cuirassier armor....
Regardless of what our opinion on the two armors may be, when it comes to art, it is entirely up to the artist imagination, and because art is always subjective, it is always better to enjoy them rather than argue over it
It's pretty hard to define Good, Plain or Evil Armor. It's just a matter of how you obtained them in my opinion. If you play any game that involves your character fighting in armor, You can always ask yourself this question, "How many lives have you killed to get the armor that your character wears?"
You can check more on my other study involving Women Warriors as depicted in various media:
Horny Viking vs Historical Viking