This is what history’s figures would look like today.
History’s greatest figures, such as Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci, are household names. Yet, these figures often seem like they came from a distant past full of people we can scarcely imagine. That is how graphic designer Becca Saladin felt several years ago.
Saladin, who has a strong interest in both history and art, decided to use Photoshop to bring historical figures to life for a series titled Royalty Now.
Saladin transforms each famous face into a modern representation of how that person might appear in the year 2021 by starting with contemporary (or close to) depictions.
2018 marked the beginning of Saladin’s modernization of images. The artist’s first project was a portrait of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England who famously lost her head. Stock images and Photoshop are used to morph each face and adjust each figure’s clothing.
With over 70 modernizations in the works, Saladin has honed her technical skills. “First I research to find out what the best hair colour, skin tone, and overall personality is,” she writes for My Modern Met. Based on this information, She will search online for a photo suitable as a base that I believe compliments the persona of this figure.
A stock photo I found for my recreation of Elizabeth I’s court was really high brow and regal. I usually combine bits of different photos using Photoshop to come up with the finished product. Eyes, noses, and mouths are often a medley of images!”
This process produces photo-realistic images that are strikingly similar to historical portraits. A modern-day hero is created in Toussaint Louverture (or L’Ouverture), the Haitian revolutionary general. Modernizations are not all of the heroes.
Elizabeth Bathory, the Countess of Bathory in 16th century Hungary, shows up as a modernized version of the medieval woman whom she once was. Even anonymous portraits have been painted on Fayum mummy boards, such as that of the young man. His soulful expression is as current as ever more than 2,000 years later.
Keep up to date with Saladin’s Royalty Now project by following her website and Instagram. Explore her YouTube channel to learn more about her process for creating such fascinating portraits.
CHEVALIER DE SAINT GEORGES
COUNTESS ELIZABETH BATHORY
GIRL WITH A PEAL EARRING BY JOHANNES VERMEER
QUEEN MARIE ANTOINETTE OF FRANCE
LEONARDO DA VINCI
KING SEJONG THE GREAT OF KOREA
KATHERINE HOWARD, DOOMED QUEEN OF ENGLAND
JOAN OF ARC
YORUBA RULER, BRONZE IFE HEAD
KING HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND
POLICARPA SALAVARRIETA, “LA POLA”
SULTAN SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT
KING RICHARD III OF ENGLAND/STRONG