As the daughter of two teachers, graphic designer Becca Saladin has always loved history. Now, she’s combined her talents in graphic design with her thirst for learning to create Royalty Now. This fascinating Instagram account shows off her skills in transforming famous figures throughout history into modern characters you’d see walking the streets today. From Julius Caesar and Cleopatra to Queen Elizabeth I and Prince Albert, these historical greats get new life thanks to Saladin’s work.
Saladin’s adventure with history started a year ago. On a day when she had some free time, she decided to see what her favorite historical figure, Anne Boleyn, would look like with modern hair and makeup. “I put her in a modern outfit, painted on her eyelashes, eyebrows, and makeup, and was excited by what I saw,” Saladin tells My Modern Met. “She became much more relatable to me after that creation. After that, I started doing more of my favorite figures, and started the Instagram as a way to share my work with fellow history lovers.”
Each portrait takes quite a bit of research, with Saladin focusing in particular on the eyes, skin, and hair. While she does her best to find as much information as possible about each person, sometimes it’s just not possible. For instance, Cleopatra, while one of the most requested characters for Saladin to work on, was very difficult to create because historians know very little about her appearance. In cases like these, Saladin is forced to make creative choices.
So how does she work her magic? When working on Egyptian and ancient Roman busts, the portrait is built up piece by piece. “The way I reconstruct the portrait busts is by using bits of other images—noses, eyes, lips, etc. from other sources and manipulating them so they fit together and so that they fit the subject,” she reveals. “Many times I’m digitally painting in details like eyeshadow, eyelashes, eyebrows, wrinkles, and skin color. It takes a long time to get it all to look like it makes sense.”
In the end, all the work is worth it to make history come alive and these great historical figures more relatable. Looking at her work, we truly understand why Nefertiti was known as a great beauty. And in examining the beautiful royal trio of King Louis XV and his two mistresses—Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry—we can see why they were the talk of Europe in their day. Other updates result in portraits that bear a resemblance to famous celebrities of today. For instance, Napoleon looks a bit like Quentin Tarantino and the ancient Roman Emperor Augustus could be Jude Law’s younger cousin.
Take a stroll through history to see more incredible contemporary transformations by Becca Saladin and follow her on Royalty Now to see who she’ll reimagine next.
Becca Saladin spends hours modernizing historical figures through expert digital manipulation.
Queen Elizabeth I
Madame De Pompadour
Madame du Barry
From Julius Caeser to Anne Boleyn, she works across history make these characters relatable.
Agrippina the Younger
Alexander the Great
“I’m happy my images make history come alive for people. It’s really rewarding.”
Queen Mary I
Eleanor of Toledo
Royalty Now: Instagram