Patreon Launch!

Hey guys!

WOW, I launched a Patreon! I honestly didn't see this coming.

In the first week, I've gained 7 supporters to help me create and make my dream project, "Eislyn", a possibility. I'm so thankful that there are people who wish to see the personal things I'm working on.

Check out the list of my supporters here!

For those who don't yet know, "Eislyn" is a dark fantasy story that circulates around the tale of one woman and the tragedies that she endures. The story is told through the perspective of various characters in a series of short stories (all with a beginning, middle, and end) that ultimately tell her tale. It's a project that I've been wanting to work on for years, but always felt stunted by my inability to accept my skill level in art or my writing abilities.

After taking the Painting Drama course at The Oatley Academy (highly recommended, by the way), I gained a community of supportive artists as well as the knowledge, tools, and confidence to pursue my dreams.

Here is the quick trailer that I put together for the Patreon page:

 
 

I'm very excited to start putting the time in to make this project a reality!

Please check out my Patreon page and consider pledging as low as $1/month - every little bit helps. You'll be able to see the behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create Eislyn, and receive various insights such as my thought process, timelapse videos, step-by-step guides, livestreams, and more!

You'll also have lifetime access to the Eislyn stories in EPUB or PDF downloadable files and audio narrations!

 
 

Lastly, here is a link to the Eislyn website where you can sign up for updates, read the free available stories, and listen to audio narrations.

aliphelps.com/eislyn

The Saint & The Seraph

The Saint & The Seraph
 
Gently, firmly, his hands curled around her trembling figure. Her heart fluttered in the semblance of a dozen frightened birds, and however tightly he held, it failed to ease the aching desire she had to collapse at the closeness - and the reality - of him. 

“My little seraph,” he crooned, and her eyes broke to shed water upon her cheeks. “how 
tremulous you are.”

“It’s you,” she managed, her voice timorous and uncertain.

“It’s me,” he answered, pressing long fingers into her face and along the delicate coils of dark hair. The bow of his lips dipped to tease along her temple, and paused there to whisper into the ticked ear that mirrored his own. His words, though his breath was hot against her cool skin, chilled her until she shivered in the cage of his arms. “Your father."
 

_______.:|:._______ 

This illustration was created for my personal story, Eislyn. The story tells the tragic tale of Eislyn (formerly named Eiko), who was a character that I roleplayed many years ago (between the ages of 13-21).

 In the image, she comes face-to-face with her father, who previously had been nothing but a ghost of shadow that haunted and frightened her.  It was inspired by a drawing I did when I was 16 of the same two characters.


I tried to stay true to the original, but decided to change the color of the outfit from blue to red because I felt it looked better. I also wanted to bring her closer in to have the feeling like she's caged in her father's arms, and the wings aren't there to protect her, but rather, to claim her.

In the original image, she also looks more afraid than in the new rendition. At first, I played with giving her a similar expression, but storywise, I like it better to have her oblivious to any danger. She's tentative and wary, but also drawn in.
 
Process GIF


Dragon Lancer


I did it! I finally finished this illustration! 


For fun, I put together a .gif of my painting process :)



It's taken me about a month on and off (This month has been pretty busy with client work), and was a real challenging piece for me. This year, I've realized how important it is for me to find elements that I struggle with and apply them to current and future paintings. In this one, I wanted to focus on storytelling, lighting, composition, and perspective. 


 

You can see in this initial sketch, I really liked the idea of a woman warrior looking down at a dragon who is climbing up a cliff or castle ruins. I initially wanted it to be castle ruins built into a mountain side, but even after looking at a lot of reference photos, I found it very difficult to get the perspective right. 



My dragon, in the beginning, was meant to be much more like a lizard rather than a typical high-fantasy dragon. I wanted it to look a bit cute and curious, peeking upwards to see the commotion that this woman was causing. As I started working on it, I figured that the idea wasn't going to be communicated clearly to my audience.  


I almost nearly scrapped the painting at this point. I was so frustrated with my lack of ability in drawing dragons, perspective, rocky cliffs, etc, that I wanted to just give up and work on something I felt more comfortable with. However, my boyfriend saw some potential and somehow convinced me to keep trying with it. That weekend, I put on some favorite music and just splattered some color and changes to the painting without following any perspective rules or guidelines.

Suddenly, I felt an emotional connection to the piece that wasn't there before. I felt like I had something a little more dynamic to work with. The story at this point developed, which changed the curious dragon to a more threatening one, who is dangling/climbing up the rocky cliff to snarl at the Lancer, all-the-while protecting a small nest of eggs hidden behind a waterfall. 


I didn't know whether or not I wanted the dragon to have wings. On one hand, I liked the idea of not having wings because it kept with my original vision of a more lizard-like dragon... while the thought of having wings felt like it would make it visually more clear that it was a dragon. I consulted with my boyfriend who agreed that yes... yes, I should definitely have wings. 

The next steps were trying to figure out how to fit those darn wings into the painting. NOTHING I did looked good. My dragon anatomy is so inept and unforgiving that even through doing some studies (that I, to be honest, didn't spend much time on), I couldn't get them to flow right with the composition or look accurate. 

Here is one of the attempts I made (there were too many to count). In the end, I really liked this pose, but decided not to go with it because of how unbalanced it made me feel in the composition. I loved how the wings were dynamic and pointing towards the character, but it made the left side of the painting feel very heavy and a bit... like it was too much. I also didn't like the wings covering up so much of the arms and legs of the dragon.


I still don't feel that I picked the best solution for the wings, but I felt that I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out and that I just needed to pick something and move on from it. After all, I didn't really expect to be able to paint a perfect dragon my very first time. There will be other opportunities!

The Seer


 I've been wanting to update my portfolio website with new character art that reflects my current skills (most of the stuff I have right now a couple of years old). My goal is to challenge myself with each new character; I would really like to make sure that I attempt to paint something that I've either struggled with in the past, or have never attempted at all. I also want to try and do something inventive with each one. I have a lot of strange and bizarre dreams, but I often don't incorporate them into my paintings. I think if there was at least 1 unique thing about a character design, it would help pull them out of general stereotypes or designs that have been overdone. 

With this Seer, I wanted to take an angelic-being concept that I have done in the past and create another ranking. The first one I did a few years ago was in a painting called "Summoning Dusk", where the Seer is basically on field duty and transforming day into night. The second concepts I created were of a higher ranking - Seraphs. Instead of 1 pair of wings, they had 6, and wore decorative head pieces that covered their eyes so that they may focus their mental abilities to predict & change time and fate. 

This current Seer is a leader. I knew I didn't want her to have wings because she is meant to stay stationed and Sees through 3 faces (the 3rd isn't depicted in the image). She has the ability to conjure planets and galaxies to determine the fate of all through time and space. 

You can see the 3 versions in this image:


1 ) For the creation of the Seer, I started with some pretty rough thumbnail sketches. I tried several poses (which I didn't save), but settled on this one because there was something I liked about the pose and the flow of her dress.


2 ) I chose the dress design that I thought fit best. I really grew attached to the three cloth pieces covering her chest; I thought it reflected the 3 faces that she has (although I am now wishing I had painted a third). 

3 ) I began rendering out the sketch in black & white, making sure I had a good idea of my value's before pursuing color.

4 ) The finished version. There was some steps in between that I saved which I may post later. I tend to feel exhausted after finishing any painting, and digging through steps to put them altogether often comes at a later time. :)



The Storyteller



Wow!

This entry was really postponed for a while. I had meant to sit down and take the time to put it all together about a week after finishing my latest artwork, "The Storyteller." However, I think it burned me out because I spent months on this painting (on and off) - which is not something I'm particularly proud of admitting! I would go through days of loving it, taking a few days off, and coming back and redoing everything. I was never satisfied with the direction it was going.

I struggled a lot with it.

The main issues I had were 1) Perspective, 2) Lots of characters, and 3) Texture. Lighting was also a very important factor that I wanted to get right, but I didn't seem to have as hard of a time with it as the other three. Working on this taught me a lot of the things that I need to personally work on. Looking at it now from a critical standpoint, I wish I had chosen a more dynamic perspective with maybe the Storyteller looming above the horizon line and the audience scattered around. 

I'm still very happy with how it turned out! 

I've never challenged myself to this extent before, and I knew that I wasn't going to give up on it without a long and frustrating battle. It was too important because I wanted it to be the introductory illustration to a personal story that I'm writing. 


All that being said, I would very much love to share the process it took to get to the finished piece.

 My original sketch. I knew I wanted a circular fountain, some sort of town square or courtyard, a bunch of onlookers (mainly children), and the lute.

 I started putting in some values to understand my composition a bit better.
 I wanted it to feel cheerful and inviting.

 My first attempt with color. You'll notice that I changed the steeple in the background to something resembling a castle. I also tried to control the composition a bit by adding the building on the right, hoping that the angle would draw your eye inwards. Yeah, I need to improve at storytelling with composition. (cringe)

 
 Still trying to figure out the background and the colors.

 After several unsatisfied attempts at the background, I finally settled on these colors and this layout. I felt that it looked bright and soft, which is the look I was aiming for.

 While trying to render the buildings in the background, I became increasingly frustrated with the perspective. Something was just not right. Sighing to myself, I opened a free 3D program and used the little modeling knowledge I had to craft together a proper fountain and a background town. I would use this as the base for my illustration.

 Starting to paint over the models and figuring out the look and expression of the characters. I tried to diversify them a bit - keeping them in the realm of fantasy.

 There were many hours spent rendering and listening to music at this point.

 Playing with lighting!

This was the last step before the final. Everything was pretty much how I wanted it. The only thing missing from this were some more tweaks to the lighting and adding in subtle texture.


Phew. Thanks for sticking with this! 
Lastly, I've included a couple of closeups of the key characters.




Marriage Equality - finished painting

An update from yesterday. I felt that this painting deserved a little more attention and so I took the time to clean it up and add color!


--:|:--

“Look at us, now. You’re no longer my secret."
“No, and I am finally free to love you.”  

Marriage Equality

What amazing news that I woke up to this morning. My social media feed was just full of rainbows and love, thus inspiring me to create a piece of art in tribute to how happy I feel!

I would love to clean it up a bit when I have the time, but for now, here's a sketch. :D


A sketch to help unwind from work. Practicing with some skin tones because I don't do darker skin very often.


I Will Never Reach You



The only thing I will say about this painting is that you should never, ever hold back from the things that you want because the opportunity is often only there for a short while and you never know just exactly when it’s going to disappear. Most people won't get a second chance.


My Secret (painting)

"My Secret." This started out as a sketch and ended as a 2night painting. I've been studying shoulder/arm anatomy the past couple of weeks and put it to the test by seeing how far I could get without references. So, there are plenty of mistakes that I see, but I still liked how it came out and decided to post it. :)


Shoulder-ish Studies

I was studying the neck, collar, and shoulder area today, but unfortunately so many of my practice sketches turned out awful. I'm too ashamed to show them publicly. :) Perhaps, eventually! For now, here are three of the sketches that turned out decent, as well as a portrait and side study.

By the way, I love doing my studies in black&white because it's much easier to just focus on the shape and form. Anatomy is easier to learn when I don't have to worry about color. 


Portrait Studies

I have been overwhelmed with work and projects and tasks that need to be done! Painting faces always makes me feel better, so I took some time tonight to do a couple. :)


Doodles and a study

I did a quick study and then just doodled some crazy.. face thing. I'm not sure where it came from, but I'm somewhat attached to it now. :)


More weekend studies - female back

Today was a rather unproductive day, I must admit. I spent a great deal of time writing up some application essays for the Motivarti mentorship program. It's exhausting, but completely worth the effort. That being said, I did get in about 2 hours of studying in my sketchbook, and then another 2 hours digital painting. The bottom left image and top sketch were done from reference, where the bottom right was me trying to test what I had just learned. I find it helps to do pieces from my imagination right after a study so that I can get the confidence to paint it on my own in the future.


Arm Studies

Did a lot of studying today! I realized that my arm anatomy knowledge is next to nothing, even when looking at references. So, I spent a good deal of time pawing through some Michael Hampton books, doing some gestures, some constructive figure drawing, and then some photo studies. I'm not too entirely pleased with the outcome, but it allows me to face my problems head on and work through them. I'll be doing some more tomorrow and  hope to see an improvement. 

Here are a few of the sketches and studies I did. The bottom two were done from memory/imagination. The arms a bit wonky and the muscles are undefined, but I feel like it's better than I've been able to do on my own in the past.