Best Beach Sera

Another one of those nights. Sketched something the other day that I finally felt like adding a splash of color and detailing on. Every time I try to do some o’ these quick ones they always drag out to be an 8 hour project. Le Sigh.

Anyhoo! I’ve been enjoying skins so much, I’ve kind of been stuck doing character renditions. This one is homage to my guild, since I’ve been a beach for who knows how long. Celestial Fairy was a nod to Reaper Wings milestone when I was at like point 73 or 74, Best Beach Sera is close enough to guild level 200.

Without further ado, I present one of my, yet again, 8AM morning long drawings.

Best Beach Sera Skin

Subject on White

Best Beach Sera Skin_greenScreen

Subject on Aqua

Nothin’ special, just a fun splash drawing. My style is developing more and more into this clean-cut outline with a soft, pastelly color palette. I love experimenting but I also fall back hard to this whenever I draw anything ethereal n’ celestial (mostly with the colors / mood). I had thought about turning this one into a full blown composition with a beach background, but I opted not to since the skin collection will just be frontal views, nothing too exciting just fashionable and cute.

I really had a lot of fun coloring the hair! It was my first time I decided to go with a more vivid base, and I ended up really liking mixing this light orange, golden yellow, and a hint of rose to really make the strawberry blonde pop. Totally complements what I was trying to work on for the skin to be a lighter tone with the same rose blush. Comparatively, to the Celestial Fairy Skin (here I’ll throw it down below again for reference), I think I also spent a bit more time fleshing out the toes to be more accurately drawn than CF’s neat and symmetric style. Really proud of that!

Celestial Fairy Skin

Celestial Fairy Skin Reference

I actually just fixed her (her side) right side arm holding the ice cream bar last minute because I knew something was wrong once I took a look at her left arm and realized one was longer than the other. Since it was such a late fix I couldn’t really change it too much without really going in surgically and redoing a lot of stuff. I did like how the hair turned out underneath where the previous arm used to be. Hahaha, I’m an art doctor!

If I could change anything, I’d probably wish I gave her a little more roundness to the hips. I think this is sort of the “Asian” ideal body type but I’m more used to a little more proportion there.

I’m very happy about the fashion statements here. I had a genius moment when I realized I could use the lantern archon as a beach ball replacement. And the winged top bikini, while probably not very practical for real swim-wear, totally goes along some of Sera’s motifs (red crystal is a reference to the Glowing Circlet, wings represent Favored Soul symbol).

I do sort of wish I could have colored the archon ball a bit better, but I experimented with it and gave it a new look. Made it seem more spherical than transparent and hollow. Maybe it fits with the look, maybe it looks too much like a beach ball and loses it’s archon flavor? Hopefully a good blend between the two.

Also really enjoyed the new circlet flavor. Celestial Fairy uses the same minimalist design of the circlet, so I borrowed that but wanted to change it’s position up a little. So I thought of sunglasses and wondered if I could incorporate that in there somehow, but I figured that would be too hard (this was also thought about after I finished the hair…). Instead, I tilted the circlet, and added yellow sparkles to represent the glowing part. Hair also shines alongside the circlet, and it still has the iconic central white glow to it.

Best Beach Sera feels cleaner than Celestial Fairy, but it’s also much simpler. Not sure which I prefer better. But this probably took just as much time as Celestial Fairy, funny enough. I think I need to up my game a little, but I also need to be 100% prepared and motivated to be doing more detailed pieces. I kind of drew this as a halfway sketch, and then pushed myself to color it. Speaking of sketches, the next one is likely this Mafia Skin I had in mind, but not a full body pose this time. Not sure if I want to make them all full bodied, would be better for consistency though.

Mafia Skin

Mafia Boss Sketch

I’ve been getting quite lazy and just sketching in the program itself rather than sketching by hand. I think this is worse because I don’t have as good of an artistic dexterity (surprise surprise) when I’m drawing on the tablet versus drawing with a pen on paper. I actually normally sketch my drawings first, then work on it digitally. In fact, fairy was drawn on paper, and beach was drawn digitally. There’s a huuuuge difference in detail, haha.

I do like this sort of messy sketchy look. I really want to do a full on splash n’ sketch drawing where I just don’t care about the colors filling in neatly, or the lines being janky. Something more liberating as an artist to do a very quick and messy piece. For example, earlier iterations of my works will be more like this:

Best Beach Sera Skin_1

First Iteration of Best Beach Skin

Not as pretty, but it’s so fast and fun. Clean up the lines just a little bit more to fill in the lines properly, and make the outlines more sketchier, kind of just adds to the whole aesthetic. I’ll probably do one if I’m super lazy and will allow myself to finalize a piece like this, or if it’s appropriate to the piece’s theme (trash can skin? lol). I do these block ins so to speak for color so that I can visually see how I want things to realize into the piece.

All in all, very fun exercise, I’d really like to do more impressive stuff. I keep getting inspired by all these artists on some of these songs I’m listening to, with the cover / wallpapers used. Sometimes, I wished I art as hard as I DDO, but often the two are mutually exclusive. 😛

Time Capsule: Memories of Stained Glass

4AM has me writing from a Time Capsule, from me to you. Enjoy.

Growing up, my circle of friends were mostly Indians. I had a best friend from the 3rd grade to the 6th, and when I had my fall out with her, I joined my circle of Indians. They were warm, smart, and everything I aspired to be, and there were many of them. It was an easy decision. Give up one toy, and get 10. When my own mother pushed me to make that decision, I felt a little less bad about it.

But it wasn’t necessarily a wrong decision either. I grew up with wonderful people. Sure, maybe Taniya played a cruel prank on me, when she got our P.E. gang to all give me the silent treatment for half a year. I was so distraught, and Munirah would be the “spy”, talking with me when they weren’t around and I had felt so torn when she’d run back alongside them. Then at the end of the year, they would say that it was all just a prank. It was such torment that I instantly forgave them all, and moved on.

But that was close to around the time I told them what was going on in my life. Asians can be cruel and heartless, you know. They must have judged me silently, and wanted to have nothing to do with me until it was the end of the year, and heartrendingly, understandably so. Shortly after, Taniya never associated with me again as she went into sports, but I still hung out with Sabrina. Munirah left to a prestigious special school that would allow her to graduate faster than the average student. I started becoming closer with my other group of friends; Rachana, Nishi, and soon I’d meet Alekhya and Harshini, both whom lived at the same apartment complex as I did.

They kinda saved me. I think I had thrown away my warmth in friendships when I threw away Ilse. I knew I would never match them intellectually, no matter how hard I’d try, or want to try. Beyond that, I was slipping from family home life. No more dad, and soon to be a half absent mom, I slept and slept. But it was Harshini and Alekhya who would call me every morning to make sure I wouldn’t be any more late than I already was, receiving a truancy notice, and it was Alekhya’s mom who noticed I wasn’t eating anything for breakfast, and so she’d make me a crispy toast with Nutella every morning. It was my friends who accompanied me, validated me, and laughed with me, so naturally and seamlessly that I was not nearly as thankful as I am today for them.

Perhaps they too knew what had happened. Perhaps God was giving me something in exchange for my nothing. I wondered if word had spread, but instead of them maliciously gossiping, they became the better people in my life to better me too. I love them from the bottom of my heart, as they were the ones who taught me by example to love and cherish others. They taught me friendship, even though during those days the world the was gray to me. I wouldn’t have cared if they even left me behind, as it was already something I was used to for half a year.

Why did they want to be my friends so badly? I remember thinking that. I was selfish and cold. I just didn’t understand why they treated me so well. And sadly, as the division of AP and IB separated us, I no longer got to hang out with them anymore. But they still reside in my heart with warmth. Even to this day, I still get a yearly birthday e-card from Rachana, and Nishi always greets me with a radiant smile. They still text me, check up on me, every once in a while, even if it’s not all the time. And that works, I’m the kind of person who hates constant interaction for some reason. I need alone time, as that’s what I’ve been used to and need for recharging, but I can also be afraid of the lonely space. High school was 10 times less lonelier with my Indian friends.

So when Ilse sent me that text, I knew it was the most beautiful ending to our friendship. We made up in our senior year of high school, when my government and art classes coincided with hers. Our fall out lasted about 5 years, from a very close best friends sorta relationship, to a complete and utter block. Yet, I had already forgiven her deep down in my heart since about the time I entered high school. I can never hold grudges for long, but I was too stubborn to be the first one to break. I didn’t want to lose face, not after being treated as if I had none in the first place. In a sense, that silent treatment was traumatizing. And so, in order to not get hurt in the first place, I stopped allowing myself to.

Ilse was the first one to talk to me, back when iPads were becoming a regular commodity at your typical rich white high school. I was eager to make up, and soon we were talking again. But we didn’t go back to best friends, there was no time for that. Instead, we sat side by side at a bench, talking and laughing like normal friends, enjoying the “now” of each other, before we went our separate ways. I would have wanted to go back, but part of me held myself back knowing that maybe this was for the better. I didn’t deserve redemption, but forgiveness, and so she forgave me; her first words, were “I forgive you.” And I forgave her back. We didn’t argue over who was wrong first, we mutually met each other halfway, and that was a beautiful ending to our friendship.

So when I look back, did I have a dramatic school life? Hardly. I’ve heard worse around me, especially within my Indian circle past the 9th grade in their IB program, but I’ve had my ups and downs. It was mostly around home life and family, and that’s partly how I got so addicted to DDO in the first place. But I sometimes have moments, such as tonight, or as I’m on the way back home from school, when I think about how much my friends have done for me, and supported me, past all of this, and treated me kindly. Why is it in my paranoid nature to always assume people are worse than they actually are? It’s not like I’ve met someone worse, other than seeing the ugly sides of my family. And yet, I am touched by the warmth they extend to me.

I love them. Thank you Ilse for teaching me humility and forgiveness, I would have never thought that I could ever cross that bridge with you. Thank you Alekhya, for the day you confronted me about how cold I seemed with you, that I wasn’t treating you with the same warmth as Harshini. And Harshini, thank you for the many laughs, you were like an older sister to me that didn’t have to grow up too fast. Munirah, thank you for being there for me, walking alongside me when no one else would. Nishi for confiding in me about your troubles, for allowing me to find a clear head to trust in your words and to become impartial. For opening up your insecurities that matched mine. No matter how cold, distant, and gray I felt and radiated, you all have made my life just a little brighter.

My beautiful world of gray is at least adorned with shards of stained glass.




Celestosphere’s Inscription

Atop the edge of the final layer
By Celestosphere’s roses
Dawn approaches
And she meets Duality;
A reflection, a revelation
As water reveals Light
So does she achieve true ascension.

Just finished this digital painting, I experimented with style a lot here and went for a more indie game art style. The easiest way to do that is to simply remove the outlines; paint backwards, so to speak. Using negative space as the positive space, yet not quite. It’s really the outlines that can change a style drastically I feel, with simple line variation techniques. I kind of blurred the two worlds in Empyrean Pet.

However, I realized subject matter becomes harder to pinpoint, and color becomes much more important in distinguishing that. Sera is just sitting at the edge of the clouds (now that I think it, I think of DreamWorks), and there’s definitely some major juxtaposition between sky and aquatic elements. The ripples above imply a reverse underwater scenery, like walking through an aquatic tunnel in a marine museum, and the bubbles are interchangeably clouds by simple negative shapes. Falling, yet already high in the sky, I love themes of duality and reflection. Growing up as an artist in high school, I often studied a lot of juxtaposed works as my teacher loved them, and I guess in a way it’s passed down to me.

My inspiration for this piece was based off of my favorite artist’s new remake version of their song, Hemisphere. I actually sent an email recently thanking him for essentially, saving me from my art block. ARForest is one of the reasons why I was able to get back into drawing again, rekindling that fire through music. I felt that this was the least I could do, since I’m too stingy (but I have debated and thought on this) to spend money on albums.

Thus, Celestosphere was created! Based on the remake, I was reminded of a few key elements: rain drops, soaring, skies and clouds, and underwater scenery. Particularly, I remember specifically a scene in The Ancient Magus’ Bride manga where Chize was looking up from a void of black. I absolutely loved that scene.


And this is why I save references on my phone for anything I can get. 😀 A loooong time ago, I also saved this reference of a Google image, I think maybe it was the splash image of a YouTube video, but I loved this artwork. I couldn’t find any other source for it. But I imagine one of these days (actually I did do a sketch with this in mind I think already) I’ll be using this as a more concrete and solid reference.


As you can see, music dictates a lot of my inspirations. A Midsummer Dreamer is an old favorite of mine, particularly the DJ Noriken remix.

One other thing I realized is that no matter what, I think I always need to start from paper. It’s kind of interesting that it is almost impossible for me to just start pouring ideas onto the screen instead. I think the bigger reason why I can’t really do that is because of the mechanical disconnection — if I had a Cintiq tablet, I think that would eliminate this issue. But because I started my artistic roots in traditional drawing, just like every artist, it’s also my beginning for visualization of basic ideas, which then gets immensely manipulated digitally.


Don’t mind that sketch outline in the background, it’s just another sketch I made in a previous session, during class. 🙂

Sometimes, it doesn’t turn out the style that I wanted, but this time, it turned out almost 95% the way I intended from beginning to end. In my artistic process, I also realized that there’s a lot of improvisation that occurs. The wings for instance did not exactly turn out the way I had originally imagined. But I just went with the flow, and I created a new pair of another visualization I had while I was blocking in the base color.

This was fun, but I also really itched on getting this done. Like with many of my projects, once I’m inspired, I want to get started, lay down the colors, finish it in one session. I’m a binger. Of course, that doesn’t quite work out when I have a class the next day. So tonight I finally finished it. 🙂 It probably took a total of… I wanna say, 10 hours? From concept to finish. Not bad for a tall painting.

Speaking of length, I realized later that it was also perfect for my phone wallpaper. I put it on there, and it fit perfectly. At least the width wasn’t too much of an issue. It’s actually a rather large painting — actually if I had not modified the image size closer to the beginning of the coloring, it would have easily exceeded 70 inches as the highest dimensions. I tend to work large in Photoshop so I don’t have resizing nightmares, but storage space and loading times can be a pain too if it’s too big. *sigh*

In any case, this was my first hand at trying something new and experimental. I also wanted something that I could display that wasn’t always character driven, this time focusing a lot more details on the environment. I think it’s not only healthy to experiment and expand horizons, but also fun to test the waters, push the limits. I still feel that my core style is present, in some shape, form, element.

Hurray! One Step Ahead Now!

YAY!! Last night I just got approval to use a song for an upcoming personal video project! I can’t wait to get started, but until I get bored of Sera’s current (final) life, I can’t exactly work on it 100%. It won’t be anything special but I think it would be a lot of fun. This is my first time actually asking an artist for permission, and they are foreign even, so I’m thrilled that they actually said yes within an hour of my email! It probably helps that I emailed at 3AM my time which is afternoon or somewhere close to that on the other side of the globe. Now, to start the “filming” process — well, I need to finish Sera’s life first ASAP! Ahhh shoot, and I also have Milo’s TR going… I should have waited!! Hahaha. At the very least, I’ll have something to work on at the start of the next semester! 🙂