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Metal Dreams

"Metal Dreams" Cyra fantasy art by Rene Arreola
“Metal Dreams – Cyra” Fantasy art by Rene Arreola

Pencil Sketch (Concept Phase)

“Metal Dreams” is an excuse for me to paint something metallic and integrate it into the human form. This initial sketch was done with the purpose of including it in my 2023 Fantasy Art Realm calendar.

This sketch you see here will be updated as I progress on this digital painting. One of the crazy things I’m going to be doing is working on several paintings for my 2023 calendar simultaneously.

All of this while I’m working on my Realm Ethereal online comic and soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter campaign for my Realm Ethereal art book “The Book of Dreams”. It should be fun and hectic all at the same time.

Metal Dreams pencil rough drawing
“Metal Dreams” pencil rough sketch by Rene Arreola.

Below is the first time-lapse art video of my initial drawing for this digital painting. Check back often for more updates on this blog post until the final image is completed.

Blocking in Half Tones in Grayscale (Value Study Phase)

UPDATE (August 15. 2022): I resumed work on the preliminary drawing. Blocking in some values gives me an idea of how I will approach the painting.

With the composition in place, and this value map starting to take shape, I can now start thinking about refining the drawing.

Metal Dreams fantasy art female figure value study
“Metal Dreams” grayscale block-in phase by Rene Arreola

Below is a time-lapse video showing me mapping out a grayscale plan before going to the final drawing and, ultimately, the final color digital illustration.

Color Composition Phase

UPDATE (8-30-22): The next phase of this painting is to work up a color composition. My goal is to work freely and loosely with the color as I explore even more depth within this painting.

While it’s important to work up a color composition that goes by the value map I established, I’m also aware that this is a stage where I will develop more expression.

In fact, as I worked on this piece during the color composition phase, I felt little bits of expressive color wanting to be added throughout. It’s these moments during an exploration of color that new depths within the art begin to reveal themselves.

Below is a timelapse of me working in Photoshop as I work on the color composition.

"Metal Dreams" color composition fantasy art
“Metal Dreams” color composition study by Rene Arreola.

Color Painting Phase Begins

UPDATE (10-21-22): I’m revisiting this painting after quite a layoff! I did not realize it’s been around two months since last I posted an update on this piece.

The painting is coming along with an unexpected color shift. I don’t have a picture of it, but I just realized this painting is the reincarnation of an old oil painting I started years ago but never finished.

I have no photographic proof of this, but essentially the colors are very similar, and it involved a similar concept: a girl reflecting her inner dreams. In this case, a mysterious, metallic version of herself.

Metal Dreams work in progress 10-21-22
“Metal Dreams” color painting progress by Rene Arreola.

“Metal Dreams” Final Painting

UPDATE (10-27-22): It’s been quite some time since I painted a metallic figure. Admittedly, it’s one of my favorite things to paint. A metallic flesh texture is just plain old fun for me. The character in this painting is Cyra. She’s the metallic figure, and the dreamworld she is looking into is the girl we see at the top, with the mountain and clouds. I thought it to be a nice flip on things, wherein the viewer initially thinks the dream world is in the ovals. But it’s the reverse. The truth is the portals are two-way doors.

"Metal Dreams" Cyra fantasy art by Rene Arreola
“Metal Dreams” color painting progress by Rene Arreola.


She lies on top of a strange surface, looking through a portal into a world she’s never seen before. She is intrigued by the figure on the other side.

Her light, seemingly soft skin is something she’s never seen before. Long flowing hair, light and free. A smile not unlike her own. A gentle soul with something more to her.

Cyra looks at her reflection atop this strange surface and realizes her true self is not metal and isn’t winged. Instead, her true self looks back at her, inviting her to break free from a hardened prison and to fly of her own free will.

On the other side, the girl is unbound, free, and alive. She has no walls around her; she doesn’t need them. She’s more powerful because of it. 

A yearning and a desire to be oneself. Can Cyra do it? Can she become more than what’s on the outside and emerge from within her true self? 

The metal dreams.

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