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UPDATED 9-6-2020: This blog was recently updated to add the new pieces I’ve created since October 2019. -Rene
The Realm Ethereal has been a project where my main intent was to create all new, all original characters. I knew one thing for sure when I started working on this project back in 2018: just keep doing it. I am and always will be first and foremost, a comic book creator. I was inspired to draw because of the comic books I first got my hands on when I was in the fourth grade. I’ve never really stepped fully away from comic books. Even now as I am creating digital paintings, I still have an eye with creating my own new comic book series based on these Realm Ethereal characters.
Casia Minohr was the first character I created for The Realm Ethereal. This painting really began my exploration into this new world I was just dipping my toes into. I knew I wanted to create new worlds and characters and so this was my freshman effort. This was also the very first, full blown painting I created on my iPad Pro.
Following up Kiana, Mirela became my “green” piece. Mirella’s character was one tied in with the land. Hence, the green theme. By this point, I designated Casia, Kiana and Mirela as “metaterrans”. Metaterrans essentially being super-powered or extraordinarily gifted human-like beings.
From the beginning, I knew I had to create a character who would be the main, most powerful character in this world-building project. Enter: Om, the Ethereal of Vibration. Om’s powers having to do with “vibration” cemented the concept for this character being all-powerful in The Realm Ethereal. He is the first Ethereal.
At this point in time, I really started focusing on thse “Ethereals”. Om was seen as a “good guy” and, naturally, I had to come up with a “bad guy”. Enter: Kor, the Ethereal of Chaos. In my mind, Kor is more complex than just being all about “chaos”, but I figured he was a good start to introducing some conflict.
Oda continued my exploration into creating more Ethereals. Oda became the first female Ethereal I designed. I took the concept of Kor’s “hair”, which looks like flames, and wanted to try something similar but different for Oda. I really pushed her hair to become this flowing, ethereal element to her character. Oda is the ethereal of light.
Nor was a jump back to the “dark side”. I’m still not sure if he really is “good” or “bad”; that remains to be seen. My concept of him being the ethereal of merging stars was that he causes stars to collide. From that, he is one who is able to either create new worlds or destroy them…or perhaps both simultaneously.
Ena was my next Ethereal creation. She was designed to help balance out who I was slowly defining as the top three ethereals. So, Ena is the ethereal of order. Along with Om (ethereal of vibration) and Oda (ethereal of light), Ena completes my trio of balance in The Realm Ethereal: vibration, light and order.
To contrast Ena’s visually softer and flowing feel, I came up with Aur, the ethereal of the shining star. His metallic looking skin with sharp, blade-like objects protruding from his back seem to make him more aggressive. The concept of a “shining star” intrigued me with wanting to make Aur a guide of some sort.
For my next character, I wanted to create a new classification of characters in The Realm Ethereal. And so was born Azure…Ethereal Guard. This is the first design where a character is visibly holding some kind of object, most likely a weapon of some sort. From there, I came up with the idea to have guardians of the ethereal realm. This is also the first time I show the “ethereal flame”, emblazoned on Azure’s chest.
For the next several paintings I would be excited to work on this new classification of characters called ethereal guards. They would be neither ethereal or metaterran, but something in between. Nenael was the next ethereal guard, wielding a magical torch. The idea of the “ethereal flame” was also carried through into this design. This is the first painting that includes a background with more than just planets, clouds and rocks. It is the first time I painted some kind of city.
My designs take a turn as I come up with a new theme idea: Ethereal Reveal. All of the Ethereals have a mask of some sort, over their faces. These are each different symbols I designed to give a symbol for what each Ethereal represents. The concept of Ethereal Reveal is to reveal the faces of the Ethereals.
The Ethereal Reveal would be short lived (for the time being.) At this point, I felt like I needed to challenge myself. Enter: Aeliana, the Lion Gatherer. All compositions prior to Aeliana were all structured around single characters. Not only did I want to add some kind of additional interactions for my characters, but I felt a need to include other creatures. Aeliana is the first painting where I tackled rendering an animal head-on. I referenced the lion in the painting with a small plastic toy lion I bought at my local Michael’s art store.
Caelestis is a new Ethereal Guard design created to help bulk up my Ethereal Guard line-up. I have plans to create the next chapter in my Realm Ethereal comic book series centered around the Ethereal Guards. Caelestis is the brother of Azure. This painting also marks a major turning point in my creative process. This was the first time I started painting full-on grayscale with the intent of moving the painting from the app Procreate on my iPad to Photoshop and then working on my desktop iMac. This was a huge game-changer for me and to date, this is how I have been creating my digital paintings.
I felt an urge to change the tone of my next painting and to date this probably is the most light-hearted almost carefree looking piece. Damara is a metaterran who is one with all winged, flying insects. Between Damara and Eislyn, these are the only characters that are really smiling!
King Baldor is the first character I have brought over from another series I created from two years earlier, an online comic book called The Hammer and The Fury. He is the first male metaterran I introduced. By this time, I noticed a very definite pattern of including flying creatures in my paintings. I suspect that all these winged, flying creatures are subconscious symbols of my own art career finally taking off (or, at least me making a run at it!)
Avalina saw me going back to my Ethereal Guard line up and wanting to bulk up the team even more. This painting is a call back to an older painting I started a few years ago but never completed. This one was an especially gratifying piece because of me finally finishing that piece. And it turned out even better than I could have hoped.
My “brooding” piece, featuring the Ethereal of Chaos, Kor. I am once again drawn toward working within a limited color palette range. This character also gets a major upgrade in terms of presentation and appearance. Especially when compared to the first version I painted. But with this being an Ethereal Reveal image, that was bound to happen. After all, removing the mask and revealing the character behind can speak volumes.
The mighty lion warrior returns! Formerly “Asreeth Lion Warrior” and based on a web comic I published a few years back. It’s especially rewarding when I can rescue one of my old projects and breathe new life into it for The Realm Ethereal. This is fast becoming one of my most popular pieces.
A desire to paint a “good vs. evil” image prompted this imagery. Also one of the first paintings where I added a background other than clouds and trees. This is one half of the full painting “Ethereal Borders“.
Aeron was inspired by two things. The first being a really cool photo reference of a bird flying, seen from a unique angle. That photo reference is what I used to paint the wings and tail of Aeron. The second inspiration came from an old oil painting. The head of Aeron was actually lifted from that old painting. That old oil painting probably exists somewhere in some corner of the internet, but will from hear on out never be shown again.
With the start of a new year, I wanted to get back to focusing on the Ethereals. In fact, I wanted to get back to putting the “ethereal” in The Realm Ethereal. Enter: more strange, mystical looking characters. I like Adon in particular because I feel it’s one of my more graphic design inspired pieces. By this, I mean I’m using more shapes to help paint this picture.
Metaterran revisited. This is the first painting that begins to revisit another class of characters other than the Ethereals. I also wanted to redo the original Mirela painting. Rather than do a paint over on the original painting, I wanted to create an entirely new vision for Mirela. This painting is that result.
April is often when I start thinking of the seasons changing. And with that, I took a diversion back to one of my favorite themes: sea creatures. Elandra is my jumping back on point for including an under water environment, complete with jellies. Not since Eislyn had I painted anything paying tribute to the ocean.
Ziora begins the first of three characters I painted during this month. Ziora (and the two paintings that follow her) are actually all part of one larger painting titled “Triptych One“. To date, the Triptych One painting is the longest I’ve spent working on. I did it in Procreate using my iPad Pro. The stats for total time is 56 hours and 54 minutes.
Nor is part of the Triptych One painting as well. In fact, he is the centerpiece to the painting. This painting also features Nor in his Ethereal Reveal moment. You’ll notice several Ethereal Reveal paintings above. The reveal is when the Ethereal is shown without his/her faceplate, which acts kind of like a mask.
This Ethereal Guard, Jelena, is the final piece of the Triptych One painting. I also lifted her face from a previous drawing I made several year ago. In fact, I’ve painted this same character with the wings in a much different style and format. One was as a watercolor painting with her wearing a bright yellow dress. As well, I created an oil painting of her standing on a flower petal, same yellow dress. If you want to see those, email me and I’ll send you some images. For this rendition, it was time to make her a powerful fairy warrior. No more yellow dress. In fact, I gave her the dragon to make sure we were done with yellow dresses 🙂
I am just as easily influenced by photos in creating my art. In this particular instances, I really enjoyed the playful feeling of the pose from this model. I turned it into my July 2020 painting. Being that it was summer when I painted this, I really wanted to give this character an almost carefree, playful feeling. Lysandra is a powerful Ethereal, but also a playful one. This painting also marks the first time an Ethereal debuts without wearing their symbolic face plate mask. Her symbol is shown above her in the sky.
I think the July painting inspired me to continue going with a summer theme and to stick with something water based in terms of environment. Thus, Charis the merlady is born. This painting was inspired by another drawing I saw online which was referred to as “merlady”. Adding dolphins to this piece satisfied my desire to incorporate creatures into my art. Something I enjoy doing from time to time. But, to get the full story on major inspiration for this painting, please read my blog post.