Triptych Transitions


To our treasured audience,

We, the Triptych Trio, would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for your support of our interdisciplinary project.  Over the past year, we have created 10 Triptychs uniting our 3 disciplines–illustration, music, and writing–as well as a hardcopy booklet and numerous behind-the-scenes posts.  This experience has helped us grow in our individual crafts and collaborative abilities, and we hope these stories have brought you as much enjoyment as we had in creating them.

In pursuing our artistic disciplines, we find ourselves transitioning into new and exciting projects beyond the scope of Triptych.  Due to this, we will no longer be posting new content on our site, but we will be preserving the blog as an archive of the project.  In that way, all the Triptychs and informative posts will remain there for your enjoyment.  Please feel free to email us directly to share your comments.  We always love to hear from you.  Also, we have a quick, 5-question survey about our project that you can fill out at your leisure.  As a reward for participating, anyone who completes the survey will receive free shipping* in the U.S. for our Triptych Book 1 (while supplies last)! Or, if you prefer to purchase one in-person, Candice will be selling the remaining booklets at the Downtown Redlands Art Walk on October 23 inside the Cope Building at 19 E Citrus Ave.!

Again, we want to thank you so much for your support and for coming along with us for the journey.  The encouragement has meant a lot to each of us.  We hope that you’ll continue to enjoy the work we’ve produced.  Thank you for being fans!

With love and gratitude,

The Triptych Trio

Candice, Holly, & Natalie

*the free shipping code will also allow a $2 discount for U.K. and Canada locations

How to Grow an Alien

Our triptych this month will be a continuation of the The Last Sun Sage, focusing on the character Bekthe. She is the daughter of the Sun Sage, so it follows that her appearance should be similar. Let me take you briefly through the Sun Sage’s development, which lays the foundation for Bekthe.


The Sun Sage is still disappointed with his lack of pants.

In developing the Sun Sage character, I followed certain parameters. I set limits to provide consistency and realism, which is especially important if you want people to find a story about plant people believable. Here is the information I knew that would affect his appearance:

  1. The Sun Sage is humanoid.
  2. He has plant-like characteristics.
  3. He is living on a heavily forested (but withering) planet.
  4. His culture is reminiscent of the Mayans and Aztecs.
  5. He is a Sage–both an inheritance and a position in his society.

Just with these 5 pieces of information, I knew what his underlying anatomy should look like and what cultural/environmental factors affect him on the surface. I also knew what not to include and what attributes were higher in priority. I could give him ceremonial garments like Mayan priests–a good idea to reference their culture. However, that would then give me less options for incorporating plant elements. Why have clothes when you can “grow” clothes? I went with a “natural” look to the Sun Sage’s exterior and decided reference the Mayans in other ways.

With both Bekthe and the Sun Sage, I started with a human base. I imported the model into Sculptris from Daz3D. These models are a great starting point for humanoid characters–half of the work is already done! I then proceeded to sculpt directly on top, starting with the face. I looked at depictions of Mayans in petroglyphs for the dramatic profile-view as inspiration for the face structure. From there, I added all of the same elements as the Sun Sage onto Bekthe’s body, just in different proportion. The head “petals” are inspired by orchids, the collar area by tree mushrooms, and the other bits by a combination of flower and leaf structures.

Everything added onto the body is designed to highlight part of the anatomy. By following the natural contours of the musculature, I can make the leafy appendages look organic and functional.

Deciding which part to differ in Bekthe’s design from the Sun Sage led me to a few key areas: the head, the collar, and the hips. Initially, I thought giving her a more elaborate collar area than the Sun Sage with be a nice regal touch. The downside to that option was making her look too mature. Bekthe is still a young girl, so I needed to go with something that would be appropriate for her age. By reducing the collar area and increasing the hip area, I create a silhouette that looks more like a youthful ballerina. Not my initial intention, but I think she rocks her shroom tutu.


Of Carapace and Fiddlehead

Within the fairy court you find a small throne perched on a branch of oak….


My process for illustrating the upcoming triptych has involved imagining a dark fairy queen and her twisted throne. Because we’re dealing with fairies, all of the materials that they’re wearing have to be both organic and naturally small in scale. Building a mental list of objects, I thought of the traditional fairy mediums: flowers, leaves, branches. However, there is an untapped bounty of natural objects like seed pods, insect parts, and bone that are not often used, and also happen to be on the creepy end of the spectrum. Take two fern fiddleheads, some insect carapaces, and a couple of twigs and you have yourself a stylin’ seat.

Something unusual with the initial stages for this sketch was the relatively direct progression from thumbnail to final sketch. I always make a couple initial sketches to explore a concept and experiment with the composition, but the best composition for this one ended up being the first scribble I laid down on paper. It will probably be another 5 years until I witness another miracle.

In the above series of images, the top left is what I would call the “final thumbnail”. I made the reference image directly below it by assembling together two sculpts I made from scratch (the throne and mouse skull) along with a default female model in Daz3D. With this image and two other pages of photo reference, I made my “final sketch”. The final sketch will provide me with a detailed road map while I make the final digital painting on top.

What will transpire in the fairy court? You’ll find out next week! In the meantime, you may want to refrain from crossing woodland bridges.

Comic Conquering Part 3

SDCC has come and gone. Following its dwindling sparkle is a steady stream of movie trailers to feed our anticipation for the coming year. As exciting as it is to read up on the latest Comic-Con news, there’s something magical about walking the floor of the exhibit hall and experiencing it in real-time.

Set-up each morning was like being backstage at an amusement park or theater production. There was a quiet energy amongst the exhibitors and a sense of the vast scale of the convention floor. Youtube videos do the elaborate booth displays an injustice.

My booth was near Mondo, so I had the unique pleasure of watching con attendees do battle as they speed-walked to save their spot in line. I will probably show up in a few pictures of Mondo collectible figures from the convention since they were on a table parallel with my booth. Regrettably, I did not use the opportunity to practice my photobombing skills.

Comic Conquering Part 2

Comic Con is just beyond the horizon. Not only will this be my first time exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con, but this will be my first time exhibiting at a convention. Period.

This would be an impossible feat by my own efforts, so it’s imperative I mention the Kevin Workman Foundation. It is through their amazing generosity I have a booth and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re attending SDCC, you can stop by the “Preview Night” Happy Hour Fundraiser that the Foundation and Comickaze are hosting. Of course, you are more than welcome to stop by my booth, #934 in the main exhibitor hall of the convention center!

So, what does one bring to one of the largest convention in the world? EVERYTHING. No, don’t do that. It’s important to get inside the mind of the con-goer and think about what they’re interested in. And the answer is probably not a balanced number of Harley Quinn and Star Wars prints. The approach I’ve taken is to:

  1. Present a uniform branding that gives people a clear idea of my work. If I’m going to have a banner with an anthropomorphic Victorian insect-man on it, I better have more where that came from. This is is one of the reasons I embarked on my Gentlebugs series, which I have made into a nifty button pack and prints for the convention. I have also added some touches of steampunk aesthetic to my booth and will sport a complementary costume for a few days at the Con.
  2. Have an element that encourages crowd interaction. I will have the Triptych booklet for people to read and listen to with a pair of headphones. Aside from the opportunity to share such a cool, collaborative project, this interactive element will attract the curious passer-by.
  3. Sell a variety of items. Not everyone collects prints, but there are definitely people who love items with functionality, like buttons or bookmarks. Also, it gives me a variety of price points benefiting both small-spenders and serious collectors.

We’ll see how well that approach works because I have no idea what will happen.

Lets have a look at some of the items I will have at my booth, shall we. For size comparison purposes, I have the help of my trusted model, Pablo*:

Like I mentioned last week, I will have copies of the Triptych booklet. In addition, you will find a button pack featuring your favorite Gentlebugs.

I will have some traditional-media work as well, including several miniature portraits at about 5″ x 4″ and my original acrylic painting for The Fisherman’s Bride, that has been uniquely framed within convex glass.

Last, but certainly not least, we have bookmarks and a postcard pack containing 3 of my illustrations.

The conclusion to my Comic Conquest will be posted next Tuesday, so keep an eye out for what will likely be an article of epic proportion. And you can expect a whole lot of cosplay photos.

*Pablo is a 12-inch figure available at Sideshow Collectibles

Comic Conquering Part 1

Nothing can completely prepare you for a first time exhibiting at Comic Con San Diego, but I like to think one can try! There’s only about a week left and preparations are nearly complete. One item in my arsenal for the convention is a sampler of Triptych stories:


Also doubles as a makeshift cosplay.

The booklet has 3 of our completed triptychs, including Descendants of Twilight, The Fisherman’s Bride, and Servant of Anubis. In the back of the booklet is a QR code and link that allows you to access and download the music that accompanies those stories.


Guaranteed bird certified.

The process of forming the booklet involved deciding which stories to feature and then designing a format that suited them as a printed booklet. We picked a combination of our favorite stories along with stories that represented a variety of “moods”. The presentation is similar to the blog with the illustration presented first and then the story following.

Gentlebugs of Lacewing Manor




Dear Diary,


Scarcely can I contain my excitement for tomorrow!  I’ve long awaited the day, and finally it has arrived!  Tomorrow I, Chrysalisa Flutterbey, shall make my debut in society in the presence of all my friends, relations, and our numerous connections.

I have, of course, invited my dear friend Motharie Dustiwings, and I must say we’ve picked the perfect hats for tea before the occasion.  (Thank goodness for Honeybee Hat Shoppe!)  I do hope she’ll enjoy herself at my debut.  She is such a nervous, particularly flighty thing lately, the poor dear.  At the last party we attended, Monocle Mantis asked her for THREE dances—could anyone imagine so bold a thing?—knowing PERFECTLY WELL it would be impolite of her to refuse!  So I am now sworn to protect her in case of the gentleman’s attention and to thwart his advances in any way that a lady might.  After all, there may be plenty of other fellows who would wish for a dance with my dear Motharie, who is such a pretty, wide-eyed thing with beautiful, feathery antennae.  She fears they are just too afraid to cross a praying mantis.  “Preying mantis,” more like.  But Mother and Father insisted that we invite him, so I’m afraid there’s no way around it.

Endless Refinement

I have talked a little bit about concept and reference gathering, but for this week, I wanted to share the refinement process.

Creating an accurate final drawing is typical for most of my illustrations, but I’m getting more patient with the level of detail. Not only will this show me where different objects are in the composition, but it is also an opportunity for me to work out the lighting. I made pretty polished drawings this time around for the upcoming Triptych illustrations:


From here, it’s mostly downhill. I’m starting with the Moth Lady on the far left, which will be the most detailed. For your viewing pleasure, I made a little animated gif composed of different stages of rendering:


A Beastly Medium

Two triptychs ago, I had the sudden urge and incentive to work with acrylic paints as opposed to working from start to finish digitally, which has been my main go-to for the past 3 years. With my illustration for “Servant of Anubis”, I wanted to work with it again, but this time with a more complex composition.

The very initial scribblings for my compositions are always on physical paper. I then make a refined sketch in photoshop, getting as far as I can with correcting any tangents and anatomy errors before committing to the final rendering. I also get a rough idea of the values since it affects the composition considerably. This is my “final” sketch before transferring it onto a physical surface:


After tracing my digital line drawing onto illustration board, I refined the drawing and added some basic values. I made the mistake of neglecting to seal the drawing with a workable fixatif before painting, but oh well. It was just a little more smeary than usual, making for some “expressive” textures.

The first few layers of paint were a breeze, but it became more complicated towards the end with more opaque layers. It was challenging to get nice smooth gradients, even with some retardant and glazing medium applied to the paint. Acrylic paint also has this habit of drying slightly darker than when first applied.

I ran out of time with my acrylic painting, so I ended up scanning it and doing additional digital painting on top of it. One of these days I will revisit the physical painting and achieve some smooth transitions with airbrush magic!

Print Release


We are pleased to announce that you can now own an art print on physical, 100% cotton rag paper from a selection of our Triptych illustrations. You can purchase them on INPRNT–a great website that makes quality prints and takes great care in shipping them safely. I’ve made prints from them for shows and have not found any printer yet that can rival their velvety soft paper. We plan on updating the shop regularly with new prints, so stay tuned!

Get your Triptych Prints!