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AMA Session #1 - Exileden

Fri Jan 26, 2018, 11:07 AM
A recording of the "Ask Me Anything" Session with Exileden on Sunday, January 14th, in Project Art Discord Server.

Kila Zamana (Exileden) is a professional freelance illustrator specializing in fantasy illustration and concept art. She has been a member of DeviantArt for over 11 years, and has produced such beautiful works as the below.

The Sky is Bleeding by Exileden
Northeast Greenland by Exileden
Midnight Purgatory by Exileden


Summer's Warmth: Are/were all of your goals all personal? Is there something more basic that you found out that kept you going on with drawing every morning that everyone can apply?

Exileden: It's all about motivation that is driving you to do things and be successful. Firstly, you need to answer and feel "why?" you want to do that. Secondly, if drawing (creating) gives you that "lightness" feeling, enjoyment - and that you can discover whether you feel inspired by looking at other artists.

I do think inspiration (inspired by other artists, events...) >> turns into motivation.

You can't force yourself. I've tried to say "I am going to do anatomy everyday to progress", it just doesn't work like that. Motivation goes away after 3-5 days.

It's all about finding lightness with drawing :) To find that feeling. I hope that helps!


Tuntalm: How do you choose your palette and colors in order to come with such an awesome shading?

Exileden: Trust me - I was terrible at colouring! I think it came after many years - but you know what has helped me best? Photography at an unusual hour! (morning&dusk)

I wanted to understand where that unique "blue shadow" is coming from.

Observing nature isn't enough, contrary to popular belief... so photography has helped me greatly :)

Here is practical example where I understood the light&color:



Thelightsmen: As a professional, how much time would you say it takes you to make a new drawing/illustration, etc? in both real time (actual hours you spend working on it) and approximated time? (how many days considering you have to do other stuff aside from doing art).

Exileden: I never work on illustration non-stop, I would go crazy! :) I need breaks, for hours or even days - to recharge energy and get a fresh view/perspective. So, per illustration - with character and background - is about 3 days, but to count in hours... that would be... probably 10-12?

Something like this 12h:

The Lioness of Sun by Exileden

Or this is 4h:


But drawing is really, really energy consuming for me! Time wise might not be a lot, but after 4 hours of sitting in front of the computer, or drawing, is SO exhausting energetically - like working 10 hours outdoors.


DariaKoumori: Hello! Thank you very much for a chance for us to communicate with you!^^ May I ask about the financial side of the art? I am interested in how to begin selling art, which types of art are popular to sell. Any advice would be great since I could not understand what to do at the start of this way. Thank you very much and sorry for my English, it is not my native language.

Exileden: Daria, that's an important question. I have found out that it is HORRIBLE financially to keep up and live as an artist. One of major decisions I decided is to not pursue as an artist full time. I DO believe, unfortunately, art service is TOO undervalued.

Unless... you work in an industry. Like gaming or movie. You work horribly long in that industry.

Only best, well known, most talented and with GIGs freelancers can keep up a living. Enough.

I'm sorry, its extremely unfortunate.

There are many factors "why" it's like that. I do believe that today's art is too over-exposed. Too many people are connected, too many artists, too many "everyone can do this", "too many free arts", then value drops.

Not enough for living value, definitely.

DariaKoumori: And what about selling art not for living? As an additional bonus for hobby, for example?

Exileden: That's a much safer option ;)

Though I have mixed feelings: hobbyists are killing art as a real job.


RasheruSuzie: Do you have any tips or tricks for giving a landscape piece a feeling of "grandeur", like the elements in the scene appearing very tall, wide and open. if not, any tip on landscape is fine :3

Exileden: I'll tell you that I have just recently started painting, discovering techniques on how to paint landscapes well! For years I've been drawing creatures, characters and basically normal illustrations, but when I moved onto landscapes... it was extremely hard for me to get started and paint in the way to give that feeling of hugeness and enormous space. Many landscape artists create them spontaneously, not a planned thing.

It's easy to look at other great landscape art (as inspiration), it seems to be easy to follow... but when you do this, it doesn't work!

Feels too small, too "flat" and not enough space. My advice would be to keep trying until you get it right!

Spontaneously and more importantly: SPEEDPAINTS!

Right brushes, mixer brush and combine elements - and remember atmospheric perspective!

Aaaand put a tiny human silhouette to feel if you got it right ;)

RasheruSuzie: ooh, interesting o: guess I should do more of those~~ thanks! ^^


TBNRSong: This is gonna be cliché, but: The drawing program, what is it? And do you have any advice for coming up with original poses. Personally, I struggle with hands, and eyes, so it’s always a struggle getting it just right. (And you can’t always find references that you need)

Exileden: TBNRSong, the best thing I can advise is to learn anatomy to perfection to get that feeling of natural flow. When you feel that natural flow, it's like your mental stress is off from your head if you got the hand/anatomy/muscles right (the worst stress if you know it doesn't look right).

Then you can experiment naturally and with the flow to create crazy poses!

As for drawing program, you mean what I use? :) It's Photoshop CC.


JenLaFayette: I always have problems with adding that little bit extra to my work, I would like to know how you come up with the effects you put on your artworks?

The white sheen on the Stellular Collision piece for example? Or the pieces of ember on The Strange One.

Stellular Collision by Exileden

Because you absolutely nail it.

Exileden: Extras... are the most fun part! It's like (bad phrase, haha) creating a cake base, filling it with topping, with the most fun being decorating.
Think of the decorating process as a fun thing. Experimenting! I tested them before making fully finished (pro) pieces, but on speedpaints - by giving these decorative effects, you can speed up work better. I mean, you don't have to do a fully, super detailed render of your artwork - it doesn't need to look super finished - but just by adding "fun extras", it can give a professional feeling! To find these "decos" the best is to experiment on speedpaints and then apply them for your "official pictures".

The Strange One was just a mere, fun speedpaint to experiment, and I loved how it came out!

JenLaFayette: That sounds astonishingly simple :)
But experimenting is the fun part. Thanks ^^

Exileden: Example of rim light outlining.

Zombie Horse by Exileden

Try to imagine how it would look like without white rim light :)

Just play along. I like rim light effects!


xDrifterr: Hey Exileden, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

I've been wondering, what is your go to medium? Do you sketch something traditionally first and then add digital adjustments to it later? If I may ask, what's your usual process like? I notice that everyone I know tackles art in so many different ways, it would be great to gain some insight about the process you go through. :,D

Exileden: Drifter, I went through many, many different, various ways of the creating process... For years I used to start out with pencil, scan and paint over it, but since I no longer have a scanner, I felt lazier in dealing with all the "walkthrough" of taking a photo of pencil drawing and editing it to make it clean... I've found flow from starting out everything digitally from zero to fully finished piece.
Traditionally (though prettier way is to print it and paint over printed sketch) I just start from zero to finished.

I think I want to "create" without distracting breaks - that works for me.

Because if I were to scan picture... print... edit... that can interrupt my creativity and motivation flow.

Everyone has their own way :) Just find a way that doesn't distract you too much. Just get it done. DO IT!

xDrifterr: I see, that helps me a lot. I've gone through so much back and forth and I find it easier to just stick with one way from start to finish, but I always doubted myself. Now I have some confirmation, so thank you so much :,D


Omegawolf16: How did you get so good at drawing anatomy of various creatures including things such as dragons (which are awesome) and how'd you learn to shade them accordingly? Also, Line art? That's something I personally struggle with the most aside from anatomy

Exileden: I did think on your question - I wanted to answer that, naturally, I am fascinated by animal anatomy, and basically studying (and passion with animals) has helped me to get better at creatures... but, ultimately, I think creatures are an excellent medium for creative freedom (unlike human characters, with creatures you are allowed wide interpretation, unlimited variations) but with motivation to make the creature look as believeable as possible. And then, passion with structure and light.

But to be precise, I taught students creature classes - painting, drawing, speedpainting horses can help you the best in getting better at creature art, because of their body structure.

Omegawolf16: That's good to know!

Exileden: If you can achieve painting horses (anatomy and light&shadow) to perfection, you can draw any creature.

For lineart, I don't think I have the best advice because... I quit from linearting ;) It's NOT a fun part, heheh. :)


kuroao_anomal: Heya! I have two questions i dont know if it's okay to have more than one ^^;.

So I was wondering, since you are a concept artist, if you've experienced working with people to make character designs or original concepts for them. If not, have you ever considered wanting to?

My other question is what is your favorite thing to paint/draw? uwu

I'm also planning on being a concept artist too! uwu

Exileden: 1. I have more experience working as a concept artist in a freelance/project system than in an industry (usually with one or two, max three people) - and it all depends on chemistry. Those I've worked with, we had a truly great chemistry! I do think it's all about team spirit and common values. I did work on different projects as a creative director and I know when there are no common values, synchronization and goals with the project (that right feeling) - work like that is always a struggle. For me it kills creativity... I am too "creatively sensitive", nobody can force me (even myself) to do things that I don't feel like (art wise), and I'm sure many industry artists aren't as sensual as I am.

2. Might sound crazy... but sailboats! :D


JISY-chan: okay, i've got 2 actually. First off, what makes digital painting different from irl painting and which is better. Second, did you have any regrets or mistakes that you wanted to avoid as an up and coming artist? Thanks :>

Exileden: 1. What's definitely better is... traditional (irl) painting. It feels more natural, passionate, you're working with a real medium - both mentally and physically it's healthier than digital. You're creating a real work, with real soul in a painting. And that satisfaction of having the original of it that all these digital works can't give.
Value of art has also dropped with digital. I started as a traditional artist, but yes, most of you see that I work on digital medium mostly...

Honestly, it's faster because I've become less passionate with art - just to get it done.
It's a different story, don't follow me. If you were to choose what to master - do traditional. Fuck digital.

2. I do regret that I no longer feel passion and lightness. So, mine is that I decided to pursue it as career.

And that killed my feelings to art. I should have kept it as a hobby ;)

But my "words" shouldn't apply to everyone - there are people who feel great in industry/career work. But you should always be aware that job can kill passion. In any field. That's just risk.


Urezu: Heya, so I've been an Artist for about 6-7 years now and at my peak of improvement, I've been really starting to show lack of motivation and drawing ideas; so my question is: what keeps you inspired? What actually inspires you, how do you Keep motivated and can you give me any tips?

Exileden: Welcome in the club :) Also I have lost motivation for drawing, but as an explorer working with expedition dogs, I've been training working dogs and studying psychology - it's all about finding "lightness" and "motivation" - changing environment can help a lot.

Try to refresh goals, do something different, and it may trigger back your own drawing. Try doing something outside of the comfort zone (but don't stress yourself too much). Create a goal, a project. I have a project that is about connecting travelling with art together and that motivates me. So that's why I've gotten interested in designing sailboats and yachts ;) Never done these before!

So, in short: create a new goal. Project. To create for.


3wyl: When you were first starting out as an artist, how did you get through it and not give up? And what's the best place to draw? Lighting, location, freshness of air, etc.

Exileden: 1. I started... um as a child in elementary school. Interesting perspective, because my parents found out that I could draw and "mentally invested" in me to become an artist - as a child, I wanted to become a great artist. Now? Not really :) But I do think, because I put so much of time in creating, it has become a part of my life. Even though it's a curse that I want to leave and abandon, but it will never go away. It will always be a part of me that I am proud of.

2. The best inspiration for me to draw (and it doesn't go with creating the bestpieces together, but that feeling of best enjoyment) was when I was in a totally, new fresh environment, like on ocean sailing. I didn't create outstanding pieces, rather boring ones, but I feeeeelt happiness! :)

Gonna share with you a pic:


Look at this picture: all is about that feeling :D Smile while creating!

3wyl: Thank you so much for spending the time to answer our questions, Kila! If you'd like to follow Kila:

:+devwatch: Exileden | ArtStation | Facebook

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