Helen He

Concept Design Project


Unlike the stories of Grimm and Andersen, there’s a scarcity in interpretations of Slavic folk/fairytales in Western popular media, as opposed to many retellings or projects based on Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland. Inspired from collections of stories by Alexander Afanasyev, I wanted to use this opportunity to create an original world that integrates concepts from these tales that takes ideas, characters, and scenes inspired from the source material. The general premise of the story, starting from the heroine, is her journey to finding her parents, where they unfortunately were sucked into a magical realm inhabited by supernatural beings after accidentally stumbling upon the unwelcoming territory of the Ice King.

This project will showcase a series of character design sheets and environment paintings along with the integration between 2D and 3D.


The Heroine

Inspired from the folklore creature Firebird, often associated with challenging quests and a feather serving as a premonition of an arduous journey. The bird in my story serves a similar purpose and offers to aid the heroine by gifting her its magical powers. It’s later revealed that the bird has ill intentions, and the feather gifted to her makes the heroine’s journey more dangerous. Upon her realization, the bird shows its true form: a blackbird (often seen as a sign for bad omens).
Forest encounter sequence where the bird stalks and deceives the heroine into taking its feather. 

Forest witch, inspired by the famous folktale character Baba Yaga. She provides the heroine with a variety of tasks in exchange for goods. 

The Ice King and one of the main antagonists of the story.
Attack and weapon design drafts.
True form of the Ice King after shattering his skull staff, transforming him into a vile spider-like monster.


Heroine’s bow set, enchanted by the magic of the feather.
Forest Witch’s skull lantern.


Exterior View Drafts
Interior View Drafts
Exterior View #1 & Alternative Version
Exterior View #2
Interior View #1 & Throne Design
Castle Design Sketch

2D + 3D Combination

I decided to learn 3D for this project and made a model of the castle to get a better sense of architectural perspective that can help me build up my scenes more easily and try with other experimentations.
Exterior View #3 Drafts
Exterior View #3
Interior View #2 & 3D Base Process
Exterior View #4 & Color Alt Drafts



Helen He

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Helen He is a Canadian artist that grew up in Calgary, Alberta. She’s interested in fantasy illustrations with magic-related subjects that focus on depicting a visual narrative. She enjoys visual development/concept design and editorial art, and wishes to provide audiences with fantastical stories open for interpretation. She mainly works digitally but is also familiar with a variety of traditional mediums. Outside of art-making, she can be found walking her corgi, reading ancient history, and browsing obscure Wikipedia pages.

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