There a few steps you should generally follow when creating an illustration:
1) form a concept
2) Brainstorm with at least 20 thumbnail sketches
3) do a grayscale study to determine value patterns
4) do a quick color study/create a color pallet
5) gather the reference you need (photos, models, objects etc.)
6) do a detailed drawing
7) proceed to the finished piece!
Following all or even most of these steps makes art faster, easier and better in the end. I however, have the terrible habit of skipping from step one straight to to the last two steps. I just can’t wait to get to the delicious details!
True to character, when I thought my portrait of Sala was turning out pretty well I decided to turn it into a finished piece without knowing what sort of picture I wanted it to be. I skipped planning and started playing.
I finished painted Sala’s dress then added a quick shield and stuck in some photo reference of lilies. I didn’t care for the shield so I didn’t bother finishing it but I loved the lilies so I painting some of my own…and then didn’t include them in the final piece because I eventually cropped off the whole bottom of the picture and changed my concept entirely.
Instead I decided to paint Sala with a little pet dragon. I tried several different styles of dragon. Then I thought it’d be nice to have a lantern, and then I thought the picture would look better with a background, and the background needed a landscape in it’s background and finally, after a lot of muddling, I came up with a finished piece. It probably took five times as long as it would have if I had drawn it out by hand to begin with, but I had a lot of fun creating it and learned a lot about art and Photoshop in the process.
I owe a special thanks to my wonderful husband Eric for offering helpful suggestions whenever I was at a loss. Here is some advice he gave me for the background. I especially liked the penguin, but unfortunately it didn’t make it into the final piece.