Hey! Trying something different, which is to consolidate all my process pics on one page and share a little about each step:
1. The Thumbnail - my sketchbook is filled with crappy little drawings like this. Sometimes I wonder if people think I can't draw when they look through my sketchbook. That's because this stage is simply ideation! I did several thumbs just like this of different parts of the story and decided I liked the part where the kids are in Hades crossing the river on a raft.
2. Once I have a rough idea, I go straight into Photoshop and paint a color study. I tend to see the world in shapes instead of lines, so it's easier for me to conceptualize a composition by blocking in shape values, rather than trying to draw everything.
3. After the painted study is worked up, I print it out and create a final line drawing on tracing paper. I use this drawing to transfer onto whatever surface I'll be working on. My first intention was to create the final in pastel, so I transferred it using yellow pastel (because I was using a dark-toned in paper).
4. Here is the pastel version that I did not like at all. I wanted to go in and glaze on more yellow into the cool areas but the paper would not take any more material. I was running into other problems too, like pencils breaking, unable to get really sharp points to do fine detail, and correcting the main characters face. SO, I scrapped it and started over in oil because I have much more control in that medium.
5. I transferred the same line drawing onto a primed masonite panel, using graphite transfer paper. Then I tinted a bit of acrylic matte medium with red acrylic paint to create a warm imprimatura and also to seal the drawing. Once that was dry, I began to block in with oils. I don't use any medium in the initial block-in step, just turpenoid to thin the paint down a bit.
6. Blocking in stage. I usually work top to bottom, back to front, big to small, general to specific. This stage is crucial. All the values need to be as accurate as possible. I really pay close attention to my value/color studies here. I also make sure to soften any edges before leaving it to dry.
7. Everything is generally blocked in. I wait for it to dry (in this case, 2 days). Once it's dry, the fun really begins!! I go over every section slowly and paint it to near completion. All but the fine details are added, edges are softened or sharpened according to atmospheric perspective, etc. During this stage I use Liquin to glaze and speed up the drying time.
8. Once the second pass is made, I wait for everything to dry and then go in for the final touches. This includes subtle color glazes, tiny details, and touch-ups. Then I coat the whole thing in Liquin to even out the flat spots, photograph it, and add anything extra in photoshop. I try to get the original to look as good as possible because I like to show and sell my originals. I've placed the color study thumbnail next to the final rendition to see how the vision was executed.
Below are a few close-ups and some photo inspiration I used for this project. I'm originally from California, and so when I moved to Florida I thought the vegetation there was really WEIRD, and I've been wanting to incorporate the landscape somehow into my work. So for this project, I used swamp reference that I took at a place called Lettuce Lake. I don't even know what these things are - trees? Mangrove roots? I'm still learning about swamp vegetation...but whatever it is, it worked out perfectly.