As you can see I started with line art and a local-color comp which is mostly an underpainting and doesn't solve most or any of the problems of the painting except to have something on the page. From there I broke the colors into flats and roughed in a value comp. After this point it's just a matter of running through each component and rendering/making sure the materials are right. Early on I got some excellent feedback on the piece being too bright and open, so I pushed to really darken the mood and make the piece a bit more claustrophobic. I tried to keep the light sources believable, and keep everything in the painting lit only by artificial sources to keep that feeling of being stuck underground in total, absolute black.
There's definitely a lot I'd do different now with the process, knowing what about this method did and didn't work. Namely, I wouldn't have gone to flats--or if I do, next time I'll make a point of going in right away and painting out the overly crisp edges. I struggled through the piece to give it that hand-crafted, traditional feel, and I think the tight layer masks from the flats ended up making it more difficult than it naturally would have been to get it looking solid. I also would have taken more time to plot out the value hierarchy, as I feel like some characters get more attention than others due to their local colors. I also focused a lot less on strong silhouettes in this piece than I would have liked to, and the composition feels less graphic as a result of it. All in all though, I'm happy enough with how it turned out. It was a big challenge and I'm excited for the chance to take on another piece like this in the future. Marc, the client, was a joy to work with, and pretty much let me have fun with all my pieces. As a result I got to do a great deal more experimentation than I generally am allowed in much of my other, non-personal work.
And here's a gif to show the process a bit more easily:
I'll update in a few days to share all the interior work I've done for the book. See you then!