1) I sketch it out. I'm terrible at keeping a sketch book so no practice makes me far less than perfect. This stage tends to be repeated up to 10 times until the final drawing is produced.
2) I do a quick colour test.
3) I then add the final lick of paint over the whole thing (this is the bit that will be covered better in my full process post). Basically, I start with block colours, then add shade and highlights, finally I use some gradients to deepen particular areas (seen in the next step). Throughout this process I had some placeholder lighting to help with composition (taken straight from the earlier colour test).
4) I add the proper lighting. I've always been obsessed with lighting, here's a direct quote: "Bad lighting can ruin a good drawing, and in my case, vice versa." - Kristian Duffy, 1608
(This screenshot was taken in reverse so it's not an exact pinpoint in the process. It is however, an estimate of the illustration pre-adjustment layers.)
5) I overlay the whole thing with various Photoshop adjustment layers. These things can completely change the mood of an image and I rely (sometimes a bit too heavily) on them to tweak the mood of my illustrations. Up until about 3 years ago, I would never do this for fear of 'cheating'. Then of course, I realised it's called making use of your tools- do photographers cheat when they change the exposure on their cameras?
I'll also go further into these in my full process post, they're magical life savers!
6) Finally I uploaded this particular piece to twitter (@UndercoverCroc) asking for critique. A couple of fine folk gave me some handy tips so I went back and made tweaks to: The lighting, adjustment layers and colours. *Edit* a few days on I decided the cropping was a bit off so I extended the image a touch (see the first bigger pic at the top of this post)
That's it, I hope you all enjoyed my slightly more analytical post. I'm trying mum, I'm trying! More to come in the future so watch this space.