I thought it would be fun to do another post about process. Here is a personal illustration and the steps leading to it.
The finished illustration. This is where we're headed.
Here I'm laying down thoughts as quickly as possible. I start with an image in mind. I'm dealing with the story and the mood first. I want to find an arrangement that is appealing as an abstract pattern and effective as a narrative.
At this point I'm starting to describe materials (trees, snow) and creating a varied surface. I'm changing my brush often to avoid a "samey" appearance. In choosing colors I'm thinking first about value and second about temperature.
This step deals mostly with the foreground. I want the shapes here to create an interesting pattern that leads a viewer's eye into the frame. I'm also concerned with what the shapes say about the terrain itself.
I'm finally down to painting the central figure. I've left the focal point until now because it requires so much drawing. I have to take a less instinctive approach here, bringing in reference and dealing with the specific construction of forms.
I've decided to redraw the figure. As Robert Henri advocates in The Art Spirit, I'll redraw a figure if I feel I've missed the intended feeling/gesture. Noodling rarely helps!
Just a few changes here. I've painted the figure in the back and pushed the value contrast and color saturation of my focal point.
Finished! I had a problem with the composition feeling sliced in two. Adding more horsemen in the middle helped solve this, and I like what it did for the story.
Thats it! Hope you found this helpful.