left (c) Tien Nguyen, center (c) Gina McKee, right (c) Isabelle Yan
With this piece, I was working with the concept of these three characters being members of the fae House of Dark. From left to right, their names are Echo, Elion, and Saienna. I detail my process below.
I began with a simple sketch on paper to work out the positioning and composition of the characters. I then drew more detailed sketches and transferred them to my computer. In Photoshop I established cleaner outlines and "final" designs. Elion underwent several changes to better suit his cynical personality. I began coloring by choosing a basic background color and establishing skintones.
Given the dark atmosphere, I used very cool, greyed-out reds and purples for the shadows. I also used a larger textured, rectangular brush to give the piece a "painted" look. After establishing basic shading, I adjusted Echo's skintone to be warmer and darker to be more in keeping with her mixed ethnicity.
About a quarter of the way into the process of painting their skin, I decided to shift Saienna to the side to put more focus on Elion, since he is the de facto protagonist. I used a similar palettes for their clothes to establish more unity between their different styles. I started blocking in a darker background.
The original colors I chose for Elion's hair ended up sticking out too much amid all the purples and blues, and Saienna's was too bright. I added a few pops of more saturated reds around the edges of their faces and desaturated their hair. Here I have essentially finished blocking in all the main figures' colors.
Here I have started to establish the background. I painted in the central trees much brighter than they will be in the finished piece in order to control the shading more easily. I later painted over them with a deep blue and softened the edges. I also painted in Echo's tattoos, this time too dark, and blended them to the correct shade.
Here I have softened out Echo's tattoos and the mostly finished the trees. I painted in Echo's crystal dagger and Saiennas wisp of magic. Both emit light, so I applied a preliminary round of highlights. I also decreased the overall brightness and warmth.
Elion's face looks odd here because I repainted it and still had more shading to apply. I painted in more highlights on their clothes and skin. For the background, I shaded out the base of the trees to look like a reflection, then added stars and a splash of color. I blended this out to a more subtle accent and started blocking in the shards of glass that give the piece its name. I then traced the edges, blocked them in with a very low opacity dark blue, and picked up colors from the environment to blend them out.