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    Another mock cover design for the adventures of Captain Applesauce.
Captain Applesauce Vs. The Red Robot Army
This is my initial sketch.  It's the very first stage where I play with the poses and positioning of elements in the drawing.  It's probably the most fun part because everything is coming right out of my head and I'm seeing everything for the first time.  My goal here was to show the strength and confidence of Captain Applesauce, while also keeping his childlike curiosity intact.  I created the "Red Robot Army" as a nod back to the Red Scare of the 1950s and the Atomic Age (that being the era Captain Applesauce exists in).
Next, once I'm happy with my sketch, I go back over it with darker lines of varying quality.  In this phase, I'm deciding what lines to keep, as well as which lines I want to be more prominent.  The end result gives me a coloring book-like image that I can place on the foremost layer in Photoshop and put all colors underneath.
I don't have much in the way of "in-progress" here, but it is indeed lengthy.  For each different color you see, I first lay a base color, then go over it deciding where to put shadows and highlights, then I add textures and lastly I add any special little effects that may be required like lens flare or glow.  In this stage, I like to switch between a very soft brush, and a thin/wide hard edged brush.  I'm also coloring a lot with the eraser, as I erase top layers to reveal layers of color underneath.
Next, I take on the background.  I want the colors to be more muted / darker and the objects much more simple in order to keep the focus on the foreground elements where it belongs.  While I'm coloring the broken robot pieces, I'm still keeping in mind where the light source is coming from, and sampling colors from the main robot in the foreground to keep the piece tied together.
This stage is actually pretty crucial, because the color of the sky can play a large role in setting the mood of the piece.  I REALLY like this kind of bleeding orange sky, and I feel that it helps tell the story of all the destruction that just took place at the hands of Captain Applesauce.  I had already had in mind what colors I was going to use for the sky, as all of the highlights on the characters must also correspond with the colors in the sky.
This is a fun stage because I got to play around with creating smoke.  Smoke is VERY tricky to create freehand due to all of its varying opacities, folds, and sudden changes in value.  If you aren't careful, you can end up making something that looks like a dirty crumpled up tissue.  The smoke in this piece has 4 distinct colors in it and a few different levels of opacity, combined with a nice little gaussian blur effect.  My smoke making technique still needs work, but I also learned a lot in the process of this picture.
And here is the last stage.  I saved the electric sparks for last because I knew I'd have fun doing it and I like to keep a little carrot on a string to help me through some of the more grueling parts of coloring my work.  I created the glowing effects on the sparks starting with 2 identical layers.  I changed the first layer to a darker blue and added a gaussian blur effect to spread out a blue aura around the sparks.  The top most layer was much lighter and had a very light blue interior.  Then all I had to do was pop my lil signature on the bottom right, and I was finished.  I view it as a big improvement from the last Applesauce adventure, and I enjoy getting better with each drawing.  Thanks for checking out my work, and keep on the lookout for more exciting adventures of Captain Applesauce and other...cool drawings.