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    Digital painting of a salamander!
"My Grapes!"
For this project, there were only two requirements: 1. It had to be a vignette and 2. It had to be good. Other than that, we could basically create any kind of illustration we wanted. I guess I never realized it before, but I really do love animals and nature, and I also love putting a touch of irony or humor into my art. So I came up with this Caesear-like salamander character who has gorged himself on food and now finds himself alone with his last bunch of grapes. 

I started out with an early concept sketch and soon developed it into a value study. I debated over adding more elements to the story, such as fish skeletons and maybe a goblet of wine, but in the end decided that I liked the design better without those elements. I scanned the value study into Photoshop and did a quick color study over the pencil drawing with color overlays. Then I began the final from the color study. I liked the texture of the graphite in the sketch, so I allowed it to show through in some areas in the final digital painting. Since I normally stick with traditional painting (I've completed probably only 5 or 6 serious digital paintings in my life), this was challenging at times. I'm still not sure I accomplished some of the textures I want, so I'm going to just call this a good start to what will hopefully soon be a spectacular digital painting that I can add to my portfolio! I hope you like it!
The sketch. The first sketch was much, much simpler. This is the first one where I included props. 
This is what I thought was the final, back in the spring of 2012. 
After several months, I finally got the chance to go back into this piece and fix some areas I had been unhappy with. It might not look that different, but I cleaned up some of the edges, added some rim lighting around the mouth, and worked on the grapes. I added some of the blue light to them and also got rid of the slightly harsh outline around them that had made them look a bit cartoony. And last of all, I dimmed down the lighting on the bottom of the rock. It's finally to the point where I can look at it and rest a little easier!