Radio Times Magazine Illustration 
"People Don't Do Such Things"  Radio Page illustration to accompany a BBC Radio broadcast.
Dramatised for the radio by Mike Walker from a short story by Ruth Rendell, this is a dark tale of passion, simmering jealousy and revenge in the 1970's suburbs.

Synopsis: It is 1979, Britain in recession. For Arthur, a middle age accountant in a small company, life is predictable. Happily married and settled. When a new client, the charming and successful writer Reeve Baker steps into their lives, offering a tantalising glimpse of another exciting colourful world. 

I decided to concentrate on the writer as the dominant character for the image, depicting him as a mysterious enigmatic presence, glowing with bright hues and patterns of the time, contrasting with the quiet monochrome world of the accountant. The render time was approximately one and half working days prior to going to print.

A twenty point step by step recording of the rendering process follows...
The printed image in situ in the radio pages of the Radio Times Magazine.
This photo shows how I approach the planning stage of the commission. As soon as I receive the synopsis I draw very loosely in a small A6 Sketchbook, nearly always in pen for spontaneity. Once I'm happy that an idea has potential I then move on to an A3 Sketchbook. Here I draw freely in pencil until composition comes together. Line traces of two drawings were made. These became the final roughs that were submitted to the client. I never go into too much detail with the drawing at this stage as it allows a little more creative freedom when rendering the finished image. The rough with the main character depicted in three quarter profile was chosen by the client. 
The drawing was completed outside of the Mac, scanned in at high res (600 dpi as it was small scale), cleaned up in Photoshop using the levels and then placed in an Adobe Illustrator doc document.
I always start with a grey colour fill - to get rid of the dreaded white board !
I prefer to block in the colours really quickly in Illustrator using the pen tool, then use the gradient mesh tool to play with colour variations and tonal graduations. 

The sketch is still present, but is placed as the top layer in the image, using the multiply layer blend setting so that the white becomes transparent leaving the black line visible. The layer is then turned on and off as and when guidance is needed.
The basic image is now taking shape, character present, shirt blocked in, and decorative items started.
Secondary figures created and the transparency adjusted. Basic features also added.
Happy with all of the basic geometric shapes created in Illustrator, time to set up a doc in Photoshop - at 300dpi, three times the print size. Now I'm working in PS I start to bring in scanned painted textures as a base and a top layer, with transparency and layer blends adjusted until I'm happy. The next stage involves each relevant Illustrator layer / object being copied and pasted as smart objects into PS. By using this technique the Smart Object layer then remains editable in Illustrator should alterations be required.
Key Illustrator layers now in PS, the overpainting fun begins using a Wacom Intuos Pen and Tablet.
More overpainting, then selected areas including some whole layers and selections of overpaint have the guassian blur applied in varying degrees.
Details and patterns added. 
Secondary characters now added and more overpainting applied.
Hair swirl base added, plus red drips on the sunglasses.
Hair swirl detail added. The pattern on the shirt was changed to a simpler design and a 1970's star badge added to the hair area. Also, more textures were imported and applied, using masks, transparency and layer blends to change appearance until a happy balance is achieved. 
More overpainting, creating greater tonal contrasts between the main writer character and the secondary accountant / wife characters.
Image now has an orange fill applied. Experimenting with the layer blends and the layer mask tool, the transparency and colour intensity are adjusted until the correct balance is achieved.
Now a somewhat radical step, but one that I often use. In Photoshop I create a new group, make a copy of the whole image with all layers intact and place the image into this new group, then name it B&W. This group is then merged into flat layer and desaturated. The levels were adjusted a little to create a greater tonal variation in range. This gives an interesting black and white version of the image. A helpful stage to be able to take stock and reassess progress.
Using a layer mask and broad air brush, the B/W layer is gradually removed and re-added (as necessary) to contrast between the vibrant world of the writer and the quieter world of the accountant. At this stage its just trial and error until it just feels like the right balance has been achieved.
Slight tonal adjustments with the B/W layer, and a few transparency adjustments to some of the texture layers are applied - the image is now coming together.
The finished illustration ready for print. Again, some subtle tonal changes were made to the overall image using the same process as the B / W layer, but this time I used layer blends and subtle transparency to achieve the tonal difference and boost the contrast a little. A very small border edge was also added around the image sides and top edge. The whole file / image is then duplicated and saved as a print version, then flattened and adjusted to the correct dimensions ready for print. This keeps the original master image / file fully intact in case any changes are requested by the client.


I hope you enjoyed reading through the working process.