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    An illustration that I only had 2 weeks to complete, print and ship.
The Elements of Surprise
A Step-by-Step Process by Jamie R. Stone (Punksthetic)
Hey guys! I was conceptualizing some sketches for my entry in the Between Heaven and Hellboy art show at Urban Light Studios. The curators said I pretty much had free reign, so what better way to do that than to express what I really care about?

That's right. I decided to go with Dr. Theodore Kemis, the heroic protagonist of my graphic novel (one of them, anyway) as well as some tertiary characters such as Filious (the fiery cat) and Kanious (the watery dog). There's also a little kid who will someday grow up to be Theo, the protagonist of the 2nd book in the series.

I wanted the poses to be dynamic and powerful, so I experimented a bit with them. I felt driven to do something that had perspective and gave the character weight, so the more 2D-oriented poses didn't really grab me, despite how interesting they were in silhouette form... That's when I had an idea for the one on the right, and it ended up being something I really like. Tell me what you all think of my choice!
I went with this sketch for the final design because not only did it perfectly encapsulate a key scene from my graphic novel, but it is a true glory shot, showing all the necessary heroics one would expect from any superhero (who was Steampunk-based, of course). Each character's sketch is on a different layer and represented by a different color. This is basically to keep each character's sketch separate, but it also more or less represents that character's overall coloring as well.
Here's the final drawing stage. Any and all kinks with form and anatomy are worked out in this stage, as they will be very difficult to fix in any stage following this one. I put each character on a different layer and I usually put a stroke around the lineart for each character to make them pop out from the background, not to the point of looking like stickers, but also not thin enough to obscure their definitions as well.
Here's the shadow stage of the process. This is perhaps the most difficult part, since the shadows represent the lighting for the entire piece. The rest of the lighting is just rimlighting, in typical comic fashion, so the brunt of the work is in this stage.
Colors in this stage. Not much else to say.
And here are the highlights, showing everything against a black background to make them stand out better. I've more or less got everything done in this stage as far as the characters go, but there will be numerous tweaks after this to really sell the piece.
I added any necessary atmospheric effects in this final phase. The illustration is pretty much finished at this point. Any mistakes I may have made will just have to serve as learning examples from here on out. I can see the parts I like, but mostly I see the things I don't like. I think perhaps limiting myself to such a rigid process invariably takes some of the life out of the thing, so I may end up just reverting back to other styles of illustration in the future.