Honestly, this is not one of my favorite paintings. It's not bad, I just thought it would turn out better. But it is one of the only pieces I've ever photographed in progress. Go figure.
Still, it does show generally how my painting process goes. Once I have a concept and have done a few sketches, I move onto the final drawing. In this case, I drew the different parts of the painting separately, scanned each of them and arranged them in Photoshop. Once I'm satisfied with the composition, I have to decide what colors to use. I make a few printouts of the drawing and paint over the drawing; testing color combinations and seeing what looks best. I make notes as I go so I don't forget what colors I used in the test.
Composition done. Color test done. Now I can move to the canvas. I use a projector to take a roughly 8"x10" drawing and transfer it to a 24" x 36" canvas. I trace the image of the drawing right on the canvas, make final adjustments and spray fix the pencil so it won't wash off when the paint is applied. I use the colors from the color test and apply thin washes over the drawing to establish a base.
I let the color wash dry. Then I start painting. For this painting, I wanted to start with the background because the atmosphere and lighting was fairly important. I put down the colors of the sky and trees which will later determine how I treat the figures.
With most of the background established, I start painting the monsters. I'm always referring back to the color test so that the contrast and hues are correct. When the figures are almost complete, I finish off the lower part of the painting to establish the visual distance between the treetops and the flying figures. The darker the trees, the closer they will appear to the figures.
Things look alright so far, so I move to the central figure to finish off the painting. Since the paint in the sky has long since dried, it was a bit of a struggle to make the edges of the figure "mesh" with the sky. Getting the contrast and colors right in the skin and clothing was also harder than I expected it to be.
But I pressed on, and finished it up. It was a good effort and I learned a little. Which is the whole point. You can download the large, high-res version of this piece on my website, www.ryanpancoast.com.