A little breakdown of the painting process I use.
Due to hard drives blowing up and art programs flat out crashing on me in the past, I have a little bit of a "beaten spouse" relationship with my computer in that I save like a million times. It never hurts to be overly spastic about saving your progress
I ended up with far more than 6 final shots, but these 6 pretty well catch the image at it's best moments.
1.) Pencil sketch. Some people sketch right on the computer, but I still prefer to draw on good old fashioned paper. #2 Papermate Sharpwriter mechanical pencil -- nothing fancy.
2.) After scanning the image at 300 DPI I use Macromedia Flash and my trusty Wacom Intuos tablet to trace the line art. Doing line art in Flash allows me to get a more natural "inked" feeling from the lines than if I use Photoshop. Just a personal preference, really.
3.) Imported the image to Adobe Photoshop CS. My line art is the top layer, set to Multiply, with the flat base colors beneath it. Each base color is on a seperate layer at this point, which will come in handy later. Can you do it all on one layer? Sure. I've done it in the past, and it saves on time in the beginning, but can be a pain in the butt later on if you feel like changing things later on.
4.) Imported the image to Corel Painter IX. OMG...like my favorite program evah. It's the closest thing I've found to actually painting without, well...paint. At this point I've made a pot of coffee, and slapped a playlist together on Rhapsody. My second favorite program.
Through the combined powers of coffee, Painter, and the sweet sweet lovin' that is my Intuos tablet, Fara's features start to take shape. The base color of each section is set to a seperate layer, so when I paint it won't bleed into the other areas. This allows me to start picking out the shadows and highlighted areas of say, her fur, without smudging her um...outfit.
5.) Imported back into Photoshop for some airbrushing. While I do the majority of my work in Corel Painter, I do touchups and final lighting in Photoshop. First I pick a highlight color (in this case a sort of orangey peach), and a shadow color (in this case a dark purple).
On top of all the Painter layers I make typically three to four layers. The first is set to Multiply, and will be the soft shadows layer. The airbrush is set to some gigantic size. The second layer is set to Vivid, and will be my soft highlights layer. A quick wash sets the direction of light hitting her, and makes things interesting.
The third layer is another Multiply layer for hard shadows, and the fourth layer is typically set to Screen for hard highlights.
6.) Still in Photoshop. I've placed the logo in (done in Flash as was the line art), and gussied it up. Ran out of coffee. Saved as a final .psd for later use, and then flattened the whole darned thing together, framed, and signed. Shrunk the image drastically so viewer's computers don't blow up trying to pull it.
Final Image: 3450 px by 2400 px
Shrunken for Web: 1100 px by 796 px
Mechanical Pencil: $2.50 for a box of 12
Wacom Intuos Tablet: $250
Coffee Pot: $20.00
The gape-jawed look on Fox's face when he walks in on Fara: Priceless.