First I traced my sketch onto watercolor paper (Arches 300 pound hot press) using a light box. Then I lightly penciled in the illustration. I do this part with hard graphite, which works well because once I start painting, those first pencil lines are so light that they pretty much disappear. Of course, this part of the process might not make for the most entertaining blog post, since the lines are barely visible. Anyway, here it is. If you look very closely, you can see the pencil lines.
It's all penciled in, then taped with masking tape to a wooden board (so the paper doesn't buckle while I'm working on it). I also tape the edges of the picture, so when I'm done, the picture will have nice clean edges all around. This isn't really necessary, but it's strangely gratifying to rip off that tape at the end of each illustration. Somehow, I don't really feel like it's done until I rip off the tape.
Then I started painting. I'm starting each illustration in this book with a brown underpainting. Then I build on top of that with color. I go from light to dark, working all over the picture. I try not to focus on any one area for too long, especially at this early phase, when I'm trying to build the overall composition. Here's how far I got today:
And here's a shot of my whole drawing table, with paints on the right, my picture in the middle, and a bunch of reference photos scattered around.
Tomorrow I'll keep working on the underpainting, then start building up some color. Again, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.