When starting any new project the most important step is the idea iteration, or thumbnail phase. The original idea for this cover was to illustrate a scene where the main characters have decided to shoot a viral video to expose the existence of the strigoi. My first idea was to go quite literal, as it usually is. I quickly deviated from that over the course of several more thumbs to a kind of first person "handcam" view, almost as if it is a frame from the viral video. In the end this is the image we decided was best.
From here I shot some reference and moved onto the tonal comp. This is the phase where I develop the idea further as well as work out and compositional subtleties that still need to be resolved. I usually like to do these at least the 1:1 to the final print reproduction.
Then using either a projector, or carbon paper I loosely transfer the the image to my gessoed hardboard. In this case 14 x 22 inches.
I then block in a 3 value underpainting. I have recently been doing more full color underpaintings, but this one was more or less monochromatic using burnt umber ( with a bit of local color on the stingers, because I wanted a translucent effect in the final piece.
I then begin blocking in the general color feel very quickly. For me this phase is very similar to alla prima painting from life.
On my next pass I establish an final textures and details. More or less finishing areas off as I go.