While many other artist start with a rough sketch or a line drawing, I start mostly with blocking in some colors and pretty rough shapes (Fig.03). It often takes some time to see "something" in this chaotic brush mess, but I use this time to let my brain juice and my imagination flow.
With this image I started to see some tree shapes and decided to go with a "clearing" for the overall mood and direction. The next step was to draw in some tree shapes by using the Selection tool. Once I was happy with the shapes I painted in some color values with my main brush. I also used the Eraser tool for some softer blending values (Fig.04).
Defining Shapes and Mood
I kept working on the trees by using the same technique. The trees in the background are simple brush strokes. This is an easy way to give your image depth and a better sense of scale.
For the ground I used a technique that was developed by Sparth, called "custom shapes". It's quite similar to custom brushes - but just working with shapes/paths instead. After dropping in the shapes I used the Eraser tool to get rid of the crisp edges. The leaves were made by a custom brush. Color gradients on soft light layer were used to set the overall color temperature and mood (Fig.05).
Happy with the mood and colors (for now) I started to add more details and some foreground and mid-ground elements by using the custom shape and brushes technique again. For the highlights on the trees I again used the Selection tool - simply select certain areas, hide the selection and start painting (Fig.06).
Blocking in the Plant
Having a lot of fun painting the forest, I totally forgot the topic - Man-Eating Plant. After a "quick" web research (great source of inspiration and a time killer as well) I was really inspired by the beautiful shapes and colors from that sort of plant. With using my main brush again, I blocked in the initial plant shape and added some light and shadow as well (Fig.07).