The main idea of this image was to create english-victorian style characters with pretty realistic lighting and enviroment.
First of all I've made a quick sketch in Adobe Flash. Why Flash? Well it's a matter of choice. Maybe the main reason that vector-based sketch is very scalable and easy to edit. I drew 5 characters, each in its own layer, placed them so they remained groupped but still their faces wouldn't be overlapped with each other. Exoprted completed lineart in high resolution transparent PNG and opened it in Painter. Placed the sketch in the upper layer in multiply mode so white color faded away and all black lines remained.
Here I start blocking out colors. I still don't know what background I want to make but I am pretty sure it's going to be very dark. I always start to paint with darkest possible color adding highlights and backlight afterwards. In this particular image I chooce dark purple for skin and and dark greens and browns for characters clothes. White shirts, eyes and teeths has to be as dark as possible, it will give me much more range of lighting to add afterwards, but still they have to be lighter then skin. I chooce dark warm-grey.
Here I start adding some light to the scene. I know that I have here only one lightsource so it's pretty straight forward, no special tricks. Still no backlights. The main goal here is to "sculpt" the characters, to reveal the form and to focus the viewer's attention on important parts of the scene.
At this point I delete my upper layer with the lineart. I don't need ti anymore. Start refining the characters. The most difficult part here is their skin. My lightsource here is an old lamp, so the light has to be bright-yellow, and that is the color I put on highlighted places of my characters faces. The line between lighted and shaded parts of the skin has to be orange cause here the yellow of the lightsource blends with the red of blood in cappilaries when the light enters the skin
Well now my characters are almost done. I add some details such as glasses to the guy who looks up and some details to the uniform of the constable. By the way for that purpose I used reference photos of british policemen from the late 19 th century. At this point I paint the leg. To get some nice bird skin texture I've made a new paper from the b/w photo of elephant skin. You can easily make new papers in painter to achive some cool texture effects. So I painted that bird skin with oil pastels over that new paper. Pretty easy. When all my characters and the leg are completed I put some dark background behind. Just to see how it works. Well I see it works pretty nice even with only floor and dark background. Add a little lightfog expanding from the lamp in order to give it more realistic look. But I need more detailed overall picture. So I move on.
Quick sketch of a new background. Well it's OK, but I would like to give it much more northen, english look. Right now it seems like some italian town.
Another background. It came out pretty nice but a little bit too dark and kind of medieval. So I decide not to continue with this one.