I want to share this tutorial with you guys and I hope you'll find it interesting. My technique is quite free and I follow my imagination while making sure not to lose sight of the concept. For this illustration I used a Round brush. Okay, let's get started!
I started by looking for inspiration for my illustration. This is something that other animations and movies rely on a lot to help them develop the concept of the main story, but I tend to just use inspiration and references as a guideline and let the idea develop while I am painting. Here is the concept and sketch of the composition (Fig.01).
In this illustration I focused on the idea of a boy who wants to be a panda. I then started to sketch lots of different images to find the best direction for my concept. In this step I didn't concentrate on details because I wanted to work freely when I started to add color. I knew I could change the details later.
When adding color and detailed, I worked through the image section by section, painting the pandas one by one. I created a new layer for each new panda, and set a direction for the light and shadow. The important thing at this stage was that the direction of the light needed to be the same in every layer. I also painted the background a neutral, middle color (Fig.02).
Then I added the characters in one by one until they were all in the scene. I love this step the most because I was able to try out new expressions and emotions for each character. I didn't plan anything - I just let each character come out. If you work this way it's important to not get carried and forget about the main concept as sometimes it can pull the final image too far away from that original concept (Fig.03).
For the lighting I used a Main light and Reflex light, concentrating on two directions (Fig.04).