Illustration Process: Musical Dinosaurs

For today's post, I'd like to show some of my process on a still unfinished concept piece for a children's book I'm working on. This assignment involves illustrating musical dinosaurs, which in itself, is already a funny thing. Let's get started. :)

The first pic is a digital collage I made from a painting I did a few years ago. It had a lot of nice texture so I thought it would make a good abstract backdrop for my dinos to make noise in. I tinted it all blue to unify it.

Next, I take my digital tablet and start drawing in white. I don't always work this way. Usually, I'll make some sketches on paper first and scan them in, but this seemed good for this.
Now it's time to tighten up the shapes. A good silhouette is very important and will give you a gauge on the readability of the forms. This step also gives me a chance to round out my shapes and make sure my lines are all flowing. The idea is to make the viewer's eye flow across the piece. I've also reduced the opacity of my initial sketch so that some of those scribbles would still be visible behind the figures.
As I add the linework, I try to preserve the overall integrity of the shape. I'm a fan of smooth brush inking, and after some experiments in Adobe Illustrator, I tweaked a brush to get similar results. It's time consuming, but worth it. It's also worth a word of caution that digital art can very easily render flat and lifeless, so extra care is put into line exaggeration and compositional flow.
 Now it's on to the colors. I changed the linework back to black because the figures were getting a little lost against the busy background. I've also started adding scanned in textures from a canvas painting to my dino on the left.
...And, that's all I have for now. I'll post more on this piece as it nears completion. I hope you enjoyed the process explanation.

Thanks for looking!

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