So I thought I'd post up how I went from thumbnail to finished concept painting. I'm still new to all this myself, so I'm still refining my own process and style, but this is how I got through this one.
So I start off doodling a few thumbnails - I do admit I didn't do a lot of exploration before I got to the sort off shape I was looking for. Like I mentioned before, I was going for a Knight type mech, but without going for the typical horse and armour look.
I then took the idea up to a bigger drawing, also in my sketchbook, where I figure out the perspective and the general pose. As you can see the drawing trailed off a bit, but that's because once I'd got the first few lines down I could see it in my head, so I had what I needed to take it into digital and start painting.
With this drawing I still feel I'm limiting myself with my process. I kind of draw in the details as I go along and design as I refine the drawing. But I can't help but feel if I had done more work in the thumbnail stage, I'd have more to work with in the painting stage and the design might have felt a bit more thought out.
After the line I paint in the mask - to be honest I paint the rough mask in whilst doing the line because it allows me to see the forms better, but you have to keep going in and refining the mask layer as you draw. The mask acts as a starting point for rendering, also I use it to quickly add layer masks to subsequent painting layers. A thing I like to do at this stage is put the ground shadow down as it helps the figure sit on the page, so it's not just floating.
Then I go on to do the first value pass, separating out the forms using value.
Then I go in and tighten everything up, adding shadows and highlights, continually working out how to render each form. I'm still really bad at lighting and thinking about how different materials render with different light. What I've tried to do here is an approximation of what I think metal looks like. This is a really bad thing to do and next time I'll look at a lot more photo references and build up a better vocabulary of how these things work.
More refining, adding more shadows and highlights to push the values. I continually tweak the brightness and contrast throughout the painting, pushing the values more to make the image punch. I use the dodge tool sometimes too when I want to push certain areas forwards. I'm using dodge and burn on the background too to pull the figure off the page, and make the crest stand out.
Then final touches - I decided that the page would benefit from a bit of white outlining, just to pop the design off the page a bit more, as I wasn't going to colour. I also didn't add textures to this one either as I didn't feel it needed it. I'll detail that stage in another painting.
So there it is, by no means the most efficient process in the world, but I'm constantly learning. I actually think this painting turned out a bit flat, not enough contrast or shadow maybe, but I'll have a look at that in the next painting.