I believe this will be the 2nd post concerning a commissioned piece and I still forgot to screencap it's creation at more than 3 stages, but it's always nice to look back on!
We had a quick play with the character poses at the start and went with something a little different from the original idea towards a wee bit more narrative context. Here's how I presented such an idea...
Beautiful. Many anatomy references were needed to get this position looking better, but the colours in the final turned out quite similar... *click for bigger*
#1 - Neat sketch on my textured paper, which I tried to preserve the effect of without allowing it to 'dirty' the overall appearance. Chose 3D models to position for my pose references ;) Brushed in some bright whites in Photoshop to help when applying colour.
#2 - Flats. As this was my first time, believe it or not, actually using clipping masks, each character/major item is on its own layer (set to multiply/overlay). Great for adding markings, textures, non-overlapping colours and using large brushes in a more forgiving way. No shading at this stage other than what the pencil's created.
#3 - Shadow & highlighting. Created on clipping masks set to 'soft light' with large, almost black, airbrush. Smaller, warm hue for highlighted areas. Also added 'photo filter' to warm everything as the flats made it look a bit too chilly up there! One extra, normal layer for scribbling in some small, very bright details to pick out the light edges better.
And here's it all put together...!