And as I made such an appealing case, the next commission lined up will be of the 3rd option ;D
Tools of choice this time were Prismacolor (Karisma now in the UK I believe) pencils and 'Murano' pastel paper.
*click for big!*
#1 - Firstly I'd like to state, unless you're a total pro master, starting an image on white paper/background will be awkward (what's your mid-tone?!) and the final image can often lack 'punch' unless you do well with colour theory and contrast.
So, as this was going to be a dark image I opted for a dusky blue. Perfect for strong lighting, but not too dark as to make adding shadows fruitless.
Blocking in light from the fire and also added some reflected light to add dimension as once her black fur is added she'd get lost on the paper. Poor girl. If there's no actual second light source, use a colour from the background as the reflected light/to tint shadows.
#2 - Added that black and looked over a few cat pics to decide what 'shape' her head was going to be. She's based on a domestic breed, rather than wild big cats, so her features benefit from fluffy, soft details and curves.
#3 - Boosted the vibrancy on the highlights as the scanner 'flattened' her somewhat. Background was a hard choice. Initially we placed her in a great, marble hall. Wasn't totally happy with all the extra space this gave as she needed to be a solid, main focus. Must stay simplistic! Lots of 'overlay' and 'multiply' layers.
The stained-glass was a happy trial, the colours in the window allowed for extra harmonious colours to be splattered in. (#5)
#4 - Finally added the fire, making sure the light wasn't quiiite as strong as her highlighting. Magic is the reason for the orbs and sparkles, should you really need a reason for such things ;D
#5 - Details and extras! Few shadows, added jewellery and floor texture to ground her and give the room a bit more context.
+ A close-up of her papery texturey face.