After I finished my last piece, I found I had a paper trail as to how I got there, so I thought I'd share. Here's a progression for anyone who's curious.
For me, big pieces start small. Well, they usually start as big ideas, followed by frustration at not being able to realize said big idea, followed by disillusionment, followed by compromise. After that's all done, for me these things start with people.
After some lifedrawing,
and some uh... hideous stages...
I start gradually adapting sketches into characters.
With two rough ideas, I scanned this one in and played with size and position. Then I literally just printed out whatever I slapped together, at size.
Then I used my "lightbox" (*ahem* a piece of glass, a shade-less lamp, and three odd boxes) to continually draw over my 'frames,' letting them evolve a bit each time.
With an okay sketch, I did one final trace to grab the essentials.
I traced that sketch to my watercolor paper, penned it lightly, and attacked background with a pencil. (Background is my silent demon. It never ever looks like I pictured, but we usually end up in compromise.)
After a lot more frustration and usually 2-5 declarations of "I give up! Scrap this!" ("No, no, you can't scrap this is your last bit of paper!") we end up here:
Then I like to add some digital paint in there (careful not to actually paint over the real paint) to really bring out what I couldn't do with watercolors alone:
And that's it.