Before / After
The dragon and overall environment I was especially happy with. The publisher was too--they put it on the back cover of the book. When I got back, without gutter constraints, I wondered if there was something I could do differently with the painting which might appeal to my sensibilities in some greater way. I cast about for ideas for awhile, tossing out some of the more trite ones--battling dragons, for instance. At one point I'd done a digital sketch where I left but altered the cleric, removed the two others, and had a much larger army charging in.
I took the scan into Painter, and quickly painted out the figures, so I would have a "clean" canvas to imagine upon. While video-chatting with my friend Steven Belledin (two posts in a row he's been mentioned in--this can't be good for his reputation!), I sent him that study (he having not seen the published version) and asked what sorts of things he might imagine. We talked about what I wasn't going to do, and after awhile he offered up, "...I'm thinking maybe a child...." I was intrigued and within moments had begun to string out the idea in my head. Ends up we had very different ideas for what kind of portrayal that would result in, but it was a valuable brainstorming session.
In-progress: in this poor photo (the sky is totally washed out), you can see the wing portion blocked in for repainting, the old tail and extra perch still showing through the first layer of sky repaint, the new tail still penciled-in, and the ground fully-painted before figures are placed on it
Reworking it meant all sorts of changes. I approached it with the malleability of a digital painting. In digital art, you're free to wreck and repaint anything with impunity. I've sort of taken up that spirit in paint. I had to remove the cleric's spell and repaint everything underneath. I re-staged the environment, for instance, making the arch the cleric was standing on a very distant rock outcropping. I had to repaint the dragon's head since it was no longer being hit by a spell. All sorts of changes. It was almost as much work as starting over!