These are three stages of a cover illustration I recently did for the magazine, Scout & Engineer. It's a publication dedicated to the discussion of current events via the ideological and philosophical underpinnings of the story.
The cover article is about the view that knowledge is not sinful, but a value that should be highly persued. Pretty obvious, right? No so fast...
The pencil stage is to determine the layout and the overall theme and composition for the cover. This stage has always been the most fun and yet taxing. On one hand I have a perfectly blank space to fill up with no apparent hindrances, yet the responsibility of zeroing in on a given subject matter is the whole point. Here, the direction of the piece is agreed upon by the illustrator and the art director.
The art director doesn't see the next midway stage. But it's here where I make final decisions on placement and emphasis of theme elements. Generally, I prefer doing the tedious (and important) details first because it takes advantage of my initial adrenaline burst. I like to leave the "dessert" for last; the part of the illustration that really drives home my style and approach to the idea.
And, of course, the final. If you look carefully, you can see all the minute changes I made from the midway stage. I put all the lighting effects into play and try to finish with a certain bravado of technique and precision.
And there you have it; the illustration process in three easy steps.