This year the piece is titled 'Yarrow' for the flower shown in the image.
Below I'll show the step-by-step of creating the art.
I'd also found images of the yarrow flower, and drew in heaps of those on the bird drawing too. And so it felt more like Mouse Guard, I also drew a spear that I could play with placing in the next step.
Then I print out the above composition. Because of it's size I have to print it in two parts and then tape them together. That whole printout is then taped to the backside of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I can ink the piece on the surface of the bristol while still seeing my 'pencil' lines on the printout below.
There was a lot of repetitive forms in the flowers, and I tried to focus on making the space in between them dark so they receded away, and much of the character space is open without a lot of texture or rendering to help give the eye a break in that sea of tight flower inks.
When the inks were done, I scanned those back into photoshop to start the coloring. The first part of that is called 'flatting' where I establish what color everything is and where those areas end with flat un-textured colors. Like, professional coloring-in-the-lines. I also established a few color-holds, areas where I want the ink work to be a color other than black (here I did it on the dress embroidery pattern, the background foliage, and on the harp strings (which were inked on the back side of the bristol on a lightpad so I could isolate those lines very easily.
I'd made most of my color choices when I was compositing the pencil drawings, so this step was rather procedural.
The last part was to render the color––to add light, shadow, and texture. I do this in Photoshop mostly with the Dodge and Burn tools and a stock textured brush.
'Yarrow' will be released and made available for purchase in my online store at the start of my March ONLINECON event (Mar. 24-28––more info coming soon)