1. Photo Reference- Obviously the larger and sharper the image the better so i can see more detail. If this will be a part of a larger layout, I do a low-res composition to see how everything fits and whether or not I need to find a different pose. The low-res comp also allows me to see where I can crop the photo and how much of it I actually need to draw. Very rarely do I draw a whole body or pose if I'm not going to use it later (I used to do that and it wasn't very efficient, plus I had a hard time bringing myself to crop off a part of the body that I had spent so much time on)
2. Block It Out- I grew up wanting to be a comic book artist and since I didn't have any formal art training until college, I learned to draw like a comic book artist would. This step just gives me the general shapes and size of everything.
3. Sketch It Out- This step is a little more detailed, not a full out drawing but a lot more in depth than Step 2.
4. Ink It Up- Again like a comic book, I add ink over the pencils. I don't ink everything, just the outlines of things and the darkest shadows. I used to do Steps 2, 3 and 4 the traditional way. Red or blue pencil to block it out, graphite to sketch and india ink to ink. Then I would scan everything into the computer and add the color but now I do those steps in photoshop with my tablet.
5. Select and Base- I set up the file so that there's a white background and the Inks are in a transparent layer. Then I create a layer set for the color and set it to multiply. I create a selection for the piece I'm going to color, in this case his skin, and fill it with a base color. Looks kind of strange at this point, I know.
6. Skin shade 1- For skin, I have a palette of 9 different colors (base, 5 shades, 3 highlights) plus black and white if necessary. I always use this palette for skin no matter what the person's skin color. This step is when I draw in the first shade.
7. Skin shade 2- I add the second shade of skin. With most pictures, this is the step where you can tell if you're going to get the likeness correct. Unfortunately, I realized that this might not be the best example because there's so much shadow on his face so it will take longer to show it's shape. Plus there isn't as much in the way of highlights.
8-10. Skin shades 3 thru 5- The further from the base color you get the less of each shade you should have to add.
11-13. Skin highlights 1 thru 3- After finishing all of your shading, it's starting to look good. But it still doesn't pop. It's amazing to me everytime I do this, how much life a few highlights here and there can give the picture. Skin highlight 3 is not always needed and sometimes you need to go beyond it and use white as well.
14. Skin tweak- I didn't feel that the colors from my skin palette matched his skin tone so I tweaked it using an adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation. This is why I can use the same skin palette for anybody, I even used it for the Hulk! Also in this step, I changed the color for his lips and added the color in his beard.
15. All Together- I use the same process for each piece of him. Anything that's a different color needs to be selected, have a base color laid in and shaded and highlighted. And I always save my selections so if I want to I can go back in and tweak the colors. I don't leave everything as different layers because it would get insane! When the picture is at this step, there is only one layer of color.
16. Final- I add a few sparkles on his buckle, a gleam in his eye and drop in a background. I'm not going to waste time doing much of a background since this is just one piece of something larger.