Gotta say this panel sets the bar as far as shades of gray: warm grey, cool grey, mountain grey, cloud grey, plus a couple blue-greys: juniper and steel, and not to mention light, medium and dark blacks (all using Derwent Graphitint water-soluble pencils). Which was kind of a funny flash-back to back in the day when all I had for shading was screentone using greyscale (from the Zip-A-Tone/LetraTone sheets), each section manually cut out from the film and burnished into place onto the line art. So the whole gradient of value I had to work with was basically 10%, 20%, 30% etc.
One of the advantages to shading it digitally before watercoloring the original is that it's like a warm-up wherein one gets to experiment with different schemes to enhance the composition in subtle ways. For example one can emphasize pictorial depth and also help direct the viewer's eye by focusing attention using contrast. And even before that stage there's always the thumbnailed rough from the sketchbook (see below) which just used graphite for shading with ballpoint pen. Actually the flakes were added on the doodle by playing with a gift from last year: Faber-Castell makes a white PITT artist pen which requires repeated application as it's not quite opaque enough.
Overall it was a convoluted process, since I almost only went with just the doodle from the sketchbook (posted below), but inked up a version on Bristol anyways. After scanning it I was pretty pleased with the digitally shaded end result, and at that point switched to planning on running with the Photoshop variation as the final print version.
Then lastly I went ahead and watercolored the original just to see what would happen. That turned out to be a huge disappointment at first, until dropping in some flakes (using white-out + a beat-up brush) which really made everything simultaneously coalesce and pop. And the overwhelming grays coalesced into a good backdrop to set the stage for foreground & midground elements. Sometimes instead of the usual Workable Fixative I'll hit it up instead with some glossy Krylon finish, which adds a lot of luster and richness, plus after spraying it while the edges are all taped up with low-tack art tape it will help flatten the Bristol back out, which given the real estate coverage of wash, has by then buckled and warped.
Wound up printing this out a one of the Xmas cards offered at the handful of bazaars I participated in. I'll usually hit the circuit only if I have a new book, and in conjunction with that, some new tshirts too. But I've accumulated enough peripheral product now to merit at few appearances, and the selection of cards is a nice offering to have as an exclusive at these events. Not the holiday piece I had planned, but one that came about as a result of getting a bit too bugged-out after drawing for too long one day. So I bailed out of the studio and took a break with the sketchbook down at the cafe, and this is the doodle came out instead:
Everybody be merry - be safe, take care and have a peaceful season. CHEERS!