My name is Marcel Mercado, I've been working in the video game industry for 7 years. I have recently decided to pursue a career in Illustration. I will be going over the process of making "Dance for us!" The idea came about while reading my folio version of Grimm's Fairy Tales. In the ending to Snow White the evil queen is taken away and put scalding iron shoes and made to dance till her body gave out.
Upon reading the Snow White story I immediately knew what I wanted to draw. The scene was going to be an interior scene, smoky, very dark and dangerous. I changed the characters around to a princess about to be tortured by evil henchmen. I made a very crude drawing on paper which I was able to use to direct my wife for the reference pictures. I took a series of photographs that depicted all the characters in the scene. Then I started to gather all the reference to help me build up the scene.
I knew that I wanted to place the story in a dungeon/torture room of sorts so I googled for reference Dungeons, Medieval Cathedrals, blacksmith forge. At this point the story in my head got more and more refined. I read that James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) would make maquettes of scenes to plan out the lights, instead I use 3d scenes to do the same thing.
Once I feel that I grasp the subject matter I proceed to do some quick sketches to layout everything. I keep the figures very loose since I will be refining them later on. I go over the princess' face to get the right emotion out of her. I try and do a variety of expressions from outright scared to angrily defiant. I move on to the two minions and I made the decision to make one fat the other skinny and I try to give them more character. I keep the lines on the skinny character sharp while the fat one gets more softer curvy lines. The clothes/armor design comes from previous character concept sketches that I had done in the past, burrowing from Sarmatian knights to dark fantasy elements. I play up the sharp lines on the skinny character by exaggerating them in the choice of clothing and armor, I do the same thing with the fat minion and the curved lines. I don't want the princess to look too resigned to her fate so I exaggerate the slant of her body to create more force. You can see that there are some sketchy details that didn't get carried over the final piece, the reason was simply that once everything was being painted I made a decision to keep a lot of the shapes clearer.