Concepting a Character

I absolutely love character creation.  I especially love when I get a really interesting character, and it produces all these images in my mind of how they might look like.  (Thank you D&D for all the character inspiration you have given me throughout the years!)
I almost always start with an idea and a pen and paper sketch.  I tend to brainstorm faster this way.  This is why I always carry a sketchbook around..I mean literally always.  I just glanced at my google photos for 5 seconds and pulled up mostly pictures of sketches...

Moving on.
Here is the starting idea for Keevah, a fallen Aasimar. 
She is a human who awakened to her Aasimar blood at a young age.  Shortly afterwards however, she was touched by a great evil and it turned her radiance to darkness.  To fight against this, she became became a paladin, sworn to protect rather than destroy.  Her personal goal is to find a way to cure the sickness she bears and turn the darkness back to radiance.  To protect others from being frightened, I started imagining that she would wear a mask and hood to cloak the darkness around her, especially since her eyes are just voids.  She would also prefer dark clothing so that the pools of dark don't stand out so much.  This adds a bit of a spin to a normal paladin build.
Cool stuff right?  

Sketch is real rough and gross, but it is a starting point!  
Tip: it's better to fail fast than succeed slowly.  Roughs are supposed to be rough!

I bring the rough sketch into Photoshop and put it on a multiply layer.  Then I paint with a textured brush under it in greyscale.  I'm just value blocking at this point.  When I take the lines off, I actually have some really decent shapes going on, and it looks way better already.  I can work with this!

Now I get into the nitty gritty. Still working in greyscale, I tighten up my brush and start tightening up the edges - especially where 2 different surface shapes collide.  
Tip:  Always have reference ready to go so you don't have to stop your creative process to search for it.  I use Pinterest like a maniac for this! 

The hard stuff is done at this point, and now the fun begins!  I use light washes of color, because I am only using color to communicate mood, not really to finalize the piece.  This is a concept, not a finished illustration.  
Tip: always keep your scope in mind so you don't do more than necessary.  It's not just about saving you time - you'd be surprised how many times details take away from the big picture.  Remember KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid!

There you have it - Keevah, the fallen Aasimar.  I like how I was able to keep the paladin/knightly feel, while also having an ominous backbone.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Does is it communicate the idea?  Yeah, for the most part.  Welcome to concept art.

-Anna, the quilled muse