I had a lot of fun working on this commission for the Souvanthong family last Christmas. I was given a lot of family pictures to reference and full creative freedom for the illustration. From the pictures I could tell how fun and close-knit they are—many involved the entire family in costume, at Disneyland or on some other adventure.
My initial idea was to emphasize their unity by illustrating the family as characters in a fantasy world—maybe as Peter Pan characters in Neverland or as Batman characters in Gotham. It was a good start but, as I sketched, I felt I was forcing people to fit specific characters instead of bringing out their individuality. In the end I kept the unity theme by illustrating a family Christmas adventure and also made it more personal by making each person their favorite character.
Master Chief (Halo), Princess Ariel (The Little Mermaid), baby Tarzan and a Quidditch player (Harry Potter):
Sketch with rough gestures. Not really worrying about proportions, costumes or any details:
Using reference to refine character sketches. I changed Ariel's pose to show off costume:
Blocking in silhouette shapes (each color is its own layer). Ariel and Quidditch player's long hair painted on separate layers:
Painting a little bit of each character:
Blocking in background and establishing major planes on gift boxes:
Refining gift silhouettes and adding variety in gift shape/size:
Adjusting box color/size to achieve depth and adding final details: