The initial sketch of the lion’s head was done after researching the best possible pose. The sketch was created using a 2px hard brush, added on top of a neutral grey background.
The concept began with a base doodle in a small 400 x 400px document. I worked at this size as it helps me to block out basic form and establishing initial colours.
I resized the thumbnail sketch to around 3000 x 3000px, so I had enough definition to work in detail. I started by applying a medium soft 10px brush, creating the eyes and base detail.
I applied a small hard 4px brush and a medium soft 6px brush, working in the details and defining areas of fur. I established light and shade on the face then used the Smudge tool (K) to soften my strokes.
I applied Adjustment Curve and Colour Balance layers to tweak colour and contrast. Using the Liquify Filter, I tweaked the eyes and front of the face. I painted in braids using a 10px hard brush.
Using small 1-3px hard brush, I zoomed in at 400% and worked on hair detail, eyes, tears and nose lights. The necklaces were made in Zbrush and stock images of feathers were added as well.
Stock photography was used to create a cloudy backdrop. A small 2px Hard brush was applied to create stars and particles around the lion. I used a large 30px Soft brush with Opacity set at 10% to add colour on top of Overlay blend mode layers.
A Colour Balance adjustment layer brought the image together. Rectangular selections were added to new Linear Dodge (Add) layers, filled with light blue colour and treated with horizontal Motion Blur – thus creating lens flares.