I recently completed a medieval/fantasy image and would love to have your critique on it. Here it is:
People do ask about the process, so I'll just go ahead and describe it here.
STEP 1: I drew the contours in pencil, and then with a Sharpie pen. Scanned them in at 91 dpi with the aspect ratio of the web browser window. :
STEP 2: I then used GIMP to color it with flat shades using the magic wand. I put them on separate layers. I got this:
STEP 3: I scaled up and blurred the sillouettes of the characters to make the character shadows and put them on a third layer. The shadow color was the background color with its value darkened down.
STEP 4: The shadow from the ball was from a radial gradient tool. I put that on a fifth layer.
STEP 4: I flattened the image and got the above result.
Some Questions and Issues
 I worked in TIFF, but the above final result is in JPG. You can see circular bands centerd around the crystal ball. I tried saving in JPG with no compression (max quality), I tried saving in PNG with no compression, but still got them. They are not in the TIFF image. Is there any way I can save the picture as JPG or PNG (pics will be on website) without those bands ?
 If a professional artist was commissioned to do something like this, what process would he follow ? How long would it take him/her? The above process took me a long time because I had a hard time getting the colors and shadows to get along with one another. Also, drawing human figures is not easy for me.
Thanks for your input !