I get asked now and again about my digital painting process. The following image is from a competition on cgtalk. Done in Painter
1. I develop a rough sketch to set the composition.
2. I block in my darks in Painter using digital watercolor (simple water brush). When I'm done in digital watercolor, I make sure I dry it, (under the layers menu). I'm working out my general shapes and then I'll get more specific. This is quick.
3. I start to bring back some light to set the mood. Starting to paint opaquely with digital airbrush.
4. Playing with contrast, lights vs. darks, warms vs. cools Adding more props for story. I get a natural painting look by using digital acrylic and or digital oil with my special custom brushes.
5. Finally the detail, this is where I slow down a bit. I DO NOT work in layers. I paint it on one digital layer, just like I paint traditionally.