Adobe Illustrator Gradient Mesh Progression
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Below is a step by step progression of an illustration started in pencil and colored completely in Adobe Illustrator using primarily gradient mesh objects on the face, figure, and clothing. The background consists mostly of flat colored objects as well as normal gradient colored objects. The shadows on the floor are object blends. Some highlights on the figure are also added on top of the mesh with object blends.

Initial pencil sketch scanned in and cleaned up in Photoshop.

Blocking in areas of flat color.

Adding initial background.

Starting gradient mesh work on the face and underarm. Added characters in background.

More gradient mesh work completed on the face, neck and her left arm. Some lines added in torso.

Initial gradient mesh work on the torso, colors way off. lightend background a bit. Shading on hands and arms started.

Tweaking torso mesh coloring and added gradient mesh shading to the legs. Steel arm bands complete, normal gradients.

More gradient mesh color tweaks, skin tone starting to look better. Shading in hair and sword added. Background fade added.

Gradient mesh work started on her clothing and leg wraps. Colors and gradients adjusted on background, wall, and floor.

More work on the mesh coloring, shading on arm bands started. Some changes made to her face.

Detail work on hair, eyes, face, arm bands, and clothing

Final details added, dragon logos on clothing and sword. Illustration complete! (Click on image for larger view)