Most renderings start with an idea sketched multiple times, the image pose is refined then inked.
Color development and choice goes hand in hand with the sketching. For me, it is an intrinsic part of the design process. There is nothing random about the choice, it is always based on mood, movement, and one must visualize the palette as it moves on the stage and as it is completed with the work of the lighting designer.
Once colors are defined for each dancer, I literally build them in photoshop using scans of my dyed material samples (more often than not I will be dyeing these, so this is my opportunity to figure out the dyeing process). I layer the fabric samples with vector images of weaves I have made previously, then save each image as a fabric sample to be used in a rendering.
I digitize all the different components. This is similar to the collage process, in that each part of the illustration has a built shape that can be "cut" out and layered. Each shape is turned into a vector path, one literally redraws everything that has been hand-drawn and/or painted. It is laborious, but the beauty of this is that it affords one the option to go back into a rendering and change one small part or color of it.
Here are some of the painted backgrounds and textiles I have made, which have been scanned and brought into the rendering.
The finished illustration. I can go back into this and change the color if necessary.
A colorway for one of the women. I always try to bring to life the particular fabric I will be using. In this case it is an ultra light, embarrassingly expensive Italian wool challis, that I will be hand dyeing.
Another colorway for the men. Building transparency in some fabrics, where they actually occur is also a plus as it helps to give a realistic idea of how the fabric will behave on the dancer.
There are many steps to this process, it is time well spent though as it helps to focus my attentions and hopefully prevent any costly construction or color mistakes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!