How do you brace yourself when you come to such a giant task, one that you hadn't considered right as you start your career illustrating? Organization and lots of dedication.
The original plan was to have 14 characters plus a giant lava wyrm to antagonize the group. I added a couple monsters for enhanced illustrative elements. Very late in the process another character was added. In the line work below you can see the missing kobold location.
Due to the fact that there were so many characters I drew out each one individually, got approval, and moved on to the thumbnails and so on. Each character had a person behind them, so getting approval from everyone was a little tricky, but overall not an issue. Most of them wanted their characters to be interacting either emotionally or physically with the scene, and many had their own idea of what they wanted their character to do as well as their position in the procession. Everything was very specific, so working with that there was a lot to pay attention to.
At the end of the day, when it was all said and done, there was a lot of work put into the final image, and overall I think it was worth it.
A few prelimary monster sketches.
Some ideas of what the background may look like. They liked the interactive elements of the last one so I rolled with it.
I blocked in the characters roughly to get a general idea of what their location and flow would be.
Rough thumbnail after color mood approval.
The refined thumbnail. On top of this became the final render.