The forest is where the story of Iron John begins, so we both felt that we should design it at an early stage of this project. When I read it I had a pretty clear image of this forest in my head. However, I wanted to explore different ideas instead of going with the first one that popped into my mind.
I started by coping fragments of forests and parks photos that I took in the past. Then, I pasted them all on one layer in photoshop, creating a chaos of leaves, rocks and branches, which I divided into nine equal rectangles. In each of them I looked for cool, random shapes and patterns that I could use as a base for my landscape sketches. This process, resembling finding shapes in clouds, helped me to come up with some nice compositions and ideas that I wouldn't have thought of if I painted these from scratches.
I really liked the idea of those humongous trees from the the third thumbnail in the upper row. However, I felt that the atmosphere in this sketch was too peaceful in comparison to the forest described in the story. After all, people have vanished there. So, I decided to gloom it up in the series of next sketches by making the forest more swampy.
I chose three that I liked the most and I explored them a bit further, still playing with different ideas and ways to make the forest appear as a dangerous place.