"A Shadow Bright and Burning" is the debut YA novel from my friend Jessica Cluess. It's a great read, with a likable heroine -- the pyromancer Henrietta Howel, who might not be the Chosen One that everyone thinks she is -- and a supporting cast of surreal and original monsters.
As a first attempt at rendering some scenes from the novel, I wanted to make an image of the heroine. Because fire is such a key element in both her personality and the story, it was obvious that I needed to show her working with fire. I've also always loved images where faces are lit by a single light source, such as the works of Georges de la Tour.
DZFire's Torch and Construction Kit gave me a very realistic flame that also nicely lit the subject. I wanted a second figure in the scene for balance, so I added a male in the background watching Henrietta as she demonstrates her abilities. A point light overhead provides just enough light to bring out the details of the room and the watcher, without affecting the foreground lighting.