I did try beginning the background another way before, but I scrapped it and took some photos outside for inspiration. I will be uploading the photos I took to my Flickr account soon.
The grasses, sand patches, and the patches of leaves are all symbols that came with Illustrator (under "nature"). I added a stroke to some of the leaves and changed that symbol's colours; but the others were only coloured, not edited. The trees are from Bittbox (you can download the vectors here).
I'm nearly done shading the figures now, aside from a few things for Barudo and other minor adjustments. As this picture gets more detailed, Illustrator's response time is slowing, so it's taking a little longer to continue the work. I won't be listing the time it took to get to this point from the line work, but I will post the total time once the image is complete.
I'm very happy with how this image is progressing, and I look forward to finishing it. It will definitely be available in my RedBubble store when complete. There isn't much there at the moment, as I'm working on formatting more artwork to add. But if you want some Hallowe'en cards of Aena in her witch costume, that is available.
Please let me know if you have any comments or constructive criticism to share. I'm almost done with this piece, so this is the best time to let me know if you find something awkward.
Hope you like it so far.