This little sketch is done in an experimental fantasy style which I abandoned. It's probably an illustration for some text by Tanith Lee. The costumes were inspired by Renaissance parade garb, which I borrowed from my facsimile of the "Triumph of Emperor Maximilian," a 16th-century imperial treasure available in wicked awesome detail here. In 1981 when I did this piece there was no such resource online and I used my black and white version which I still have.
I'm not even sure what kind of pen I was using to get the brown lines. I think it was a dip pen with sepia ink. I abandoned the style because I didn't think it was commercially useful, that is, I didn't think I could sell it to clients or publishers. It was too stylized and colored in watercolor which publishers would not touch. (They still reject watercolor as a cover illustration medium.) The reason the publishers don't like watercolor is that it is too delicate, hard to reproduce, and it doesn't "pop," that is, it isn't contrasty to be seen from a distance and attract viewers. It's OK for interior illustrations though.
If I did a picture like this nowadays I'd draw it in pen and then scan it to the computer and color it in Photoshop. Or I'd give it a go from the beginning with digital inking and then proceed with color. Right now I'm working with digital inking and coloring trying to build up a really sharp, contrasty, easy-to-see and more opaque painting-like style for fantasy work. I have a pin-up girl in progress and you'll see her when I am done.
I hope you don't mind seeing my vintage art here as I am not at this moment doing a lot of fresh By-Product sketches. You deserve the very best so I am not going to draw a picture of a wastebasket or a coffee cup and post it here. I have plenty of resources to continue posting but I wish I knew whether anyone but Tristan is reading this. If no one is reading this I could say whatever I damn pleased (I mean, without insulting anyone) as long as I included a piece of art somewhere.
"Riders of Faerie" is ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5 1/3" x 4", July 1981.