I did this vignette initially in Prismacolor pencil as a quick concept sketch, as a sort of border and title header plate for the Prolgue page. After this a Rough Layout was done for the full two-page spread in black graphite, which was scanned into Photoshop for cleanup and used as the template for the Final Layout. The finished piece was inked in Corel Painter using a new Wacom digital pen tablet purchased just for this purpose.
Prior to deciding to use a digital medium, however, I had done a rough Pen & Ink test, only to discover while adding in the text that the size and layout of the composition needed to be altered in order to make the whole prologue fit into these two pages. This proved to be one of the many advantages of digital over actual ink, which is unforgiving, and unyielding once laid down.
For the final piece, each of the elements were created on a separate layer, so that they could be moved about and their size and shape manipulated as required. Thus, the finished composition is much shallower than the pencil layout, although the layout remained essentially the same.
The manuscript on the table, by the way, is an accurate facsimile of the first page of the actual Beowulf manuscript (on which the novel is based), in its original Old English hand. That document, our sole source for this oldest of English epics, was penned in two different hands, the belief being generally held that the first scribe died before he could complete the tale, hence the symbolism of the snuffed out candle and spilled ink jar.
Incidentally, I had at one time thought to illustrate each page this way! That was, of course, long before the final page count topped 640 pages in print.