For this kind of work, digital art makes sense, both for style reasons as well as time. The images are done to fit very exacting specifications, and sometimes changes need to be made, which are sooooooooooo much easier to do digitally than with colored pencil (or any other traditional medium). I was actually lucky this time though, and didn't have to make any changes to the final art. Yay!
These assignments exercise a whole different part of my 'art brain' than the pieces I do for myself, or even commissions to do house or building renderings. These need to be an exact size, each piece has to convey specific information, and the kids usually need to be definite ethnicities as well as ages.
Working digitally means having to use a whole different palette than what I'm used to for colored pencil work. Colors are labelled as Pantone numbers rather than "black grape" or "limepeel", for example. The nice thing though is that there is no 'sharpening' involved, and changing a color is a snap!
These pieces were all done with Photoshop 5.5, and the 'rough texture pastel' brush. I fiddle with the settings a bit to get the size of the grain just right, as well as the brush itself. I paint in layers, keeping each child, as well as portions of the backgrounds, on layers, which can be easily edited if need be. The texture doesn't really show at this scale, but its there. I sometimes leave it more 'texture-y' (like for the chalkboard), or paint it in to look more solid, depending on the object.
I also use the eyedropper tool to pick up and copy a color exactly from piece to piece, like the chalkboard, floor, walls, orange chairs, etc., for consistency.
I use a Wacom table and pen, which gives me a lot of control over line width and pressure, which is great. (I can't believe I used to try to paint like this with just the mouse! That's like trying to paint with a big rock or something.)
So that's what I've been up to. I have an architectural rendering in the works, as well as some new 'fine art', so will post about those soon (or will try).