I generally start by prepping my paper with the tape and then applying a wash. To the wash I occasionally add salt which does this wonderful effect of leeching the color off the paper leaving a crystalline white space. Then I sketch the outline of the planned piece. After that, I begin the machine works.
For the seahorse it felt pretty straight forward as their bodies are pretty square and already have a bit of a put together look. I like the through line of the pipeworks that are the spine here.
Once the sketch is complete I generally consider a palette of colors that seem to favor the animal. In this case I felt like orange was a good direction. Then I start laying down a base layer of colors.
Once all of the base color has been applied I then go back with multiple layers of darker and darker color to work the shading and begin to find depth. Some areas may end up with five or even six layers to help draw the image forward. Watercolors is all about carefully considered layers.
If I include any parts that have a glass effect I do those last. Here is the finished work... though I like to leave this on my table for a day or two because often I find that there are additions that I may have overlooked. This work is 8" x 10".