07/11/2013Hey Tom,I like how lucid and 'out of the words' your character is, and now how that is giving you a clear direction in terms of environment and prop. The next challenge you face, I'd suggest, is embracing all the stylistic possibilities presented to you by working so closely with a particular culture - and also seeking to embrace the implied mysticism and fantastical elements of your story; in short, you need to open this out a bit more, both in terms of aesthetics and production design and also in terms of remembering that this about designing for 'animation' - which encourages broader brushstrokes and artistic license. What I would say to you now is look at ways to fold in an over-arching style for your designs, that perhaps references design elements taken from art forms associated with the culture:http://orichinese.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/1H2535O6-0.jpghttp://mcrblogs.co.uk/creationpen/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2013/10/Chinese_landscape_painting1.jpghttp://www.chinesepaintings.com/chinese-painting/ink/P080132L.jpghttp://www.healingflow.com.au/images/Chinese%20Painting.jpgNotice how 'transparent' and translucent and mist-enshrouded these images are - and also how delicate the colours are. If your Goddess lives up in the mountains, perhaps this world of ghostly transparency could be something you take forward? For example, why not consider creating some thumbnails - not digitally at first - but using ink and brush on damp paper - and then scanning the resulting images into Photoshop and working into them digitally? You could start to derive some wonderful shapes and forms from working in a way that mirrors the culture you're trying to reproduce?In terms of the magical/fantastical qualities of your story, I think moving away from the flat, saturated colour of your most recent thumbnail would be a good start - there's nothing ethereal or other-worldy about it - she's a prisoner yes, but maybe her captivity is expressed by her isolation 'up in the clouds' as opposed to the solid walls of a tiny prison.In terms of the hero prop - the lotus flower is a nice idea - it reminds me rather of the last single rose in Disney's Beauty And The Beast:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j1rRSxGJ_cIn this sense, your hero prop could just be the lotus flower - part religious relic, part source of the Goddesses power? In terms of your lair, it would obviously be an important aspect of the layout. So - key suggestions would be to embrace the aesthetics of your associated art forms much more consciously, and trying some new methods to work up some more 'on theme' thumbnails - and to investigate ways you can 'entomb' your Goddess, without literally boxing yourself in in terms of production design fun and games!