Step-by-step: Creating a fantastical beast
1 Start off with a rough sketch that gives you an idea of where you want to take the design. You can do as many of these as you want and combine them until you get one that you’re happy with. It’s best to keep it loose, though, so you don’t get lost in the details – for now, at least.
2 Now you can flesh out your idea more, based on your previous sketch. As soon as you’re happy with the result and amount of detail, throw in some basic values on different layers (here I keep the crystals on a separate layer at all times). This will make the next step easier.
3 Try out different colour schemes. Keep different parts of the design on separate layers and then change the Hue and Saturation of the colours (Cmd+U) to see how it affects the overall appearance. Depending on what kind of setting and creature you chose, you can go crazy here.