This was done for the latest Environment of the Week. VOTE HERE: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=177432
(I'm still tweaking it, too.)
I realized I hadn't really done much surreal/fantasy work. Never really felt like I could identify with it so much, but I did really enjoy making this piece. It was a challenge, though. I ended up solving a couple of my problems using 3D. For example, I initially sculpted the actual water in modo 302, then applying a water material (refraction index 1.33, just like in real water) in order to figure out the distortion of the figures underneath. But I really backed myself into a corner compositionally.
In fact, it's got some problems what probably can't be solved unless I overall the whole thing, so it's probably a good idea to move on. But big thanks to the awesome folks at the critique center at conceptart.org for helping me out with a myriad of issues. Juggling a complex image is so hard to do objectively!
The 3D really makes terrible reference compared to a good photo. Thanks to my brother for letting me take this ref of him. I'm lucky to have him at hand while I'm home for break!