I have to give a shout out to Brent Evans once again. He's been great working with me, giving me the patience and freedom I need to produce some images I'm proud of that work for him. Long story short, I did what teachers tell you not to do in college (and for good reason). I abandoned the thumbnail. Let's look at our Aborigine surfer first, shall we?
This guy will be featured in the upcoming Shadowrun: Crossfire card game, but promotional shots have already spoiled him for me. It started with this thumbnail:
If you've done this before as an artist, then you know: only make this move when you are confident that your changes will blow your AD out of the water. If they are getting something that they didn't expect, it better be way better than what they were waiting for.
Anyhow, I ran downstairs, shot reference, ran back up to my computer, and worked well past dawn :
I waylaid some of the guilt of changing every aspect of the thumbnail by accepting that the final was obviously superior and promised not to do something like that again. A promise I immediately broke.
Here's a thumbnail for Shadowrun's recently released Shadowrun: Stolen Souls: