The painting was looking a little dull from all the blending at this stage, and so I used a Colour Balance adjustment layer to brighten up the whole painting, and I also moved the colours into a warmer region. This had the added effect of helping to bump up the contrast and saturating some of the dull areas (Fig.05).
Some texture brushes helped roughen up the painting here, since I'd only used one round brush for most of the earlier paint work. Again, I used this to add variety and to work from the random shapes. The mushrooms needed something more; they were looking a little generic and so I spent some time working them up a bit, in terms of their design. I went online and did some research on mushrooms to help me out (Fig.06).
The next step was the longest part of the painting - the rendering began here! I usually open up a smaller duplicate window on the side so I can oversee the bigger picture whilst I work on the details. Since digital images are more likely to be seen at a smaller scale than their actual size, this helps me to not lose sight of the "big picture". I had just a smaller window showing the whole picture, and I also cropped the image down a bit, too (Fig.07).
After cleaning up the image, I knew I had to add something in the foreground so that the painting didn't run straight down. The idea was to bring the viewer back into the painting and to keep the interest there. I roughed out some options, and after a few sketches I decided to add in ridges and a figure. The figure itself is not so significant, merely a scale reference at this point (Fig.08).
I then asked some friends to critique the piece for me so far. After staring at something for a long time, you tend to forget the simplest things. I had some good pointers, including the image being too busy, which led me to push the depth and cut-out a better shape for the eyes to follow down.