In Fig.03 you can see the final camera shot. It favors the large buildings more, which was my initial goal. Here I also started to develop the buildings, using the architectural reference. The pink rectangle was placed for human scale.
At this stage I had set myself up with a Photoshop file that had a few adjustment layers and some texture overlays. All I had to do then was render a new image and drop it into the file in a new layer and I could get a low res (around 1000px Photoshop document) preview of the final image.
Building the Architecture
Once again, I had to return to the reference images and pick out building features I wanted to replicate. So I had to pick a style, maybe even borrow one part of one house and another feature from another house, and start cutting into each box. See Fig.04 for an example.
I also started to populate the scene with the odd prop/building from previous Victorian projects. This comes with time, but you can really save yourself some work if you happen to have other similar projects that you can borrow from.
Texturing the Buildings
It's worth nothing that these stages were still low res mock-ups. I kept the modeling, but I started throwing down textures simply to see if it worked. I had very little idea about how much I needed to model versus what could be painted. The hardest part of this whole project was trying to strike that balance. You don't want to model anything in 20 minutes that could be built with a texture and a lick of paint inside Photoshop in 1 minute.
So in Fig.05 you can see the start of this. Using the Distort tool and, more often than not, the Overlay layer blend mode, I placed textures in place and hastily painted them in to look more seamless.
Fig.06 shows another step further along using the same principles already mentioned. Again, this was rendered basically in 3ds Max using V-Ray, with no textures/images other than the HDR sky, and then quickly painted over in Photoshop just to get an idea so that when rendering out a high res image, I would be able to paint more confidently.