It is probably apparent, but I thought I would mention it here: the method in which I work relies on controlling the pushing of boundaries and correcting mistakes. I don't pretend to know exactly how the image will turn out from the outset, but for me that is half the fun!
In order to break up the image, create a new layer set to Multiply and paint in some darker tone (Fig.10). This starts to create some differentiation between components of the image. At this point, I am still unsure as to what colour I want to have the sky, but the dark tone allows me to better judge the ice shards.
Using the Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E command again, flatten out the layers and use the Lasso tool to select the area around the ear. Move the ear inwards, closer towards the eye, as I feel it makes a nicer trajectory between the eye and the tip of the ear and looks a little more streamlined (Fig.11).
Using white, we can also add some more highlights to the tiny feathers around the eye socket. Then, using a custom smoke brush, I'm adding more vapour coming out of the creature's mouth to give the idea that this is a cold region.
This step (Fig.12) is really just a continuation of the previous step: taking the newly copied layer information and, using a Soft Round brush, erasing the sharp edges in order to blend it into the existing background.
The beak's shape isn't that pleasing to me, so let's scrap a lot of the internal detail by painting on flat color and also re-sculpt the area that connects to the nostril area to make it more streamlined (Fig.13).
Around the top part of the head and along the neckline, add some white to denote the rim lighting and differentiate the griffin's head from the background.
Being relatively happy with where most of the elements are, I'm going to move on to working on the form of the creature. Choosing a dark tone, close to black, I add more tone around the eye area in order to push the eye inwards (Fig.14).