What happens when you try to work really hard on a picture that you want to make badly, but you're really, really distracted? Answer: You go back and forth a lot, repeating a hundred small steps that you probably shouldn't have, and drive yourself half-bonkers trying to make sense of it all.
I should apologize in advance for this one. This is the picture I was working on while I fretted-over/worked-on the plumbing and I hated everything I did, every time I went back to work on it. At one point I got frustrated, made many small changes to lighting, and threw a bunch of renders in the Queue Manager overnight to render. (I ended up throwing every single one out.) -Not- shown here are the fifty bazillion renders made looking for a set of dragon shaders that would show up the way I wanted it to, because those were area renders layered on top of one another and it turned into a huge mess.
In short, this step-by-step process may seem a little bit random, but I assure you that there was a purpose behind every screen capture at the time! Eventually, this picture and I made peace. In truth, I should not complain: from the very beginning I loved the thought of this image so much that I knew I would make it no matter what, even if it didn't turn out the way I had hoped it would.
PS: Did I tell you I did all the Photoshop work with the Shift key popped off the keyboard? MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!
(Sorry, I probably need chocolate and a nap at this point.)