thanks vafann and dv8. lol, i pretty much used everything from the turtle island manip and just replaced the turtle and mountains with a squid and lighthouse. i was being lazy and using the excuse of "it'll all match if it's the same."
the worst part is finding the right stock images to use. deviantart's stock images is my favorite stock site, but stock.xchng is good too. i like to use folders in photoshop and keep it simple. one folder for the sky, one for the underwater stuff, one for the water and animal and land. this makes it easy to tone/color things (like the underwater stuff) and move things around as one piece instead of as multiple layers. used puppet warm on the squid and transform>warp on the grass to make it fit the squid. the squid already had highlights on one side of the tentacles, so i used curves to make those highlights silhouettes on the right side. almost every adjustment is done with blending modes and curves.
i've been at work for the past 10 hours on midnight shift so my brain is pretty much done for. if you have any questions about something i'll try to answer them after a few hours sleep.
don't worry, this phase will be long gone and i'll have new material and ideas thought up by the time my next month of midnight shifts comes around.. wednesday night is my last night of freedom before day shift hell.
Oh no, there's nothing to worry about, LOL. I think you ought to do a series of them, theme and variation before you leave them behind. This one is great. I liked the subtlety of turtle island and I like the crispness and clarity of squid harbor. Now for something in the middle? No, really, I like it a lot.
Good luck with day shift hell. Been there. I'm a night shift kinda gal myself.