Step 2: Sketching it out
With a thumbnail I was happy with, it was time to start putting a little more effort into the look of each element and how they worked as a whole.
The dragon might seem very different, but a few key things stayed the same. The wing still stretches way out to the edge of the page, he's still spiraling towards the viewer, and he's still roughly the same size. He may have flipped over a few axes, but those are the critical elements of how he fits into my composition.
As for the background, I zoomed out slightly and put more emphasis on the edge of the waterfall, as well as the rock pinnacles rising out of it. I also started laying out basic cloud shapes, positioning them to direct the eye through the otherwise empty areas of the composition. This is very important. Clouds offer an unlimited number of shapes to work with and should always be used to strengthen a layout whenever their appearance is appropriate.
Finally, I've also added a curve to the horizon. This is an entirely personal decision, but for me it adds dynamism to the landscape and enhances the action of the dragon. It also makes the background seem that much wider (and therefore epic) by imitating the curve of the Earth because we're viewing at that far of a distance.