Should have uploaded this before now, but better late than never.
Basically, I went back and pushed the design of my original design for Fundevogel's lagoon (which can be seen here). Although to be honest, I never finished the painting. I always knew I could do more to it, but I just couldn't decide what, or how.
So, Ryan suggested thumb nailing designs on top of the original painting. I sort of kicked myself for not already trying that technique, as it seems like such an obvious thing to do.
One of the things that we decided should be more apparent in the scene is the indication of human presence, wether past or present.
Because the Lagoon is a very intimate and untouched place, besides the main character, I figured that the only indication should therefore be by Fundevogel's hand. So I added some footprints and a little make-shift pier, made out of a few small planks of wood by the water's edge.
(This actually lead on to the idea of having Fundevogel catching certain kinds of magic fish which can't be found anywhere else in the forest, and thus becomes the envy of the cook/etc. This would allow the adaptation unique animals which would cement the idea of the "Fundevogel world" as viewers would only see these species here - sort of like how Avatar creatures are now thought of) So I'm currently working on that, but back to the painting...
I also strived to the give the environment a sense of age. In Hercules, The Lord of the Rings, Brave, and countless films and adaptations this is a big part of environments appeal or mood, as it suggests a time BEFORE the story you're currently watching, and that just adds to the suspension of disbelief that you're actually watching a real living world in front of you.
In Hercules you can see the remnants of once towering statues spilled across the grounds of Philoctetes. This adds such a great atmosphere/mood to the scene when Hercules first goes there and it really drills the idea into the viewer that this guy has trained A LOT of different people over A LONG space of time.
The same points are also mentioned in the Art of Tangled in relation to the "Snuggly Duckling" pub.
Because the viewer can see that the building has been here so long that the tree has grown around it and though it, it instantly tells them that this place is OLD.
After deciding I couldn't make the pathway out of the lagoon work to any great effect, I therefore decided to just work with suggestions rather than details. In the finished painting below you can see that I've added some strange rock formations in the mid/background which slightly hint that a structure or building or something, has once been in this area, (but has long since fell apart). I think the contrast in size of Fundevogel's little pier and the large rock formations creates a great atmosphere, and certainly adds an interesting scale to the environment.