I start with some quick thumbnails to get an idea for the design of the aircraft, and the layout of the composition. I like to look over my reference images of planes/helicopters I've collected, along with other concepts from several artists to get my brain going and help inspire my own designs.
I liked the where these were going with the sea-life/military design influences. I was thinking an attack helicopter of some sort to create a dynamic composition. Crabs and sharks have a great balance of smooth and sharpness in their designs, so I wanted to incorporate both, with a military color scheme and/or weaponry.
After trying a couple texture variations, its onto the final layout. I showed the early thumbnails to my dad, and he really liked the view of the aircraft looking out the side, so I went with this as the foreground elements. Throwing in some tilt to the horizon line, and some bullet casings flying out the chopper. I like how this turned out, my dad was happy with it as well.
Happy Birthday Dad!