I usually evolve my ideas throughout the process. I'll sometimes start with drawings in combination with photo textures before doing any 3d work. It helps me figure out a direction before doing the heavy lifting in 3d.
In this case, I pushed the design until I felt like it was very different from what I've seen before. I push the design by pushing the shapes with the liquify tool in photoshop or by using the move tools in Zbrush.
I'll also do a lot of lighting tests to see what areas read first and make sure the area that needs focus is prominent.