I have been looking for inspiration, I love Mark Ryden's style but don't feel comfortable with images of childlike creatures (even if they are fantasy dolls) in surreal/sexual imagery. His technique is faultless though and very original(see links). Another illustrator whose work I absolutely adore is Louise Robinson (?) of Art & Ghosts, her work is wonderfully dreamlike and so ethereal. There is a lot of doll related imagery. I am quite torn between keeping my natural cartoony flat colour style or going for a mix of more hand-drawn/painted styles.
My problem is always the eyes. I love the oversized spooky owl eyes on the dolls, especially when they are very graphic, flat black and white (or calico) with a glittery glowing iris. The softer eyes I have tried on the mermaids and straightforward fairies don't have the same punch. When I start to mess around with subtler colours and texture with the illustrated versions the eyes either loom out at the viewer or just don't have the impact...Hhhhmmmm. Decisions, decisions.
Below is the old (too sexy!) version of the Goth Girl
This is the latest, more innocent childlike version that I've been working on, still a work in progress