When planning out a new illustration, I find that the best place to start is to do some studies of the subjects in your picture. My next picture, actually a series of pictures, is about a boy and his pet gator. So I dug through my photo archive and pulled up a bunch of photos I've taken over the years of full size and baby alligators and did some sketching.
Here's the result:
It occurred to me as I was sketching that I'm no stranger to drawing alligators. The design of the Handra character in my Peach Fuzz books is partially inspired by the shape of an alligator's face. Here's what the Handra look like (sorry, this is the only picture of the Handra I have that's easy to access): You see? Little gator snouts!
I also did some general figure sketches just to keep my people drawing skills up. (Hopefully no one's bothered by some mild nudity here). Here's an excerpt from the exercise: