Something new that I've started doing are different 'takes' on a given character. As an instance, a few days ago I painted the character below:
Now, I started with the idea of a character w/ big, sharp teeth. No hair really, and no real nose to speak of... Just a very bare bones sketch of a concept. Then I just kinda went for it, and let the painting take me where it would. I have to admit I was pleased w/ the result. Then I saved it and went back to work on some pages. I came back the next day to see how I felt about my design.
I didn't like it very much the second time.
So leaving the first image open, I created a new file and started painting new design within the same basic ideas I had painted the original. The second piece came out a lot more 'real', I guess, in my opinion. The original, while seeming kind of funny, or belonging more in a cartoony world, really helped put me in the headspace to do the second. Not only that but may of the things I tried in the first painting were used in the next and really sped up my painting. I plan to try more of these in the near future. Until then, Peace!