Because of this, there are not a lot of things that I can call mine. Things that I can say I came up with on my own. There are exceptions though. One such exception is THE REF SHEET.
When I was at SJSU, one of the first courses I took was an illustration class taught by Alice "Bunny" Carter. One thing that Alice stressed was the need for good reference. I remember gathering pictures from wherever I could find them (internet, magazines, my own photos) and taping them all to a board and having that in front of me throughout the whole drawing and painting process. I learned that reference could inspire me, teach me, and also prompt new and interesting ideas. But it was important that those images were in my face all the time.
When I left school and got a job in games, I often didn't have the time to print out tons of pictures and organize them nicely on physical boards or the space to put them anywhere. So I developed a new way of organizing my images. THE REF SHEET! I'm sure it's not entirely original, but it was a great solution that merged the things I loved from my traditional days with the digital workspace I use now.
I start in Photoshop with a blank, black document. I then peruse the World Wide Web for images that will inspire my concepts and drag and drop them straight from the browser to my document. The images I drag in tend to fit into two categories. 1) Other artists' work that might inform the style (and just look cool) and 2) photos for subject and texture reference. Each image needs to be fairly large and awesome. No grainy pictures in this dojo! One of the funnest parts is the organizing. Each photo needs to fit well with the page as a whole. It's very Mr. Miyagi. Zen-like and soothing. The black background serves to keep the ref images as the focus. White or grey backgrounds tend to fight with the ref and can be a distraction. Once my ref sheet is done, I keep it on my second monitor where it stays until the assignment is done.
It can get pretty extensive!
Anyway. Revolutionary it may not be. But very helpful. And its a good way of keeping your reference in it's proper place: nearby, where it's accessible and inspirational.