I have found that entering contests sends me in a good direction as far as inspiration goes. This is the longest I have ever spent on a digital painting and I hope it really shows. It took FOREVER. I used a stock photo as the base but this is all just painting in photoshop, the dress, the jewelry, the snake (all the way down to his scales). I am trying to use less and less fancy brushes and instead try to rely on improving my technique. The background uses a stock texture though (see links and credits below). There is also a texture on the fabric of the dress from my personal collection.
I chose to do the older story of Cleopatras demise where she is bitten on the arm as opposed to Shakespeare's version where she is bitten on the breast. Also some older accounts say it was an Egyptian Cobra, others say it was an asp. This is more of the latter.
Model: mmb-stock (nude) mmb-stock.deviantart.com/art/Nude-Stock-3-110235795