This is what we wanted to base ouir plans on: Shiva from Final Fantasy VIII, encased in ice, and breaking out of the ice and possibly casting some magic.
Let's create some ice planes!
I modelled a couple of rocks, crafted a quick sort-of icy material (see below) and used a particle system to generate fields of ice-rocks. I added a single plane for the water level, and extruded a bit of a weird shape to form the basis of some block for a half-frozen Shiva. If you look at the bottom most image in this post, you'll see how the particle systems where just emitting these rocks from plans underneath the water level. Pretty ugly, but hey, if it works.. :)
For those who like details: here's the ice material I ended up using. It's a transparent shiny PBR with a bit of a noise textured normal to generate surface imperfections, and a gradiented emission volume to generate some glow from the inside. Not the most elegant solution out there, but this suited my need for something that looked icyand still felt computer-game-ish enough.
Here is the model shot used for this image. Note the solution we used to ensure that strand was going to stay on top of the ice. A bit of photoshop to do the cutout, and then add as an emission image plane in blender and..
.. or not really. The total setup seems to work, and now it is time for details and coloring. We did a few iterations of adding small details, changing the colors and adding more athmosphere until the look matched with what we had in mind.
Shiva on Ice
Final result for this shot. I ended up with a much brighter, dreamy ethereal version of Shiva than similar shots from the game.
for the second shot I added a new block of ice, and added the model as a textured emission plane in the center. That worked out well, where the etheral dreamy brightness did wonders for the first shot, it made this look weird.
Shiva in ice!
For the final version of this shot I added even more particle systems (see below) to fill the environment, and did a bit of extra work in photoshop for some last-minute atmospherics.
Behind the scenes
As with most of my renders, it all only looks good from that single camera viewpoint.. here's a different angle to showcase the total set up a bit.