There were a couple pieces of very different art that inspired New Atlantis. This one by Michael Corriero:
I looked at the detail of that water, the waves, the foam, the reflections of the buildings, the way the foam interacts with the buildings, and thought, "We won't be able to come anywhere near that with our resources." But I loved it. And then there was this one:
Love the colors and shapes there.
I was thinking the water would end up much closer to the latter, but just discovered Unity 4's new Water 4, and after messing around with it a bit, realized I could get in the ballpark of the look I was going for. It looked very bumpy-shiny-mirrory-CG at first, but I killed the specular highlights, lowered the reflections, and-most importantly-replaced their foam with the cartoon foam I was using. (Paid $10 for that foam! That's a material percentage of the project's budget so far! Since I haven't actually had to pay for Unity Pro yet...) Now that's in the ballpark of what I'm looking for - some of the colors and cartoonyness of the Futurama scene merged with the paintedness of Corriero's piece:
Thank you Unity!
And for more of Michael Corriero's work, check out: