Speaking of the scape, I may as well show some progress shots of how it came together. Some of these are from my camera phone, so it's not quite DSLR pretty, and boy I wish I had cleaned my living room last week now...
I struggled for a while because I was essentially going backwards. I had this secondary stone placed first, and I tried to work all the other stones around that.
That was stupid. Don't do that.
After cycling through a few different variations, I settled on this. A final picture was starting to come together in my mind, but again, trying to work around the secondary stone was messing me up. It competed with the main stone rather than supported it, and don't even get me started on the right hand side. It didn't have nearly enough "weight", and the stone would've been almost completely obscured with a full carpet of HC.
Here's the closest picture I have to the final scape. I changed out the secondary stone, but now it just didn't have enough, well, oomph. What I ended up doing was using the stone from the previous scapes, but turned around in a different position. The stone directly beneath the main stone is mostly for added height and support, otherwise it tended to sink down, diminishing its presence. It's going to be almost entirely obscured once the carpet grows in.
Really, this process taught me a lot of things. Most of all though is the importance of a slope. I was working with maybe 1/3 the volume of substrate than I have in the tank now, and it showed. Most of the scapes ended up terribly flat and it was incredibly frustrating. The added variation in height and depth can definitely make or break a scape.