I had some of the same concerns when I first started getting the gear together for my 75 gallon tank. I set up a 10 gallon tank and started playing with materials and plants. The plants arn't quite as important since you have greater freedom in the large space of the big tank, but getting practice with the scale of the hardscape and how plants aranged around that hardscape changes how things look is helpful.guaiac_boy said:My biggest worry now is that my skills as an aquascaper will fall short of my skills with getting the equipment together. There's nothing hard about what I've done so far - just mundane assembly that has actually been enormously fun. Engineering has always come easier than art to me. I guess we'll see how it turns out.
Even if you don't have all the plants to complete the scapes in the small tank it will still excercise your ability to see what isn't in place yet. Here are some examples of what I played around with.
You can temporarily mark an area on the floor equivalent to the bottom of your tank to manipulate hardscape materials in like I did here.
Befor I got a photo showing how much drift wood ADG was sending me I went to the local concrete place and got a 5 gallon bucket full for a buck of rip rap rough basalt rock of various sized to potentially use and play with.
Sometimes questions like who or what is going to live in the tank can help give a general shape to things. In the past I have checked out bonsai books and studied up on the rules of arangeing groups of dwarfed trees. I find that there are sound concepts on what kinds of things are apealing in those rules.
Another thing to mention is that these are all things that work for me. I create things after thought and learning on the subject. You may find that you need to hands on physicly play with it more than I have. Talk about what you want, and look at examples to try to build an identity of things you like.