Initially it was key to get that campfire light work going. Unfortunately my thumbnail did not exhibit realistic lighting. And so creating the exact same scenario will require a bit of cheating.
Below shows my progression throughout Maya. Starting with the initial set, I tried using volume lights to replicate the glow of a campfire. I had to play around with intensities of the light and in the end resorted to two volume lights one on top of the other. but the larger one cast a far less intense light and cast a great glow across the trees.
(Initial blowout with early volume lights)
From this point I added an ambient light and finally the ground became a more obvious piece of the landscape. But the turning point was lifting the light source so that it wasn't wedged halfway into the floor plane.
Next up came some shifting of tree's and the like to fit when I have the camera movement. A panning shot from the front view to the back view of the campfire. I added some additional tree planes however you can't really see them in the renders and the fact is, it really would be pitch black in the distance. Next came the addition of bump maps to the trees so they finally have some texture to them. Not hugely visible at a distance, but the close up campfire shot prove they're pretty effective!
One of the final pieces of the puzzle aside from working out how I'm building the campfire itself, is the addition of my characters. I've started with the warrior, seeing as its his campfire. And a series of shots from the camera pan.
Next on the agenda is working out how to create an interesting stylised campfire to replicate the thumbnail. Forwards!!!!!