Carving from rough outs, patterns and designs by other carvers is a great way to improve your carving. I do it - we all do. But at some point, if you want to have some identity as a carver, you will have to invent your own. One way I found involves taking a design or pattern that works and just give it a twist... a makeover! I am fond of this Hanging Santa figure published is Woodcarving Illustrated. I have made several of them and each has had his own personality, but he will never be my own design.
My idea was to keep the hanging idea and incorporate a different figure. I chose to try making it a hanging elf. Though I can carve what I visualize, I can't draw it as well, so I went searching for some inspiration.
I found a downloadable coloring book picture of an elf that I thought might work. Then I went to my daughter, who has wonderful art skills and asked her to help transform the coloring book character into the hanging form. From that, I was able to create a front and side pattern set and using Photoshop, size it the way I wanted.