I started off with another concept from Chris Oatley. He drew this gorgeous lion. http://chrisoatley.com/
I sculpted the mesh in Sculptris, then retopologized in Topogun, Photoshop for the textures, then unwrapped the uvs in 3dsmax and used HairFarm (plugin for 3ds max) for the fur. Hair farm has a modeling feature that lets you create any shape and then convert it to a hair system. I added a bit of kink, frizz, and clusters to ruffle the mane up a bit. Hair for the face was simply brushed with a little frizz and kink to break up the hair so it wasn't so fine. Over all, there is about 6-8 different maps controlling the styling and length of this piece.
|Geometry preview of Lion's mane.|
|Hair preview in viewport.|
Chris Oatley's Concept