Many people really enjoy using 'Live Trace' on hand drawn assets to give greater texture. If found that 'Mask' give you much better control, while also giving a greater sense of organic interaction between the vectors and the raster based textures.
I think in the end, I went a bit too far, and the final image just loses grasp on my personal style. All in all, it was a fun personal project. And for me, goes to show how mistakes can reaffirm positively.