I do believe that the second tier is basically finished (aside from the final details and lighting). I did a lot of experimenting with the pattern I was using on the walls, and this is what I arrived at. Mainly, Iwanted to use wood blocks to create the "fence" on the inner side of the first tier, so I had to build around that. While fairly plain, stone bricks ended up looking the best, in my opinion. I also have a sandstone stripe at the base of the wall, just to help transition from grass and wood to stone brick.
This is also what I believe the stairs will stay like for the second tier. They are unobtrusive, allow the circular patterns to continue existing, and are half slabs (which is important so that I can sprint up them). I also went with the wood block fence look for the stairs, but I ended up making those protruding segments entirely wood because I felt it looked bad if it wasn't a solid block. At most, I may add a sandstone stripe to the bottom layer of those segments as well.
Aside from that design philosophy, I've just been continuing to work around the area. I'm in the process of leveling the bottom left area of the picture (which used to be just a solid wall of stone, but you guys never really saw that angle well).
I also went caving again. Originally, it was a branch mine at y=12, but it turned into a huge cave that was constantly around the lava layer, so I went with it and doubled my diamond count in the process. I'll probably use low-level enchanted diamond pickaxes to clear out the third tier of my base, just because I'm getting sick of how long this is taking. I also doubled my iron supply, which wasn't very high because of all the iron tools I had already used.
I know I've been terraforming for awhile now, but it's almost over with and then we can get to some real building.
That's all for now. Signing out!