Okay I'm going to start sounding like a rabid fan or something with this Oatley stuff, but hell it works, and I'm prone to gush about stuff that works. (For balance's sake - I had the same kind of colour epiphany when I watched Jason Manley's Light and colour stream and can also highly recommend that for people who can handle their classical painting breakdowns and want some enlightening on colour!)
Back in December i attended the first of my live sessions - where Chris shares his desktop with us online and goes through a bunch of student pieces offering advice and occasionally paintovers. My major problem with the piece below was I'd started it as a pure characer practice then built up the environment as a secondary thought, meaning a lot of it felt a little contrived. Chris also made the suggestion of dappled light, which is possibly my favourite thing about the image now, and refocusing the character so he was facing the same way as the beast. That made the narrative much stronger... some kind of threat off to the right or above of the image as opposed to two forms in the picture simply doing their own thing. Tweaked little things like the line of the mask so it fed back into the face of the elf, and tried to do the same with a lot of the subtler environment elements, the result of which means the eye is subconsciously fed back into the face of the elf where ever it wanders off to.
I've shown both the finished piece and a comparison between the finished piece on the right and the piece I submitted to Chris for critique. The left hand one isn't bad in it's own right, but the right hand one just subconsciously feels more solid and composed.