This was a painting I did back in January for a Crimson Daggers challenge.
Big step forward for when I made it, since there's a little bit of a sense of movement, but this was the extent of my planning it. I played with leading lines and all, and I liked the poses, but I'm still having trouble composing images with masses and shapes.
Frazetta's Conan the Destroyer. (Really, do I need to identify it :P?)
One of the things that's always gotten me about this piece is that it's so... chaotic. But, it's not confusing at all, the action, movement and shapes all read wonderfully. Most battle scenes, including the Pyles I've been trying to pick apart, resolve into big, simple shapes when I'm doing studies of them, but aside from the overall silhouette of Conan and the mass of bodies, I've had trouble figuring out how the masses are arranged.
Pushing it into value and raising the contrast helped a tiny bit. I can see how the big light shapes and dark masses spray out from the central figure of Conan, although I feel like a lot of the patterns I drew on it below are a little forced. I wouldn't count on them revealing anything useful. I also wasn't able to figure out anything about the pattern in the sky at first.
Opposing curved shapes?
This one was a little more revealing, I thought. There are 3 prominent axes in the painting, starting at the bottom right, moving up to Conan's raised weapon, and ending with the one buried in the guy's back. Highlighting those made me notice the similar shape echoed in the huge light break in the sky. Could be just seeing random patterns that aren't really there, although it suggests the idea that the lone figure's bringing the heavens crashing down on them. It also suggests a reason for that bright light shape on the left, which the axe and speared skull are silhouetted against.
This is all guesswork on my part, of course. This piece mainly works because Frazetta had an unrivaled imagination when it came to violent action, so everything about this piece- the arrangement, the poses, the thundering clouds- all ring with truth. I highly doubt that any of my cute lines and patterns were purposely installed.