Compose an urban battle scene
Showing the most intense point in the story can be a good subject for your piece, but often painting the moment right before or after the height of action can create more tension. For this scene, I’m painting a group of soldiers being surrounded as a tank approaches. You can group the different factions together for more obvious focal points.
I’ve left a few places on the canvas that aren’t damaged. The buildings, roads, cars and sky all suggest that this battle has been raging for some time, and the aeroplane wing on the ground says there’s powerful weaponry being used. I’ve even left remnants of the sketch throughout, because tattered building guts are mostly abstract, busy shapes.
Loading the edges with scenery elements that are mostly cropped out of the image, such as seeing just the top of a nearby fire or having buildings that stretch behind the viewer, also give the impression that the action is much bigger than what’s contained in the picture plane. If everything is sectioned off too neatly, the action can feel staged.