15 Play with contrast
Another trick that works very well is to add contrast to the composition. I achieve this by adjusting the lighting, playing with complementary colours, or using warm and cold hues. The trick is to separate the character from the background. My favourite approach is to use a very dark background and an unusual light source to illuminate the character. The light captures the viewer’s initial attention, who then moves on to my character portrait.
Adding some of the background colour to the character helps to better integrate the foreground and the background. The shiny golden headdress breaks up the huge amount of shadows on the top part of the composition. To increase the contrast, I often leave some parts of my characters in the shadows.