I made the big fellow's nose smaller and added the sword. The cross shape of the sword worked well contrasted to the spirit circle. It didn't need to be detailed or stand out too much because it was an additional focal point away from the main focus and I didn't want the eye to be drawn there urgently. The sword also relates to the story and fits within its space which needed to be filled.
I looked at introducing movement by adding leaves and hair blowing within the circle of hands. It was to be movement created by the powerful spirits but even though I really liked the way it could work, it was a bit odd how there were just 3 leaves completing the bottom part of the circle with no other leaves around which I could get to work. I also felt that the eye couldn't rest so well and considering everything including the contrast to the battle story, I felt it would be better to be a still image.
I repainted the leaves in the bottom corners of the image so that they were individually smaller and more organized, yet still uncontrolled and filled the space better. I didn't really duplicate any of the leaves because it could have been noticed so I painted them all individually. I looked at some leaves but in the end didn't use a reference.
The background gradually got faded out as the painting progressed to bring the attention to the foreground. The whole time I was working on the painting I was fiddling about with the smoke ambience effect which the spirit circle sits within. I painted it with a brush and also used the smudge tool, levels, duplicating layers, layer options, trying filters which could be mostly masked out or discarded.
The circle within a circle is important because it works against all areas of the image. It worked also to have some bits floating about because they were open and uncontrolled which contrasted the enclosed controlled spirit circle. I actually add another enclosed shape later, a black band hanging down on her right wrist.
The main layout I had in my mind from the start was the circles and vertical parallel space on the left of the image. The other lines were designed as the image progressed.
During the whole painting I was thinking about how the eye should be drawn into the main focal area of light. I reduced some black areas with a low opacity white brush so that the eye was only drawn into the light. Her belly was distracted a bit so I looked into removing it. After some consideration I felt that it was an important part of the image, not only did it help to complete the circle of hands but it contrasted many elements visually and story wise. So I decided to darken it up which actually worked well having a dark point or arrow shape at the bottom in contrast to the circle of light. In fact there is a number of arrows pointing down in the center of her dress so this helped in many ways with contrast and movement. The leaf at the bottom counteracts this.
Whilst I was working on the painting I didn't let myself get pressured by time. Even if I had spent too much time in an area I would just come back to it at a later stage and put it right.