Looking at the last two is an interesting illustration of the power of value contrast. In the second-to-last, my eye flips back and forth between the blade and the face -- I can't look at one without being drawn to the other. In the finished version my eye can rest on the face and explore the expression there, and only occasionally wander down to the blade and the tip of the blowing cloak. The moon really settles the elements into place.
Thanks for posting that process! I always learn something from you in these.
Yea the the blade gave me a lot of trouble, and I'd say its still a weak point of the image. Before adding the moon, the image did seem to lack a focus. I probably could have darkened and subdued the blade into shadow more, but the moon is sort of an alternate solution I guess. It serves as a spot light.