I agree with Jezi and others. This is, in a lot of ways, a great piece. I really like the background and clothing details. As a martial artist, though, my first reaction is "what's happening in this fight?" This freeze frame does not feel like part of a fight, because fighters wouldn't be responding to each other in these ways, and I'm not quite sure what movement they're making. Is the man on the right thrusting or swinging his weapon? Either way, there needs to be more follow-through in his torso and arms (and support of the move in his hips and legs). Is the man on the left just pulling back to avoid a swinging blow? If it's a thrusting blow, his movement makes no sense, because he's about to throw himself off balance and topple over, and he's exposing his arm to the blade. If he's just pulling back, why is he holding his weapons as he is? What was he doing that led him to pull back with one arm exposed across his face and the other exposed out-stretched?
There's a lot I could say, but I think the main question here is "What's going on in this fight?" Where were they a few seconds ago and a few minutes ago, and how does this affect their movement (and expressions) now? Where will they be a moment from now? How do these moves follow-through? Understanding how they've been moving and will move will help you understand how to position their bodies right now. Don't be afraid to get up and make the movement yourself, and ask yourself what your muscles are doing, where your weight needs to lie, and how your body turns.
How long have they been fighting in this battle (level of adrenaline, fatigue, even cuts or abrasions, given that they're using blades and fighting in a stone environment), what kind of experience do they have, and what's their relationship to each other? Why are they fighting? Their motivation and what's at stake, as well as what kind of warrior (or non-warrior) they are has a profound effect on how they'd fight, whether they'd be getting sloppy, etc. Is one an aggressive fighter, and another sly? Zen? Zealous? Sadistic? Playful? Arrogant? Brutal? Patient? Desperate? Honor/code/ideals-bound? All of this affects how they move/fight, their expressions, etc.
Keep up the practice. You do excellent still work, and this is a good bit of progress.
The movement and detail here is great. It has a good dynamic edge. It might get more drama with some darker shadows on both the characters as well as the backgrounds, but that's your own choice of setting. This is really strong and eye-catching. Nice work.
To echo Fallimar there, sense of movement comes from the relative position of the head to the chest to the hips to the lower legs. In sketches, try stacking overlapping the head, chest and hips, then spreading the legs out wide -you'll get a sense of impending action. Spread them all out again and you'll get a sense of completed action.
The knife fighter is good; somewhat exagerated, but good. The mace fighter (which looks a lot like Oblivion's Elven mace... ) is an unfortunate example of feet of clay -great detail, great painting, weak linework. The shoulders and hips are working exactly opposite the action, so it steals all the motion. Either the torso should be moved over so that the right shoulder should be sitting almost where the elbow is now, or the hips should be over so that the butt is behind the shoulders and almost off the side of the picture.
For my own part, I've found that photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool for posing and aranging the innitial lineart, and makes setting the action and direction of a picture a thousand times easier -even when the finished product isn't in a digital medium.
If I had one piece of commentary to make, it'd be that to get a larger sense of movement, the characters should be slightly less balanced. The character on the left looks as though he;s moving backwards as his centre of gravity is tilted to th left, yet the woman on the right seems as though she could be standing still, or at least wouldn't fall over if she paused.
I'd say to make the fight seem more intense, perhaps position the weapon in a more deadly position, positioned say, diagonal from top left to bottom right and the wielder on a similar angle. This kind of effect (as I'm sure you already know) gives a sense of urgency or danger, as I'd much rather face a balanced lateral mace than one that looked like it was about to smack me in the head!
i agree with one of the comments above. this is a kickass piece, and you are getting more movement in your work, but its the faces that dont work for me...well. one face. the uncovered one, he should be straining or wildeyed and open mouthed or something. i dont have a problem with the legs because to me they are fighting and standing their ground. got GREAT flow in the whole upper torso and arms.
Gryphy, your style is awesome, and the realism is beautiful.
I'm no expert, but some ways that might help you establish more movement is with your characters' legs--see how their upper bodies are contorted splendidly, but from their hips down, it's all pretty stable-looking? Try raising a thigh up, or better yet, their whole bodies. Don't be afraid to make them in mid-air, jumping, dodging, off-balance.
Another way? Expressions--smaller irises in the eyes (leaving more white, hence a more wide-eyed and fearful, or menacing, look) and hideously gaping or yelling mouths. Spit works if you wanna go the extra step.
And if all else fails, or you don't want to mess up the amazing work you've already done, try blurry edges. Give yourself a break with the detailed backgrounds--in an action scene, you want all the focus on the fight. And blur the edges of the fighters, too--think in cartoons, with the dramatic lines--make it look like that knife is cutting, and the lance is piercing. 's Spawn captures movement well without going overboard with the blurriness.
Hope that helps! Otherwise, keep up the great work--I love seeing your name on my deviations list!