It has been a while since I've used tone to help create depth and aid in differentiating people in an image. And for me it certainly is laziness to a certain extent. But I'm glad I made the effort for this image since it really helps complete the composition and help highlight certain features and characters that would otherwise be lost.
It's always worthwhile to consider different ways of making an image work and not constantly rely on familiar line making or easy compositions. You can often find a few illustrators or artists who stick to the same composition over and over. A particularly famous one is the forward shot of a character floating in a white void. While this is an enjoyable composition, and at times the correct composition for an image, character or product design, learning to be dynamic and engage with backgrounds is a really important skill to manage. Learning what you can do, and what you enjoy doing with backgrounds or a full page image takes time.
Choices in depth vs flatness, tonal variation vs large slabs of color, or changes in style between the focus point and the background can come naturally to some, and not so naturally to others. So its good to practice and push what you’re capable. Here’s to new goals for the new year.