Thanks for the comments.
I completely agree with your comments on the focus. The text was something I added last minute. I was trying to only have two focuses, the skull as primary and the bear as secondary.
The skeleton body is from a human skeleton that I modeled previously. It was one of the first projects I ever worked on. It came out okay, but there are a few non-manifold verts, which I didn’t understand when I modeled it. I just used some of the pieces that came out alright from that (spine, hips, shoulders) and modeled the rest anew. I struck a compromise after looking at real bear skulls, as they have huge holes in the sides of their skull. I decided to make it look “real-ish,” as it’s a hybrid bear/human like a teddy bear. It’s really that distracting? I then fit the skeleton inside the bear and changed the proportions accordingly.
I wanted to keep the scene fairly dark, as it fits the subject matter. I do see what you’re saying in terms of contrast. The post pro shot definitely leads me in a better direction. Thanks for the criticism!